Idaho Legislature

YouTube screengrab / Protect Idaho Kids

A group that wants to repeal laws exempting parents from child abuse prosecution is hard at work this summer. Bruce Wingate is the founder of Protect Idaho Kids, and says parents who deny medical treatment to their children because of their religions should be held to the same standard as all parents.

The nonprofit has produced a series of videos making that case on local TV in Boise. Wingate hopes to get the spots on the air around the state in the next five months.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Proponents of laws that bar transgender people from using public bathrooms and dressing rooms that conform to their gender identity are already seizing on an incident in eastern Idaho this week. A transgender woman is accused of taking pictures of a woman changing clothes in a Target dressing room in Ammon.

Boise transgender activist Emilie Jackson-Edney says it’s wrong to judge all transgender people by one person’s actions. But she says that will probably happen anyway in this case.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idahoans can carry a concealed gun without needing licenses or training starting Friday.

The change is just one of the new laws going into effect with the start of the new fiscal year in Idaho. This means the state will implement a new budget and plenty of new policies.

Other new laws include banning powdered alcohol, but finally allowing movie theaters to serve booze during movies that show nudity.

Scott Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to strike down a Texas abortion restriction law could have ripple effects in Idaho, where pro-choice advocates are cheering. In a 5-3 ruling, the justices overturned a Texas law requiring surgical facilities in abortion clinics, while also requiring clinic doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's legislative leaders have assigned their summer homework by finalizing a list of hot button topics for Idaho lawmakers to review over the next few months.

Top legislative officials approved the interim committees on Friday. The panels will meet over the summer and provide recommendations to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A special citizen panel has approved increasing Idaho's basic legislative salaries over the next two years.

The Citizens Committee on Legislative Compensation agreed on Wednesday to bump state lawmaker pay by 2 percent each year until 2018. This means the annual pay for state lawmakers will jump from roughly $16,680 to around $17,350.

However, daily session expenses will remain the same. Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol will continue to receive $49 a day when the Idaho Legislature is in session, while those living farther away will stay at $129 a day.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Tuesday’s primary election in Idaho saw seven incumbent lawmakers lose their positions in the Legislature. It also whittled down the candidates vying for a seat on Idaho’s Supreme Court.

Many match-ups featured moderate Republicans against candidates from the far right wing of the party.

Reporter Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review writes the “Eye on Boise” blog and was among those watching the election closely.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Tuesday is primary day for a number of legislative races in Idaho. There are some important face-offs to watch – ones that could influence the direction of Idaho’s conservative majority. Some incumbent Republicans are being challenged by more conservative politicians, creating division among the GOP.

The one big statewide race is for the supreme court. Four candidates are vying for this position, which is nonpartisan.

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Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials originally agreed to pay $7.2 million in a settlement over an illegal statewide contract that provided broadband in public schools.

However, a March ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court halted settlement talks after justices upheld a lower court's ruling deeming the $60 million contract was illegal. The surprise ruling came down in the final days of the settlement being finalized.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho governor Butch Otter stood in front of reporters Monday and called the legislative session that ended Friday “pretty good.” Later in the press conference with legislative leaders he said lawmakers did a “tremendous job.” Lieutenant Governor Brad Little called it a “great session.” And Speaker of the House Scott Bedke recited a list of people he thought should be happy with it including teachers, students, firefighters and state employees.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho residents 21 and older will soon be able to carry concealed guns without permits or training under legislation approved by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The Idaho State Journal reports that Otter signed the bill on Friday, but not without expressing concerns about the new law lacking a training requirement for those who exercise the right to concealed carry.

In a letter to Idaho Senate president and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, he encouraged the Legislature to monitor the implementation of the law to determine if the lack of a training requirement undermines public safety.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Update 3:00 p.m.:

Idaho will remain among the 19 states resisting a key provision of Obamacare. The Idaho Legislature adjourned Friday without agreement on whether to explore an expansion of the Medicaid program.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho finished picking candidates for the Presidential election last week. Now politics watchers are turning their eyes to the state’s May 17 primary election.

The filing deadline for candidates for the Idaho Legislature came and went two weeks ago.

Gary Moncrief is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Boise State, and studies legislatures across the country. Moncrief is the co-author the book “Why States Matter.”

The share of Oregonians and Washingtonians without health insurance has dropped dramatically under Obamacare. The uninsured rate is now at a historic low in the West Coast states.

Idaho has missed out on that trend, largely because the state until now has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility on the federal dime. Idaho's Republican-controlled legislature was teetering Friday on whether to end its holdout.

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

State budget writers have signed off on a surprise $8 million request from top legislative leaders to pay for a possible settlement in Idaho's losing legal battle over an illegal statewide contract for broadband in public schools.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 19-1 on Tuesday to approve the request of House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling voiding the $60 million statewide contract in a drawn-out legal process.

The Latest on the rape kit legislation that cleared the Idaho Legislature:

2:45 p.m.

An Idaho sheriff says the Legislature shouldn't have gotten involved in creating a statewide system for collecting and tracking rape kits because many rape accusations are false.

Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland made the comments to Idaho Falls TV station KIDK on Monday before lawmakers unanimously approved the new system and sent the measure to the governor.

Tabby Haskett / facebook.com/maniacphotography

The North Idaho town of Orofino has asked the Idaho legislature to create a specialty license plate for its high school. No other Idaho high school has its own license plate. The bill has passed the House despite some stiff opposition.

Orofino is home to a state mental hospital and many people see the local school mascot, the “Maniacs” as an offensive caricature. The image is a wild-haired, screaming cartoon character jumping in the air. It wears what, to many people, looks like a hospital gown.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Maureen Wishkoski is a morning person. Wishkoski is the court advocate manager at the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in Boise. Most days she gets up before 6:00 a.m. and heads to the Ada County Courthouse, where she meets with clients in need of legal help.

Some of her clients are looking for relief from stalking, a crime that she says can have serious mental and emotional impacts. According to the national Stalking Resource Center, 7.5 million people are stalked across the country every year. 

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

State budget writers have found a way to finance two crisis centers in southern Idaho to serve as a safety net to treat at-risk mentally ill people whose symptoms often land them in hospitals or jail.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 16-2 on Wednesday to divert nearly $1.5 million to fund two crisis centers that will likely be located in Boise and Twin Falls.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The President Pro Tem of Idaho’s Senate, Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) Tuesday said his greatest disappointment for the current legislative session is that lawmakers have not brought forth a bill to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community that also ensures religious freedom. A week ago Hill told KBSX that negotiations had been going on behind the scenes and that there was still time in the session to present a bill.

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