Idaho Legislature

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislation that would increase Idaho's public school funding and boost salary increases for teachers has only one remaining hurdle.

The Idaho House approved all seven pieces of the state's largest budget with almost no discussion on Monday, sending the bills to the governor's desk.

None of the bills — a combined $1.4 billion in general funds — garnered more than seven votes in opposition.

Under the proposals, public schools funding will increase by 7.4 percent to help fund the first year of the new teacher pay increase.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers Monday passed a bill to allow parents to treat epileptic children with an oil extracted from cannabis. Idaho’s House approved the bill 39-30 after more than an hour of intense debate.

Opponents, such as Rep. Luke Malek, R- Coeur d’Alene, argued the bill legalizes marijuana because the oil has small amounts of the chemical that makes pot users high.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote not scientific evidence,” Malek said.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This post was updated April 7, 2015

The Idaho Senate has failed to override Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto on legislation that would have made roughly 250 slot-like betting machines in Idaho illegal,

However, senators passed three letters questioning the legality of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's notification actions.

The Senate voted 19-16 on Monday, just five votes shy of the required two-thirds support needed to flip a veto in a chamber.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed legislation that will ban Idaho women from receiving abortion-inducing drugs via telemedicine.

The new law signed on Monday requires a doctor to be physically present when giving pregnancy-ending pills. But telemedicine is not even currently available in the state.

The law also requires doctors to make efforts to schedule a follow-up visit with the woman after administering the drugs.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

On Friday afternoons, the crowd at the B gates of the Boise Airport includes a lot of familiar faces from the Idaho capitol.

Sen. Bob Nonini knows everybody. He's one of the longest-serving north Idaho lawmakers.

“We got Rep. Don Cheatham, Rep. Ron Mendive, Sen. Mary Souza, Rep. Sage Dixon, Rep. Vito Barbieri, Rep. Heather Scott, Rep. Kathy Sims, and Rep. Eric Redmond,” Nonini said. “And we go home -- most of us -- go home every weekend. And then come back.”

Everyone was in jeans and sneakers, ready to fly to Spokane.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Senate is teeing up for a new round of negotiations Monday on how to fund much-needed repairs on roads and bridges.

Lawmakers are going into their second week of overtime. But the two chambers of the Legislature haven’t been able to come to an agreement on one of their top priorities this year: raising an estimated $262 million for roads. The Senate declined to hear a House package that would have raised the gas tax by 7 cents.
 

House leadership has now effectively told the Senate: it’s your turn.

aposematic herpetologist / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho giant salamander is now officially Idaho's state amphibian.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the legislation on Thursday.

Fourteen-year-old Ilah Hickman has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass the bill for five years. Her dreams were briefly crushed earlier this year when lawmakers killed the bill in committee. However, lawmakers later revived the bill and sent it to the governor's desk.

Otter gave Hickman a copy of the bill and his pen before letting her sit behind the governor's desk.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The nearly $125 million plan to boost teacher pay in Idaho over the next five years won the governor's stamp of approval.

Under the new law, which Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed Thursday, rookie teacher pay would steadily increase to $37,000 a year by 2020.

Over time, more experienced teachers will be able to qualify for higher pay of roughly $42,000 to $50,000 a year.

Otter says passing the plan that had support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and all major stakeholders defined the 2015 legislative session as historic.

The Idaho Senate has approved a 7.4 percent increase to the state's public school budget, which includes funding for a sweeping five-year plan to boost teacher pay.

The chamber unanimously approved all seven parts of the Idaho's largest budget — totaling more than $1.4 billion of general funds — with no debate on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Dean Cameron from Rupert says he'd never seen the chamber move through the education budget so swiftly.

medical marijuana, pot
Audio Vision, Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

A pro-cannabis group has filed paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to begin gathering signatures for a medical marijuana legalization initiative. The group New Approach Idaho was founded a few months ago. Its members hope Idaho voters will be able to decide on pot legalization in 2016. New Approach Idaho president William Esbensen says the initiative has three parts.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday in favor of the State of Idaho in a fight over Medicaid payments to providers. The decision could impact Medicaid's low-income patients across the state. 

The case began after a 2009 lawsuit against the state. Officials with Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare had recommended increasing payment rates to private medical providers who serve Medicaid patients.

The Idaho Senate decided to kill a major overhaul to Idaho’s tax system Tuesday.

State officials say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Idaho an extension to comply with the federal REAL ID Act.

The Idaho Transportation Department in a statement Tuesday says the extension granted on Friday means Idaho residents can continue to use their Idaho driver's licenses to board commercial flights and enter federal areas, such as nuclear facilities and military bases.

That was set to expire starting in 2016.

An Idaho House panel has killed a proposal to legalize oil extracted from cannabis plants used to treat children with severe forms epilepsy.

The bill failed to garner enough votes to advance on Monday.

The quick vote came after the House State Affairs panel listened to nearly four hours of testimony, ranging from tearful parents pleading for the bill's passage to law enforcement representatives wary of the plan's unintended consequences.

The bill was named after 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who has a rare but intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to help school districts crack down on bullying in Idaho's public schools is on its way to the governor's desk.

The Idaho Senate passed the bill 24-10 on Monday.

The bill would require local school district leaders to go through anti-bullying training and create a way for bullying to be reported.

Democratic Sen. Jane Ward-Engelking from Boise, who sponsored the bill, says that bullying can lead to depression and anxiety among students, as well as problems keeping up with classwork.

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