Idaho Legislature

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.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

State education officials have delayed finalizing Idaho's No Child Left Behind waiver with the federal government until the end of April in order to pursue a more flexible agreement for local districts.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra announced the change to the House Education Committee on Monday.

She had just finished attending meetings with other state education heads in Washington, D.C.

Metal Chris / Flickr

An aggressive three-part proposal to eliminate sales tax on groceries, lower income taxes on Idaho's top earners while hiking the fuels tax by 7 cents per gallon has passed the Idaho House.

House lawmakers voted 53-17 Monday to send the bill to the Senate for approval.

Majority Leader Mike Moyle says the bill will boost Idaho's economy by attracting more businesses and providing families with more money they would have spent on grocery taxes.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Senate has killed a plan to make a new process to accredit naturopaths in Idaho.

The Senate voted 25-10 Monday to defeat the bill, which had faced substantial changes over the last week in an effort to find a compromise.

Two major groups of naturopaths in Idaho have disagreed on licensing guidelines for decades, especially since licenses were granted to the profession in 2005.

The Senate also voted 22-13 to repeal state laws that require naturopaths to get a license.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The Idaho House is set to vote Monday on a bill that would move Idaho’s presidential primary from May to March. Lawmakers are considering the change because of a 2012 event.

In the winter of 2012, all eyes were on the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates. And Idaho’s Republican Party didn’t want to wait until the state-run election in May to let party members weigh in.

Republican voters lined up in school gyms across the state for a party caucus. And it was messy.

Idaho would have the ability to enter into an interstate compact to pursue transferring control of federal lands under a proposal making its way through the Statehouse.

House lawmakers voted 45-23 on Friday to approve setting up the compact, facing from opposition from both Republicans and Democrats worried of the bill's unintended consequences.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislative budget writers are matching Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's request to restore public education money slashed during the economic downturn by adding roughly $101 million to the Idaho schools budget.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved increasing the schools budget by 7.4 percent on Friday. The proposal now needs to pass both chambers, but the legislation is expected to pass.

The proposal includes allotting $33.5 million to boost teacher pay, part of a five-year teacher pay increase plan lawmakers approved earlier this week.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A three-part tax bill that would eliminate the grocery sales tax and lower income taxes on top earners has passed an Idaho House panel.

The bill by House Republican leadership would also include a seven-cent fuel tax increase, which would raise $65 million per year to address Idaho's transportation funding shortfall.

Under the tax plan, Idahoans in the top income tax bracket would see their rate drop from 7.4 percent to 6.7 percent.

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