Legislative Update

Charlie Litchfield / AP

The Idaho Legislature closed up shop and went home Wednesday. The session went five days longer than leadership had anticipated.

The session was notable for a few bills, including transportation funding and tax cuts, which were sticking points at the end of the session. Lawmakers also didn’t find a solution for the 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the Medicaid gap and don’t have health insurance.

Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press

As we wrap up the 11th week of the 2017 Idaho Legislative Session, lawmakers have been struggling to finish up their work and go home. For several weeks, the goal has been to end the session Friday. House Speaker Scott Bedke said on Thursday lawmakers will have to come back on Monday.

This week lawmakers struggled with a large transportation funding bill. They tried and failed to pass a bill that would have helped some of the 78,000 people in Idaho who can’t afford health insurance. And tax cuts are still a sticking point.

Kevin Rank / Flickr

Bills were flying fast and furious in and out of the Idaho House and Senate this week, as lawmakers try to meet next Friday’s deadline to wrap up the session and go home.

As week ten of the legislature comes to a close, lawmakers still haven’t solved the Medicaid Gap in Idaho. Those are the people who can’t afford health care but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Transportation funding and a tax cut are also still in the mix.

Boise State University political science professor Gary Moncrief says there are still around 100 bills to be considered in the House and Senate.

Idaho Ed News

Frustrations boiled over this week in the Idaho House, as conservative lawmakers tried to make a stand against their fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

The House came to a standstill not once, but twice this week, as a small group, which includes some north Idaho Republicans, used procedural moves in favor of one bill and against another. Both times, their attempts failed and revealed the cracks in the GOP between the very conservative members and the more mainstream Republican leadership.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Bills have been speeding their way through the Idaho Legislature during week eight of the session.

The budget committee passed a bill to increase the public schools budget. Fish and Game brought a new hunting fees bill to lawmakers. And more of the action is moving out of committees and onto the House and Senate Floors.

AP

As we wrap up week seven of the 2017 Idaho Legislature, lawmakers have passed 37 bills into new laws. That number will increase dramatically in the next four weeks.

One hot button issue this week was a bill that could have had some effect on the types of gaming that Native American tribes in Idaho could offer in their casinos.

In our 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University professor Gary Moncrief says the House State Affairs Committee spent a lot of time on this bill. He say that was a little unusual for lawmakers.

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

Friday we wrap up week six of the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers are getting down to the business of passing bills in committees and sending them to the House and Senate floor.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, or JFAC considered the final budget requests from the state agencies this week. That means this panel of 20 is switching gears and will start to draft bills, in fact, the committee is expected to write close to 100 budget bills.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, the Idaho Legislature fielded a flurry of bills from committees. That’s by design.

The 36th calendar day of each legislative session is the last day that personal bills can be introduced in most committees. That was Monday, which resulted in a glut of bills popping up in committees.

Boise State University Political Science professor Gary Moncrief says after the deadline, it gets harder to get bills into the Legislature.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Week five is just about over for the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers have debated the definition of casino-style gambling, Fish and Game fees and man-made climate change. And Representatives on the House floor made the rare move to kill a bill about license plates, only the second time this session a bill has gone down to defeat there.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Entrance Steps
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As we wrap up the fourth week of the Idaho Legislature, lawmakers have been bringing forward more bills, covering issues from tax breaks to hunting and fishing fees.

One bill that came up this week was a preemptive move by some state lawmakers who want to keep so-called "Sanctuary Cities" out of Idaho. Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says it’s indicative of the power that some state legislatures have over their largest cities.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature is ramping up its third week of the 2017 session.

This week, lawmakers are considering tax reductions in a surplus budget year. They’re also considering tweaking election rules when it comes to running for office. And the legislature’s budget writers, the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, or JFAC as it’s known, is hearing budget requests from state agencies.

In this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says the real work of the session is getting underway.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Entrance Steps Bell
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As the Idaho Legislature wraps up its second week, lawmakers have introduced around 30 bills so far.

Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says that’s a little below normal, but we’ll see a lot more bills next week.

Right now, lawmakers are looking at a change to the Primary Election system in Idaho. They also want to make sure liquor licenses get used for selling booze instead of as investments. And Democrats had a suggestion for getting more teachers into rural schools.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been a tumultuous first two weeks in the Idaho Legislature. It started last week when Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke removed Republican Representative Heather Scott from her committee assignments for comments she made about her colleagues.

The move came after Scott was accused of telling another lawmaker that women in the House trade sexual favors with leadership to secure committee chairmanships. That’s when Representative Christy Perry of Nampa wrote a letter to the Speaker saying Scott displayed aggressive and anti-social behavior during meetings.

Samantha Wright/BSPR

The Idaho Legislature has been in session less than a week and lawmakers are already speculating about when they will go home.

Boise State University Professor of Political Science Gary Moncrief says there has been a lot of talk about how long the session will last. He says he’s heard from the media and some lawmakers that it should be a short session.

But in this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Moncrief says history doesn’t support that theory.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

AP Photo / Otto Kitsinger

Idaho Governor Butch Otter told lawmakers Monday that education is his top priority for the next budget year.

During his 11th State of the State address, he proposed more money for K-12 teacher salaries and the higher education building fund. And he wants tax cuts for businesses.

But there were a few things that he didn’t have a solution for, including a transportation maintenance shortfall, and the 78,000 Idahoans who don’t have health insurance because they make too much money to get on Medicaid.

Gary Moncrief

It’s a new year for Republicans who now control government at the national level. And also for the 2017 Idaho Legislature, which leans even more toward the GOP after losing four Democratic seats in the fall elections. That means change in Washington D.C. and in the Gem State.

Today, we bring you our first 2017 Weekly Legislative Update. We’ll be taking a close look at what happens in the Idaho Statehouse, both in the public eye and behind the scenes.