Policy

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says the U.S. Supreme Court should wait until it receives arguments from Idaho before deciding a case involving gay marriage in the United States.

In documents filed with the nation's highest court, lawyers for Otter said waiting for Idaho's case would help the Supreme Court resolve "the marriage-litigation wave in all respects."

Idaho Potato Commission

Northwest potato farmers are cheering a small provision tucked into the newly passed federal spending package.

The Women, Infants and Children or WIC program provides modest monthly vouchers for a variety of foods. They’ll cover any vegetable -- except “white potatoes.”

That single exclusion outraged the potato industry. They felt it sent the wrong message and Northwest lawmakers from both parties got on board to reverse the rule.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Sherri Ybarra says she's staying mum on all things budget, policy and staffing until she's sworn into office on Jan. 5.

The recently elected Republican is in the middle of transitioning to become Idaho's next superintendent of public instruction.

Ybarra told The Associated Press Wednesday that it would be inappropriate to discuss changes she's considering because current state Superintendent Tom Luna is still in office.

Instead, Ybarra says she is on a "silent tour," and focusing on gathering input from lawmakers and staffers.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Republican Idaho Sen. Jim Risch says the U.S. Senate should not have released a report on CIA interrogation practices following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The report that became public Tuesday says the CIA tortured prisoners, did not get much valuable information from doing so, and lied to Congress about it.   

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report says Idaho could lose up to $111 million a year if the state took control of its federal public lands.

The University of Idaho's Policy Analysis Group report was requested by a legislative committee tasked with studying a state takeover of federal land in Idaho. The panel will finalize its recommendation Tuesday.

Park Ranger / Flickr Creative Commons

Leaders of a marijuana advocacy group that was launched two weeks ago say they’ve attracted more than 200 volunteers. New Approach Idaho wants to put a ballot measure before Idaho voters in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana.

Oregon Department of Agriculture

Idaho has the highest share of undocumented immigrants who will benefit from President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

wedding rings
MyTudut / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge in Montana has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Wednesday that Montana's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that Idaho and Nevada's bans are unconstitutional. Montana is part of the 9th Circuit, and Morris cited the Circuit Court's opinion in his ruling.

forest, land, trees
Dave Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

A San Francisco-based investment advising firm told Idaho’s Land Board that its commercial property investments are not a great idea.

Commercial drones are taking to the Northwest skies even though the rules aren't clear.

An Idaho work group has tweaked its recommendations on expanding Medicaid eligibility in a last-minute effort to make their plan more politically palatable to lawmakers.

Work group facilitator Corey Surber says the 15-member group approved a hybrid model Friday. The group had finalized a proposal to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter back in August. However, lawmakers warned the proposal's blanketed support of Medicaid expansion would fail to even be considered when the Republican-controlled Legislature convenes in January.

mental health, in crisis, shannon guevara
Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

It’s a sunny September afternoon, and the room is packed. It’s like a movie theater before the lights go down — the buzz of nervous energy, nattering about plans for the weekend, someone lingering in the aisle until the very last minute.

But this isn’t the movies. It’s a courtroom — one where the stakes aren’t just “jail” or “no jail” but are, for many of the people in the room, much deeper.

Idaho has 10 special mental-health courts, where adult felons diagnosed with one of four mental illnesses show up each week to talk to a judge.

mental health, in crisis
Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The voice started when Shawna Ervin was 16 years old, and it hounded her for two years.

It told her to hurt herself.

“It was relentless and wouldn’t stop laughing at me until I burned myself on my face,” she said.

When she finally did burn her face, the laughter turned maniacal. Then it stopped.

Ervin’s mental illness is not rare. She is one of thousands of Idahoans whose disorders can be severe enough to warrant hospitalization.

Officials in the north-central Idaho city of Lewiston have passed an ordinance banning discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the Lewiston City Council passed the ordinance Monday on a 5-2 vote.

Lewiston is the ninth city in Idaho to pass an ordinance protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

Philip Mazeikas, mobile crisis, mental health
Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Two years ago, Philip Mazeikas answered the front door of his family home. The course of his life changed when he opened it.

At 24-years-old, Mazeikas found himself in the middle of his first psychotic episode.

He thought he'd been contacted by aliens who were using him in a scheme to control the world. He wasn't eating well. He was drinking his own urine.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Roy Vopal didn’t expect to live at a Boise Rescue Mission shelter in Downtown Boise this year. But the 60-year-old had a serious knee injury, then surgery, that he said left him unable to work for the first time in his life.

“Mentally, it’s a mind-screw” to be out of work, Vopal said. “It definitely twists the brain.”

Vopal says his service in the Marines during the Vietnam War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There were times when I wanted my life to end,” Vopal said. He attempted suicide in his 30s and used drugs.

The city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers doesn't have to perform same-sex marriages.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

For the last year, KBSX has been following the legal battle over same-sex marriage in Idaho. The fight ended Wednesday as a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a lower court's ruling striking down Idaho's gay marriage ban went into effect.

County clerks in Idaho officially began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today. But those couples aren’t the only ones celebrating.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

As same-sex couples and their supporters gathered at the Ada County Courthouse Wednesday in Boise, a party atmosphere soon took hold as couples would exit the building with marriage licenses in-hand.

The Boise Gay Men's chorus was there to sing. Hundreds of supporters lined the sidewalks in front of the courthouse ready to cheer. There were no protestors.

Here are some sounds from the scene.

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