Policy

Lobbying
12:31 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

ACLU-Idaho Executive Director Leaving For Washington D.C.

The executive director of the ACLU of Idaho has been hired for the same post at the ACLU in Washington, D.C.

Monica Hopkins has led the Idaho ACLU affiliate since 2008. During her tenure the organization has pushed for improved safety and health conditions for Idaho inmates, lobbied for ordinances in seven Idaho cities to prevent discrimination against gay and transgender residents, and pushed for free speech protections for protesters on state property.

Gay Rights
6:35 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Meet Two Couples Suing To Make Same-Sex Marriage Legal In Idaho

Amber and Rachael filed their lawsuit against Idaho in Nov. 2013. Their lawyer Deborah Ferguson looks on as we talk at their Boise home.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson have been together for three years. Within the last six months they've become the public face of an effort to strike down Idaho's constitutional ban on gay marriage. At home, they're like many other couples playing with their dogs on the back patio.

“Charlie's the corgi,” Amber says. “Then we’ve got the Labradoodle Boozer. And Georgia is the basset hound.” Add in Herman, the big orange cat, and that’s their family -- so far. The two have planned on having kids ever since they got together more than three years ago.

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Transparency
12:01 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Idaho Gets A Failing Grade For Government Transparency

Credit U.S. PIRG

Idaho is one of three states with a failing grade when it comes to government transparency, as ranked by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer interest group.

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Policy
12:09 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Idaho Asks Judge To Toss Lawsuit On So-Called 'Ag-Gag' Law

Credit Ambersky235 / Flickr Creative Commons

Attorneys for Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a new law that makes it illegal to secretly film animal abuse at agricultural facilities.

A coalition of animal activists, civil rights groups and others sued last month, asking U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to strike down what they call an "ag gag" law. The coalition contends the law curtails freedom of speech and makes gathering proof of animal abuse a crime with a harsher punishment than the penalty for animal cruelty itself.

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Idaho News
9:39 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Idaho Sheriff Offers Free Concealed Carry Course

Credit Stephen Velasco / Flickr Creative Commons

The Cassia County Sheriff's Office in south-central Idaho is offering free instruction for enhanced concealed carry gun permits.

Sheriff Jay Heward tells The Times-News that so many residents are interested he decided to offer the eight-hour class for free.

The course taken elsewhere can cost $150. The enhanced permit is honored in Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, Virginia and South Carolina.

The course includes safety instruction and requires each student to shoot 100 rounds on a gun range under the instruction of police.

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Idaho Legislature
9:05 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Idaho's 2014 Legislative Session Ends After 74 Days

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature has wrapped up for the year after appropriating $2.9 billion.

The session lasted only 74 days — that's two weeks fewer than last year's session and only five days longer than the record shortest session in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis commended his fellow lawmakers as their final day on the floor drew to a close.

Senators also regaled the gallery with the state song and "God Bless America" before adjourning for the last time.

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Policy
8:57 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Why Medical Marijuana Legalization Has No Traction In Idaho

Various strains of medical marijuana on display at a California convention.
Credit Audio Vision, Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

Four of Idaho's six neighboring states allow some form of legal marijuana use. Oregon, Nevada and Montana allow medical marijuana while Washington recently legalized pot for most residents. In each of those states, voters approved legalizing marijuana, but in Idaho, the issue has gotten nowhere.

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Agriculture
10:12 am
Mon March 17, 2014

ACLU, PETA Sue Idaho Over New Law To Punish Animal Rights Activists

Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, PETA and other groups are suing the state over a new measure that would prosecute people who secretly film agricultural operations. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the so-called 'ag-gag' bill into law at the end of February.

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Food Stamps
6:47 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Some States Working To Negate Federal Food Stamp Cutbacks

File photo of a woman using her EBT card in Portland, Ore., to purchase food.
Brian Duss Bread for the World

In Olympia, Washington policymakers are pondering whether to make an end run around looming cutbacks in the federally-funded food stamp program.

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Gay Marriage
12:08 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Group Of GOP Lawmakers Say Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Is Consistent With Western Values

A group of current and former Republican lawmakers say they support making same-sex marriage legal in Utah and Oklahoma because it's consistent with Western conservative values of freedom and liberty.

A group that includes former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas plan to file a friend of the court brief Tuesday to a federal appeals court in Denver that is reviewing same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

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Policy
10:58 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Chobani CEO Urges Gov. Otter To Veto Idaho's 'Ag-Gag' Bill

Credit Provisions / Flickr Creative Commons

Food processing heavyweight Chobani is urging Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to veto a bill that would make penalties stricter for animal rights activists caught secretly filming Idaho agriculture facilities.

Chobani, which operates a huge Greek yogurt facility in Twin Falls, buys its milk from Idaho dairymen. In a press release, Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya says if passed, the measure would limit transparency.

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Policy
7:09 am
Fri February 28, 2014

In Wake Of Arizona Veto, Similar Measures Considered In Northwest

Chantal Andrea

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 7:26 am

Amidst the debate over the now-vetoed Arizona bill that would have protected businesses that refuse to serve gays and others for religious reasons, gay rights groups in the Northwest say similar legislation could surface here.

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Idaho Legislature
9:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Idaho College Students, Faculty Plan Walkout Against Guns On Campus Bill

Organizers distributed walkout fliers on Boise State's campus Wednesday.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of Idaho college students, faculty, and law enforcement will rally at the Capitol at 12:30 Thursday against a proposal that would allow some to carry concealed guns on university campuses.

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Idaho Legislature
12:34 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho House Approves $2 Million Plan To Kill Wolves

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Lawmakers voted 49-16 to direct $2 million to help kill problem wolves, over objections from Democrats who say it's a poor use of the money.

Friday's vote sends the measure, backed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and livestock producers, to the Senate.

Idaho has 118 packs and 680 wolves, according to 2012 figures.

This wolf control fund's proponents argue existing measures by federal trappers and hunters aren't enough to tackle wolves that prey on sheep, cattle and elk herds coveted by hunters.

This fund will help pick up the slack.

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Wages
4:23 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

CBO: Minimum Wage Hike Could Boost Paychecks – And Cut Jobs

Darlene Handy of Baltimore holds up a banner at a rally supporting a pay measure in Maryland. More than 20 states have raised minimum pay rates above the federal level.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 4:42 pm

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

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Idaho Legislature
9:57 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Idaho House Dumps Unconstitutional Capitol Protest Rules

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A House panel ended the state's bid to appeal a federal judge's decision that rules governing protests at the Capitol are unconstitutional.

The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday voted to reject rules that, among other things, had sought to limit protest duration and give special treatment to state events.

They were crafted in the wake of the "Occupy Boise" protests of 2011 and 2012.

But U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill decided the rules violated constitutional free speech protections last year.

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Wages
9:55 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Why Are Democrats Suddenly Talking About Minimum Wage?

Talk of raising the minimum wage has been spreading in Washington's Capitol building.
Colin Fogarty

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:40 am

We’re hearing a lot these days about raising the minimum wage.

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NPR Story
4:07 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Faith Healing Exemption Gets Scrutiny In Washington Legislature

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 10:13 am

Christian Scientists who treat their sick children with faith healing, instead of medical care, have special protection under Washington law. But that could soon change.

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Idaho Legislature
12:16 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Idaho Dairies Want To Stop Activists From Filming

Credit Ambersky235 / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's $2.5 billion dairy industry wants to put people who film their operations surreptitiously in jail for up to a year, a bid to block animal-rights groups from spying on farms in hopes of catching animal cruelty on tape.

Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls Thursday introduced the measure on the heels of videos produced in 2012 by a group at one of Idaho's largest dairies documenting cows being beaten.

If the measure passes, anybody who enters an agricultural production facility without permission and records operations could face a year behind bars and a $5,000 fine.

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Lobbying
6:45 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Why It's Tough To Track What Lobbyists Give To Idaho Lawmakers

Tim Hurst is Idaho's Chief Deputy Secretary of State. Part of his job is to ensure lobbyist disclosure reports are above board.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Late last year, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR launched an interactive data project that lets Missouri voters see just how much money their state representative has accepted from lobbyists. It's an easy-to-navigate visual that gives people a sense of the kinds of relationships that have developed under their Capitol dome. A similar one-stop-shop of lobbying disclosure info wouldn't be possible in Idaho.

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