Today we’re continuing our timely conversation with author Jacob S. Hacker about the changing dynamics between the public and private sectors in driving economic growth, and how those changes are impacting our politics, culture and prosperity.

Mr. Hacker is a professor of political science at Yale University and the co-author of a new book, American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper.  He wrote this book with his colleague, Paul Pierson, who is at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jonathan Katz talks more about his award-winning book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.  Mr Katz was the only full time U.S. news reporter in Haiti when the quake struck.  His on-the-ground reporting for the Associated Press helped inform the world about the scope of the disaster, and he stayed in Haiti in the months that followed to document how and why well-meaning world relief efforts fell short.

With 70 percent of its land owned by the federal government, the Great Basin is known as America’s last frontier. It’s home to ghost towns, endless sagebrush and secretive government test sites. Paradoxically, the Great Basin also is the fastest growing urban region in the United States, thanks to the cities of Boise, Salt Lake City, Reno and Las Vegas that perch on its rim.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A marijuana policy forum Tuesday night that was billed as a balanced discussion between some of Idaho’s top supporters and opponents of pot legalization turned out not to be all it was advertised.

First, a former Idaho lawmaker who is a pro-pot Republican bowed out, organizers say for health reasons. To replace him, a marijuana advocate with a national following was added to the program. Then Tuesday a speaker from the Idaho State Police canceled. Finally Elisha Figueroa, chief drug policy advisor to Idaho’s governor, backed out.

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

What’s being billed as a town hall meeting on marijuana policy is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Boise State University Student Union Building. The forum will include some influential figures with differing perspectives on the pot legalization.

Speakers include a pro-marijuana blogger, a pro-marijuana radio personality, someone from the Idaho State Police and Elisha Figueroa - the head of the governor’s Office for Drug Policy.

A bill that would require criminal background checks for private gun sales in Oregon is on its way to the governor's desk. The Oregon House narrowly passed the measure Monday.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

President Barack Obama last week signed a $200 billion Medicare bill that reforms payments to physicians. Tucked inside that massive Medicare bill was a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Act, a federal program that pays rural counties and school districts with a lot of non-taxable forest land.

The Idaho Racing Commission has suspended all future approval of lucrative slot-like machines known as instant horse racing terminals.

The commission unanimously issued its moratorium today. Their decision comes after Gov. "Butch" Otter vetoed legislation that would have banned all instant horse racing machines in Idaho and instructed the commission to enforce the suspension.

Known as instant horse racing, the machines allow bettors to place wages on old horse races with no identifiable information. Idaho lawmakers approved legalizing the machines in 2013.

isvend09 / Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Hailey will soon be added to a growing list of Idaho towns with non-discrimination ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Hailey's new law will take effect later this spring, and will ban discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. At that point, more than 450,000 Idahoans will be protected under one of these municipal laws. That's almost 30 percent of the state's population.

Tim Connor / Flickr Creative Commons

Hailey is set to become the 11th city in Idaho to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. The law – which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – comes after the Idaho Legislature failed to pass a similar statewide measure earlier this year.

Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson drafted the ordinance, and says he looked to Boise's 2012 law as a model.

The federal government and many states have offered car buyers incentives to venture into the electric car market. But now some states are going in a different direction.

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.

MHall209 / Flickr Creative Commons

Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking the dairy industry by the horns on an animal welfare issue that bothers activists but is little known to consumers.

Horned calves are common in dairy herds and farms routinely remove the horn buds by burning or gouging them out before horns develop. Horns are hazardous because unruly cows can gore farm workers or other animals.

General Mills, Nestle, Denny's are among companies pushing increased breeding of cows born without horns — called polled cattle.

Oregon's congressional delegation is hoping to secure a two-year extension of timber payments to rural counties. The Secure Rural Schools provision is tucked in a bill the U.S. House is voting on this week.


Idaho’s Senate Tuesday will consider two bills about cannabis-based epilepsy treatments.

Clare Carey has been asking lawmakers to allow access to a certain kind of hemp oil for nearly two years. One of the two bills in the Senate is called Alexis’ Law after Carey’s daughter, who suffers from debilitating, life threatening epilepsy.

Cuba is a mere 90 miles from the United States, a puddle-jump flight or a long swim across the straits of Florida. Yet, for more than a half-century, that distance at times has loomed much greater, as U.S.-Cuba tensions played out across the world stage and here at home. That situation is changing – and dramatically so.

Last December, after 18 months of secret talks, President Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana. The news sparked intense reactions and a flurry of speculation.

Idaho relies on private contractors to carry out government functions ranging from running prisons to keeping schools connected online.

The state's public records law clearly states no matter who holds the documents — government vendor or public agency — public records are always public. But a test of the law by The Associated Press shows the reality is murkier.

Frank Swift / Flickr Creative Commons

After a failed attempt to pass what's known as Idaho's "Add the Words" bill earlier this session, some people are looking to a neighboring state for guidance.

Last week, Utah's Republican-led Legislature passed what's being touted as a landmark gay rights law that has the support of the Mormon Church.

Idaho authorities are telling movie theaters serving alcohol that they can't provide drinks during showings of the erotic blockbuster "Fifty Shades of Grey."

The Idaho State Police's Alcohol Beverage Control has contacted at least two theaters showing the popular R-rated flick, ordering them to comply with a law banning businesses from serving booze to people watching sexually explicit films.

The law lists types of scenes requiring a booze ban. "Fifty Shades of Grey" features bondage and sadomasochism scenes.

Contractors have received $29.7 million under the voided Idaho Education Network contract.

Should the state try to get this money back?

It’s one of the many legal issues surrounding the defunct statewide broadband system. And it’s one many state officials don’t want to talk about.