Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Dept. of Defense

U.S. officials have finished an investigation into how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his base in Afghanistan. Bergdahl was held captive for five years by the Taliban.

The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to be briefed on the report as early as today.

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.

The U.S. Department of Justice this week opened the door to a legalized pot market on tribal land.

Marketplace

City officials in Sandpoint are defending banning the public from a meeting about oil and coal train traffic attended by three area mayors, a state senator, county commissioner and officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan tells the Bonner County Daily Bee that the meeting Thursday was for information only and no actions were taken.

For the first time in at least 20 years, significantly more Americans say it's more important to protect the right to own guns than to control gun ownership, according to the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that more than half of Americans (52 percent) sided with gun rights compared with the 46 percent who favored gun control.

The findings represent the continuation of a shift that was only briefly interrupted by the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in 2012.

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.

Updated at 5:58 p.m.

Seventeen states, led by Texas, are suing the Obama administration over its recent executive actions on immigration.

"The Constitution prescribes immigration policy be fixed by Congress — not by presidential fiat," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the state's governor-elect, said at a news conference in Austin.

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.

Dixie National Forest, Utah, public lands
Jeff Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

A report released Monday shows Utah could afford to manage more than 30 million acres of public land within its borders if the state somehow took control of those acres from federal agencies.

State officials requested the economic study as part of a push to gain control of land in federal hands.

Utah's Republican governor and legislators argue local officials would be better land managers. They passed a 2012 law demanding the federal government hand over the land by 2015.

Alexodus / Flickr

A new group is kicking off a statewide campaign effort to legalize marijuana in Idaho by 2016.

New Approach Idaho is the latest pro-marijuana organization to emerge following a string of failed attempts by other groups over the years to legalize marijuana in Idaho.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that the new group is focused on allowing medical marijuana, but the long-term goal is full legalization.

Idaho Legislature

A Republican lawmaker from northern Idaho who was 26 votes short of keeping her seat gained only one vote on her Democratic opponent in a recount.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that state Rep. Thyra Stevenson had requested the recount because Nez Perce County experienced technical problems tabulating ballots on election night.

www.idoc.idaho.gov

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke is stepping down from his post after leading the department since 2007. His tenure included overseeing the fallout of a private-prison scandal, handling the first two executions since 1994 and enhancing the department's contract oversight.

Reinke submitted his resignation Tuesday during a special Idaho Board of Corrections meeting.

Washington Fish and Game

After giving the OK to a wolf hunting competition on Idaho public land, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has reversed its decision.

Idaho Legislature

Lawmakers on a committee charged with improving Idaho's broken public defense system have killed a resolution that would have given the state full responsibly for assigning attorneys to indigent defenders.

Earlier this year, representatives from the state's 44 counties voted that Idaho should manage the public defense system. However, members of the Legislature's Public Defense Reform Interim Committee at a meeting Monday agreed that counties should remain in control.

U.S. Senate

Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig is appealing a ruling ordering him to pay nearly $242,000 to the U.S. Treasury for improperly using campaign funds to pay for legal expenses following his 2007 airport bathroom sex sting arrest.

Craig filed the one-page appeal Monday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C.

A federal judge ruled in September that Craig illegally converted campaign money for personal expenses while trying to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of disorderly conduct.

Dainel Lee / Flickr

Idaho is among 21 states asking a federal appeals court to overturn provisions of Maryland's gun-control law that bans 45 assault weapons and limits gun magazines to 10 rounds.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led the coalition in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Fourth U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia last week.

The brief says the law violates the Second Amendment right to keep firearms in homes for self-protection.

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