Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney wants to reform the state’s Sunshine Laws. According to Idaho Reports, Denney plans to introduce new legislation in the upcoming session. Sunshine laws are used to make government agencies more transparent.

Idaho officials have sold seven commercial properties for $17.3 million as part of a plan to get rid of politically contentious commercial real estate and use the money to buy timberland and agricultural land that the state uses to generate revenue to fund schools.

The Idaho Department of Lands sold the properties on Thursday in an auction that officials said brought in $4.5 million more than the appraised value of the properties.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

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

Idaho lawmakers have gathered in Boise to determine who will sit in the most coveted spots in the Statehouse.

Committee chairmen wield tremendous influence in setting the tone of legislative sessions because they control the fate of most legislative proposals that come across their desk. The positions are determined every two years.

On Thursday, legislative leaders announced that Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican from Terreton, will take over Senate State Affairs Committee — one of the most high-profile committees because it votes on the most contentious bills.

AP

Federal prosecutors want a judge in Nevada to schedule a trio of trials for the 17 defendants jailed on charges stemming from an armed confrontation in April 2014 with U.S. officials over grazing rights near cattleman Cliven Bundy's ranch.

But Bundy and his attorney call in documents filed Wednesday for all the defendants to be tried together.

Otherwise, the defendants who are required to wait will spend more months behind bars without a chance to prove their innocence, Bundy attorney Bret Whipple said in the request to Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

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

Secret balloting on Wednesday evening resulted in Idaho Republicans sticking with the same legislative leaders.

Every two years, Democratic and Republican lawmakers from both chambers splintered off into their caucuses in Boise to determine their leadership lineup. Recently, lawmakers have cast votes the night before settling on legislative committee assignments several weeks before the legislative session kicks off. Because the meetings are behind closed doors, exact voting results aren't released to the public or to the lawmakers who voted.

AP Photo

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says that he has no plans to introduce a tax cut proposal to the Idaho Legislature in 2017.

Speaking Wednesday at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference in Boise, Otter said he plans to focus on education as his top priority during the upcoming legislative session. However, Otter added he's open to considering tax cut proposals that make it through the GOP-dominated Legislature.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to announce his picks for his administration, one cabinet position that could directly affect Idaho remains unfilled.

The Secretary of Interior oversees the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two agencies that can be the focal point of anger from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Treasurer Crane
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho treasurer's office didn't make public for about three and a half months information about a Securities and Exchange Commission violation involving a state agency.

The Spokesman-Review reports in a story on Tuesday that the state Credit Rating Enhancement Committee's annual report in July detailed the SEC action involving self-reported violations by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has returned to work after the Thanksgiving recess. One of the big items on the docket during the lame duck session is the passage of a $602-billion defense bill. But an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has helped to stall its passage, tying the debate over the greater sage grouse to Pentagon funding.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Democrats filed a complaint in October alleging an official with the Idaho Republican Party violated the state’s campaign laws. Since then, the Secretary of State’s office looked at the issue – and says no wrongdoing occurred.

Tom Kelly/Flickr

A small group of Idaho lawmakers say the Republican-dominated Legislature must find a way to provide health care to the state's low-income uninsured population in 2017.

However, the legislative panel fell short from backing a specific proposal during its final meeting on Tuesday. Instead, lawmakers agreed on broad recommendations, such as urging a sunset provision if the Idaho Legislature does consider Medicaid expansion and promoting using general funds to help cover any new program costs.

AP

Idaho will continue to pay its governor a housing stipend because it still has no governor's mansion.

The Spokesman-Review reports Idaho is one of only six states without a mansion for its executive. A state committee decided Monday to continue paying a $4,500 monthly stipend to Gov. Butch Otter in lieu of housing.

Otto Kitsinger / AP Images

There’s no way around it – November 8 was a rough day for Idaho Democrats. The red state went even redder, as Republicans picked up four seats in the Legislature, including the one held by House Minority Leader John Rusche.

To Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, the election was a turning point for progressives – both on the national and state level.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Secretary of State Denney
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Secretary of State's office says the Idaho Republican Party did not violate the state's campaign laws while creating a political attack ad against House Minority Leader John Rusche.

The decision refutes a complaint filed by the Idaho Democratic Party in October. Democratic officials alleged that Idaho Republican Party Executive Director David Johnston illegally coordinated with GOP candidate Mike Kingsley's campaign in creating a political attack ad against Rusche using funds from an independent expenditure.

Otto Kitsinger / AP Images

Senator Mike Crapo is not giving up on his push to get a vote on Pocatello judge David Nye's nomination to the U.S. District Court of Idaho. Nye was selected to fill a vacant seat on the court in April. Since then, he’s survived questions from the senate judiciary committee, and has been waiting to get a full vote from the Senate. Crapo is hopeful Nye's nomination can come to a vote during the current lame duck session.

Kimberlee Kruesi / AP

Republican Rep. Greg Chaney says he is challenging House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude for his legislative leadership position.

Chaney said Friday that he was approached earlier this year to run for the leadership seat, but declined to name who asked him to run.

Idaho Fish & Game Headquarters Office Sign Director
Dan Greenwood / Boise State Public Radio

Fourteen former Idaho Fish and Game commissioners are asking legislative leaders to replace the head of the state's Senate Resources and Environment Committee.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the commissioners sent a letter Thursday asking that Sen. Steve Bair, a Republican from Blackfoot, no longer chair the senate committee.

The commissioners wrote that their request was prompted over a dispute over reappointment of commissioners, as well as after seeing efforts to change how controlled hunting permits are allocated.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio/ StateImpact Idaho

For the second time in nearly two decades, 31 members of Idaho's state lawmakers are women.

On Election Day, Idaho voters picked the 31 female lawmakers to hold legislative offices across the state. There are 105-members in the predominantly-Republican Idaho Legislature.

Nine women will serve in the Senate, while 22 women will hold seats in the House.

Eleven of the women are Democrats, and the remaining 20 are Republicans.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

A couple of days after last week’s polarizing election, Julianne Donnelly Tzul led a training for refugees in Boise. As the head of the local office of the International Rescue Committee, she heard concerns about what may happen under President-elect Trump’s administration. His campaign included sharp anti-refugee rhetoric.

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