Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

About 700 people turned out at the state capitol in Boise on Saturday to show their support for refugee resettlement. Since the attacks in Paris over a week ago, Governor Butch Otter and Idaho’s congressional delegation have stated their concerns over the vetting process of refugees.

Sean Michael Foster, one of the organizers, thinks the refugee backlash comes down to politics.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

It may be the beginning of the end for the homeless tent city near downtown Boise.

Thursday morning residents of the alley known as Cooper Court were awoken by Boise Police officers handing out warnings. The notices listed several laws people were breaking by sleeping in the alley and notified them that they could be fined or jailed.

The tents are located by the Connector in downtown, in an alley off Americana Boulevard and River Street. It's behind the Interfaith Sanctuary homeless shelter.

Mayor David Bieter
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

2015’s city elections in Boise will go down as ones lacking drama. Boise’s longtime Mayor, David Bieter, racked up nearly 70 percent of the vote on his way to a fourth term. City council incumbents Elaine Clegg, Scot Ludwig and Lauren McLean  won by large margins as well.

The city’s $10 million open space preservation levy was also an easy winner, gaining the support of nearly 75 percent of those who voted on the issue. The new levy will add open space in areas around the city, as well as fund restoration projects along the Boise River.

In its heyday, the central Idaho town of Clayton boasted a population of a few hundred people, thanks to the mining industry. But according to the 2010 census, the population dropped to a mere seven people. Despite its size, the town today will hold elections for mayor and city council.

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Races for Boise mayor, city council and a conservation initiative headline Tuesday’s ballot in Idaho’s largest city.

Polls across Idaho open at 8 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

Les Bois Park Live Horse Racing
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Horses may no longer run at Les Bois Park in Boise. The company that runs the facility – Treasure Valley Racing – says a ban passed earlier this year on gambling machines is jeopardizing its business.

Perhaps the biggest decision facing Boise voters in Tuesday’s election is not city council or mayoral candidates, but a two-year, $10 million property tax levy for open space protection and water conservation. Unlike a similar levy Boise voters approved in 2001, the latest would not limit purchases to the foothills.

Myleen Hollero / San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

People in San Francisco have been talking about Idaho a lot these days. Specifically, the city of almost one million residents has been debating whether the "Idaho stop" should be adopted. That’s the shorthand given to the 1982 law that says people riding bikes can treat a stop sign like a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign.

Kaiser Family Foundation

According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study, the 29 states that expanded Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act have – not surprisingly – witnessed increased enrollment and spending. Those states brought in new low-income enrollees that were not eligible before. In California alone, 3.4 million people were added to the state-run health insurance program.

Courtesy Zions Bank

Former First Lady Laura Bush was in Boise Friday as the headline speaker at of the Governor’s Trade and Business Conference hosted by Zions Bank. If you watch the local TV news Friday night you’ll no doubt see Bush speaking, but you won’t hear her. Bush would not allow audio recording of her speech.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Strengthening Idaho's system for purchasing goods and services comes down to careful training, good research, picking the right providers and following the law, some state employees told a group of lawmakers on Thursday.

The legislative interim committee is digging into Idaho's contracting system in the wake of several scandals, including an illegally awarded $60 million school broadband contract that was voided by a judge earlier this year.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Some Idaho lawmakers were briefed Wednesday on a streamlined sales tax policy during a meeting on potential changes to the tax code. Twelve legislators make up the Tax Working Group, which began holding public meetings earlier this month.

The Idaho State Tax Commission policy manager talked about the streamlined sales tax system. States like Utah and Wyoming already use the system, and it would make it easier for Idaho to collect online sales tax from people using sites like Amazon.

Idaho Transportation Department

You may have noticed higher registration fees when you’ve paid for new stickers for your car or truck. That’s part of a new law, and a new revenue stream for the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) backlog in road restoration and preservation. Now ITD says it is already wrapping up the first projects using the new influx of cash.

SamPac / Flickr

City of Boise officials says they're pleased that a judge decided this week to dismiss a lawsuit over a homeless camping ordinance. Bell v. City of Boise has been in the courts since it was filed in 2009.

At issue was a law that said the city could cite people sleeping outside. After the suit was filed, the city changed the law to say citations could only be issued if homeless shelters had empty beds.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Just three days after federal officials decided not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office and the Idaho Legislature has announced the state filed a lawsuit. Click here to read the suit.

A federal official who helps oversee refugee resettlement in the U.S. says despite an effort to do away with a program in Twin Falls, he still thinks the city is a viable option for refugees.


The head of the Federal Aviation Administration was in Boise Monday. Director Michael Huerta spoke to the National Association of State Aviation Officials convention at the Boise Center. Prior to his comments there, Huerta visited the National Interagency Fire Center. 

The FAA and officials at NIFC have worked together to try and curb the issue of drones flying too close to aerial firefighting operations. Numerous times this year, air tankers and helicopters flying over wildfires had to be grounded because drones were discovered nearby.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A series of seminars on open meetings and public records laws returns to southwest Idaho Monday. The organization Idahoans for Openness in Government puts together the seminars each year in different parts of the state along with the office of the Attorney General. The free public seminars start Monday in McCall then come to Boise and Nampa early next month.

Idaho’s Attorney General and the Idaho Press Club do the presentation. The interactive event lasts about three hours and features audience role playing.

Emilie Ritter Saunders

If you’re being stalked by a person who isn’t a relative or a romantic partner in Idaho, there’s not much the police can do to protect you from having contact. Civil protective orders here don’t cover stalking behavior by acquaintances or strangers.

But Idaho State Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, wants to change that. The lawmaker and attorney says he’s been working on legislation to broaden the categories governing protective orders since 2013.

CyberHades / Flickr Creative Commons

The state of Idaho’s new Cybersecurity Task Force holds its first meeting Wednesday afternoon. Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter created the group through executive order in July. Lieutenant Governor Brad Little will chair the task force.