Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Jesse Michael Nix / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Girl Scouts would get a tax break on each box of Thin Mints under legislation introduced in a House committee.

The House Revenue and Tax Committee introduced a bill Monday that would exempt Girl and Boy Scouts' food programs from the state sales tax.

Republican Rep. Janet Trujillo of Idaho Falls says the tax break would allow scout programs to thrive but would take about $210,000 in scout-generated sales tax revenue from state general funds.

J Biochemist / Flickr Creative Commons

A bill that would allow public utilities to keep blueprints and other documents secret from the public has passed is first hurdle in the Idaho Legislature.

The House State Affairs Committee introduced the measure Friday.

The proposal would exempt the public from seeing emergency response plans, computer and telecommunication systems and building blueprints.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Months’ of coverage of Boise’s high-profile homeless camp included the voices of homeless people, their advocates and members of a city government that ultimately removed the camp from the public eye.

Flickr Creative Commons

Cities and counties in Idaho would need state approval to enforce plastic bag bans under a new proposal currently making its way through the Idaho Statehouse.

The Idaho House voted 52-17 on Wednesday to make it illegal for cities to impose bag bans, restrictions on Styrofoam containers and other disposable products. If approved, local officials would need permission from the Idaho Legislature to enact the restrictions.

Currently, no cities enforce plastic bag bans in Idaho, but such efforts have been made in the past.

The Idaho Legislature's first-ever hearing on expanding Medicaid eligibility attracted hundreds of supporters Tuesday, but lawmakers declined to vote on whether to send the measure forward after listening to an hour of testimony.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee held an information hearing on a proposal that would expand Medicaid eligibility to cover everyone who earns less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

NPR

All eyes are on Iowa. Voters in the Hawkeye State will choose between 12 GOP presidential candidates and three Democrats. Be sure to tune in for NPR's live coverage on KBSX 91.5 FM Monday evening, or stream it online.

But should Iowa really be the first state to select a presidential nominee?

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho legislature is considering a new bill that would cut income tax rates for top-earners and corporations. The bill is the first of its kind in this year’s session. 
 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last year, the state says number of fake Idaho income tax returns increased by 64 percent over the previous year. And officials with the state tax commission says they’ve already received fraudulent returns this year.

Some taxpayers may have already received verification letters in the mail. There are two types of letters – and the tax commission asks that people reply as soon as possible. If you don’t prove your identity, your tax refund will not be sent.

A key Idaho Republican lawmaker has announced a surprising change of course for the Idaho Legislature, saying he has scheduled the first-ever hearing on a Medicaid expansion bill.

Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, told the Lewiston Tribune that he will allow a hearing to take place on February 2.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Great Seal of Idaho
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have sent a tax conformity bill back to the drawing board because it would have removed an unenforceable rule banning joint returns from same-sex couples.

A bill that would prohibit powdered alcohol in the state is headed to the Idaho House, but it'll likely face changes before lawmakers get another chance to vote on it.

Idaho State Liquor Division Jeff Anderson told the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday that powdered alcohol is prone to abuse by minors and is easily concealable. He says 27 states have already prohibited the substance.

The legislative panel unanimously sent the bill to the House floor to be amended.

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.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr.com

Few people know the boundaries of the county they live in down to excruciatingly precise detail. But there are people who do know, for things like taxes and map making.  But it turns that out that for a long time nobody knew exactly where Idaho’s most populous county ended and where one of its neighbors began.

By the end of 2016 Ada County surveyor Jerry Hastings expects to be done with what has, so far, been a 12-year project.  He and his Boise County counterparts have been trying to re-establish their boundary.

Kathrine Jones / Idaho Staesman

A Spokane pastor was in Boise last week to warn Idaho lawmakers that refugees pose a security threat to the United States. That’s a position some Idaho lawmakers already hold and the issue may come up in the current legislative session.

A senior U.S. official says the plane carrying Americans who had been imprisoned by Iran has left Tehran.

The Obama administration official isn't saying whether all four Americans were on the plane, just that those "who wished to depart Iran have left."

Among those released as part of a deal between the American and Iranian governments is Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Boise. On Twitter, his wife Naghmeh said her husband has left Iran.

Update: Rep. Simpson (R-ID) has also released a statement regarding Saeed Abedini.

“Congress has been urging the Administration to secure the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans wrongly detained in Iran for far too long, and the failure to do so was among the many reasons I opposed the Iran nuclear deal. I’m extremely grateful that these Americans will finally be returning home where they belong.” - Rep. Mike Simpson

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

The wife of an Idaho pastor who is among four detained Americans being released from Iran says a "huge burden" is being lifted with the news.

Naghmeh Abedini told The Associated Press that after she learned that Saeed Abedini was to be released early Saturday, she woke her kids up shortly afterward and told them "Daddy was coming home." She says they were excited and couldn't believe it.

The Boise man was detained for compromising national security, presumably because of Christian proselytizing, in September 2012. He was sentenced in 2013 to 8 years in prison.

Some of the nation's most formidable statesmen and women were guests of  Friday's Frank Church Conference on Public Affairs, now in its 32nd year. The Boise State conference attracted ambassadors, scholars, authors and U.S. State Department officials. They were on hand to deconstruct this year's theme: Clash of Cultures, The Middle East in Turmoil. 
 

Ambassador Gerald Feierstein was invited to consider this week's fifth anniversary of the rise of the Arab Spring. Feierstein is the current Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near East 

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

Update, 10:15 a.m., Monday: The family of Idaho pastor Saeed Abedini is planning to reunite with him on the East Coast. Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, told the Idaho Statesman Monday that she and her two children will fly to meet him on the East Coast to heal and reconnect with him. She says her husband is currently being treated at a U.S. Army medical facility in Germany.

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