Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

The president of Idaho's largest business lobby offered to resign this week after a profane email targeting the chairman of the Senate Tax Committee was leaked.

Idaho Public Television reports Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry President Alex LaBeau will keep his job, despite the leaked email.

The City of Boise is taking applications for a new ombudsperson to help oversee the Boise Police Department. But unlike in the past, the person hired for the position will be part-time rather than full-time.

The city says the job entails investigating complaints of misconduct against police, as well cases that involve officers using deadly force.

City spokesperson Mike Journee says a lack of work led to the change.  

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

House Minority Leader John Rusche says Idaho needs a new office to investigate concerns about government fraud and waste.

Rusche pitched the idea to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The bill barely squeaked by the Republican-controlled panel after an attempt to kill the plan failed by one vote.

According to Rusche, currently there is nowhere for state employees or citizens to go if they have complaints regarding state-level corruption.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

After a fight that lasted a year-and-a-half, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) and the City of Boise have come to an agreement regarding parking meters in the city’s downtown.

With a 3-to-2 vote, ACHD commissioners reversed a previous decision and will now allow Boise to install high-tech sensors in the streets. The sensors will connect wirelessly to “smart” parking meters, which accept credit cards.

bullying
Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.
 

Tanning
Evil Erin / Flickr Creative Commons

A House panel is endorsing a bill that would require teens to get permission from their parents in order to use a tanning bed.

The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously passed the legislation Wednesday.

The bill requires parental permission for children ages 14 to 17. Children under age 14 would be banned from tanning beds completely.

Steven Mings, a dermatologist in Boise, told lawmakers that the ultraviolet rays in tanning beds are directly linked to the causes of skin cancer.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed into law a bill approving $3.64 million in emergency funding for Idaho's faltering broadband program.

The stopgap measure Otter approved Wednesday allows school districts to negotiate their own broadband contracts for the rest of this school year to replace the Idaho Education Network system.

The emergency fix comes after a district judge voided Idaho's $60 million broadband contract, creating the potential loss of broadband access to nearly 200 public high schools across the state.

Dainel Lee / Flickr

The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee says his family and the families of other committee members are being harassed by backers of a proposed law to allow Idaho residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Republican Tom Loertscher of Iona on Tuesday on the House floor said his and the home phone numbers of other committee members are being published.

But Loertscher says the lawmakers are at the Statehouse so family members are getting the calls in what he says is a "new low," and he is asking the callers to "cease and desist."

This post was updated Feb. 25

A Kootenai County Republican Central Committee resolution that would declare Idaho a Christian state was rejected Tuesday night.

The Spokesman-Review reports at least two-thirds of members supported a move not to vote on the resolution, tabling the idea.

The original post was created Feb. 24

An Idaho lawmaker and farmer said the state should press the federal government to establish a national labeling system for genetically engineered foods -- before states create their own.

Jeff Kubina / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) is looking to resolve a year-and-a-half long dispute with the City of Boise. On Wednesday, the five member commission will vote on a revamped plan to allow the city to install high-tech parking meters on its sidewalks.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will introduce a bill Wednesday that will allow people to use some oils extracted from cannabis plants. Idaho currently does not allow any form of medical marijuana.  But other states without medical pot have passed exemptions similar to this new bill.

Its aim is to allow people with epilepsy to use the extract. Certain strains of cannabis have shown great promise in reducing seizures in children with severe epilepsy.

Marcel Pacatte

Boise City Council members had three hours of questions this afternoon about how ride-sharing platform Uber would work – and be regulated by the city.  In the end, the council voted unanimously to have an ordinance drafted for a public hearing by the end of next month.

A new measure backed by Idaho Power Co. would allow business owners to resell public utility electricity to electric car drivers.

The House State Affairs Committee voted Tuesday to introduce a bill permitting companies to buy the electricity from a public utility and then resell it to charge electric car batteries.

Rich Hahn from Idaho Power says that current state law prevents reselling electricity provided by a public utility. This means businesses are footing the bill for having electric car charging stations.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill that would set legal requirements for doctors who prescribe abortion-inducing medication.

Proponents of the measure said it would stop what they called “webcam abortions” from coming to Idaho. Anti-abortion groups warned that doctors could prescribe drugs like RU-486 over video conferencing without knowing the extent of a patient’s pregnancy and leave her to deal with the results at home.

Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

A proposal that would approve $3.6 million in emergency funding for Idaho's faltering broadband program is headed to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's desk for his signature.

The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/1JDJkrh) reports that the Idaho Senate unanimously voted Monday to approve the stopgap proposal. The legislation would require school districts to negotiate their own broadband contracts for the rest of this school year.

Classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

A legislative panel is backing a bill that would let Idaho's Education Department contract with private companies for education programs, and then only pay once the programs are shown to work.

The House Education Committee unanimously approved the plan, dubbed "Pay for Success," on Monday.

Sen. Bob Nonini from Coeur d'Alene sponsored the legislation. He says Idaho would not have to pay any money unless an independent evaluator decides the educational pilot program has met its goals under the contract.

Usually, the state funds pilot programs with its own money.

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are trying to figure out how to keep their state driver’s licenses from becoming obsolete in the eyes of the federal government.

On Friday, the Idaho House passed a bill that would ask the feds for more time to come into compliance with federal ID security standards.

GoSheShe / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican lawmakers in Idaho said there’s still a long road ahead to agreeing on a plan to fix roads and bridges.

But they said a trial balloon sent up this week has succeeded in starting the conversation among normally tax-averse politicians.

On Monday, the House Transportation and Defense transportation committee introduced a proposal to raise the gas tax by 8 cents per gallon and diesel by 12 cents per gallon. Thereafter, those taxes would automatically rise by a penny a year.

Committee chair Joe Palmer sponsored the package.

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