Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

The head of Idaho's horse racing regulatory agency has retired.

The Idaho Statesman reports that Frank Lamb's retirement is effectively immediately. An Idaho State Police spokeswoman declined to provide further information about why Lamb retired.

However, the announcement came two days after the Statesman reported Lamb had been working as a consultant in Wyoming for a simulcast and instant horse racing company.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

After more than 20 hours of public testimony, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee decided to kill the "Add the Words" bill that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Idahoans.

The House State Affairs Committee —made up of the Legislature's most conservative lawmakers— voted 13-4 to hold the bill in committee. Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A panel in the Idaho House is expected to vote this morning on a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote comes after three days of hearings.

The nearly 20 hours of testimony came from gay people speaking about their experience with discrimination in Idaho. Parents talked about worrying their gay or transgender children would be fired or kicked out apartments.

Boise State University

The head of Boise State University says state support has lagged behind the surge in enrollment in recent years.

BSU President Bob Kustra Wednesday told lawmakers the school needs to add at least 63 new faculty positions -- especially if Idaho is going to meet its goal to graduate more people from college.

Kustra says the student-to-faculty ratio is above average for a school of Boise State's size. And, he says, students sometimes experience course “bottlenecks.”

Nearly one year after lawmakers and small business owners cast a critical eye at the contractor managing mental health and substance treatment for Idaho's poor, company officials say approval ratings remain high and problems are few.

Executives from Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, told the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday that they had a 95 percent satisfaction rating among members who receive behavioral-health services under Medicaid.

That's according to the most recent sample survey the company sent out to their members.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's Rep. Raul Labrador is one of nine U.S. House Republicans this week who announced the formation of the House Freedom Caucus. The group includes some of the most conservative members of Congress.

Labrador says the formation of the new caucus is a way for the its members to better represent their constituents. 

Labrador has been part of a similar, but larger group in the Republican Study Committee. He says having his voice – and that of his constituents in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District – heard will be easier as part of the new Freedom Caucus.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

Mormon church leaders are making a national appeal for a "balanced approach" in the clash between gay rights and religious freedom.

The church is promising to support some housing and job protections for gays and lesbians in exchange for legal protections for believers who object to the behavior of others.

It's not clear how much common ground the Mormons will find with this new campaign. The church insists it is making no changes in doctrine, and still believes it's against the law of God to have sex outside marriage between a man and a woman.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Several hundred people packed an auditorium in the Idaho Capitol Monday for a hearing on a measure known as the Add the Words bill.

It’s the first time the Legislature has considered a bill that would make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class in Idaho -- like race or religion. Proponents have been trying to get it heard for nine years.

Some of the most emotional testimony came from the parents of gay and transgender children.

University of Idaho

The president of the University of Idaho says the school will freeze undergraduate resident tuition rates next year if lawmakers fully fund a 3 percent salary increase for faculty and staff.

President Chuck Staben made the suggestion Monday to lawmakers on the Legislature's budget committee.

Officials say the cost would be $1.6 million.

Staben says reducing tuition will increase access to education.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Thousands of Idahoans have flocked to the Statehouse to testify in front of lawmakers concerning a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state's Human Rights Act.

The legislation, commonly called the "Add the Words" bill, had been denied a public hearing for nine consecutive years.

Rick Gerrard / Idaho Public Television

Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch derailed a 2010 wilderness bill but says he's working now with U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson on a scaled-down version as others attempt to persuade President Barack Obama to designate a central Idaho area a national monument.

Risch, a Republican, tells the Idaho Statesman in a story on Sunday that he's looking forward to carrying a bill that he says is a collaborative product.

Kyle Green
Idaho Statesman

For the first time in nine years, supporters of the "Add the Words" movement will get the chance to testify in front of lawmakers. On Monday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear HB 2 beginning at 8 a.m.

Marcel Pacatte

Nowhere else but on a college campus do you, two days after a presidential visit, sit down and unpack the event with a raft of scholars, some of the school’s best-brained students and a group of highly motivated learners from the community.

This was simply a university being a university on Friday afternoon in Driscoll Hall at Boise State University – and the place was packed for the unpacking.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

During President Barack Obama's speech at Boise State, he bragged about innovation taking place in Boise and on the BSU campus. At least 5,000 people heard his remarks firsthand. But a lot of people who wanted to be there couldn't. The White House limited the number of tickets available. And, as Adam Cotterell reports, those who watched Mr. Obama on TV, may have actually had a better seat than those in attendance.

Jim Max / For Boise State Public Radio

It's been almost two-and-a-half years since Boise pastor Saeed Abedini was first imprisoned in Iran. Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, has been working to get her husband's freedom secured ever since.

She's even spoken in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to plead her husband's case.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Abedini got her message directly to President Barack Obama.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise State University sophomore who introduced President Barack Obama before his Wednesday speech was beaming ear-to-ear at the podium. Camille Eddy is studying mechanical engineering. When she learned she'd be introducing the president at Wednesday's event, she was understandably thrilled.

“That felt really great -- being up there on the stage -- being able to welcome him to our community was such an awesome honor," Eddy says.

Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill that would formally expand the secrecy surrounding executions.

The Senate Judiciary and Rules committee agreed Wednesday to move forward the legislation from the Idaho Department of Correction. The bill would incorporate existing department policy on confidential execution records into state law, and broaden that language to include records involving the source of lethal medications used for executions. It would also make it illegal for the department to turn over the records in response to subpoenas or other preliminary legal inquiries.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

President Barack Obama spoke for just over 30 minutes Wednesday at Boise State University, touting the proposals from his Tuesday State of the Union address aimed at helping the middle class.

Jim Max / For Boise State Public Radio

President Barack Obama made a whirlwind stop in Boise Wednesday, touching down at around 1:20 p.m. MST.  Air Force One then departed the Boise airport three hours later.

In between, the president spoke to thousands people at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex on the Boise State University campus. He also visited Boise State's New Product Development Lab.

Idaho Statesman

President Barack Obama will speak at 3:00 p.m. MST at Boise State University.

After last night's State of the Union address, Obama is in Idaho to further his plans laid out in his speech which include tax and education plans aimed at benefiting the middle class.

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