Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Lawrence Wasden
Idaho Public Television

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office says it will not file criminal charges after being asked to review possible voter intimidation and interference in northern Idaho.

Deputy Attorney General Paul Panther sent a letter earlier this week alerting the Bonner County prosecutor's office that he did not find evidence of malicious harassment or stalking.

Samantha Wright/BSPR

The Idaho Legislature has been in session less than a week and lawmakers are already speculating about when they will go home.

Boise State University Professor of Political Science Gary Moncrief says there has been a lot of talk about how long the session will last. He says he’s heard from the media and some lawmakers that it should be a short session.

But in this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Moncrief says history doesn’t support that theory.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

AP

A new Idaho lawmaker has said he plans to sponsor a bill during the upcoming legislative session that would classify abortion as first-degree murder for mothers and doctors.

Sen. Dan Foreman's abortion bill would exempt mothers and doctors in cases where the mothers' lives are endangered, The Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday.

"How can a woman tell her unborn child it has to die?" the Moscow Republican asked. "Who represents the child?"

AP

In the Idaho Statehouse today, far right representative Heather Scott was stripped of all committee assignments after comments she made against fellow female lawmakers.

Nampa representative Christy Perry sent a letter to the Speaker of the Idaho House Scott Bedke yesterday questioning the behavior of fellow Republican lawmaker Heather Scott.

State of Idaho Public Defense Commission.

Idaho's Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state over its faulty public defense system.

Attorneys on both sides told the high court Wednesday that they agree Idaho's public defense system has serious deficiencies. But the state's attorneys say the blame should lie on the counties, not Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the state's Public Defense Commission.

Idaho lawmakers underwent a half-day of ethics training Wednesday as part of an ongoing effort by legislative leaders to discourage behavior that damages public confidence in government.

"None of us in this room plan on acting unethically," said Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Idaho Falls. "Nor do I think we are going to have a problem this year. But I do think we need to be reminded and rededicate ourselves."

Peter Lovera / Treefort Music Fest

Brace yourself, nerds.

The tech portion of Treefort Music Fest has dropped their lineup of all-things-nerdy coming to Hackfort March 24-25. The top billing will be familiar to those who love podcasts and/or data journalism: host Nate Silver is set to record a live FiveThirtyEight podcast on stage at the Boise festival.  The podcast follows national and local politics, using data to dissect elections and policy. It's regularly in top 100 podcast lists and has a devoted listenership.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter’s 11th State of the State address Monday focused on a number of key issues in the state. But one area the governor spent little time discussing was what’s known as the Medicaid gap, which impacts an estimated 78,000 Idahoans.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

In his Monday State of the State address, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter says he’s hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will give Idaho more leeway when it comes to public land management. He says he recently gave Trump’s transition team advice about sage grouse protection and removing federal protections for grizzlies.

 

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho Governor Butch Otter addressed lawmakers on Monday with his State of the State. He covered traditional topics, such as education, healthcare and public lands, but also spent time talking about cutting-edge technology. 

Coming out of the presidential election, cybersecurity been an issue that’s of great national concern. In his annual state address, Governor Butch Otter called it one of Idaho’s most complex challenges.

He specifically addressed a security breach last August of a licensing website used by Idaho Fish and Game.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said Monday during his State of the State address that education is his top priority for his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

His speech focused on education, tax relief and Idaho’s economy.

“Our finances are secure. Revenue is exceeding expectations. Economic growth is outpacing the overall growth of government and our own operations are more transparent and efficient than ever,” says Otter.

He is also proposing some tax relief.

AP Photo / Otto Kitsinger

Idaho Governor Butch Otter told lawmakers Monday that education is his top priority for the next budget year.

During his 11th State of the State address, he proposed more money for K-12 teacher salaries and the higher education building fund. And he wants tax cuts for businesses.

But there were a few things that he didn’t have a solution for, including a transportation maintenance shortfall, and the 78,000 Idahoans who don’t have health insurance because they make too much money to get on Medicaid.

AP

Update, 1:08 p.m.:

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's top priority for Idaho lawmakers is to focus on education in 2017.

Otter announced his short wish list during his annual State of the State address Monday afternoon.

The Republican governor proposed a 4.6 percent increase — roughly a $189 million funding bump — to the state's overall budget. More than 60 percent of that would go toward education, including more funding for teacher salaries and higher education facilities.

AP

Monday afternoon, Governor Butch Otter delivers his "State of the State" address, as the 2017 legislature kicks off. Education is expected to be one of his primary topics. Although the so-called health care gap was a hot topic last year, it's not expected to be as big a focus this time around.

Sally Jewell, sage grouse
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A federal district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter against the Obama administration.

In September 2015, Otter’s office filed suit against the Interior Department, arguing the federal agency illegally imposed land-use restrictions to protect the imperiled sage grouse. Now – a year and a half later – U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the lawsuit.

AP Photo

Speaking at an Associated Press legislative preview Friday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter hinted at some of his priorities for the 2017 session.

Otter traditionally unveils his budget and policy plans in his State of the State speech, which he gives on the first day of the session, which is Monday. But he did give a sneak peek Friday morning when he said his main focus will be education.

He’ll ask lawmakers for $58 million for the teacher pay raise program known as the Career Ladder. The five-year plan is in its third year and Otter says the goals are straightforward.

Gary Moncrief

It’s a new year for Republicans who now control government at the national level. And also for the 2017 Idaho Legislature, which leans even more toward the GOP after losing four Democratic seats in the fall elections. That means change in Washington D.C. and in the Gem State.

Today, we bring you our first 2017 Weekly Legislative Update. We’ll be taking a close look at what happens in the Idaho Statehouse, both in the public eye and behind the scenes.

Idaho Legislator Takes Lessons Into Second Term

Jan 5, 2017
Idaho State Legislature

Many first-time elected officials go into office with plans to push for major changes they promised during their campaigns. Then their experience in office leads them to moderate their views. For others whose ideas were more mainstream, the evolution as an elected official is more nuanced.

 

Second-term Idaho state Representative Eric Redman is a big, soft-spoken guy who spent 44 years in private industry. Most of that was in the insurance and real estate sectors. But serving in politics?

Rick Bowmer / AP Images

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made her final stop in Boise Tuesday during her last month as an Obama administration official. Jewell was briefed by wildfire officials at the National Interagency Fire Center about a landmark policy she put in place during her tenure.

Idaho Governor's Office

Attorney Robyn Brody has been sworn in as the newest justice on the Idaho Supreme Court.

KTVB-TV reports that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter administered the oath of office Tuesday at the Idaho Statehouse.

Brody won a seat on the state's highest court in November in a runoff election against opponent Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie, of Nampa. The last time there was a runoff election for an Idaho Supreme Court seat was in 1998.

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