Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have legalized a marijuana extract for patients with severe forms of epilepsy.

In his veto letter, Otter said his administration has strongly opposed the legislation because "there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law."

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Thursday he is not yet prepared to call a special legislative session to address child support.

Just before the 2015 legislative session ended last weekend, members of a House committee killed a bill to bring Idaho in compliance with changes to federal child support programs.

People who buy guns from private sellers in Oregon would have to clear a background check under a bill moving through the legislature.

The Idaho legislature adjourned its overtime session over the weekend.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers finished the 2015 legislative session early Saturday morning, boasting major funding increases for Idaho's teachers and completing a last-minute proposal to address the state's crumbling roads and bridges.

The session stretched nearly two weeks past when legislative leaders had optimistically estimated they would adjourn, winning a spot as one of the top five longest legislative sessions in Idaho's history. The longest session was in 2009, when it lasted 119 days.

Welcome to Idaho
Craig Cloutier / Flickr Creative Commons

A six-member joint panel has reached a compromise that would partially address Idaho's roads funding shortfall.

The new plan was passed unanimously by the Legislature's special joint conference committee on Friday afternoon after two full days of negotiations. The proposal would raise $95 million — far short of the $262 million annual shortfall the state has faced for road maintenance since 2010.

A special committee in the Idaho legislature assigned to find a compromise deal on roads funding ended the day Thursday with plenty of frustration but, still no deal.

Washington drivers might get to drive 75 on some rural highways.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House has overwhelmingly approved a plan to increase Idaho's grocery tax credit by $10 per person.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee introduced the plan less than two hours earlier on Thursday morning. The House then voted 68-1 to send the proposal to the Senate.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle from Star is backing the proposal. The legislation is estimated to cost almost $14 million in general fund dollars.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislation seeking to end a retirement bonus for state lawmakers who take high-paying state jobs at the end of their careers died Wednesday.

Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie tells The Spokesman-Review that the bill will not receive a committee hearing.

The bill had already passed the House on a narrow 38-32 vote.

Some sportsmen's groups and conservationists say they're frustrated with votes by both of Idaho's Republican senators on a budget resolution the groups say is a first step to federal land transfer or sale.

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both voted late last month to establish a procedure for selling, exchanging or transferring to the states federal lands.

Bob Jagendorf / Flickr Creative Commons

Two years ago, Idaho lawmakers approved  instant horse racing, which allows people to gamble using past races. Since that time, instant racing machines have been set up at three Idaho locations; Garden City, Post Falls and Idaho Falls.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislation that would increase Idaho's public school funding and boost salary increases for teachers has only one remaining hurdle.

The Idaho House approved all seven pieces of the state's largest budget with almost no discussion on Monday, sending the bills to the governor's desk.

None of the bills — a combined $1.4 billion in general funds — garnered more than seven votes in opposition.

Under the proposals, public schools funding will increase by 7.4 percent to help fund the first year of the new teacher pay increase.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers Monday passed a bill to allow parents to treat epileptic children with an oil extracted from cannabis. Idaho’s House approved the bill 39-30 after more than an hour of intense debate.

Opponents, such as Rep. Luke Malek, R- Coeur d’Alene, argued the bill legalizes marijuana because the oil has small amounts of the chemical that makes pot users high.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote not scientific evidence,” Malek said.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This post was updated April 7, 2015

The Idaho Senate has failed to override Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto on legislation that would have made roughly 250 slot-like betting machines in Idaho illegal,

However, senators passed three letters questioning the legality of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's notification actions.

The Senate voted 19-16 on Monday, just five votes shy of the required two-thirds support needed to flip a veto in a chamber.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed legislation that will ban Idaho women from receiving abortion-inducing drugs via telemedicine.

The new law signed on Monday requires a doctor to be physically present when giving pregnancy-ending pills. But telemedicine is not even currently available in the state.

The law also requires doctors to make efforts to schedule a follow-up visit with the woman after administering the drugs.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

On Friday afternoons, the crowd at the B gates of the Boise Airport includes a lot of familiar faces from the Idaho capitol.

Sen. Bob Nonini knows everybody. He's one of the longest-serving north Idaho lawmakers.

“We got Rep. Don Cheatham, Rep. Ron Mendive, Sen. Mary Souza, Rep. Sage Dixon, Rep. Vito Barbieri, Rep. Heather Scott, Rep. Kathy Sims, and Rep. Eric Redmond,” Nonini said. “And we go home -- most of us -- go home every weekend. And then come back.”

Everyone was in jeans and sneakers, ready to fly to Spokane.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Senate is teeing up for a new round of negotiations Monday on how to fund much-needed repairs on roads and bridges.

Lawmakers are going into their second week of overtime. But the two chambers of the Legislature haven’t been able to come to an agreement on one of their top priorities this year: raising an estimated $262 million for roads. The Senate declined to hear a House package that would have raised the gas tax by 7 cents.
 

House leadership has now effectively told the Senate: it’s your turn.

aposematic herpetologist / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho giant salamander is now officially Idaho's state amphibian.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the legislation on Thursday.

Fourteen-year-old Ilah Hickman has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass the bill for five years. Her dreams were briefly crushed earlier this year when lawmakers killed the bill in committee. However, lawmakers later revived the bill and sent it to the governor's desk.

Otter gave Hickman a copy of the bill and his pen before letting her sit behind the governor's desk.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The nearly $125 million plan to boost teacher pay in Idaho over the next five years won the governor's stamp of approval.

Under the new law, which Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed Thursday, rookie teacher pay would steadily increase to $37,000 a year by 2020.

Over time, more experienced teachers will be able to qualify for higher pay of roughly $42,000 to $50,000 a year.

Otter says passing the plan that had support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and all major stakeholders defined the 2015 legislative session as historic.

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