Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

An Idaho city may have to redo its school board election after officials found problems with ballots in one district.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the Canyon County Elections Office announced Wednesday that there was a problem with five ballots in Tuesday's election. The incumbent was re-elected by only four votes.

Canyon County Clerk Chris Yamamoto says five ballots for Caldwell School District Zone 2 elections were incorrectly issued to Zone 1 voters, who did not have an election.

Former Idaho first lady Lola Evans died Tuesday in her Boise home. She was married to former Democratic Gov. John Evans for nearly 70 years.

The 88-year-old Evans died of natural causes. Her husband, who served as governor from 1977 to 1987, died nearly a year ago.

The two were high school sweethearts and married just before John deployed for World War II. They had five children.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to press criminal charges in connection with a contract fraud investigation at a private Idaho prison.

The FBI began investigating the Idaho Correctional Center last year. The facility had been run by Corrections Corporation of America and was known for being so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School."

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said Wednesday that the probe was complete, and the agency didn't find probable cause to file charges.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has selected former state Sen. Bob Geddes as the new director of the Department of Administration.

Otter announced the appointment on Wednesday.

Geddes is currently a registered lobbyist for Monsanto and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to that, he served one year as chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission and nine terms as a state Republican senator from eastern Idaho.

JOE JASZEWSKI / Idaho Statesman

Parking officials are planning to buy and install about 800 new smart parking meters in downtown Boise that will allow users to pay with smartphones.

KBOI-TV reports city officials signed off on the $310,000 funding for the machines Tuesday.

The meters accept coins or a credit card, and soon users will be able to pay with a smartphone app.

Salt Lake City resident Katie Flanagan has used similar meters in Utah and says people in Boise will enjoy the app.

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

Lawmakers may be done setting the state budget and passing laws, but they'll continue to work on reviewing hot button issues varying from multi-million contracts, school broadband access and public defense reform.

Legislative leaders approved the 2015 interim committees on Tuesday. The panels will meet over the summer and provide recommendations to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

This included appointing members to a new committee to review Idaho's bidding and selection process of the state's most expensive contracts.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter praised lawmakers for successfully passing child support enforcement legislation during the Idaho Legislature's 11-hour special session.

Otter told reporters Tuesday that he will sign the bill once it gets to his desk.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A special session of the Idaho Legislature has passed a bill that brings the state into compliance with federal rules governing child-support payments.

Similar legislation was rejected last month, jeopardizing U.S. involvement in an international treaty that aims to make it easier for parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter called lawmakers back to Boise recently after nine Republican House members killed a compliance bill, jeopardizing the treaty and state access to federal funds and programs.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Dozens of countries, including the U.S., have agreed on how to handle child support payments when one parent is in a different country. But the state of Idaho is holding out.

Now the issue is forcing Idaho lawmakers to return to the Capitol. They’re expected to reconsider a measure on interstate and international child support cases.

The federal government says if Idaho doesn’t adopt the rules as other states have, it could lose access to key databases.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. has spent years leading negotiations toward an international treaty that would make it easier for single parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

But families across the country could be stuck with the cumbersome existing system after legislators in a single state rejected the deal because, they said, it could allow Islamic law to influence American courts.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo from Idaho has announced that he will be running for his fourth consecutive term in the Senate in 2016.

The Idaho Republican has represented the Gem State in the U.S. Senate since 1998. He was re-elected in 2010 with 71 percent of the vote after running unopposed in 2004.

Crapo said in a prepared statement that he will continue to fight for the Idaho's conservative values in Washington.

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution calling for Iranian officials to immediately release a Boise pastor and two Americans held in Iran and help locate a fourth.

The lawmakers on Monday called on Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to be missing in Iran.

Abedini, a Christian pastor from Idaho, has been in Iranian custody since September 2012 and is serving an eight-year sentence for undermining state security.

Idaho Capitol, statehouse
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho taxpayers footed a bill of nearly $250,000 to cover expenses for lawmakers traveling to and from Boise during the 2015 legislative session.

Taxpayers paid an additional $50,000 for lawmakers to travel outside the state over the past fiscal year.

The Associated Press obtained the information through a public records request for travel reimbursements for the past year for all 105 state lawmakers in the House and Senate.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Six same-sex couples in northern Idaho who received marriage licenses before state officials say a federal court made such unions legal are being given a unique state-approved opportunity for a do-over.

Northern Idaho officials are offering a marriage license application that has the unusual option of selecting already married.

The application available only to the six same-sex couples in Latah County who married in early October is intended to allow them to get a new application without denying they're already married.

A Coeur d'Alene committee is taking on the American classics.

A district curriculum review committee has recommended that John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" be removed from classroom instruction.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the school board will vote on the recommendation next month.

Review board member Mary Jo Finney cites the use of profanity and a negative story line as the reasons she objects to the 1937 book about two migrant ranch hands.

A bill that would require criminal background checks for private gun sales in Oregon is on its way to the governor's desk. The Oregon House narrowly passed the measure Monday.

Larry Craig
Joe Jaszewski / The Idaho Statesman

Federal election regulators have sent former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig a warning letter that he failed to submit financial disclosure documents.

The Federal Election Commission says Craig failed to report his April quarterly finances.

Craig told The Associated Press that he submitted the report Monday.

The Idaho Republican says he has continued to file quarterly reports — despite leaving office in 2009 — because of his legal battles over his use of campaign funds.

School districts across the state are grappling with changes stemming from a new state law raising the salary for teachers and the major districts west of Boise are no exception.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Nampa Superintendent David Peterson says the starting wage increase of 4.5 percent will have a large effect on his district. A financial crisis in 2012 caused many veteran teachers to leave and brought an influx of first-time educators to the city.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt is engaged to be married to Francee Reilly, of Boise, later this summer.

Batt declined to provide The Associated Press information on when or where the wedding will take place, but added those details will be released eventually. Batt also declined to say when the two became engaged.

The 88-year-old Batt was Idaho's governor for one term from 1995-1999.

In September, Batt's first wife, Jacque Batt, died of natural causes. The two had been married for 66 years.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Said Ahmed-Zaid is an engineering professor at Boise State University. He's lived in Boise for 18 years, and is also a spokesperson for the city's Islamic Center. He's held that position since 9/11, representing his minority religion's members in a majority Christian state.

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