Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

US Air Force / Flickr Creative Commons

Heavy snow has damaged roads, caused roofs to collapse and made this winter one for the record books. With spring just around the corner, a proposal to spend $52 million to help the state clean up and repair damage from the blistering winter is gaining traction.

State budget writers approved tapping Idaho's financial surplus to help fix flood and storm damage. The money still needs to be approved by the state Senate and House before being doled out. The state's finance committee says it'll attach an emergency clause to the bill allowing the funds to be accessed immediately.

Vito Barbieri
Matt Cilley / AP Images

Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, introduced a bill Wednesday that would exempt public officials from fulfilling certain public records requests. He brought up the proposal in the House State Affairs Committee.

Boise State Public Radio

Tommy Ahlquist is the third Republican to throw his hat in the race to be Idaho’s governor. He made his bid official Tuesday by filing the requisite paperwork for the 2018 race.

A member of the LDS church, Ahlquist is the Chief Operating Officer of the Gardner Company – the developer who has helped revitalized downtown Boise. Before working for Gardner, he was an emergency room doctor for almost two decades.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Images

We checked in with a few voters in Boise right after President Donald Trump's speech Tuesday night.

Republican Tyler Ricks actually voted for libertarian Gary Johnson last November. He wasn’t convinced candidate Trump would bring real change to Washington. But Ricks says he was happy to hear the president sound more – well – presidential.

“It was more calm," says Ricks. "And I think that came across – you know that he does truly care about Americans.”

He says Trump’s speech spoke to him directly.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke has appointed Republican Rep. Clark Kauffman of Filer to serve on the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. His appointment replaces Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, from the board. Chaeny has served on it since 2015.

Boise Police Department Cop Car
Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

A bipartisan bill to reform civil asset forfeiture rules is making its way through the Statehouse. Civil asset forfeiture is typically used by law enforcement to seize property in drug cases to keep profits from those illicit transactions out of the hands of drug dealers.

Flickr Creative Commons

House lawmakers have killed legislation allowing FBI background checks on some state employees despite warnings from the bill's sponsor that doing so will cause the state to lose critical federal funding.

The proposal would have allowed the Department of Labor to conduct FBI fingerprint-based background checks on employees, applicants, contractors, interns and other. The federal government requires the checks for any employee who handles confidential taxpayer information.

Daniel Weber / Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho Senate panel has agreed to exclude several references to climate change in the state's newest proposed science standards.

The standards haven't been updated since 2001 and have been criticized as vague. The House Education Committee sparked controversy earlier this month by removing several key mentions to climate change and human impact on the environment from the proposed standards. The amended rules needed to be adopted by the Senate panel in order to be implemented.

John McCrostie for District 16 / Facebook

An Idaho Democratic lawmaker sparked objections from Republican members Monday for using an anti-motorcycling profiling bill to promote amending the state's Human's Rights Act.

Rep. John McCrostie of Boise praised the proposal for not allowing discrimination based on a certain lifestyle, adding that no one should be profiled if they are gay or a biker. McCrostie's argument caused vocal protest from lawmakers who felt he violated House floor rules.

This caused House Speaker Scott Bedke to warn Democrats to keep their debate focused on the proposed legislation.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Attorney in Boise, Wendy Olson, is leaving her post Saturday after seven years in the top position and two decades with the office. Just two days before stepping down, Matt Guilhem spoke to Olson, an Idaho native, not just about her long career, but about her roots in the Gem State.

Wendy Olson's last day on the job is February 25. She'll be going into private practice at a Boise law firm.

 

Tom Britt / Flickr Creative Commons

Zebra mussels are knocking at Idaho’s door.

Montana, Utah and Nevada all have the invasive species, which attach to boats and can spread easily from different bodies of water. They can kill native lake species and cost millions of dollars in damage and mitigation. They first appeared in the Great Lakes after Eastern European boats introduced them in the 1980s.

 

AP

As we wrap up week seven of the 2017 Idaho Legislature, lawmakers have passed 37 bills into new laws. That number will increase dramatically in the next four weeks.

One hot button issue this week was a bill that could have had some effect on the types of gaming that Native American tribes in Idaho could offer in their casinos.

In our 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University professor Gary Moncrief says the House State Affairs Committee spent a lot of time on this bill. He say that was a little unusual for lawmakers.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

U.S. Representative Raul Labrador spoke to the Idaho House Wednesday about President Donald Trump.

The First District Republican gave a fifteen minute speech to members of Idaho’s House of Representatives. Labrador said he was concerned at the reaction to President Trump’s actions. Labrador said people are acting like Trump’s actions are unusual or illegitimate, when he’s just doing the things he said he would while campaigning.

Karl Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons

With backlashes at townhall meetings held by congressional representatives across the country, Idaho’s own Congressional delegation isn’t setting any public meetings with constituents during the current recess.

There’s a missing persons campaign afoot for Idaho’s D.C. contingent.

Posters announcing a mock missing persons campaign for Idaho’s D.C. contingent are making the rounds on social media and on street lights in downtown Boise. The posters say: “Missing: Have You Seen This Man?” and feature pictures of Senator Mike Crapo or Senator Jim Risch.

AP

Law enforcement agencies would have to follow new statewide standards on how long physical evidence in sexual assault investigations should be retained under new legislation headed to the House floor.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Hundreds of students from around Boise were absent from class Thursday morning as they gathered on the steps of the Statehouse to voice their concern over Betsy DeVos, President Trump's secretary of education.

The rally was organized by Nora Harren and Colette Raptosh, the pair of high school students who spearheaded the Women's March Idaho, which drew thousands to the state capitol in the cold and snow the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Courtesy: Hy Kloc

An Idaho Democratic lawmaker's resolution honoring immigrants and refugees faced opposition from a legislative panel after Republican members questioned the timeliness of such praise.

Rep. Hy Kloc, of Boise, says his resolution introduced Thursday is intended to recognize the ongoing contributions of immigrants and refugees in Idaho.

Kloc, who was born in a refugee camp in Germany and whose parents were Holocaust survivors, said he came to the United States as a refugee in 1949. Last year, he backed a resolution honoring the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Friday we wrap up week six of the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers are getting down to the business of passing bills in committees and sending them to the House and Senate floor.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, or JFAC considered the final budget requests from the state agencies this week. That means this panel of 20 is switching gears and will start to draft bills, in fact, the committee is expected to write close to 100 budget bills.

Adam Theo / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho lawmakers are considering joining fellow Republican-dominated states calling for a constitutional amendment to limit federal government power.

Nigel Duara / AP Images

State lawmakers are considering putting an end to mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. The proposal has bipartisan support, but still has several hurdles to jump before becoming a law.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, says she first became aware of issues surrounding mandatory drug sentences when she spoke with judges around the state. The Boise lawmaker says Idaho’s standards are more stringent than they need to be, going above and beyond federal statute.

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