Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

AP

An Idaho House panel has introduced legislation that would create a new state program designed to provide basic health care to Idaho adults who currently don't have health insurance.

The Spokesman-Review reports that House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, said Monday that his $10 million proposal would be funded by a state endowment fund.

Wood's plan would only offer primary care services on a first-come, first-served basis.

An Idaho Senate panel has introduced legislation that would allow two options for driver's licenses — one that complies with federal identification requirements and one that doesn't.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Republican Sen. Steve Vick, of Dalton Gardens, said Thursday that some people have concerns about privacy issues and older drivers not being able to provide all the necessary documents.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Week five is just about over for the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers have debated the definition of casino-style gambling, Fish and Game fees and man-made climate change. And Representatives on the House floor made the rare move to kill a bill about license plates, only the second time this session a bill has gone down to defeat there.

Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho House panel has approved new K-12 science standards, but only after striking key references to climate change caused by human behavior.

This is the third year the Idaho Legislature has struggled to agree on science standards for public schools. Previous efforts that included references to global warming and the origin of the universe have been rejected by Republicans unhappy that the language didn't offer alternative views.

Michael Kappel / Flickr

The ongoing battle over appropriate Indian gambling is once again coming to a head in the Idaho Legislature, with both sides preparing to rip open old wounds.

Rep. Tom Loertscher, a Republican from Iona, introduced legislation Wednesday that would ban lucrative video gambling terminals inside the tribes' casinos. The proposal was tepidly accepted by the House State Affairs Committee, with some lawmakers raising concerns about the ripple effects of the bill.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Gov. "C.L" Butch Otter says he plans to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the Interior Department in 2015. The dismissed lawsuit alleges the department violated federal environmental rules when it withdrew almost four million acres of land in Idaho for conservation of the greater sage grouse.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he chose the wrong word in his recent remarks acknowledging his preference that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority.

Otter, speaking at an Idaho Press Club event Tuesday, said he believes in religious preference, not religious discrimination. When pressed on the difference between the two, Otter said the United States has an obligation to protect groups being targeted for discrimination.

 

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) has introduced a bill to give states more responsibility to manage conservation of the greater sage grouse. It comes as GOP control of Congress and the executive branch begin to shift western land management policy.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act – instead approving strict land management plans that limit mining activities across 10 million acres.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House overwhelmingly approved a $51 million tax cut plan Thursday despite hesitation from Republican and Democratic lawmakers unhappy with the deal.

 

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star) is sponsoring the bill, and says the state’s current surplus means Idaho should give a little money back to tax payers. If the bill passes, the first $750 of income would be exempt from taxation, and the top income and corporate rates would be reduced from 7.4 percent to 7.2 percent.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Entrance Steps
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As we wrap up the fourth week of the Idaho Legislature, lawmakers have been bringing forward more bills, covering issues from tax breaks to hunting and fishing fees.

One bill that came up this week was a preemptive move by some state lawmakers who want to keep so-called "Sanctuary Cities" out of Idaho. Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says it’s indicative of the power that some state legislatures have over their largest cities.

AP

A bill seeking to ban lucrative electronic pull-tab games in Idaho is on its way to the House floor despite objections from state lottery officials that the betting terminals are not slot machines.

The House State Affairs Committee reluctantly endorsed legislation Thursday to repeal electronic pull-tab machines, known as touch tabs. The machines mimic the classic pull-tab lotto tickets but are paperless and are played almost exclusively in bars and restaurants.

"Let's slow it down, let's draw the line here," said Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, the bill's sponsor.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Managers for Idaho's catastrophic health care program say they are struggling to predict how much money they will need next year due to uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

Roger Christensen, chairman of the Catastrophic Health Care Fund board and a Bonneville County commissioner, told members on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Wednesday that the program is requesting $18 million for fiscal year 2018, the same as this year.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Idaho's entirely Republican political delegation in Washington DC offered kind words for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Both Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Raul Labrador praised Trump's selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The Boise City Council has voted unanimously to adopt a resolution affirming the city's role as a welcoming community and a community of refuge.

The Idaho Statesman reports the resolution passed Tuesday declares "the City of Boise is committed to being a Welcoming City and creating a community where all of our residents feel welcomed, safe and able to fully participate in, and contribute to, our city's economic and social life."

Idaho Fish & Game Headquarters Office Sign Director
Dan Greenwood / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is trying to figure out its next move after a plan to increase hunting and fishing fees for the first time in roughly 13 years got shot down.

Spokesman Mike Keckler said Tuesday that the agency's director and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission are working on possible alternatives.

The chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee, Republican Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace, told the commission Friday that the proposed legislation had problems and wouldn't advance.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho House panel has introduced legislation that would expand the list of the worst kind of felons banned from owning firearms.

Lawmakers spiked a similar effort last year after Republicans opposed including felony convictions for arson, racketeering and rioting as qualifiers to lose one's right to own firearms.

Under the new proposal, terrorists, criminal gang members, human trafficking and hijacking convictions would be banned from owning firearms, even if they are discharged from their sentences.

AP

University presidents in Idaho and Washington State are urging foreign students to avoid trips home or international travel following President Donald Trump's recent executive order.

The order blocks people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days, along with other limitations placed on refugees.

Idaho Democratic Leader Responds To Immigration Bill

Jan 31, 2017
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Monday Idaho House Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell) introduced a bill opposing the adoption of sanctuary cities. Although Idaho has no sanctuary cities in place, the lawmaker says his proposal would ensure that no state funding would ever be given to cities and counties that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.
 
House Minority leader Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) blasted the bill.
 

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Social media requests to flood the phone lines of Idaho’s congressional delegation seem to be working. Over the weekend, the voicemail inboxes of Idaho Sen. Jim Risch and Sen. Mike Crapo were full.

According to Crapo communications director Lindsay Nothern, the Boise office was fielding calls from Idahoans all Monday morning. Nothern says he personally took dozens of calls.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

More than 600 people held signs, chanted and demonstrated yesterday at the Boise Airport in opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country.

“No hate. No Fear. Refugees are welcome here!” resounded through the concourse between the airport’s check-in counters and security area.

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