Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

AP

Idaho residents flocked to the Capitol Friday to urge lawmakers to provide health care to the state's neediest citizens, address Idaho's medical transportation system and reform religious exemptions.

The testimony was part of the annual listening session hosted by the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

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

North Idaho Representative Heather Scott stood on the House floor Friday and asked to be allowed to return to her committees.

“I respectfully request that I be returned to my committees so I can properly perform my duly elected position and the voice of the citizens in District 1 in North Idaho will no longer be silenced," said Scott.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump tweets a lot. With tens of millions of followers on Twitter, Trump proposes policy, shares his latest actions and reacts to the news. But 140 characters rarely gives the full context. Here, we attempt to do just that for key tweets.

John Miller / AP Images

Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson will resign at the end of February, after serving the district of Idaho for the last six years. She was sworn in by former President Barack Obama.

According to Idaho Reports, Olson says she is anticipating changes under President Donald Trump and wants to choose when she would leave her post. U.S. attorneys serve at the discretion of the president.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature is ramping up its third week of the 2017 session.

This week, lawmakers are considering tax reductions in a surplus budget year. They’re also considering tweaking election rules when it comes to running for office. And the legislature’s budget writers, the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, or JFAC as it’s known, is hearing budget requests from state agencies.

In this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says the real work of the session is getting underway.

AP

As the Idaho Legislature prepares its annual budget, it's debating on how best to handle a $139 million surplus. That's a good thing. But according to experts, the presence of a one-time surplus can make political decisions very difficult.

Earlier this month, a panel of academics and journalists at the City Club of Boise wondered what Idaho legislators would do with a substantial surplus. Retired professor Jim Weatherby said that dealing with excess funds can be harder than dealing with a deficit.

Les Bois Park Live Horse Racing
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's horsemen groups are urging the state's racing commission to sign off on a last-ditch effort to save their faltering industry after failing to convince the Legislature to reinstate lucrative betting machines known as instant racing terminals.

John Sheldon, the operator of Idaho's largest horse racing track, told commissioners Wednesday that they already have the authority to allow tracks to use instant racing terminals.

Idaho Representative Steve Hartgen / Facebook

The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted Tuesday to bring the state's tax code in line with federal rules, despite facing objections from two lawmakers who argued the state should not be recognizing same-sex marriages.

Washington Post screenshot / YouTube

President Donald Trump's scathing criticism of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will prevent the soldier from getting a fair trial on charges he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, Bergdahl's attorneys said Friday.

In a motion filed shortly after Trump was sworn in, defense lawyers asked a military judge to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl and argued the Republican's comments have violated his due process rights and amount to unlawful command influence.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Follow NPR's full online coverage with this live blog.

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

As the Idaho Legislature wraps up its second week, lawmakers have introduced around 30 bills so far.

Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says that’s a little below normal, but we’ll see a lot more bills next week.

Right now, lawmakers are looking at a change to the Primary Election system in Idaho. They also want to make sure liquor licenses get used for selling booze instead of as investments. And Democrats had a suggestion for getting more teachers into rural schools.

White House

There are only a few hours left in Barack Obama’s presidency and chances are dimming that he’ll move on two issues with ties to Idaho.

There has been speculation over the last few months of Obama’s presidency that he might create a National Monument across Idaho’s border in eastern Oregon.

Otto Kitsinger / AP Images

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke removed Republican Rep. Heather Scott from her three legislative committee assignments last week, causing a stir in the statehouse. Bedke made the announcement after Scott commented to another female lawmaker that women only move up in the capitol by trading sexual favors.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Interior Department was questioned by a senate committee Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke was pushed on several hot button land use issues -- issues he’s well acquainted with as a Montana congressman.

 

When it comes to questions about how he would manage the relationship between states and federal land managers, the greater sage grouse inevitably came up. The imperiled bird narrowly avoided landing on the Endangered Species List, but the debate over how to save the bird remains contentious.  

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been a tumultuous first two weeks in the Idaho Legislature. It started last week when Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke removed Republican Representative Heather Scott from her committee assignments for comments she made about her colleagues.

The move came after Scott was accused of telling another lawmaker that women in the House trade sexual favors with leadership to secure committee chairmanships. That’s when Representative Christy Perry of Nampa wrote a letter to the Speaker saying Scott displayed aggressive and anti-social behavior during meetings.

Kate Haake / AP Images

On Friday, Boise State University released a survey that examined the attitudes of Idahoans on key policy issues. The second-annual survey included views from 1,000 Idahoans.

 

Boise State political science professor Justin Vaughn directed the research team for the survey. Vaughn says they were careful to poll people from different parts of the state, evenly polling both cell and landline phone users.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

UPDATE: 3:24 p.m.: Five Idaho lawmakers surprised the House floor Monday by asking Speaker Scott Bedke to remove them from their committee assignments in a defiant act of solidarity with a female colleague recently admonished for comments on the mobility of women.

Republican Reps. Ron Nate, Priscilla Giddings, Dorothy Moon, Christy Zito, and Karey Hanks made their requests one-by-one on the House floor, sparking murmurs of surprise and criticism among some members on the floor but getting no response from Bedke.

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?"

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