Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

A majority of lawmakers in the Idaho House came out in favor of issuing $90 million in bonds to construct new facilities at the Idaho National Lab.

After vigorous debate Tuesday night, House members voted 56-14 in favor of issuing the bonds for construction of a cybersecurity training center and a facility that will house a supercomputer.

Idaho National Guard

Lawyers for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are continuing their efforts to have the desertion case against their client dismissed because of disparaging remarks made by Donald Trump while he was campaigning for president.

AP

A massive transportation funding bill is making its way through the Idaho Statehouse as lawmakers hope to finish their work before the end of the day.

Senate members spent nearly two hours Tuesday debating a roughly $320 million proposal to funnel more money to roads and bridges. A similar proposal had failed in the Senate chamber just last week on a 15-20 vote. This forced transportation and infrastructure advocates scrambling to rewrite a new plan before adjournment, which in the end wooed enough lawmakers to vote 19-16.

Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press

As we wrap up the 11th week of the 2017 Idaho Legislative Session, lawmakers have been struggling to finish up their work and go home. For several weeks, the goal has been to end the session Friday. House Speaker Scott Bedke said on Thursday lawmakers will have to come back on Monday.

This week lawmakers struggled with a large transportation funding bill. They tried and failed to pass a bill that would have helped some of the 78,000 people in Idaho who can’t afford health insurance. And tax cuts are still a sticking point.

Casey Lewis / Flickr

Faith healing remains one of the most contentious issues in the state of Idaho. Monday at the Statehouse, a panel of senators narrowly approved a bill related to the matter in spite of overwhelming negative testimony.

Elizabeth Findley / Boise State Public Radio

The 2017 Legislative Session is in the closing weeks at the Idaho Capitol. Soon, elected officials will leave Boise for their home districts. Another group will also be wrapping up. These are pages: high school students who work alongside the senators and representatives.

Shanyce Barber, a high school senior from Payette, is a page for the 2017 legislative session.

"When I told people I was becoming a page, they were like, 'Why?' They were just kind of shocked," Barber says. "They thought it would be a boring experience, but they couldn't be more wrong."

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Attorney General Office Wasden
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho House lawmakers used Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's budget plan for fiscal year 2018 to highlight their displeasure with the chief legal officer's recent agreement to repeal two anti-abortion laws.

House members voted 40-30 on the attorney general's budget Monday, a narrow vote in a Legislature that typically displays overwhelming support for funding proposals once they are set by budget writers.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

What began as a tax cut bill in the Idaho House morphed into a repeal of the state's 6 percent grocery tax when the legislation was presented in the Senate Thursday.

John Miller / AP Images

Right now, state boards and commissions created by executive order are not subject to Idaho Open Meeting law. That means they can hold meetings without letting the public know, and without letting the public sit in on the discussions.

If a new bill passes muster at the statehouse, that could change. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, proposed the change yesterday, fittingly during Sunshine Week – a week meant to expose transparency issues in government. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Kevin Rank / Flickr

Bills were flying fast and furious in and out of the Idaho House and Senate this week, as lawmakers try to meet next Friday’s deadline to wrap up the session and go home.

As week ten of the legislature comes to a close, lawmakers still haven’t solved the Medicaid Gap in Idaho. Those are the people who can’t afford health care but make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Transportation funding and a tax cut are also still in the mix.

Boise State University political science professor Gary Moncrief says there are still around 100 bills to be considered in the House and Senate.

Gothia Towers / Flickr Creative Commons

A bill shielding yoga training from state regulations is headed to the governor's desk for approval.

The Idaho Senate on Monday cleared a measure to exempt certain yoga instruction programs from being regulated just like for-profit vocational schools, which oversee students enrolled in programs such as truck driving or welding.

Michael Kappel / Flickr Creative Commons

Questions linger about a bill that passed the Idaho House Transportation Committee Friday looking to designate who's responsible for snow removal.

Under current law, highway districts are required to maintain city streets, curbs and gutters. In 2013, snow removal was added to the list of responsibilities. The proposed legislation would do away with the 2013 snow-removal addition.

Idaho Ed News

Frustrations boiled over this week in the Idaho House, as conservative lawmakers tried to make a stand against their fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

The House came to a standstill not once, but twice this week, as a small group, which includes some north Idaho Republicans, used procedural moves in favor of one bill and against another. Both times, their attempts failed and revealed the cracks in the GOP between the very conservative members and the more mainstream Republican leadership.

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

Idaho lawmakers advanced a bill that would reverse two anti-abortion laws if passed.

Earlier this year, a federal judge told Idaho lawmakers that he would strike down two anti-abortion laws if they don’t reverse those measures at the state level. In 2015, Idaho passed two laws that banned women from being prescribed abortion-inducing medicine through telemedicine.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce is encouraging residents and business owners to write to lawmakers calling for the expansion of I-84.

The Chamber wants a 10-mile stretch between Franklin Boulevard in Nampa and the Franklin Road in Caldwell widened beyond the current 2 lanes in each direction.

Local leaders tell KTVB miles of traffic backups are hurting established businesses and scaring away new ones from setting up shop in the area.

Pages