Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

About 2,000 people gathered at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Saturday. A coalition of conservation and environmental groups organized the rally.

People traveled from all over the state to rally in support of public lands. They held signs and led chants, many dressed in hunter orange and camo.

About 60 percent of the state is owned by the federal government, a fact that was repeated several times by organizers of the event.

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

Bills have been speeding their way through the Idaho Legislature during week eight of the session.

The budget committee passed a bill to increase the public schools budget. Fish and Game brought a new hunting fees bill to lawmakers. And more of the action is moving out of committees and onto the House and Senate Floors.

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.

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