Politics + Policy

Energy
2:54 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Inaugural Energy Summit Headed To Idaho Falls

The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, is among the speakers who will attend the inaugural Intermountain Energy Summit in Idaho Falls this week.

The Aug. 19-20 conference will feature panel discussions on the future of energy policy and production in North America. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, are also among the speakers.

The Post Register reports that one theme of the conference is the energy potential of Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Congress
9:41 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Sen. Mike Crapo Announces 2016 Re-election Bid

Credit Mike Crapo

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo says he will seek re-election in 2016.

In making the announcement Friday in Lewiston, the 63-year-old Republican says he's committed to resolving a number of critical issues to the country.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Crapo was elected to the Senate in 1998 to succeed Sen. Dirk Kempthorne. He is serving the fourth year of his third term and is ranked 39th in seniority in the Senate.

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Medicaid
9:56 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Governor-Appointed Panel Recommends Expanding Medicaid In Idaho...Again

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho work group says the state should expand its Medicaid eligibility, but committee members voiced concerns that their recommendation will be ignored by both the governor and legislators.

The 15-member group voted Thursday to submit their recommendation to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

This is the second time this work group has supported expanding Medicaid to provide coverage to the state's working poor. Their 2012 recommendation, however, has been ignored for the past two years.

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Boise
6:09 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Boise Ethics Commission Says It Doesn't Have Authority To Investigate Alleged Heimlich Coverup

Members of Boise's citizen ethics commission listen to a city attorney offer counsel during a meeting held Thursday afternoon at City Hall. The commission later voted that it does not have the authority to investigate an alleged cover-up in the Boise Fire Department.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The City of Boise’s ethics commission says it does not have jurisdiction to conduct an investigation into an alleged cover-up in the city’s fire department.

The four member citizen panel met Thursday afternoon and unanimously agreed that the city statute that governs the ethics commission doesn’t give it such authority. 

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Election 2014
12:12 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Idaho Business Group Launches Political Attack Website Against Democrat Balukoff

This is a screengrab from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry's political action group's website.

A recently launched website is targeting Idaho's Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff's and criticizing his political stances, but Balukoff says the site is using lies to undermine his campaign against Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry's political action committee posted the site Tuesday.

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Politics
5:30 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Why Idaho's Most Well-Known Political Reporter Is Now Working For A Politician

Popkey joined the Idaho Statesman in 1984. He's covered 26 legislative sessions and five governors during his tenure.
Credit Jim Hadley / Idaho Public Television

Dan Popkey, the longtime Idaho Statesman reporter who announced last week he’s going to work for Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, says his decision to make a career change has been an agonizing one.

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Politics
12:34 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Embattled Montana Senator Withdraws From Race

Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., has been accused of plagiarizing a portion of his 2007 master's thesis.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 5:04 pm

After cancelling a string of campaign events and fundraisers this week, Montana Democrat John Walsh announced Thursday that he would drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate.

"I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator," Walsh said in a statement. "You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will."

He will serve out the remainder of his Senate term, which expires in Jan. 2015.

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Election 2014
11:57 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Scandal Threatens Montana Democrat's Hold On U.S. Senate Seat

Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., has been accused of plagiarizing a portion of his 2007 master's thesis.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:25 am

On Sunday morning, with haze from wildfires thick in the air, Sen. John Walsh addressed a graduation for officer candidates at the Fort Harrison Army post outside Helena, Mont.

"As your senator and someone who sat in your seat approximately 30 years ago today, I will always be your partner," Walsh told the small crowd.

For Walsh, this should have been a perfect event. He's the only Iraq War veteran serving in the U.S. Senate. And he had graduated from this same training here.

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Politics
5:58 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

Maryland Transplant Steve Yates Elected Idaho's Republican Party Leader

Yates moved to Idaho from Maryland three years ago. He was elected by secret ballot to be Idaho's next Republican Party chairman.
Credit Melissa Davlin / Idaho Public Television

Idaho Republicans have concluded months of political infighting over who should control the party and have elected Steve Yates to be the new leader of the state's GOP.

The state's central committee, which serves as the party's governing body, met Saturday in Boise to elect new party officers. The party has been without leadership ever since the state's chaotic GOP convention adjourned without electing any officers or passing any new platforms.

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Policy
4:03 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Three Years On, Utah's Immigrant Guest Worker Law Still Stalled

This statue is located in Utah's Capitol building, beneath a mural of Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers traveling out west. "Utah is a place that understands the value of immigration," says Utah's speaker of the House, Becky Lockhart.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:28 pm

At the Utah State Capitol, a mural of Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers brings some color to the building's spartan rotunda. Beneath it is a more modern sculpture — a woman walking forward with her son, who's holding a globe.

Underneath the statue are the words "Immigration and Settlement." The symbolism isn't lost on state House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

"Utah is a place that understands the value of immigration, the value of peoples coming to find a better life," she says, pointing up at the sculpture.

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Policy
9:54 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Court Denies Survivor Benefits For Families Of Fallen Contract Wildland Firefighters

Mark Ransdell was a 23-year-old contract firefighter who died in a fiery van crash in 2003. A federal appeals court recently ruled that the families of contract firefighters do not qualify for federal survivor benefits.
Credit Photo courtesy: Ransdell family

Contract firefighters can often be found on the front lines. They’re usually indistinguishable from government firefighters. But a recent court ruling has re-emphasized that if they’re killed in the line of duty, there’s a big difference.  

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Agriculture
6:19 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Northwest Farmers Worried About Visa Backup For Legal Migrant Workers

File photo of workers at a berry farm outside of Eltopia, Washington.

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 8:03 pm

A breakdown in a U.S. State Department computer system that processes foreign worker visas has sowed major worries at some Northwest orchards.

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Idaho Prison
3:13 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Idaho Scales Back Claim Of Problems At Prison

Idaho Department of Correction officials have dramatically scaled back their assessment of the problems encountered when they took over the state's largest prison from Corrections Corporation of America this month.

Last week, Shane Evans with IDOC told the Board of Correction that CCA failed to leave behind a promised 8-day supply of medication, and that the new health care provider had to ship $100,000 worth of medication overnight just to reach the minimum amount needed at the facility.

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Wildfires
2:08 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

As Wildfires Burn Through Funds, Washington Seeks New Way To Pay

A line of fire snakes along a hillside at dusk on July 18 in Winthrop, Wash., where a fire destroyed about 100 homes. Officials say that fire damage, overall, is down this summer, but that firefighting costs are skyrocketing.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

Though wildfires this summer have burned hundreds of homes and scorched thousands of square miles of land in Washington, Oregon and California, officials say that so far, this wildfire season could be worse.

But the cost of fighting those fires has skyrocketed, and the Obama administration and some in Congress say it's time to rethink how those dollars are spent.

In places like central Washington, watching the evening news has recently not been for the faint of heart, with daily broadcasts chronicling evacuations of local towns with the approach of "firestorms."

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Politics
10:50 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Idaho's GOP Doesn't Have A Leader, Here's What Happens Next

Barry Peterson leads Idaho's Republican Party "unity rally" on May 21, 2014.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A judge ruled Tuesday that members of Idaho's Republican Party could go ahead with a meeting Saturday to choose a new leader. Last month’s contentious state GOP convention ended without finishing any of its business, including electing a new chairman.

Former chairman Barry Peterson maintained that meant he was still in charge. But district judge Randy Stoker ruled that Peterson is not the chairman, and the party doesn't currently have a leader.

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Bowe Bergdahl
3:10 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

House Panel Condemns Obama For Bergdahl Prisoner Swap

A House panel has voted to condemn President Barack Obama for the May swap of five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years.

The Armed Services Committee voted 34-25 on Tuesday for a nonbinding, bipartisan resolution that disapproves of the exchange and faults Obama for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law.

Politics
1:06 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Longtime Political Reporter Popkey To Head Idaho Congressman's Press Team

Dan Popkey joined the Idaho Statesman in 1984.
Credit Courtesy Idaho Statesman

Longtime Idaho political reporter Dan Popkey is leaving his job at the Idaho Statesman to be Rep. Raul Labrador's new press secretary.

A press release from the Republican Congressman's office Tuesday says Popkey will be based in Meridian, and coordinate communications for Idaho and Washington, D.C. 

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Politics
11:46 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Judge Rules Peterson Is No Longer Chairman Of Idaho's Republican Party

Peterson, left, talks with Gov. Otter the day after the GOP's May primary.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Barry Peterson is no longer the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, that's the ruling from 5th District Judge Randy Stoker.

“His term has expired,” Stoker told the court.

The judge’s ruling came after extensive arguments that lasted for more than two hours in court this morning in Twin Falls.

“This is not a question of this court taking any position with regard to what the Republican Party should do in this state,” Stoker said. “I have no dog in this fight, so to speak.” - Spokesman-Review

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Policy
4:16 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Gov. Otter Didn't Know 8 Immigrant Children Have Been Sent To Idaho In Border Surge

Gov. Otter with First Lady Lori Otter at a recent Republican event at the Capitol.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated at 10:00 a.m. July 25, 2014.

This week, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter sent a letter to federal officials telling them not to send any of the unaccompanied young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border to Idaho.

However, federal officials say they've already sent children from the border to Idaho.

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Policy
10:20 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Gov. Otter Tells Federal Officials Not To Send Migrant Kids To Idaho

Credit Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has sent a letter to federal officials telling them not to send any of the unaccompanied young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border to Idaho.

Otter on Wednesday sent the letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez.

Idaho has not been contacted by federal officials about bringing any of the children to Idaho.

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