Politics + Policy

Lobbying
12:31 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

ACLU-Idaho Executive Director Leaving For Washington D.C.

The executive director of the ACLU of Idaho has been hired for the same post at the ACLU in Washington, D.C.

Monica Hopkins has led the Idaho ACLU affiliate since 2008. During her tenure the organization has pushed for improved safety and health conditions for Idaho inmates, lobbied for ordinances in seven Idaho cities to prevent discrimination against gay and transgender residents, and pushed for free speech protections for protesters on state property.

Election 2014
9:13 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Idaho Governor Candidate Spurns NRA Questionnaire

Credit AJForIdaho.com

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff has refused to answer the National Rifle Association survey and has criticized the organization for pushing for concealed-carry guns on Idaho college campuses.

Balukoff says Idaho's governor and Legislature shouldn't be beholden to the NRA.

Rather than complete the 23-question survey, Balukoff wrote a letter to the NRA, saying the questionnaire allows only for polarizing and extreme positions.

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Idaho Legislature
5:12 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Idaho Governor Signs Law Aiming To Reduce Incarceration Rates

Credit Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a new law that proponents hope will reduce the state's high incarceration rate and save money on prison spending.

The Justice Reinvestment legislation makes several tweaks to Idaho's criminal justice system. Most of the changes focus on what happens when a person is sentenced, imprisoned or placed on parole or probation.

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Gay Rights
6:35 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Meet Two Couples Suing To Make Same-Sex Marriage Legal In Idaho

Amber and Rachael filed their lawsuit against Idaho in Nov. 2013. Their lawyer Deborah Ferguson looks on as we talk at their Boise home.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson have been together for three years. Within the last six months they've become the public face of an effort to strike down Idaho's constitutional ban on gay marriage. At home, they're like many other couples playing with their dogs on the back patio.

“Charlie's the corgi,” Amber says. “Then we’ve got the Labradoodle Boozer. And Georgia is the basset hound.” Add in Herman, the big orange cat, and that’s their family -- so far. The two have planned on having kids ever since they got together more than three years ago.

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Transparency
12:01 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Idaho Gets A Failing Grade For Government Transparency

Credit U.S. PIRG

Idaho is one of three states with a failing grade when it comes to government transparency, as ranked by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer interest group.

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Policy
12:09 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Idaho Asks Judge To Toss Lawsuit On So-Called 'Ag-Gag' Law

Credit Ambersky235 / Flickr Creative Commons

Attorneys for Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a new law that makes it illegal to secretly film animal abuse at agricultural facilities.

A coalition of animal activists, civil rights groups and others sued last month, asking U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to strike down what they call an "ag gag" law. The coalition contends the law curtails freedom of speech and makes gathering proof of animal abuse a crime with a harsher punishment than the penalty for animal cruelty itself.

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Idaho Legislature
3:43 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Gov. Otter Signs Tax Incentive Bill To Lure Businesses To Idaho

Credit State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is backing legislation aimed at creating jobs and bringing business to Idaho.

Otter on Thursday signed the bill into law that refunds up to 30 percent of state corporate income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes to businesses that create a certain number of new jobs.

The measure mandates workers must be paid wages that at least match the county average.

The bill hit some speed bumps during the session, drawing the ire of small business owners who said the tax breaks give an unfair edge to their larger competitors.

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Election 2014
2:04 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Idaho Secretary Of State Candidate Gets High Profile Endorsements

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt has endorsed Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane to be Idaho secretary of state.

The Republican in a statement released Thursday says McGrane is the best person to continue the sound judgment and fiscal responsibility set by current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and his predecessor, Pete Cenarrusa.

Ysursa endorsed McGrane on Tuesday. Ysursa is retiring at the end of the year.

2014 Election
4:38 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Removed From Idaho Education Task Force, One Member Cries Foul

Education Improvement Task Force members at a public meeting last year. Mike Lanza (left) sits next to Rodger Brown, the governor's deputy chief of staff.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A member of Idaho’s 'Task Force for Improving Education' has been kicked out of the group. Mike Lanza says he was told it was because he went to work for Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Democratic challenger.

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Federal Money
10:59 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Idaho Is More Dependent On Federal Government Than Most States

Federal money makes up 35 percent of Idaho's total revenue.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho ranks in the top half of states with the highest dependence on federal dollars, according to a new study.

The Idaho Statesman reports the Gem State outranks every neighboring state in dependence except for Wyoming, which comes in at a national ranking of 43rd to Idaho's 31st.

In personal finance website WalletHub's study, released last week, a higher ranking meaning more dependency.

That means only 20 states depend more on money from the government than Idaho.

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Idaho Legislature
12:17 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho Agriculture Industry Happy With 2014 Legislature

Credit UGA College of Ag / Flickr

Idaho's farmers, ranchers and producers say they're happy with the outcome of the 2014 Legislature.

The Capitol Press reports a lot of things went right for the agricultural industry during the 74-day session, where numerous industry-boosting bills found a foothold.

That included the Agriculture Security Act, a dairy-backed bill that punishes those who film agricultural operations, and is designed to protect farmers from spying activists.

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Guns
4:41 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Mental Health Records Added To FBI Gun Check

Idaho added mental health records to a national Federal Bureau of Investigations database, making it easier for background checks to discover if would-be gun owners have a history of mental illness.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports gun store customers are asked to complete a form revealing their legal status, criminal history and whether they have been committed to an institution for health reasons or found mentally unfit by a court.

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Politics
10:47 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Gets A C+ On Election Gender Equality By Sending One Woman To Congress

Credit screen grab from umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics

Idaho gets a C+ for the percentage of women it elects to Congress in a new election gender equality report card from the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog. The site, dedicated to data-driven political reporting, looked at all the U.S. House races for the past 25 years.

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Medicaid Cuts
2:25 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Judge Halts Idaho Medicaid Cuts After ACLU Lawsuit

Credit Jasleen_Kaur / Flickr Creative Commons

A U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction Tuesday to halt deep cuts to Medicaid and restore about $16 million in assistance to Idaho's developmentally delayed adults.

The decision lets an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho lawsuit on behalf of disabled Idahoans proceed as a class-action case.

That opens it up to more people who lost some their Medicaid dollars when the program was slashed in 2011.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill cited cases of severely mentally disabled Idahoans that can no longer afford necessary therapy and other care in his decision.

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Protests
10:01 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Gay Rights Protesters Take Their Message On The Road, Begin Training Idahoans Outside Boise

Emily Shannon got involved with the "add the words" movement after seeing news coverage of this year's first Capitol protest. She participated in subsequent protests, was arrested and most recently trained people in Moscow to protest.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s 2014 legislative session may well be defined by protests. Gay rights advocates stepped up pressure on lawmakers to extend discrimination protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people. More than 100 people were arrested in numerous protests. Those were well choreographed and featured people standing silently, each with a hand over his or her mouth. Now, organizers are bringing this distinctive strategy to other parts of the state.

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Flood Insurance
9:44 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Idaho Residents Face Big Flood Insurance Increases

About 1,400 flood insurance policies in Idaho subsidized by the government are facing hefty premium increases despite a congressional fix intended to limit the worse of the rate hikes.

More than a million policyholders across the nation will be required to pay higher annual premiums as the federal government cuts subsidies in an effort to cover the National Flood Insurance Program's more than $24 billion deficit brought about by the discounts and a series of catastrophic storms.

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Taxes
6:25 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Study: Cigarette Tax Evasion Sky-High In Washington, Idaho A Big Supplier

Tax Foundation/Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 10:23 pm

Nearly half of the cigarettes smoked in Washington went untaxed by the state according to an estimate from a new study by two think tanks.

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Politics
3:09 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Romney's Job In Idaho: Prevent GOP Voters From Veering 'Wild Right'

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 5:45 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. We've talked on this program about something resembling a civil war in the Republican Party this year. More establishment Republicans are in primary battles against Tea Party candidates, and money is pouring in on both sides.

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Idaho Legislature
9:05 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Idaho's 2014 Legislative Session Ends After 74 Days

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature has wrapped up for the year after appropriating $2.9 billion.

The session lasted only 74 days — that's two weeks fewer than last year's session and only five days longer than the record shortest session in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis commended his fellow lawmakers as their final day on the floor drew to a close.

Senators also regaled the gallery with the state song and "God Bless America" before adjourning for the last time.

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Election 2014
3:52 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Mitt Romney Says Idaho Is A Leading Example Of Conservative Governing That Works

Rep. Mike Simpson, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Jim Risch, and Gov. Butch Otter speak with Idaho media. March 20, 2014.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is in Idaho this week campaigning on behalf of three longtime politicians.

On Thursday, Romney hosted a $250-per-plate luncheon for two-time Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. The event was also to benefit eight-time Rep. Mike Simpson, R-ID, and Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, who is campaigning for his first re-election bid.

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