Politics + Policy

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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2014 Election
3:17 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Mitt Romney Hosts Campaign Events For Otter, Simpson

Mitt Romney campaigned in Idaho during the 2012 presidential race.
Credit Screengrab from KBOI2

If there’s one place failed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can still be effective, it’s in Idaho. The former Massachusetts governor won nearly 65 percent of Idaho votes in the 2012 presidential race.

Thursday, he’ll ask Idahoans to re-elect two-time Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. Romney hosted a high-end fundraiser for Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho Falls Wednesday.

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Idaho Legislature
11:53 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Tax Incentive Plan Passes Senate Again In Revote

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho tax incentive bill is again bound for the governor's desk after sponsors say they've addressed concerns from the attorney general's office.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, already passed the Senate Monday.

But Senate leaders called for a revote after the attorney general's office released an opinion saying it could leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

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Audit
10:53 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Report: Idaho Doesn't Know Total Cost Of Death Penalty

A new report from Idaho's state auditors shows that sentencing a defendant to life in prison without parole is more expensive than imposing the death penalty.

But the Office of Performance Evaluations also found that the state's criminal justice agencies don't collect enough data to determine the total cost of the death penalty. Hannah Crumrine and Tony Grange presented the report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Wednesday morning.

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Idaho Legislature
10:33 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Former State Senator Hides In Statehouse Closet

Credit Idaho Legislature

Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour hid in an Idaho Statehouse closet for more than five hours as part of her effort to persuade Republican lawmakers to update the Idaho Human Rights Act.

The Spokesman-Review reports that LeFavour, a Boise Democrat, was discovered late Tuesday afternoon in a closet in the Senate lounge behind the Senate chamber.

Republican Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg says he asked her to leave and she complied.

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Policy
8:57 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Why Medical Marijuana Legalization Has No Traction In Idaho

Various strains of medical marijuana on display at a California convention.
Credit Audio Vision, Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

Four of Idaho's six neighboring states allow some form of legal marijuana use. Oregon, Nevada and Montana allow medical marijuana while Washington recently legalized pot for most residents. In each of those states, voters approved legalizing marijuana, but in Idaho, the issue has gotten nowhere.

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Lawsuit
5:47 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lawsuits Charge 'Ag-Gag' Laws Violate Free Speech

The group Mercy for Animals released video in 2012 of workers at Bettencourt Dairy in Idaho abusing cows. The incident led Idaho lawmakers to outlaw surreptitious video at farms.
Mercy for Animals

A lawsuit led by the ACLU is challenging Idaho's brand new, so-called “ag-gag” law aimed at stopping undercover animal rights activists from making videos of abuse at farms and slaughter houses.

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Idaho Legislature
12:52 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Business Tax Incentive Bill Heads To Idaho Senate Revote After Changes

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislators say they'll change a tax bill before trying it again on the Senate floor, after the attorney general's office said it might leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, cleared the Senate 29-6 Monday.

But that was before Deputy Attorney General Chelsea Kidney released an opinion that giving a seven-member board the final word on who gets tax breaks could result in unequal treatment of identical businesses.

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Idaho Legislature
9:52 am
Tue March 18, 2014

A Session Of Civil Disobedience, But Is Idaho Any Closer To Gay Rights Law?

Add the Words protesters encircle the upper level of the rotunda at the Idaho Capitol. They put a hand over their mouth to symbolize how they've been "silenced" by lawmakers.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This winter, protests hit the Idaho Capitol at a level rarely seen in Boise. Gay rights activists blocked entrances and were marched away in handcuffs.

They want Idaho's Republican-controlled Legislature to pass an anti-discrimination law similar to those in Oregon and Washington. It would make it illegal for employers, landlords and most businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But lawmakers plan to wrap up the session this Friday without ever printing the bill.

Pressure through civil disobedience

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Wildfire Budget
1:27 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Congress Studies Budget Change For Wildfires

Gov. Butch Otter flanked by Sec. Sally Jewell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Raul Labrador.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to create a new way to pay for battling wildfires that prevents the diversion of money intended to reduce the size of such fires.

Lawmakers from Oregon and Idaho met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to discuss the budget reform.

President Obama's proposed budget seeks a change in the long-standing method of funding the fight against the most catastrophic wildfires.

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Idaho Legislature
12:47 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Idaho Legislature Approves Bill Limiting Payday Loans

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

A bill seeking to let Idaho dictate how much payday lenders can give borrowers passed the House Monday by only one vote.

The 35-34 decision came after several lawmakers said they had issues with the bill, which limits loan size and lets borrowers set up interest-free payment plans if they hit a financial snag.

Boise Democrat Rep. Phylis King said letting borrowers take out loans of up to 25 percent of their monthly income was still too much, suggesting the amount be closer to 5 percent.

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Agriculture
10:12 am
Mon March 17, 2014

ACLU, PETA Sue Idaho Over New Law To Punish Animal Rights Activists

Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, PETA and other groups are suing the state over a new measure that would prosecute people who secretly film agricultural operations. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the so-called 'ag-gag' bill into law at the end of February.

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Idaho Legislature
12:30 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Idaho Senate Approves Pay Raise For Top Elected Officials

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to give the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, controller and superintendent of schools 2.5 percent increases next year and each year thereafter has passed the Senate.

The Spokesman-Review reports the Senate voted 30-5 Thursday. The bill now goes to the House.

The bill calls for the attorney general's pay to rise next year to that of district judges, a 16 percent increase.

The lieutenant governor would receive a 19.6 percent increase next year, followed by 2.5 percent annual increases.

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Election 2014
10:17 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Eagle Lawyer Announces Run For Idaho Attorney General

Eagle lawyer C.T. "Chris" Troupis has announced his candidacy for Idaho attorney general.

In the announcement Wednesday at the Statehouse, he says he believes the time is right for voters to have a meaningful choice in this year's election. He plans to tap anti-incumbent and tea party sentiment in his campaign.

His candidacy sets up a primary challenge with Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Wasden is seeking re-election to a fourth four-year term. He ran unopposed when he won his third term in 2010.

Idaho Legislature
5:36 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter Signs Guns On Campus Bill

Credit Idaho Statesman

Starting July 1, students, staff and visitors to Idaho's college and university campuses will be legally allowed to carry concealed guns with a permit. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed Senate Bill 1254 into law Wednesday, making Idaho the seventh state to allow guns on campuses.

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Idaho Legislature
2:00 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Idaho Legislators Will Retain Special Gun Privileges

This statue of George Washington sits on the fourth floor of the Idaho Capitol.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho Senate panel has killed legislation that would have removed a special privilege for state elected officials to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Among the leading advocates of killing the House-passed bill was Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who is running for governor.

“My vote will not be to willingly give up the privilege that our predecessors granted,” said Fulcher. “We do not need to relinquish our privileges.”

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Idaho Legislature
6:28 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Idaho Students Make Last-Ditch Effort To Kill Guns-On-Campus Bill

File photo of the campus of Boise State University
Laura Gilmore Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 5:13 pm

Idaho university students are making a last-minute attempt to stop a measure that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on campus.

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Idaho Legislature
2:00 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bill To Help Payday Loan Borrowers Passes Idaho Senate

A plan to give people who use payday loans more leeway in settling their debt passed the Idaho Senate.

The bill, which passed 21-13 Monday, would let borrowers set up a payment plan to return the money if they get behind.

It also blocks lenders from piling fees and interest onto the remaining balance if borrowers opt for the payment plan.

The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Sen. Lee Heider, says it can provide an out for someone "caught in a lending cycle."

Idaho Legislature
10:01 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmaker: Budget Crunch Will Dent Wolf Killing Fund

Credit Idaho Legislature

The co-chair of the state's budget committee says a bill asking for $2 million to kill Idaho wolves likely won't get half that much money.

Republican Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome says the money is instead needed to pay for the Idaho Education Network broadband program.

Bell co-chairs the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

Legal wrangling over a contract the state awarded for an education broadband project has cut off federal funds for the program.

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Protests
12:07 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Idaho Gay Rights Protesters Jailed After Vigil Attempt

Former Idaho lawmaker Nicole LeFavour says she's planning another vigil for March 7.
Credit Idaho Legislature

The leader of the Add the Words group and two other gay activists were arrested at the Idaho Capitol late Thursday night after police nixed their plan to hold an all-night vigil inside the building.

That marks the fifth arrest this year for former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who heads up the group pushing for the Legislature to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

So far, the issue has been denied a hearing by Republican leadership.

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