Politics + Policy

Election 2014
10:31 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Spurred By Controversy, 2 Democrats Campaign For Idaho Treasurer Post

Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr Creative Commons

Two Democratic candidates spurred by a recent political scandal in the Idaho Treasurer's Office hope to oust four-term incumbent Ron Crane.

The treasurer's race is one of only two statewide political contests for the Democratic party. Crane faces no challenger in the May 20 primary election.

The Democratic primary candidates are Twin Falls accountant Deborah Silver and Boise freelance writer W. Lane Startin.

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Policy
9:45 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Facebook Gun Clubs Buy, Sell, Trade And Cause A Stir

A selection of guns on display.
Elena Liachenko/iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:01 am

Mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years have put access to firearms in the cross-hairs of gun control groups. Last year, some gun control advocates urged Facebook to ban posts advertising guns.

Facebook recently announced that it wouldn't do that, but that it would tighten its rules. Some gun control groups say Facebook missed the mark, but for gun owners, it's a good deal.

Cody Bourgeois recently got a new Smith and Wesson M&P .40 semi-automatic. He says it was his wife's idea.

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2014 Election
6:40 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Listen: Gov. Otter Says His Primary Challenge Is A Battle For "Heart And Soul" Of Idaho's GOP

Gov. Butch Otter has served two four-year terms as Idaho's governor.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says no matter what, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it's known, was coming to Idaho.  

“Because if we hadn’t [have] established our own state exchange, we would have had Obamacare in Idaho,” he says. “We didn’t have a choice. We were going to have an exchange in Idaho. We were going to have the Obamacare exchange in Idaho or we were gonna have [an]  Idaho exchange in Idaho.”

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Gay Marriage
9:38 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Idaho's Gay Marriage Lawsuit Could Make History

Lori and Sharene Watsen with their son
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A federal district judge in Boise hears arguments Monday morning in a lawsuit over same-sex marriage. It challenges Idaho’s 2006 constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage.

Lawyers for Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are defending the ban.

Four lesbian couples filed the suit last November. Lorie and Sharene Watsen are one of them. When they were thinking about suing to get Idaho to recognize their marriage they were scared. But Sharene says they were also excited.

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2014 Election
6:45 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Listen: Fulcher Paints Otter As GOP Outsider In Race For Governor

Sen. Fulcher is serving his fifth term in the Idaho Legislature.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Russ Fulcher says incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter no longer represents the heart of Idaho's Republican Party.  

Fulcher, a state senator from Meridian, has been on the campaign trail since late November spreading that message. He’s the tea party candidate trying to unseat a longtime cowboy politician he says has a political “machine” behind him.

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Gay Marriage
7:52 am
Fri May 2, 2014

National Group Fighting Idaho’s Gay Marriage Ban Is High Influence, Low Profile

Boise lawyer Deborah Ferguson has teamed up with the National Center for Lesbian Rights to represent Rachael Robertson, Amber Beierle and three other couples suing the state of Idaho.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge in Idaho will hear arguments Monday on a lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on same sex marriage. Similar suits have been filed in more than 20 states since last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court made two decisions that strengthened the gay marriage cause.

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Election 2014
1:24 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Idaho Voters Won't Weigh In On Minimum Wage Increase Or Medical Marijuana

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters won’t be making any new laws when they go to the polls in November. Efforts to get two initiatives on the ballot failed to get enough signatures by Wednesday’s deadline.

The people who wanted Idaho voters to legalize medical marijuana gathered 559 qualified signatures after a year of trying.

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Event
4:48 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

The 'Road To Red' Event Details

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Everyone knows Idaho is a red state.  In fact, it's one of the reddest in the country. But it hasn't always been that way. Twenty years ago, Idaho had a Democratic governor. More recently, Idaho had a Democrat in Congress.

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Gay Marriage
4:32 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Idaho Veteran's Cemetery Won't Bury Gay Spouse

A 74-year-old Boise woman wants to overturn a constitutional amendment that says Idaho doesn't recognize same-sex marriage after learning the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery won't allow her to be buried with her partner's ashes.

Madelynn Taylor served in the U.S. Navy for six years. She says after her spouse Jean Mixner died in 2012 she went to the veteran's cemetery to make arrangements for them to be buried together, but cemetery rules require a valid marriage certificate. The state of Idaho does not recognize their 2008 marriage in California.

Public Lands
1:46 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Western Republicans: Let States Manage Public Land

Some Western Republican officials say their states are missing out on revenues and opportunities to prevent wildfires because they don't have enough control over public lands.

The group on Friday included U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop and state lawmakers from Montana, Nevada and Utah.

The gathering follows an announcement last week from another group of Western officials who said it's time they manage federal lands rich in natural resources.

But critics are questioning where states will find resources to manage vast ranges.

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Bowe Bergdahl
7:52 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Report: Taliban Captors Not Sure Which Americans Have Authority To Negotiate Idaho POW's Release

June will mark Bergdahl's fifth year in captivity.
Credit Idaho National Guard

The captors of an American soldier held for nearly five years in Afghanistan have signaled a willingness to release him but are unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to make a deal.

That's according to a U.S. defense official and a military officer working for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Critics of the release effort blame disorganization and poor communication among the numerous U.S. agencies involved. A defense official says about two dozen officials at the State and Defense departments, the military, the CIA and FBI are working on the case.

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Civil Rights
5:12 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Listen: ACLU Idaho Leader Talks About Triumphs, Failures And Moving On

Monica Hopkins
Credit courtesy ACLU of Idaho

For six years Monica Hopkins has been one of Idaho’s top civil rights campaigners as head of the ACLU of Idaho. Now Hopkins is leaving the state to take charge of the American Civil Liberties Union branch in Washington D.C.  

Hopkins says the ACLU of Idaho has accomplished a lot in these last six years. Among those successes, she lists lawsuits seeking better conditions for inmates in Canyon County as well as lawsuits against prison operator Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

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Policy
3:59 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Idaho Governor Appoints Public Records Ombudsman

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed a public records ombudsman to review how state agencies handle records requests and to look at ways to improve Idaho's public records laws.

Cally Younger, the associate attorney for the governor's office, is filling the post, Otter announced Wednesday.

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Agriculture
10:20 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Idaho Dairymen's Group Asks To Join In 'Ag-Gag' Lawsuit

Credit Will Merydith / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Dairymen's Association is asking a federal judge to intervene in a lawsuit challenging a new law that makes it illegal to secretly film animal abuse at agricultural facilities.

The industry group filed a motion to become a defendant in the lawsuit late last week.

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Elections
6:53 am
Thu April 17, 2014

What Do Idaho Voters Want? Without Recent Public Opinion Polls, It's Hard To Tell

Election day might be the most consequential poll, but routine public opinion polling can also impact policy.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters will soon be inundated with campaign ads and sound bites from political candidates who proclaim to know exactly what Idahoans want. But it's unclear how voters are feeling heading into the May 20 primary election, thanks to a lack of public opinion polling. Without such polling, it's tough to tell if politicians' rhetoric matches the electorate's viewpoint.

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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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