Politics + Policy

Idaho Legislature
9:51 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Idaho House Speaker Proposes Tax Cut, Shift

Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke was elected to his leadership post in Dec. 2012.
Credit StateImpact Idaho

This story was updated at 2:15 p.m.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter would consider a proposal from House Speaker Scott Bedke to shift money from a popular grocery tax credit to individual and corporate income tax cuts.

"Convince me," Otter told The Associated Press Wednesday, on how he's approaching Bedke's proposal.

Idaho residents now claim the grocery credit, worth up to $100 for each person in a household, or $120 for those over 65.

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Politics
7:52 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Idaho District Reflects Battle Over GOP's Soul

Eight-term Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson has used his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to bring home funding for the Idaho National Laboratory. The nuclear research facility is spread over nearly 900 square miles of southeastern Idaho, including the above area.
David Greene NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:45 pm

In 2013, the battle lines were drawn within the Republican Party. This year, war may be breaking out across the country.

The Tea Party has already proven it has the energy, influence and cash to change elections and shape the landscape of Congress. Now, moderate and establishment-oriented Republicans are trying to match their intensity.

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Election 2014
12:22 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Gov. Otter Has More Than $700K To Run Against Fulcher In Idaho's Primary

Republican state Sen. Russ Fulcher is challenging Republican Gov. Butch Otter in May's primary.
Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he has more than $700,000 in cash to wage a campaign against his Republican primary challenger, state Sen. Russ Fulcher.

Otter filed his latest campaign report Tuesday, outlining his 2013 fundraising when he brought in $901,000, largely from business groups.

Fulcher hasn't filed his report.

Meanwhile, Otter hasn't formally announced he's running for a third term.

Among Otter's biggest supporters were trucking lobbyists, cigarette maker Altria, retailer Wal-Mart and wealthy Emmett rancher Harry Bettis, who gave $7,500.

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

NPR Visits Idaho To Cover Simpson-Smith Congressional Race

The GOP primary race between Republicans Rep. Mike Simpson and Bryan Smith in Idaho's 2nd congressional district is attracting national attention. NPR will report from the state this week and plans to follow the race over the next few months.
Credit House.gov

The race between Rep. Mike Simpson, R-ID, and Bryan Smith has NPR's  attention.  Morning Edition co-host David Greene will be in Idaho this week to report on the story for a national audience.

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Idaho Legislature
1:45 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Lawmaker Wants To Mark March 4 As 'Idaho Day'

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

State lawmakers are moving toward marking appreciation of Idaho an annual event.

Rep. Linden Bateman raised the motion to name March 4 "Idaho Day," addressing members of the House Education Committee with a miniature Idaho flag sticking out of the breast pocket of his suit.

March 4 marks the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln signing the Idaho Territory into law in 1863.

Bateman, an Idaho Falls Republican, said the statewide jubilation surrounding Idaho's sesquicentennial last year inspired him to propose a yearly celebration.

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Idaho Legislature
11:34 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Medical Costs For Idaho's Indigent Population Doubles Since 2002

Annual medical costs for Idaho's indigent population doubled since 2002 to nearly $53 million, including both and state funding.

The chairman of the Catastrophic Health Care Fund, Roger Christensen, told Joint Finance-Appropriations budget writers Thursday the price tag dipped in 2013 due to a temporary federal program, but is expected to resume rising in coming years if nothing is done to contain expenses.

The Spokesman-Review reports mental health costs, in particular, for indigent people are worrisome.

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Medicaid
10:14 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Dumping Dental Coverage From Medicaid Doubled Idaho's ER Visits

Credit Defence Images / Flickr Creative Commons

Trying to reduce Medicaid's dental expenses has been like pulling teeth.

That's what Department of Health and Welfare officials said Tuesday, describing how a decision in 2011 to dump dental coverage for 27,000 adults led to a doubling of dental-related emergency room services.

The Spokesman-Review reports monthly emergency-room costs rose to $65,000 now, from just $30,000 two years ago.

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Idaho Legislature
4:05 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Gov. Otter Appoints Legislator To Boise's District 15

Patrick McDonald was sworn in as the new House member from Boise's District 15, replacing former Republican Rep. Mark Patterson after he resigned under pressure.

McDonald, a former U.S. marshal, was named Tuesday by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Patterson quit amid calls from his own party for him to step down.

That's after Patterson's guilty plea in a 39-year-old rape case in Florida emerged publicly when Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney revoked the freshman lawmaker's concealed weapons permit.

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Election 2014
2:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Boise Democrat, Lawyer Officially Launches Bid For U.S. Senate

At his campaign announcement Mitchell was backed by people holding anti-Risch signs. The most prominent read "No More Career Politicians."
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise lawyer Nels Mitchell wants to take Idaho’s U.S. Senate seat away from Republican Jim Risch. Mitchell, a Democrat officially announced his candidacy Tuesday in Boise.

Mitchell grew up in Idaho, but most of his 30-plus year career has been spent in California and New York. That includes a stint at the Securities and Exchange Commission.  

He returned to Boise in 2008 and works for the law firm Mauk and Burgoyne, and teaches part-time for his alma mater, the University of Idaho College of Law.

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Idaho Legislature
1:25 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Idaho Lawmakers Make It More Complicated For Gay Couples To File Taxes

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A legislative House committee Tuesday approved a rule that will make it more complicated for married same-sex couples in Idaho to file their taxes. It’s a rule designed to try and appease state law, which does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, and the federal Internal Revenue Service, which does. It was a rare chance for gay Idahoans to speak their mind before lawmakers.

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Policy
4:38 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Idaho Lawmakers Take Up Debate Over Gay Marriage Tax Rules

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A legislative committee Tuesday will hear testimony on a rule that would forbid same-sex couples who are legally married in other states from filing joint Idaho income tax returns.

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Election 2014
12:58 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Boise Democrat, Lawyer Wants Risch's U.S. Senate Seat

Credit Idaho Democratic Party

A Boise lawyer plans to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Jim Risch.

Nels Mitchell aims to announce his run Tuesday at Boise's historic train depot.

Mitchell grew up in Idaho's capital, but spent much of his professional career as a lawyer in New York and California.

His legal experience includes several years as an associate regional director at the Securities and Exchange Commission in southern California, where he oversaw a staff of about 75 people who investigated and prosecuted securities fraud cases in the Los Angeles area.

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Idaho Legislature
11:35 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Bipartisan Group Of Idaho Lawmakers Launch Effort To Pilot Public Preschool

Democratic and some Republican advocates for state-supported preschool intensified their push for a $1.4 million, five-school pilot program they hope will eventually open the door in Idaho to broader pre-kindergarten education.

At a press conference Monday, Boise Rep. Hy Kloc, a Democrat, was joined by Republican Rep. Douglas Hancey of Rexburg and Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney in promoting the proposal.

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Idaho Legislature
9:57 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Idaho House Panel Delays Debate Of Tax Rules For Same-Sex Couples

A House panel delayed discussion of new rules forbidding same-sex couples legally married elsewhere from filing joint Idaho income tax returns.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins said numerous people wanted to testify, so he put it off until Tuesday.

According to temporary State Tax Commission rules, same-sex Idaho couples legally married elsewhere must recalculate federal taxes as singles before filing state taxes.

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Idaho Legislature
7:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Election Year Could Cut Short Idaho's Legislative Session

The Idaho Statehouse
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The 2014 Idaho legislative session started just last week, but there are already people watching the calendar to see when lawmakers will go home. That matters to taxpayers because each day of the session costs roughly $30,000. 

Lawmakers aren't just thinking about the money, but they're gearing up for the primary election this May. 

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Idaho Legislature
4:53 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

LGBT Advocates Rally In Boise, Push "Add The Words" For The Eighth Year

Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Hundreds of people braved winds and dark clouds to attend a rally Saturday on the steps of the state Capitol in Boise.

The event, sponsored by the group Add the Words, Idaho, brought people from as far away as Kellogg and Idaho Falls all demanding one thing: for the Legislature to add the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

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Idaho Legislature
4:32 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Idaho Legislative Panel Backs State Employee Pay Raise

Credit Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

A Republican and Democratic lawmaker panel unanimously backed a proposal for a 2 percent pay increase for Idaho's 17,000 state workers in fiscal year 2015, saying agencies had for too long relied on savings from attrition to boost their employees' checks.

The 18-member Change in Employee Compensation Committee said Friday the pay should be awarded on a merit basis.

Half the increase would be built into ongoing salaries, while the other half would be considered for the year starting in July only.

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Idaho Prisons
3:17 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Idaho To Begin Process Of Taking Over Private Prison

The Idaho Board of Correction has officially ordered the state's prison department to begin the process of taking over operations at the privately run Idaho Correctional Center.

The board made the decision Friday, one week after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced that he believed the state's experiment with privatization at the facility was over.

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Public Rally
4:02 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Hundreds Expected To Rally For LGBT Rights In Boise

(L to R) Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, organizer Mistie Tolman, Rep. Grant Burgoyne at an Add the Words press conference last legislative session. Buckner-Webb and Burgoyne will speak at Saturday's rally in support of a bill that would seek to protect LGBT Idahoans from discrimination.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

For the eighth year in a row, Idaho gay rights advocates will attempt to get the attention of the Legislature with a rally at the Capitol this Saturday.

"Add the Words Idaho" organizer Mistie Tolman says more than 600 people have said on Facebook that they’ll attend. She says people from all across the state will ask lawmakers to add the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the state’s human rights amendment.

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Campaign Finance
1:14 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Simpson Outraises Smith 4-to-1 In Idaho's GOP House Race

In the congressional fundraising horse race, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson says he outraised challenger Bryan Smith nearly four-to-one in 2013's final quarter.

Smith announced Thursday that he raised $111,066 in the fourth quarter. The money will go to his GOP primary election bid against Simpson, with the vote on May 20.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he brought in $430,000.

In total, Simpson says he raised more than $1.25 million in 2013, with Smith raking in $525,000, including his own money, since joining the race in June.

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