More than 200 gay rights demonstrators descended on the Idaho Capitol, with placard-holding, flag-bearing activists filling multiple rotunda floors as they sought again to convince Republican lawmakers to hold a hearing on a bill to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Monday's showing was the largest this year at the Idaho Legislature.
But the group mixed without incident with other visitors to the Capitol, including representatives of Idaho's livestock industry and children promoting school choice.
Idaho taxpayers have paid private attorneys more than $30 million in the past three years to do the state's legal work, in part because the Idaho Attorney General's office doesn't have the staff to handle caseloads.
The Associated Press obtained the payment information from the State Controller's Office through a public records request. The private attorneys charge the state anywhere from $125 to well over $300 an hour, compared to the $54 per hour it costs to have a state staff attorney do the job.
At least 65 demonstrators seeking anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians law ringed the third floor rotunda of Idaho's Capitol 10 days after dozens of them were arrested at a previous protest.
Thursday's demonstration didn't include blocking entrances to lawmakers' chambers, the event that precipitated arrests March 3.
Idaho State Police troopers who guard the Capitol observed the silent protest — the demonstrators covered their mouths with their hands — but didn't intervene.
Boise's top police officer said democracy failed at a Senate State Affairs hearing in which he and other law enforcement leaders were blocked from speaking about a bill allowing concealed-carry on college campuses.
Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson signed up to talk about his opposition to the bill, which passed 7-2 Wednesday morning. The chief was set to argue concealed carry permit holders lack the training and qualifications needed to react correctly during a mass shooting.
Colleges and universities are one step closer to permitting students, staff and visitors to bring concealed firearms to campus after the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to move it forward Wednesday.
The 7-2 decision comes as proponents argue that the bill is necessary to uphold second amendment rights and allow students and staff to protect themselves.
A BSU psychology professor was among those who testified in favor of the bill, describing her terror when a former student threatened to kill her last month.
Lawmakers voted 62-6 to restore adult Medicaid dental benefits, arguing cuts three years ago that left 27,000 people without coverage cost Idaho more in dental-related emergency room services than it saved.
The House vote over the $1.4 million measure Tuesday pitted arguments for good preventative dentistry against fiscal hawks who say federal deficits trump good oral hygiene for low-income, elderly and disabled people.
Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston argued it not only made sense from a health perspective, but also from a fiscal perspective.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 4:41 pm
Saying the practice is "inconsistent and unequal," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was issuing a moratorium on the death penalty in his state.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Inslee said there were too many doubts raised about capital punishment and too many flaws in the system. With so much at stake, he said, it's not possible to accept "an imperfect system."
Idaho's $2.5 billion dairy industry wants to put people who film their operations surreptitiously in jail for up to a year, a bid to block animal-rights groups from spying on farms in hopes of catching animal cruelty on tape.
Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls Thursday introduced the measure on the heels of videos produced in 2012 by a group at one of Idaho's largest dairies documenting cows being beaten.
If the measure passes, anybody who enters an agricultural production facility without permission and records operations could face a year behind bars and a $5,000 fine.
A dispute that erupted last year when former Republican Rep. Mark Patterson was allowed to carry a concealed weapon even after his permit was revoked has lawmakers trying to change Idaho's guns laws.
Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, told House State Affairs Committee members Thursday getting rid of the exemption letting all elected officials carry concealed weapons without a permit would hold officials to the same standard as voters.