Politics + Policy

Idaho Legislature
12:16 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Idaho Dairies Want To Stop Activists From Filming

Credit Ambersky235 / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

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Idaho Legislature
12:09 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Idaho Could Ditch Exemption That Lets Lawmakers Carry Concealed Weapons Without Permit

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

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 Mark Patterson was allowed to carry a concealed weapon even after his permit was revoked has lawmakers trying to change Idaho's guns laws.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.

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Idaho Legislature
5:03 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Idaho Rep. Luker's Professional Licensing Bill Likely Illegal

Credit Idaho Legislature

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker's proposal to shield religious people's professional licenses from revocation is vulnerable to constitutional challenge.

On Wednesday, another Luker bill to expand legal protections for religious people who won't serve gays cleared the House State Affairs Committee, to the dismay of activists.

But his separate license measure hasn't gotten a hearing.

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Idaho Legislature
2:31 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Idaho Lawmakers Again Reject Medicaid Expansion, Likely Won't Happen In 2014

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The House Health and Welfare Committee rejected a proposal to increase health care coverage for low-income Idahoans, putting the final nail in the coffin of Medicaid expansion hopes.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, had promoted the bill as a way to help the state's poor, who are particularly vulnerable without coverage, as well as save hospitals and businesses millions.

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Utah Legislature
1:55 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Utah Republican Senator Fights For Anti-Discrimination Law

A Utah Republican Senator pushing for a statewide anti-discrimination law says his bill appears to be dead as party leaders in the state Senate have decided to avoid legislation that may impact the state's gay marriage case.

Sen. Steve Urquhart, a St. George Republican, has pushed for GOP leaders to allow the bill to have a hearing and has even called for supporters to leave notes on the Utah Senate doors.

Supporters left about 450 notes, but Urquhart's fellow Senate Republicans are holding firm.

Idaho Legislature
10:59 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Idaho House Panel Keeps Religious Freedom Bill Alive Despite Public Opposition

The main hearing room was so full, this is the overflow room for people who wanted to participate in the testimony.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / For Boise State Public Radio

Updated Feb. 5 at 12:54 p.m.: 

A House panel kept alive a measure to protect religious people sued for refusing to serve customers they believe violate their faith.

The State Affairs Committee voted 11-5 Wednesday to send the bill to the House floor, where it could get amendments.

All supporters were Republicans.

Two Republicans joined three Democrats against the bill.

The hearing focused on Republican Rep. Lynn Luker's measure updating a 14-year-old law focusing on religious rights.

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Farm Bill
5:04 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Idaho Senators Help Pass Farm Bill Despite Objections From Ranchers

Sugar beet growing near Caldwell
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s senators Tuesday sided with a majority of their colleges to pass the revamped farm bill. It now goes to President Obama for a signature. Both Idaho senators had said they were undecided in the days leading up to the vote.

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Idaho Legislature
10:57 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Idaho Education Board Votes To Fight Guns On Campus Bill

Boise State University campus.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously to fight a bill aiming to allow guns on college campuses.

Monday's vote came as trustees voiced concerns that, among other things, the measure could create confusion in the event of a shooting, if more than one person drew a weapon.

Trustee Bill Goesling of Moscow, the University of Idaho's location, fears police won't be able to tell who is the bad guy.

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Idaho Legislature
10:00 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Idaho Treasurer Refuses To Answer Questions About Audit

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Treasurer Ron Crane refused to answer questions about why his office in 2008 shifted risk for tens of millions of securities to state taxpayers from city and local governments.

Crane, appearing Monday before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, wouldn't answer questions from Sen. Dean Cameron, a Republican from Rupert, about why his office made the transactions that inflated the securities' value by millions.

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Idaho Legislature
9:54 am
Mon February 3, 2014

44 Gay-Rights Activists Arrested At The Idaho Capitol

More than 40 protesters have blocked the entrances to the Senate, they're also standing outside the Capitol.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / For Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated on Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m.

Forty-four gay-rights advocates were arrested at the Idaho Capitol Monday for a silent protest to draw attention to anti-discrimination legislation that lawmakers have refused to publicly vet for the last eight years.

With one hand over their mouths, the protesters blocked all entrances to the Senate chambers for more than two hours. They want lawmakers to hear a bill that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents from job loss and eviction.

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Election 2014
2:34 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Republican Senator Fulcher Raises $250,000 For Idaho Governor's Race

Fulcher announced his candidacy in Nov. 2013.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Republican gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher released his latest campaign finance report Friday. The report shows Fulcher raised $251,642 last year, $100,000 of which he personally loaned to his campaign.

Fulcher is currently a state senator in the Idaho Legislature. He's running against fellow Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May primary.

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Election
2:18 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Democratic Boise Lawmaker Announces Secretary Of State Run

Rep. Holli Woodings is a Boise Democrat.

Rep. Holli Woodings, a Boise Democrat, has announced her plan to run for Idaho's secretary of state seat.

The freshman lawmaker is aiming for the spot currently filled by Republican Ben Ysursa, who is set to retire at the end of the year.

The race is already crowded.

GOP members Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane, and former senators Evan Frasure and Mitch Toryanski are all running.

Woodings, who vowed to maintain a nonpartisan approach if voted into office, is a Boise State University graduate.

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Policy
1:54 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Idaho Taxpayers Could Lose $27 Million From 'Inappropriate' Transfers

Credit 401K / Flickr Creative Commons

Inappropriate transfers by Treasurer Ron Crane's office have cost taxpayers $10.2 million so far, but the hit to public money could rise to $27 million, according to an audit that concludes Idaho's money manager overrode internal controls meant to help contain financial risks.

Legislative auditors concluded in a report that Crane's office should strengthen its measures designed to keep Idaho from losing money.

Crane, whose management has drawn fire from auditors in the past including for using limousines in trips to New York, didn't immediately return a phone call Friday.

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Election 2014
11:41 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Idaho Democratic Candidate For Governor Balukoff Raises $111,000

Boise Democrat A.J. Balukoff announced his run for governor on December 3.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

New campaign disclosure filings from A.J. Balukoff, the Boise Democrat running for governor of Idaho, show he started the year at a significant fundraising disadvantage compared to his Republican opponents.

Balukoff’s campaign reports raising $110,860 in December. It was the only month the campaign raised money, after Balukoff publicly announced his run December 3.

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Education
11:14 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Feds Tardy On Millions To Idaho Education Network Amid Lawsuit

Credit Scott Woods-Fehr / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government hasn't paid millions to prop up an Idaho public education broadband network and may be withholding the cash because of an unresolved lawsuit, a state official says.

Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna said Tuesday the Federal Communications Commission hasn't made millions in payments to private telecommunication companies running the Idaho Education Network since about March.

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Lobbying
6:45 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Why It's Tough To Track What Lobbyists Give To Idaho Lawmakers

Tim Hurst is Idaho's Chief Deputy Secretary of State. Part of his job is to ensure lobbyist disclosure reports are above board.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Late last year, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR launched an interactive data project that lets Missouri voters see just how much money their state representative has accepted from lobbyists. It's an easy-to-navigate visual that gives people a sense of the kinds of relationships that have developed under their Capitol dome. A similar one-stop-shop of lobbying disclosure info wouldn't be possible in Idaho.

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Congress
11:10 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Labrador, Simpson Vote For Farm Bill; Crapo Still Unsure

Credit CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

Idaho’s Republican delegation in the U.S. House voted early Wednesday in favor of the new farm bill. Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson cast votes in favor of the legislation, which cuts more than $8 billion in food stamp spending while ending a direct subsidy to crop farmers. It also expands crop insurance programs backed by the federal government.

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Idaho Legislature
9:50 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Idaho Democrat Promised Legislative Hearing On Medicaid Expansion

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

House Minority Leader John Rusche has been promised a hearing on expanding Medicaid eligibility in Idaho, though Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has thrown cold water on the idea going forward this year.

Rusche says House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, acquiesced to his request for a bill introduction.

Rusche isn't optimistic about his proposal's chances, but he's happy it will at least get an initial vetting.

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Idaho Legislature
5:35 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Idaho House Speaker Meets With Economist Over Tax Shift Plan

House Speaker Scott Bedke says he's met with Idaho's former chief economist over a proposal to shift $80 million from a grocery tax credit to individual and corporate income tax cuts.

Bedke, a Republican from Oakley, met with Mike Ferguson, the top economist at the state under six governors before retiring four years ago.

Bedke's proposes to redirect money now given to Idaho families to offset sales tax they pay on groceries to income tax cuts, in hopes of making Idaho a more-attractive place for businesses to relocate.

Election 2014
2:54 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

What Idaho’s Superintendent Race Looks Like Now That Tom Luna Is Out

Tom Luna, flanked by his chief of staff Luci Willits, walks away from the podium after announcing he won't seek re-election.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s top education job is up for grabs. That's after Superintendent Tom Luna said Monday he won't run for a third term.

Two Republicans planned to run against Luna in the May primary - north Idaho teacher John Eynon and American Falls principle Randy Jensen. But Luna's announcement that he wouldn't seek re-election could now open the door for more candidates.

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