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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
State workers lamented wages falling further behind their private sector peers and urged a legislative panel to bring their salaries up — or risk losing employees to better-paying endeavors outside Idaho government.
Donna Yule, Idaho Public Employee Association dirctor, urged the Change in Employee Compensation Committee Wednesday to begin a three-year program of raising worker salaries.
Excluding benefits, Yule said, it would cost just over $16 million annually — but the expenditure would buttress morale that's taken a hit since the recession began in 2008.
Democrats blasted Republicans during their annual response to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's State of the State speech, charging the majority party with "starving schools."
At a press conference Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Rusche, from Lewiston, and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, criticized Republican claims that education funding cuts over the last five years resulted from the "Great Recession."
Rusche and Stennett countered these cuts were "choice, intentional and deliberate."
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter kicks off the 2014 legislative session with his annual State of the State speech at this hour.
Otter's speech is heavy on education, and increasing education funding. He's also using the speech to coin a new idea, instead of K-12 education, Otter says the state needs to think of public education as K-Career. "It is a formula that emphasizes local autonomy and accountability as the keys to success not only for our schools but also for our communities, our economy, and most importantly for our students," Otter says.