Politics + Policy

6:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Idaho Attorney General Wasden Will Continue To Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
Credit State of Idaho

Unlike his counterpart in Virginia, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his personal views on same-sex marriage are irrelevant when it comes to defending the state's Constitution. It’s safe to say Wasden and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring look at their jobs very differently. 

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Idaho Legislature
3:48 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

$2 Million Plan Aims To Kill 500 Idaho Wolves

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Republicans promoting Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposed $2 million fund to kill wolves say they hope the cash helps eliminate more than 500 of the predators in Idaho, reducing numbers to 150 animals in 15 packs.

Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace and Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson Monday told the House Resources and Conservation Committee the cash set aside with Otter's proposal will bolster Idaho's predator arsenal.

Idaho now has about 680 wolves, according to state Department of Fish and Game estimates.

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Idaho Legislature
2:39 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Lawmakers Resurrect Bill To Allow Guns On Idaho University Campuses

Credit Stephen Velasco / Flickr Creative Commons

Gun-rights advocates are resurrecting a measure aiming to allow concealed weapons on Idaho university campuses.

A bill is up for consideration Monday in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

In 2011, that panel's members dumped a House-passed measure, arguing decisions should be left up to university leaders.

This year, one of the proponents, Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, has been working with key lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis to address objections.

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Idaho Legislature
12:25 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Mental Health Care Providers Blast Private Manager

Mental health professionals blasted a private company managing behavioral health care for low-income Idaho residents, saying the system is plagued with hours-long delays that could put their clients at risk.

A joint House and Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting Friday provided a venue to criticize Optum, a Minnesota-based health care services management company.

Since September, it's being paid $10.5 million monthly to administer outpatient behavioral health services for Idaho's Medicaid program as the state seeks to as it seeks to control costs.

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Idaho Legislature
12:22 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Idaho Democrats Vow To Continue Anti-Discrimination Fight

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Backers of the "Add the Words" campaign promised to continue the push to ban discrimination against gays, even as the likelihood of winning in the Legislature fades.

Boise Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne said Thursday he had been informed by House and Senate Republicans that they would block the proposal from reaching a hearing.

The group has been embroiled in an eight-year fight to include "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" in the Idaho Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin and disability.

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Election 2014
9:15 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Tea Party Voters In Idaho Don't Want Feds Intruding

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:29 am

In Challis, the debate is over the reach of Washington and how state land is used. Morning Edition has traveled to Idaho for one of the mostly closely watched political races this year.

Election 2014
4:54 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Olympic Champion Fosbury Hopes Idaho House Run Is No Flop

Dick Fosbury, the Olympic champ whose name defines the modern high jump, has now launched an Idaho House of Representatives run.

After a post-Olympic engineering career, Fosbury wants to boost Idaho's economy out of "the doldrums."

But as he faces a Republican incumbent in conservative Idaho, Fosbury acknowledges headline writers might already be readying their keyboards.

"Fosbury Flops."

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2:14 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Themes Emerge In State Of The State Addresses

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 2:41 pm

On Tuesday, President Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union Address from the Capitol. But today, we will be taking a look at three State of the State Addresses made by governors this month, for a snapshot of what’s going on around the nation:

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Idaho Legislature
10:36 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Grocery Tax Shift Could Increase Burden On Middle-Income Idahoans

Credit Dave Dugdale / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's former chief economist says families of four earning more than $117,750 would see lower taxes, should lawmakers adopt House Speaker Scott Bedke's proposal to shift money from a grocery tax credit to individual and corporate income tax cuts.

Mike Ferguson, chief economist for six governors including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, said Thursday families earning less would likely see a higher tax burden, according to his calculations.

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Idaho Legislature
10:17 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Luna Trims Hopes For Idaho Teacher Pay, Still Wants Hike

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna trimmed his request for pay hikes for Idaho's public school teachers, but still wants to boost salaries.

Luna spoke to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Last year, his original proposal included $42 million for boosting teacher pay in fiscal year 2015.

After Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter this month recommended no additional state funding to boost salaries, however, Luna now hopes his latest plan is a compromise with lawmaker appeal.

It foresees $23 million going to lifting teacher pay.

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Election 2014
8:16 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Tea Party Wants To Make Spending A Federal Case In Idaho

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 6:20 am



This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

In election years, we hear a lot of reporting from swing states: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin. We do not usually hear as much from a place like Idaho, because it is so deeply one color: red. But this midterm election year, Idaho is home to one of the most closely watched races in this nation. A Republican is battling another Republican in a primary campaign that may point to where the party, as a whole, is heading.

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Gay Marriage
1:55 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Judge Lets Idaho Attorney General Enter Same-Sex Marriage Case

A federal judge says Idaho's attorney general can intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, even though Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is already a party in the case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale made the ruling Tuesday, saying that Idaho has a strong interest in defending its laws against constitutional attack and that Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden was in a position to assert those defenses.

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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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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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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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