Idaho Legislature 2012

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Coverage on economy, education, environment, health care and politics stories.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the state in a lawsuit over rules developed in response to the Occupy Boise protesters who pitched tents and camped on grounds near the Capitol.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill determined last week that Idaho's no-camping statute on the Capitol Mall is constitutional and attempts to enforce a camping ban did not infringe on free speech rights.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

About 350 people came to a meeting at Idaho’s capital Monday night which lawmakers called an education listening session. Many signed up to share their thoughts on issues facing public schools. One theme rose to the top, education funding, or the lack of it. 

Idaho Capitol
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

All 35 seats in the Idaho Senate, and 70 in the Idaho House, are up for grabs in the November election.  The lines around the 35 legislative districts were re-drawn last year, creating a brand-new political landscape for incumbents and challengers.  We wanted to know which races were generating the most buzz.

With some help from Boise State Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief, we’ve compiled a list of seven legislative races to watch:

1. House District 2B: Democrat Dan English vs. Republican Ed Morse

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Idaho’s never-lived-in governor’s mansion will cost the state about $180,000 to maintain from now until next July.

The state has justified that cost by saying the mansion is frequently used by government departments and the first family.  So, we wanted to know just how often it’s used, and how much rent it brings in on a yearly basis.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The committee that oversees compensation for state legislators today attempted to clarify when lawmakers may claim the $122 per diem payment intended for those who maintain a second residence during the legislative session.  That payment became a source of controversy last fall, after the AP reported that one state senator claimed it while staying with his parents, and another claimed it while staying on his law firm’s couch.

Brett Sayer / Flickr

New figures from the Alzheimer’s Association show 75-thousand people in Idaho - usually family members - are helping care for a patient with the disease.  An organization known as the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group is working on a state plan to help patients and those caregivers.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Tax evasion will get you into hot water with the IRS. But in north Idaho, it won’t necessarily spell the end of your political career. A Republican state legislator who believes the federal income tax is unconstitutional is battling charges of tax evasion, even as he seeks re-election.

smcgee / Flickr

Free samples of beer and wine are now tax-free.  So are parts for some airplanes that are worked on in Idaho.

Lawmakers expanded and added new tax exemptions during the 2012 session, adding to a growing list (exemptions start on page 41).

Lets start with the new.  Continue reading....

Idaho Legislature

Monday Rep. Phil Hart (R-Hayden) pled his state tax case before the Idaho Supreme Court.  The Republican owes more than 50-thousand dollars in taxes and penalties to Idaho.  Today his federal tax case took a new turn. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge denied most of Hart’s arguments.

Tom Kelly / Flickr

The 2012 Legislature adjourned late last week, accomplishing its only constitutional duty, which is to pass a balanced budget.  StateImpact Idaho’s Emilie Ritter Saunders has watched the budget process closely.  Saunders told Samantha Wright there weren’t many surprises this session, but there were a couple of things that didn’t pan out, including creating a state health care exchange.

TRANSCRIPT

Idaho State Legislature

Idaho Democrats pushed for a jobs package and ethics reform at the start of this legislative term.  At the end, none of these proposals made it very far.  They announced Friday they’ll renew their efforts next year.  Democrats also want a constitutional amendment to guard against mandated medical procedures. 

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Governor “Butch” Otter said Friday the legislature had “81 very successful days.”  That’s how long it took to wrap up this session. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers wrapped up business Thursday and called an end to the 2012 legislative session.  In the Idaho House, legislators joked over the motion to adjourn.  “You’ve heard the motion, all those in favor say aye…Aye!...All those opposed say nay…Nay…The ayes appear to have it. The ayes do have it. The House stands adjourned Sine Die.”

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers wrapped up the 2012 session Thursday.  The House of Representatives adjourned first.  The Senate took much longer as lawmakers signed off on key pieces of legislation and said their goodbyes. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Women wanting an abortion won't need an ultrasound in Idaho. State lawmakers were considering a measure to make that the case.  Right to Life advocates wanted this legislation to persuade more women to say no to an abortion.  Over the last two months, the mandate sparked rallies and fierce debate.  Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise) said “I just see that there's a higher, at least in my opinion, need to protect the unborn and to respect the life of the developing child.”

Religious beliefs and contraception collided Friday in the Idaho House of Representatives, where a majority of lawmakers voted to send a message to the President and U.S. Congress to reject a new birth control policy. 

The Obama Administration has been walking a tightrope on contraception these past few weeks.  It started with a requirement that religious non-profits offer workers birth control free of charge.  After a backlash, the Administration offered to exempt these groups and place the cost on their insurers. 

TVCTV

The Idaho Senate voted Thursday to streamline the way cable TV companies enter local markets, but the bill could jeopardize funding for the Treasure Valley’s public access station.  

For several years, supporters of Treasure Valley Community Television resisted efforts to change the way their public access channels are funded.  The fight continued this legislative session.  Backers say money for the public access station would be cut.  Each local, cable subscriber is billed ten cents to fund the Treasure Valley station, but the Senate-passed bill doesn’t mention this fee. 

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

An ethics panel unanimously dismissed charges against state Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth).  Idaho Democrats accused the lawmaker of violating conflict of interest rules on an oil and gas bill.  Wednesday’s ethics panel discussion played out like a courtroom drama.   

Idaho State Legislature

The ethics investigation of Idaho Sen. Monty Pearce (R- New Plymouth) entered its third day Wednesday.  He's accused of not disclosing his oil and gas leases before voting on nearly two dozen bills dealing with that industry.  Democrats drilled down on one bill Tuesday that Pearce voted on.   

BOISE, ID – Idaho lawmakers signed off Wednesday on a plan that limits local control of oil and natural gas development.  But even supporters  say this legislation isn’t perfect.

Idaho Senators debated for nearly an hour on the powers of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  Under this bill, the agency has final say on where to drill for wells and how to develop the industry.  Democratic Senator Diane Bilyeu from Pocatello hoped to allow local governments to call public hearings on future developments.

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