Idaho Legislature 2012

Special coverage from KBSX news

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


Occupy Wall Street sparked a national movement
4:40 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Occupy Boise Faces Eviction

Scott Ki/BSPR

BOISE, ID – Occupy Wall Street sparked a national movement last fall that resonated in Idaho too. By November, Occupy Boise protestors had set up camp on state land and now some legislators want them off.  What’s happening locally reflects a national struggle where First Amendment rights conflict with rules about camping on public land.

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changes to the bill
4:37 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Evict Occupy Boise Bill Could Be Amended

Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, ID – Some Idaho lawmakers aren’t comfortable with a bill to evict Occupy Boise.  A Committee wants to make changes to the bill.  This could mean Occupy Boise won’t have to leave until July 1st.

About two dozen people testified before Idaho’s Senate State Affairs Committee against the bill to evict Occupy Boise.  After listening to public comments, Committee members raised concerns of their own.  Majority Leader Bart Davis, a Republican from Idaho Falls, admits when he first saw the Occupy Boise tents he was “troubled by it.”

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IJOBS 2.0.
4:34 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

A Way To Break Out of Idaho’s “Low Wage Job Trap”?

Idaho Rep. Brian Cronin

BOISE, ID – Democrats in the Idaho Statehouse unveiled a jobs package today.  They call it IJOBS 2.0.  Representative Brian Cronin is minority caucus chair.  He gave an overview of six bills intended to boost economic development and Idaho jobs.  He said,  “Many of these initiatives focus on the long term task of breaking out of the low wage trap that Idaho is in.”

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creating yet another map
12:07 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Commission Makes Third Attempt to Craft Idaho’s Political Map

BOISE, Id – After a couple of weeks of political theater, the group tasked with re-drawing Idaho’s political lines gathered this morning to start creating yet another map. The Idaho Redistricting Commission’s last legislative map got tossed out by the state Supreme Court for splitting too many counties. Gary Moncrief is a political science professor at Boise State University and he’s been watching this process closely.   We begin with hearing Secretary of State Ben Ysursa as he welcomed the Commission this morning…

foreign-born workers in Idaho
11:50 am
Thu January 26, 2012

The Dollars And Cents Of Immigrant Workers In Idaho

Priscilla Salant of the University of Idaho

BOISE, ID – Put aside for a second the debate over immigration reform.  Instead, focus on dollars and cents:  What would happen to Idaho’s economy with less foreign-born workers?  One scenario concludes the impact would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  That’s what some lawmakers in the state legislature heard today

It’s the first study to look at the economic impact of foreign-born workers in Idaho.  That’s according to Brent Olmstead.  He’s a lobbyist for a group called the Idaho Business Coalition for Immigration.

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voted today
11:48 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Idaho House Votes to Evict Occupy Boise

Scott Ki/BSPR

BOISE, Id – The Idaho House voted today for a bill to evict Occupy Boise from state land.  The legislation to outlaw the group’s campsite is on the fast track through the Idaho Legislature.  Several Representatives argued against it, including Boise Democrat Phylis King.  She said the bill was too harsh.

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Otter wants the money in school emergency funds
11:37 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Luna Wants Money Back In Salaries

Tom Luna

Boise, ID – Idaho’s schools Superintendent has asked lawmakers to increase the money they send to schools by 4.7%. Tom Luna had asked for more than five percent back in September, but he’s adjusted for a drop in the state’s revenue estimate. One thing Luna is not adjusting is his insistence that lawmakers replace cuts made last year to the chunk of money the state puts aside for teachers’ salaries. That money was taken to pay for Luna’s Students Come First education overhaul. Restoring that money for salaries may hold the key to gaining teacher support for the laws.

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public school funding should be increased
11:34 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Teachers Want Education Funding To Come First

Carly Hill
Adam Cotterell/BSPR

Boise, ID – Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna goes before legislative budget writers Thursday morning. He’ll make the case for why public school funding should be increased. Idaho teachers including Carly Hill watch this budgeting process closely. She teaches U.S. history and government at Boise’s Timberline High school. Hill says years of cuts to education have hurt her school and colleagues. She talks about a couple she knows … both teachers who’ve just finished masters degrees.

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a step closer to being evicted
11:32 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Legislative Committee Votes to Evict Occupy Boise

Samantha Wright/BSPR

BOISE, Id – Occupy Boise protesters are a step closer to being evicted off state land.  Lawmakers on the House State Affairs Committee voted today for a bill that would do just that after three days of testimony. The vote was 13 to 5 to outlaw camping, effectively closing down the Occupy Boise protest. Protesters have had a tent city on the grounds of the old Ada County Courthouse for three months. All four Democrats on the committee voted against the legislation, and one Republican, Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls.

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appointees say they can’t be fired
11:27 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Idaho Republicans Remove Two Redistricting Commissioners

Samantha Wright/BSPR

BOISE, ID – Idaho’s Redistricting Commission meets Thursday to draw a new legislative map.  But just who will be on the Commission, is anybody’s guess.  The Idaho GOP removed two Commissioners Monday.  But those appointees say they can’t be fired and they won’t resign.

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bill to evict Occupy Boise
11:24 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Occupy Boise Protesters May Have to Move

BOISE, Id – The House State Affairs Committee heard more testimony today on a bill to evict Occupy Boise from state land.  It would outlaw camping at the Occupy Boise site across from the Statehouse. Protesters have pitched tents there for three months now.  Almost everyone who testified at today’s hearing was against the legislation.  Occupy Boise supporters argued they aren’t camping nor are they criminals.  Ann Hausrath, a Boise resident and former city council member, said she was impressed by Occupy Boise.

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Occupy Boise protestors off state land
11:16 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Occupy Boise Hearing Gets Emotional And Briefly Out Of Order

BOISE, ID – Some Idaho lawmakers want to evict Occupy Boise protestors off state land.  Friday, they heard from the public on a bill that would do just that.

Occupy Boise set up tents three months ago on the grounds of the Old Ada County Courthouse.  That land is owned by the state of Idaho.  Dana Jablonski from Marsing says she camps there on nights and weekends when she can.

Dana Jablonski:  “My tent is representing me, my voice, here in Idaho.  I feel that that is outside your window because I can’t occupy your office with a lobbyist.”

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redistricting map is unconstitutional
11:10 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Redrawing Idaho’s Political Map Gets Complicated

BOISE, Id – The Idaho Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the state’s current redistricting map is unconstitutional.  The plan splits up twelve counties, and the Justices said that was too many.  Thursday they echoed that decision, when they ruled in favor of a second challenge…this time from North Idaho counties. Now the commission tasked with creating political lines goes back to the drawing board next week to come up with a new plan. Boise State Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief has watched all this all play out.  He told Samantha Wright that the first map almost never makes the c

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redraw political lines
11:04 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Idaho Supreme Court Rules Redistricting Plan Unconstitutional

BOISE, ID – The Idaho Supreme Court tossed out the latest plan to redraw political lines.  Justices ruled four to one the plan violates the state’s Constitution because it splits counties unnecessarily.

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Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission
11:00 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Weather Hampers Governor’s IGEM Events

BOISE, ID – Governor Butch Otter planned to travel to three universities today to tout his IGEM Plan.  It stands for Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission.

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Medicaid will go up in 2014
10:57 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Health and Welfare Director Makes Case for $2.4 Billion Budget

BOISE, Id – More people are signing up for help from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in part to a poor economy.  That’s according to the Director, Richard Armstrong.

Richard Armstrong “Our food stamp caseload is at a record high.  In November, the actual number of enrollees was $235-thousand.  We estimate 6.3 percent growth for the current fiscal year.”

Last year, Health and Welfare averaged nine-thousand applications each month for food assistance.  But Armstrong told budget lawmakers today food aid is not the only program hit hard by the economy.

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Catastrophic Health Care Program
10:54 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Idaho’s CAT Fund Needs Cash

BOISE, Id – Idaho’s Catastrophic Health Care Program needs cash.  That’s the word today from the Fund’s Chairman, Roger Christensen. The program pays hospital costs for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but can’t pay their bill. Christensen told budget lawmakers that for the current fiscal year, the legislature gave the fund $19-million dollars.  But he’ll need another $17-million to keep it going through the end of the fiscal year in June.

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independent ethics commission
4:58 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Idaho Ethics Commission Take One

House Minority Leader John Rusche and Rep. Phylis King
Scott Ki/BSPR

BOISE, ID – Democratic lawmakers in the Idaho Statehouse unveiled their plan for an independent ethics commission Thursday.

Representative Phylis King is a Democrat from Boise.  She started work in the Fall to draft a plan to create an independent ethics commission.

Rep. Phylis King:  “The Commission will review, evaluate, and refer citizen complaints regarding possible breaches of ethics, misuse of funds, or violations of law by state employees and elected state officials.”

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Plans to re-structure political boundaries
4:53 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Challenges to Redistricting Have a History in Idaho

BOISE, Id – This week the U-S Supreme Court took on a plan to re-draw political lines in Texas. That case tests the allocation of new congressional seats largely created because of that state’s rising Latino population.  Courts in Colorado and Hawaii have already thrown out plans to re-structure political boundaries. Here in Idaho, the Supreme Court heard  arguments last week on a challenge from Twin Falls County to the new Redistricting map.  Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs told the Court the plan is unconstitutional because it splits up too many counties.

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Do Idaho state employees need more money?
4:51 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Raising State Salaries, Yes or No?

Samantha Wright/BSPR

BOISE, Id – Do Idaho state employees need more money?  That was the question before budget lawmakers today.  Governor Butch Otter has proposed a one-time, three percent, merit-based bonus in fiscal year 2013.  The last time state employees received a raise of any kind was in fiscal year 2009.  Theresa Luna directs the Department of Administration. She said back then, state employee compensation lagged behind the private sector.

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