Idaho Legislature

Idaho's Oldest Lawmaker Dies At 92

Apr 28, 2015
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports former Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, passed away Monday in hospice care. He was 92-years-old.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

In the last 35 years, Idaho has only had six special legislative sessions. And it's been almost a decade  since the last one.

Idaho's next special session could be just around the corner because the state is out of compliance with changes to federal child support programs. 

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have required Idaho sign language interpreters to get a state license.

The plan aimed to stop unqualified interpreters from causing miscommunications in important situations, like emergency rooms or legal proceedings.

But Otter said Wednesday that the plan would have created a strain on already limited resources. Otter added that he will work with stakeholders to make a policy for certified interpreters in the future.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little had supported the bill, voting yes to break a 17-17 tie in the Senate.

Some of Idaho's conservative Republicans have raised concerns this year about local Muslim populations and the potential influence of Sharia law in the state.

Those fears prompted local GOP events and a special lawmaker luncheon, while culminating in the decision by some lawmakers to kill a child support enforcement bill. That threatened the state's ability to enforce more than 150,000 child support payments.

Historians say this isn't the first time Idaho's government has focused concern on a specific religious group.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Republican Congressman Raul Labrador involved himself in the fallout of failed Idaho legislation that would have brought the state into compliance with federal child support rules and an international treaty.

Labrador says he doesn't have a position on the issue. However, the tea party-favorite told The Associated Press that he reviewed an April 12 editorial sent out by a key lawmaker after the vote.

Idaho State Police

State police will build a new headquarters in southeast Idaho sometime next year.

The Idaho State Journal reports that the state legislature authorized $5.4 million to construct a new 24,000-square-foot facility in Pocatello.

Idaho Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Marijuana-Based Epilepsy Treatment

Apr 16, 2015
Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have legalized a marijuana extract for patients with severe forms of epilepsy.

In his veto letter, Otter said his administration has strongly opposed the legislation because "there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law."

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Thursday he is not yet prepared to call a special legislative session to address child support.

Just before the 2015 legislative session ended last weekend, members of a House committee killed a bill to bring Idaho in compliance with changes to federal child support programs.

The Idaho legislature adjourned its overtime session over the weekend.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers finished the 2015 legislative session early Saturday morning, boasting major funding increases for Idaho's teachers and completing a last-minute proposal to address the state's crumbling roads and bridges.

The session stretched nearly two weeks past when legislative leaders had optimistically estimated they would adjourn, winning a spot as one of the top five longest legislative sessions in Idaho's history. The longest session was in 2009, when it lasted 119 days.

Welcome to Idaho
Craig Cloutier / Flickr Creative Commons

A six-member joint panel has reached a compromise that would partially address Idaho's roads funding shortfall.

The new plan was passed unanimously by the Legislature's special joint conference committee on Friday afternoon after two full days of negotiations. The proposal would raise $95 million — far short of the $262 million annual shortfall the state has faced for road maintenance since 2010.

A special committee in the Idaho legislature assigned to find a compromise deal on roads funding ended the day Thursday with plenty of frustration but, still no deal.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House has overwhelmingly approved a plan to increase Idaho's grocery tax credit by $10 per person.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee introduced the plan less than two hours earlier on Thursday morning. The House then voted 68-1 to send the proposal to the Senate.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle from Star is backing the proposal. The legislation is estimated to cost almost $14 million in general fund dollars.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislation seeking to end a retirement bonus for state lawmakers who take high-paying state jobs at the end of their careers died Wednesday.

Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie tells The Spokesman-Review that the bill will not receive a committee hearing.

The bill had already passed the House on a narrow 38-32 vote.

The ping-pong of transportation plans between the Idaho House and Senate promises to make this a long week at the Capitol.

4 Things You Should Know About Instant Racing In Idaho

Apr 7, 2015
Bob Jagendorf / Flickr Creative Commons

Two years ago, Idaho lawmakers approved  instant horse racing, which allows people to gamble using past races. Since that time, instant racing machines have been set up at three Idaho locations; Garden City, Post Falls and Idaho Falls.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislation that would increase Idaho's public school funding and boost salary increases for teachers has only one remaining hurdle.

The Idaho House approved all seven pieces of the state's largest budget with almost no discussion on Monday, sending the bills to the governor's desk.

None of the bills — a combined $1.4 billion in general funds — garnered more than seven votes in opposition.

Under the proposals, public schools funding will increase by 7.4 percent to help fund the first year of the new teacher pay increase.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers Monday passed a bill to allow parents to treat epileptic children with an oil extracted from cannabis. Idaho’s House approved the bill 39-30 after more than an hour of intense debate.

Opponents, such as Rep. Luke Malek, R- Coeur d’Alene, argued the bill legalizes marijuana because the oil has small amounts of the chemical that makes pot users high.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote not scientific evidence,” Malek said.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This post was updated April 7, 2015

The Idaho Senate has failed to override Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto on legislation that would have made roughly 250 slot-like betting machines in Idaho illegal,

However, senators passed three letters questioning the legality of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's notification actions.

The Senate voted 19-16 on Monday, just five votes shy of the required two-thirds support needed to flip a veto in a chamber.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed legislation that will ban Idaho women from receiving abortion-inducing drugs via telemedicine.

The new law signed on Monday requires a doctor to be physically present when giving pregnancy-ending pills. But telemedicine is not even currently available in the state.

The law also requires doctors to make efforts to schedule a follow-up visit with the woman after administering the drugs.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

On Friday afternoons, the crowd at the B gates of the Boise Airport includes a lot of familiar faces from the Idaho capitol.

Sen. Bob Nonini knows everybody. He's one of the longest-serving north Idaho lawmakers.

“We got Rep. Don Cheatham, Rep. Ron Mendive, Sen. Mary Souza, Rep. Sage Dixon, Rep. Vito Barbieri, Rep. Heather Scott, Rep. Kathy Sims, and Rep. Eric Redmond,” Nonini said. “And we go home -- most of us -- go home every weekend. And then come back.”

Everyone was in jeans and sneakers, ready to fly to Spokane.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Senate is teeing up for a new round of negotiations Monday on how to fund much-needed repairs on roads and bridges.

Lawmakers are going into their second week of overtime. But the two chambers of the Legislature haven’t been able to come to an agreement on one of their top priorities this year: raising an estimated $262 million for roads. The Senate declined to hear a House package that would have raised the gas tax by 7 cents.
 

House leadership has now effectively told the Senate: it’s your turn.

aposematic herpetologist / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho giant salamander is now officially Idaho's state amphibian.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the legislation on Thursday.

Fourteen-year-old Ilah Hickman has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass the bill for five years. Her dreams were briefly crushed earlier this year when lawmakers killed the bill in committee. However, lawmakers later revived the bill and sent it to the governor's desk.

Otter gave Hickman a copy of the bill and his pen before letting her sit behind the governor's desk.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The nearly $125 million plan to boost teacher pay in Idaho over the next five years won the governor's stamp of approval.

Under the new law, which Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed Thursday, rookie teacher pay would steadily increase to $37,000 a year by 2020.

Over time, more experienced teachers will be able to qualify for higher pay of roughly $42,000 to $50,000 a year.

Otter says passing the plan that had support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and all major stakeholders defined the 2015 legislative session as historic.

The Idaho Senate has approved a 7.4 percent increase to the state's public school budget, which includes funding for a sweeping five-year plan to boost teacher pay.

The chamber unanimously approved all seven parts of the Idaho's largest budget — totaling more than $1.4 billion of general funds — with no debate on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Dean Cameron from Rupert says he'd never seen the chamber move through the education budget so swiftly.

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