Idaho Legislature

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho school districts are saving the state millions of dollars after being forced to negotiate their own broadband services to replace a state contract deemed illegal earlier this year.

State budget writers approved allocating $6.3 million on Monday to fund school broadband services for one more year.

The amount is based on data provided to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee showing that most schools have negotiated their own contracts at much lower rates than the state did when it was in charge of the now obsolete Idaho Education Network.

What if you showed your driver’s license to verify your credit card, buy a drink or get on a plane -- and it wasn't accepted?

Curtesy City of Boise

Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan is now a state senator. Jordan was appointed to the body by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter after Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, resigned to join the Idaho Tax Commission.

Jordan will fill the District 17 seat. 

“I believe Maryanne has proven herself to be a dedicated public servant with a long track record of notable achievement and civic leadership,” said Gov. Otter in a press release. “I have every confidence that she will continue that laudable legacy as the newest member of the Idaho Legislature.”

The head of Idaho's pro-business lobby has been placed on temporary leave after sending a profanity-laden email criticizing a state senator and suggesting the group introduce retaliation legislation.

The Idaho Statesman reports the board of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry made the decision regarding President Alex LaBeau on Thursday.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Two months into Idaho’s legislative session, many of the priorities lawmakers set at the beginning of the year haven’t been touched. Legislative leaders say things like road and bridge funding and a tax overhaul may have to wait until next year.

At an event organized by the Idaho Press Club Wednesday, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said he’s optimistic the session can end by March 27. That’s despite the fact that a highly-anticipated bill to give teachers a raise was introduced Wednesday and a comprehensive plan to pay for fixing Idaho’s roads and bridges hasn’t yet surfaced.

A plan to give Idaho teachers significant raises over five years has finally taken shape in the Idaho legislature.

Jay Yohe / Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho House committee has ushered in a roughly $215 million plan to boost teacher pay over the next five years with the hope of attracting and retaining the state's instructors.

Members on the House Education Committee unanimously approved the proposed legislation Wednesday after getting a sneak peak last week to read the 33-page bill.

Under the plan, rookie teacher pay would bump up from $31,750 a year to $32,200 a year. By 2020, new teachers would be paid $37,000 a year.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Republicans want a bigger say in the 2016 presidential election cycle. A bill that would move Idaho’s presidential primaries up two months, into March, passed the state Senate Tuesday.

Republican State Sen. Jim Rice says the whole point of elections is to let the voice of citizens be heard.

“And there is no citizen who is not impacted by the president of the United States. None,” Rice says.

Idaho Legislature

Three lawmakers refused to attend the Idaho Senate's daily invocation after objecting to the offering of a Hindu prayer.

Rajan Zed, guest chaplain, gave a lengthy prayer in both English and Sanskrit on Tuesday that focused on selflessness and peace. Senators from both sides of the aisle shook his hand and thanked him for coming.

However three lawmakers, all Republican, only came back onto the floor once the prayer was over: Sens. Steve Vick, Sheryl Nuxoll and Lori Den Hartog.

A bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine has passed in the Idaho House on a party-line vote.

House lawmakers voted 55-14 on Monday.

Supporters of the bill argued that the legislation will better protect women's health. Others pointed out that they hoped the bill would limit the number of abortions that occur in the future.

House Democrats countered that the bill inappropriately allowed the Idaho Legislature to regulate medicine rather than physicians.

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m.

More than 20 gay rights activists have been arrested after protesting in the Idaho House and Senate chambers in an attempt to pressure lawmakers into passing anti-discrimination protections.

Activists taking part in the protest that started Monday morning warned they would not voluntarily leave until legislators consider adding four words — sexual orientation and gender identity — to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

A panel in the Idaho Senate introduced a bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour -- a $2 per hour increase -- by next year. 

U.S. Dept. of Education / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the Idaho Legislature's most anticipated proposals to boost teacher pay has finally been revealed just nine days before lawmakers begin setting the state's public education budget.

The Idaho House Education Committee listened to the plan Friday but did not vote on any legislation.

Under the plan, beginning teacher pay would bump up from $31,750 to $33,000 per year school starting in fiscal year 2016 and eventually increase to $37,000 over five years.

Idaho Democrats' plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $9.25 per hour over the next two years might be over before it begins.

Sen. Curt McKenzie, who chairs the GOP-controlled Senate State Affairs Committee, started the hearing Friday by saying he didn't anticipate any more discussions on the bill.

The bill was introduced unanimously with no discussion, mainly as a courtesy to minority party leadership.

A panel in the Idaho House agreed to introduce legislation Thursday that would define ride-sharing services like Uber in state law -- and trump local efforts to regulate them.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

House Minority Leader John Rusche says Idaho needs a new office to investigate concerns about government fraud and waste.

Rusche pitched the idea to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The bill barely squeaked by the Republican-controlled panel after an attempt to kill the plan failed by one vote.

According to Rusche, currently there is nowhere for state employees or citizens to go if they have complaints regarding state-level corruption.

bullying
Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.
 

Tanning
Evil Erin / Flickr Creative Commons

A House panel is endorsing a bill that would require teens to get permission from their parents in order to use a tanning bed.

The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously passed the legislation Wednesday.

The bill requires parental permission for children ages 14 to 17. Children under age 14 would be banned from tanning beds completely.

Steven Mings, a dermatologist in Boise, told lawmakers that the ultraviolet rays in tanning beds are directly linked to the causes of skin cancer.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed into law a bill approving $3.64 million in emergency funding for Idaho's faltering broadband program.

The stopgap measure Otter approved Wednesday allows school districts to negotiate their own broadband contracts for the rest of this school year to replace the Idaho Education Network system.

The emergency fix comes after a district judge voided Idaho's $60 million broadband contract, creating the potential loss of broadband access to nearly 200 public high schools across the state.

Dainel Lee / Flickr

The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee says his family and the families of other committee members are being harassed by backers of a proposed law to allow Idaho residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Republican Tom Loertscher of Iona on Tuesday on the House floor said his and the home phone numbers of other committee members are being published.

But Loertscher says the lawmakers are at the Statehouse so family members are getting the calls in what he says is a "new low," and he is asking the callers to "cease and desist."

An Idaho lawmaker and farmer said the state should press the federal government to establish a national labeling system for genetically engineered foods -- before states create their own.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will introduce a bill Wednesday that will allow people to use some oils extracted from cannabis plants. Idaho currently does not allow any form of medical marijuana.  But other states without medical pot have passed exemptions similar to this new bill.

Its aim is to allow people with epilepsy to use the extract. Certain strains of cannabis have shown great promise in reducing seizures in children with severe epilepsy.

A new measure backed by Idaho Power Co. would allow business owners to resell public utility electricity to electric car drivers.

The House State Affairs Committee voted Tuesday to introduce a bill permitting companies to buy the electricity from a public utility and then resell it to charge electric car batteries.

Rich Hahn from Idaho Power says that current state law prevents reselling electricity provided by a public utility. This means businesses are footing the bill for having electric car charging stations.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill that would set legal requirements for doctors who prescribe abortion-inducing medication.

Proponents of the measure said it would stop what they called “webcam abortions” from coming to Idaho. Anti-abortion groups warned that doctors could prescribe drugs like RU-486 over video conferencing without knowing the extent of a patient’s pregnancy and leave her to deal with the results at home.

Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

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