Idaho Legislature

A group of Republican lawmakers in Idaho is offering a plan they say could raise up to $81 million for road and bridge repairs by next year.

Idaho school districts say the state needs to offer better pay if it’s going to attract qualified teachers -- or keep the ones it has.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

One of the Idaho Legislature's most anticipated pieces of legislation has attracted hundreds of teachers, parents and educational state officials to the Capitol eager to testify and lobby for more money for public school teachers.

However, after listening to nearly three hours of testimony Tuesday morning, House lawmakers are still nowhere closer to sealing the fate of a bill that would pump $125 million into teacher salaries.

The Idaho House Education Committee is scheduled to continue listening to testimony at 2:30 p.m.

Albert Lynn / Flickr Creative Commons

Two House Republicans say they have a last-minute proposal to raise $70 million to $100 million per year in new transportation funding.

The House Transportation and Defense Committee is slated to consider the eleventh-hour proposal Tuesday. The plan would draw from overall tax revenue growth and a temporary five-cent fuel tax increase to tackle the state's $262 million annual transportation shortfall.

The Idaho House has endorsed increasing fines for violating the state's open meeting law.

Republican Rep. Linden Bateman told House members Monday that the fees hadn't been raised since the original law passed four decades ago.

The plan is slated to increase the fine fivefold — from $50 to $250 — in order to cover the cost of inflation. More severe violations could cost up to $2,500.

The bill passed 58-11. It now goes to the Senate for approval.

Elected officials in Idaho do not need permits to carry concealed weapons.

Keary O. / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho lawmakers are once again seeking to remove a special exemption that allows elected officials to carry concealed guns without a permit.

The House State Affairs Committee voted Monday to introduce the bill, which would rewrite most of the state's concealed weapon laws and clarify confusing sections for law enforcement and citizens.

Last year, a similar bill passed the House 62-7, but failed to pass a Senate panel.

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.

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