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Idaho Capitol Building

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Lawmakers scrap gap bill, adjourn

Idaho’s debate on providing healthcare coverage to around 78,000 Idahoans who live without it drew the 2016 legislative session into its eleventh and final week. The legislature passed nothing. They adjourned last Friday, March 25, shortly after a party-line vote in which the House of Representatives killed the final healthcare proposal introduced this session, which would have appropriated $5.4 million for a grant program to support clinics, and was amended to include a request for a Medicaid waiver that the legislature could consider next year.

March 30, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Rural education plan returns; rushed return of rural ed plan

A plan to share resources between K-12 schools created by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra was introduced directly to the floor without the usual hearing process, Friday, March 18, in a reappearance of the plan, which has been absent since Ybarra first presented the it earlier in the session.

March 23, 2016 4:17 p.m. read more..

Cancer compensation: Fighting for firefighters

A bill to make it easier for firefighters to receive workers’ compensation for cancer passed the Idaho State Senate unanimously on Thursday, March 17, following a 65-3 vote in the House of Representatives the week before. Various forms of the bill have failed to pass the legislature over the last 16 years.

March 23, 2016 4:15 p.m. read more..

Calling for care clears consumption charges

“The fear of repercussion actually hinders students from calling for medical assistance,” said Tanner Beymer, one of the University of Idaho students who brought the bill to the legislature.

March 16, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Bill sent that that would codify legality of Bible references in Idaho public schools

The Senate State Affairs Committee late last month sent a bill to the 14th order for amendments that would codify the legality of Bible references in Idaho public schools. Senate bill 1342, sponsored by District 7 Senator Sheryl Nuxoll (R), would spell out a right already legal in Idaho to reference the Bible in public schools. The bill would not require students to use religious texts for reference purposes if they or their parents objected.

March 9, 2016 1:13 p.m. read more..

K-12 schools budget set but several policy items pending

The Idaho State Legislature's budget committee set the K-12 schools budget last Monday, Feb. 29, at a 6.8 percent increase over last year’s, but several policy items remain pending. More funding will likely come in the form of "trailer bills" bringing the increase up to around 7.4 percent, still short of the governor's proposed 7.9.

March 9, 2016 1:11 p.m. read more..

Legislators give their take on issues

Senate Pro-Tem Brent Hill (R), District 34, and Speaker of the House Scott Bedke (R), District 27, gave their takes on issues affecting the Idaho legislature including education, healthcare, LGBT rights, and Donald Trump at the Idaho Press Club’s annual Headliner’s Lunch Tuesday. Sen. Hill said funding education is the greatest accomplishment of the Idaho legislature this session.

March 2, 2016 12:06 p.m. read more..

Utah group tells state legislature federal land weakens Idaho

Attorney George Wentz on Monday told the Idaho legislature that federal ownership makes states weaker than states that have little federal land – and that the constitution does not allow the federal government to make any state weaker than the others. “Is Idaho weaker than New York because Idaho doesn’t have dominion over all its land? Actually, it is,” Wentz said.

March 2, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Suction dredging bill stalls

Each of the last three sessions at the state legislature, suction dredge miners have pushed for legislation to roll back state and federal regulation of their practice. With a voice vote last Tuesday, Feb. 23, the House Natural Resources Committee opted not to advance the dredgers’ latest proposal.

March 2, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Right to Try Act sent to House floor

A bill that would allow patients with a terminal diagnosis to try investigation drugs has been sent to the House floor for approval. Last Tuesday, Feb. 23, the House Health and Welfare Committee passed a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to voluntarily try investigation drugs tested by the Federal Drug Administration.

March 2, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Community college conversion conversation continues

The Senate Education Committee introduced to the floor a bill that would establish a start-up account to convert Eastern Idaho Technical College to a community college in a 7-2 vote last Thursday, Feb 25. The same day, Gov C. L. “Butch” Otter announced the State Board of Education approved the creation of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine.

March 2, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

‘Put the dollars in the classroom’

Idaho House and Senate Education Committees chairmen made their pitches to the Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee last week, laying a more focused foundation for the legislature’s education priorities this session. Senator Dean M. Mortimer (R), District 30, quoted one sentence from every member of the Senate Education Committee in his presentation, some general, some stating specific desired priorities for the rest of the session.

February 24, 2016 5:19 p.m. read more..

Orofino license plate discussion touches on ‘Maniac’ issue

BOISE — The Idaho House Transportation and Defense Committee was torn last Thursday after representatives from Orofino High School asked the committee for permission to create a new specialty state license plate that would include the school’s mascot - the Orofino Maniacs. Five people testified against the bill, claiming the mascot - a cartoon man screaming and wearing the school’s letters - is offensive to people with mental illness.

February 10, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Medicaid expansion gets hearing

Approximately 78,000 employed Idahoans cannot afford health insurance and earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, leaving them without sufficient health care, according to estimates from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Expanding Medicaid to cover this population would have closed the gap, but the plan has seen political resistance due to the Affordable Care Act.

February 10, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Rally draws opinion for schoolling options

During "Education Week" at the Idaho State Capitol, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra requested a 7.5 percent increase in the public education budget over last year, for a total request of $1,577,904,100. Idaho's eight colleges and universities presented their budget proposals to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee and updated the education committees on their activities.

February 3, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Activism at the Capitol; speakers on the statehouse steps

The Idaho State Legislative session is a time of year when we see many rallies on the Capitol steps in support or opposition of legislation. The weather didn’t stop the protesters at the marijuana rally, nor did it stop the protesters at the next rally a couple weeks later, which had a much larger turnout despite rain.

January 27, 2016 6 a.m. read more..

Education funding increase could impact Dist. 7

The Idaho Legislature kicked off its session with the State of the State address and civil discourse training last week. Following Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s address last Monday, Jan. 11, Senator Sheryl Nuxoll (R, Cottonwood), District 7, said the governor’s proposed expenditures, including a 7.9 percent increase to the state’s education budget could impact her region in the coming legislative session.

January 20, 2016 6 a.m. read more..


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