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Eye On Boise archive for Feb. 2010

FRIDAY, FEB. 26, 2010

Panelists prepare for a taping of Idaho Reports on Friday. From left are Jim Weatherby, Dan Popkey, Betsy Russell, Ben Botkin and Idaho Reports host Thanh Tan. (Courtesy photo / Idaho Public Television)

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 5:30 p.m.

The week that was...

Here’s a link to the seventh week of Idaho’s legislative session in pictures, as a slide show. Let your cursor hover over the bottom part of the picture frame, and the captions will appear as the slide show plays. Tonight, on Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 2:01 p.m.

Gearing up for school funding fight...

As Idaho lawmakers gear up for their biggest budget decision of the year on Monday - cuts to public schools - teachers are bracing for pay cuts, Democrats are fixing for a fight and some conservatives on the Legislature's joint budget committee are looking at...

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Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, the House minority caucus chair, talks about an hour-long closed caucus House Democrats held on Friday to discuss school funding. The Democrats are expecting a "strong split' in JFAC on Monday between supporters of the plan outlined by JFAC co-chairs, and backers of an even lower budget for schools. (Betsy Russell)

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 11:56 a.m.

Dems expect 'a strong split' on school funding

House Democrats went behind closed doors for an hour-long caucus today, and afterward, Caucus Chair Bill Killen, D-Boise, reported that the upcoming school budget vote on Monday dominated the discussion. "I guess I'd call it the 'low-ball budget,' and there's a possibility that an even...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 11:37 a.m.

HW 'furlough Fridays' expand to full days

The state Department of Health & Welfare has announced that its already-planned "furlough Friday" half-day office closures will be expanded to full-day closures, due to additional budget reductions announced last week. The closures will begin next week and continue through June 11; click here to...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 11 a.m.

'Conscience' bill passes, 21-13 

SB 1353, the "conscience" bill, has passed the Senate on a 21-13 vote, but only after strong objections to the bill were expressed by many senators. "I probably could support this legislation had the authors not included the 'end-of-life' portion," said Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle....

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 10:41 a.m.

BSU looks to alternative financing for dorms

Boise State needs more dorms, and with the state of the state budget, it's not looking there. Instead, BSU has come to lawmakers for authorization to do a public-private lease-back deal. Here's a report from the AP on the bill, HB 596: BOISE, Idaho (AP)...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 10:36 a.m.

New version of streetcar bill emerges

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A House lawmaker has made several changes to his bill aimed at stopping Boise from charging property owners for a new streetcar without asking them first. Rep. Raul Labrador, an Eagle Republican, introduced...

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Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, debates in favor of SB 1353, the abortion, emergency contraception and end-of-life care "conscience" bill for health care providers, in the Senate on Friday morning. He's the lead sponsor of the bill, which specifically permits providers to refuse to provide care on conscience grounds, while protecting their jobs. (Betsy Russell)

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 10:21 a.m.

Senate debates 'conscience' bill

The Senate is debating SB 1353, the health care provider "conscience" bill regarding abortion, emergency contraception and end-of-life care, specifically permitting any licensed health care provider to refuse to provide a treatment or medication on "conscience" grounds. "The intent of this legislation is not to...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 8:24 a.m.

'Like cutting off fingers...' 

While praising the JFAC co-chairs for bringing in education stakeholders to work on the public school budget, Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, said, "I'm sure that those stakeholders you invited in were very happy to have the opportunity to have their input considered. Should this be...

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JFAC Co-Chairs Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, left, and Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, right, confer during Friday morning's meeting of the joint budget committee. The panel set a budget for the Commission on Hispanic Affairs for next year that mirrors cuts to other agencies; it didn't address Gov. Butch Otter's proposal to phase out all state funding for that commission and six other agencies over the next four years. (Betsy Russell)

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 7:46 a.m.

Budgets don't include 4-year phaseouts...

This morning, while setting budgets for several smaller agencies for next year, JFAC got to the first of the seven agencies for which Gov. Butch Otter had proposed phasing out all state funding over the next four years, in this case, the Commission on Hispanic...

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Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 7:43 a.m.

'Being creative about funding'

The budget set this morning for the Idaho Historical Society shows an 11.7 percent cut in state general funds, but just a 0.1 percent cut in overall funding. The reason: "They've started doing their own fundraising, and they're really doing a good job," said Rep....

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The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Friday morning sets budgets for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, the Office of Species Conservation and the Soil Conservation Commission. All three decisions were unanimous. (Betsy Russell)

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010, 7:33 a.m.

Unanimous votes on agency budget cuts...

Unanimous votes have set the budgets so far this morning for the Department of Fish & Game, the Office of Species Conservation, and the Soil Conservation Commission. Fish & Game, which gets no state general funds, saw an overall 2 percent budget increase; the agency...

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THURSDAY, FEB. 25, 2010

Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 6:26 p.m.

Guv makes unprecedented visit to GOP caucus 

Gov. Butch Otter made an unprecedented visit to the state Capitol's fourth floor today to huddle behind closed doors with the House GOP caucus over the recent House-Senate clash over a 1 percent cost-of-living increase for state retirees; House Republicans pushed through a measure to...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 6:06 p.m.

When partings are sweetened...

Here's a link to my full story at on the bill introduced today to ban purchases of additional retirement service for state employees to get them to retire early - a practice that resulted in $125,000 in such state expenditures in 2009, including $72,781...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 4:01 p.m.

The budget blueprint...

Here's a link to my full story at on the budget blueprint that the JFAC co-chairs laid out for the joint committee and the public today, and here's a link to the numbers - the five pages of figures that legislative budget director Cathy...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 3:18 p.m.

Committee backs review of exemptions 

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee was unanimous this afternoon, agreeing to send the full Senate SB 1381, the bill from Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, to require the Legislature to review all sales tax exemptions at least every five years, and put a five-year...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 2:32 p.m.

New 'Friends of Parks' group forms

A new private non-profit group called "Friends of Idaho Parks & Recreation" has formed to fight budget cuts to parks, work to increase volunteerism in state parks and generate long-term funding. The group's formation was announced at today's Parks Board meeting, at which the board...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 1:51 p.m.

Bill would raise adults' seatbelt fines

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Adults caught in a car without their seatbelts on in Idaho could see their costs rise five-fold. Rep. Rich Wills, a Glenns Ferry Republican, introduced a bill Thursday to add court costs of...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 1:12 p.m.

Texting-while-driving ban draws support 

High school students are among those testifying this afternoon in favor of SB 1352, legislation to ban texting while driving, and all testimony so far is in favor. Senate Transportation Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, lead sponsor of the bill, thanked Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, for...

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Thu., Feb. 25, 2010, 11:16 a.m.

Vassar confirmed to ITD board 

Jan Vassar has been unanimously confirmed by the Idaho Senate for a full six-year term on the Idaho Transportation Board, after earlier being appointed to serve for just six weeks to complete the term of the late Bruce Sweeney. Vassar, former Lewiston city manager, administrative...

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