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Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2008

Audit raises questions about state planes

Does Idaho really need three state airplanes, including one mostly used to fly the governor? That’s the question raised by a new legislative audit of the Idaho Transportation Department which states, "The urgency of trips and itineraries indicate that other less expensive transportation options exist...

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TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2008

House introduces registration fee bills

The House Ways & Means Committee met on short notice this afternoon, and introduced three new vehicle registration fee increase bills. These are much, much smaller than Gov. Butch Otter’s earlier proposal for funding a road maintenance backlog, however, and less than half the magnitude...

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Legislative doings galore

The Senate has just recessed until 4:30 this afternoon, before taking up any of the bills on its 3rd reading calendar, as both parties are going into caucus. Meanwhile, the House had computer problems yesterday when it tried to come back on the floor after...

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Idaho to take over fish farm in water deal

In a complicated deal designed to address the fight between spring water users and groundwater users in the Magic Valley, the state has hatched a plan to buy out a 400-acre fish farm, Pristine Springs, in partnership with the city of Twin Falls and area...

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Prison warehouse conversion is a go

The vote was unanimous as JFAC took another look at the conversion of a Prison Industries Enhancement warehouse at the Idaho Correction Center into a 304-bed minimum custody drug treatment this morning, and approved it. The panel backed a $4,675,500 supplemental appropriation for the current...

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MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2008

Who's filed so far

The first day of candidate filing for Idaho’s spring primary election drew two candidates to Idaho’s open-seat race for the U.S. Senate – Fred M. Adams of Idaho Falls, and Neal Thompson of McCall – and an array of legislative candidates, including a few challengers....

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One reason to wrap it up?

If legislators need a reason to start wrapping up their session, now that it’s moved into its 64th day, here’s one: Today is the opening of the filing period for the May primary election, and every seat in the Legislature is up for a vote....

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How states could become top workplaces

The State Perspectives Institute at Boston College is partnering with the Boise-based Twiga Foundation, headed by former Idaho First Lady Patricia Kempthorne, on a project to assess the readiness of states to become “employers-of-choice” by recognizing the aging of the public-sector workforce and developing workplace...

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Eerie similarities...

Here’s something to ponder: Last week, just as Idaho Gov. Butch Otter withdrew his $150-per-car vehicle registration fee proposal, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter abandoned his unpopular bid to raise car-registration fees there an average of $100. His spokesman, Evan Dreyer, told the Denver Post that...

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FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2008

Governor signs field-burning legislation

Gov. Butch Otter signed into law HB 557 today, the compromise legislation on field-burning. Otter, joined by ag representatives and the heads of the state departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality, read a letter from Safe Air For Everyone executive director Patti Gora and praised...

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Funding approved for new field-burning program

Idaho’s joint budget committee this morning unanimously approved funding for a new field-burning regulatory system in Idaho, to go along with legislation that passed unanimously yesterday to allow field burning to resume in the state with a new regulatory system that focuses on public health...

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Highway bonding for $134 million clears JFAC

Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal for $134 million in additional bonding next year for the GARVEE highway bonding program won strong support in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning, passing on an 18-1 vote with only Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, dissenting. Several committee members said...

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THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2008

Another big hole in the budget

It’s pretty much just what no one wanted to hear: There’s potentially another $38 million hole in the budget that lawmakers are nearly finished setting for next year. When Congress passed the economic stimulus act – the same one that’ll send rebates to taxpayers across...

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Field-burning bill passes unanimously

HB 557, the mediated compromise legislation on field-burning, just passed the Senate unanimously, after rules were suspended to allow it to be taken up right away. The bill now heads to Gov. Butch Otter for his signature, and the state Board of Environmental Quality is...

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2008

Senate kills greenhouse gas resolution

A resolution calling on the state DEQ and Office of Energy Resources to put together a report to the governor and a legislative committee on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, focusing on renewable energy opportunities for the state, was shot down in the Senate...

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Otter withdraws registration fee hike proposal

Gov. Butch Otter today sent a letter to the Legislature, addressed to Senate President Pro-tem Bob Geddes, saying, “I am writing today to formally notify you of my intention to withdraw the proposed registration fee and rental car tax legislation that was presented to a...

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Who won the stare-down

For the last two days in JFAC, there have been long waits before anyone made a motion, as backers of competing budget plans for public schools and higher education vied for strategic advantage by hoping someone else’s motion would be made first – because the...

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Do-over on public school budget

In a very rarely seen move, JFAC this morning reconsidered the action it took yesterday on the teachers portion of the public schools budget, and passed an entirely new plan. This time, it was unanimous. The new plan includes a 2.5 percent base salary increase...

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TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2008


Business tax break introduced

An annual business tax break of up to $120 million would be phased in over five years, under legislation introduced this morning at the request of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. The bill to phase in the repeal of the personal property tax...

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MONDAY, MARCH 3, 2008

Daycare bill dead - again

Legislation to impose at least minimal regulations on all Idaho daycares, including those caring for four or more unrelated children, died in committee today for the fourth straight year. “It’s frustrating, but the issue is not going away,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene. You...

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Rev & Tax passes grocery tax bill, 12-5

It looked like they wouldn’t have time to get to the hearing on the new grocery tax relief bill today, but then House Rev & Tax Chairman Dennis Lake got a message. “The speaker sent word that he would hold the House at ease until...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 29, 2008

But 30 pounds per person would be more...

When Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, made the motion to introduce the new grocery tax relief bill in Rev & Tax this morning, he noted a “grammatical correction” needed in the bill’s statement of purpose. “On the third line, that is $30 instead of 30 pounds,”...

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Divided Senate kills iSTARS teacher pay plan

The Senate debated long and hard, right through the lunch hour, on SB 1436, the remaining version of the much-modified “iSTARS” teacher merit pay plan, before killing it on a close, 16-19 vote. You can read my full story here. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls,...

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.