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Eye On Boise

FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 2007

Tax break debate put off

The House was clicking through the bills on its agenda so quickly this afternoon that it came right up to HB 245, major legislation to phase in a $100 million tax break for business over the next eight years at the urging of the Idaho...

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It's a dairy day in JFAC

Of all the weighty matters on the JFAC agenda for budget-setting this morning, the biggest crowd was drawn by a $10 million proposal for a new dairy research lab in the Magic Valley for the University of Idaho. The plan, proposed by Gov. Butch Otter,...

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Commissioners to get 5 percent pay hikes

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously to approve 5 percent, across-the-board pay hikes for the commissioners who serve on the Industrial Commission, Tax Commission and Public Utilities Commission. That would take industrial commissioners’ salaries from $82,951 to $87,099; tax commissioners from $79,009 to $82,959;...

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THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2007

Idaho looks at tightening teen driving rules

The same day that five Idaho children died in a teen-driven car, a state Senate committee gave its blessing to a bill to restrict teen drivers, reports S-R reporter Parker Howell. Among other things, the bill proposed by two Panhandle lawmakers would limit drivers younger...

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 28, 2007

Musical accompaniment for debate

The House was in mid-debate, when suddenly, without warning, Hayden Lake Rep. Jim Clark’s laptop computer started playing a sprightly electronic version of “Happy Birthday.” All the legislators around Clark turned to look at him, and as the music continued, Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, shook...

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‘Politically loaded’ question?

As budget writers were debating the budget for the Attorney General’s office, Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, noted that the Legislature is passing another parental consent abortion bill this year. Past legislation on that topic has cost the state hundreds of thousands to defend, unsuccessfully, in...

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State Hospital North isn't accredited - yet

When the budget for the portion of the Health & Welfare Department that includes State Hospital North came up this morning, some members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee wondered why it included $40,000 for an accreditation analysis. Last year, JFAC asked State Hospital North to...

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TUESDAY, FEB. 27, 2007

Ways & Means meets

The House Ways & Means Committee doesn’t often meet, but it met today. On the agenda for the leadership committee: Two new bills, one from House Speaker Lawerence Denney that’s a new version of controversial HB 188 (tribal gas tax negotiations), and one from Rep....

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A tragic coincidence

Check out this report from S-R reporter Parker Howell:Just minutes after lawmakers advanced a bill this afternoon that would prohibit teen drivers from carrying more than one teenage passenger, the last of five Idaho teenagers died from injuries sustained when their vehicle plunged into a...

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No, no, and yes

The House Rev & Tax Committee this morning had three proposals on its agenda for local-option taxes. The first was from the city of Lewiston, which wanted to impose its own local hotel/motel tax. “Lewiston and our region has seen a change in the economy...

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Another Otter initiative fails

The governor’s proposal to fund $15 million in new research grants through the Higher Education Research Council for research projects specifically aimed at economic development wasn’t even discussed as the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set the budget for the state’s four-year colleges and universities this morning....

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Sorting through the numbers

JFAC has launched into Health & Welfare budgets, starting with the complex budgets for the newly reformed Medicaid program. A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has worked on each piece of the budget, which includes so many parts that Health & Welfare budgets will...

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Child abuse lawsuit bill passes House

Victims of child sexual abuse in Idaho will have more time to sue their abusers under a bill the House passed Monday, reports S-R reporter Parker Howell. Despite concern that the legislation would expose employers to undue liability for workers' abusive acts, lawmakers voted 60-7...

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MONDAY, FEB. 26, 2007

Committee kills day-care bill at late hour

Saying mothers should stay home with their children, members of a House committee have killed legislation to require minimum safety standards and criminal history checks for Idaho day-cares. “It’s gut-wrenching for me,” Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said before the 6-5 vote against the bill. “What...

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Anti-hunger advocates speak out

Anti-hunger advocates gathered on the Statehouse steps today, holding signs with slogans including, “No more hunger in Idaho!” “Food is a basic right” “Hungry for Justice” “Idaho is the 8th hungriest state in the nation” and “No one should suffer from hunger.” Religious leaders from...

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Schools get 5.9 percent hike, under JFAC budget

After all that debate, all those motions, and all those numbers, here’s what the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee decided this morning on the public schools budget: They set it at $1.37 billion in state general funds, a 5.9 percent increase over this year’s budget. That’s only...

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That didn't happen

Talk about an ambitious agenda – JFAC this morning was scheduled to set the budget for public schools, parks and rec, and Medicaid, too. Certainly everyone's trying to make this a short session, but that proved a bit much. The joint committee ran well over...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 23, 2007

THURSDAY, FEB. 22, 2007

Guv says we’re not adequately funding schools

Gov. Butch Otter was asked today, at the City Club of Boise, whether he supports early-childhood education, as in pre-kindergarten, as part of Idaho’s public school system. Here’s his answer:“I am supportive of pre-kindergarten education, but not at the state level. And let me tell...

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No decision today on day-care licensing bill

Two and a half hours into the House Health & Welfare Committee’s meeting today, the panel finally took up HB 163, Rep. George Sayler’s bill to impose at least minimal health and safety regulations and criminal background checks on all Idaho day-care providers who care...

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Eye On Boise

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