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Posts tagged: Eye On Boise

EOB: Legislature Adjournment Nears

The Senate has adjourned for the day, and Senate Republicans have headed into a closed-door caucus. The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. tomorrow, as will the House. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said the Senate will work through the morning and finish its calendar by noon, after which focus will turn to the three remaining big issues that are hampering the close of the legislative session: tax cuts, teacher pay, and state savings. Davis said the Legislature will “hopefully be out of here a few days thereafter.” Amid murmuring, he added, “Think positive, folks”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Would you rather have the legislators in Boise or at home?

May Is On The Way

Idaho's political round
Is clearly closed-primary bound.
When hot-button issues
Mean get out the tissues
It's lawmaking in ultrasound.

Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise (More here) (AP photo: Vote tally board on pre-abortion ultrasound issue in Virginia on Feb. 28)

Boise Rdp: Harwood Thanks Smokers

Update: The House Rev & Tax Committee has voted 11-5 against introducing or allowing a full hearing on the bill to increase Idaho's cigarette tax.

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said, “The smokers, I want to thank them for this building we're in,” noting that Idaho tapped cigarette tax proceeds to pay for the bonds to renovate the state Capitol. “It's kind of ironic that they can't smoke in it,” he said. “My mother smoked for 82 years,” and remained in good health, Harwood said. “Just because you smoke doesn't mean that you're gonna be ill.” Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, questioned whether the state would next move to taxing people who eat unhealthy food and risk heart disease/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. And: How they voted here.

Question: Do you ever wonder what minimal level of IQ is necessary to be an Idaho legislator?

EOB: Of Ogres & Tax Credits

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, sponsored legislation in the House today to add Special Needs Recreation of Coeur d'Alene to the list of charities and youth rehab organizations to which donations are eligible for a tax credit. Nonini praised the group, which provides recreational opportunities to disabled people, and said, “They provide a hand up instead of a hand out.” … Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, “I hate to be the ogre here, but this is an increase in tax credits. … I've always opposed tax credits. They skew the tax system, they pay money out, it's not just a deduction.” … Nonini responded, “I appreciate the gentleman being the ogre; at least someone else doesn't have to do it.” The bill, HB 437, then passed on a 66-3 vote/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should the Legislature continue to add on tax credits for worth charities & youth rehab organizations?

EOB: Court Expedites Big Rig Appeal

The Idaho Transportation Department has joined ConocoPhillips in appealing to the Idaho Supreme Court a local judge’s decision to revoke its permits for four huge truckloads of oil refinery equipment to travel winding U.S. Highway 12 from Lewiston to Montana, saying the decision could “end up restricting commerce and limiting business opportunities.”    Meanwhile, the high court granted a motion from ConocoPhillips to expedite the court appeal, rather than take the usual time - averaging 450 days - to hear a civil appeal. However, it set oral arguments for Oct. 1. That’s expedited for a Supreme Court appeal, but it’s not quick enough to allow Conoco to move the four giant shipments before paving starts on the second lane of the Arrow Bridge on Highway 12/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you pleased that the Idaho Department of Transportation has joined ConocoPhillips in appealing judge’s decision banning its rigs on scenic Highway 12?

GOP Confab: ‘Inspiring’? Or ‘Radical’?

It’s hard to imagine two more different takes on the outcome of the recent Idaho Republican Party convention than those in statements issued by state GOP Chairman Norm Semanko and Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Keith Roark – from “positive and inspiring” to “astounding” and “radical”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: How would you label the Idaho GOP convention: ‘positive & inspiring’? or ‘astounding & radical’?

EOB: Hart Welcomes Ethics Investigation

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart on Friday defended his long tax fight against the IRS and the state Tax Commission, and said he looks forward to telling his tale to a House ethics committee.    ”I would welcome the opportunity to tell my story,” said Hart, R-Athol, a third-term state lawmaker who’s unopposed for re-election in November/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Forecast: Idaho On Way To Recovery

Idaho is on track for an economic recovery in 2011, according to the state’s latest official forecast - though state lawmakers and the governor set a pessimistic budget for 2011 that requires historic cuts in education. The newest state forecast, issued in May, says, “Idaho’s economic recovery should be well established after this year, entering a period of modest growth beginning in 2011. … It has been awhile, but it is beginning to feel like a recovery.” The forecast is considerably sunnier in tone than the last official state forecast, which was issued in January; that one suggested “cautious optimism” and said, “Admittedly, risks to the economy exist, but it appears the worst is behind us”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you better off today than your were when the recession started?

Betsy: Ward, Labrador Tangle On TV

“Wow,” posts colleague Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise, “on tonight’s ‘Idaho Reports’ program on Idaho Public Television - the last show of the season - 1st District GOP congressional candidates Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador appear together and take questions from a panel on which I join Jim Weatherby, Kevin Richert, Steve Crump and host Thanh Tan - and things get pretty hot.” More here.

Question: How often do you watch “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television?

Allred Pitches Health Care Alternative

Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, today said he has a different plan from current GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s lawsuit challenging federal health care reform: He said if elected governor, he’d take advantage of a clause in the new law that lets states “opt out” of the plan if they enact their own health-care reform plans. “Every year, more Idahoans don’t have access to health care and virtually all Idahoans pay more for it,” Allred said. “Whether we’re Republican, Democrat or independent, most of us agree that we just can’t keep going down the same path”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. And: Idaho Reporter story here.

EOB: Idaho Last In Patrol Funding

Col. Jerry Russell, chief of the Idaho State Police, just presented stats to lawmakers in response to questions last month about the ISP’s staffing. When compared to the six surrounding states - Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Oregon - Idaho ranks dead last for its number of troopers per citizen, with 11,288 citizens for every state trooper. Washington’s at 8,874. When compared to states of similar size - New Mexico, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Nebraska and Maine - Idaho again ranks dead last, by a huge margin/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: How concerned are you that Idaho State Police is underfunded and understaffed?

EOB: Otter Back In The Saddle

Gov. Butch Otter is out on a three-day trail ride along the Idaho-Nevada border, along with Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, legislators and federal and state officials. It’s an annual tradition for Otter, who started the rides as a congressman to discuss resource issues and see effects on the land close-up. The Twin Falls Times-News has an article today about this year’s ride, which is in the Three Creek area. It includes this mention: “Otter said he brought his own horse, Snuff, a 22-year-old roping quarter horse, while First Lady Lori Otter will ride another family-owned horse, Cooper”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: I’m not a fan of Gov. Butch Otter, but I think it’s cool that our chief executive has rodeoed in the past and still rides a horse. How about you?

Forbes: Spokane Is US ‘Scam Capital’

And Forbes magazine, apparently unimpressed with the official “Near nature, near perfect” city slogan in Spokane, today pronounced the Lilac City the “Scam Capital of America.”  From writer William Barrett’s story: Welcome to Spokane, Wash., a metropolitan object lesson in what can befall the unwary when rugged individualism is revered and consumers unsuspecting. The story paints the city as a sort of freewheeling frontier town. And I suspect it has city leaders doubling up on their blood-pressure medication this morning/Rich Roesler, Eye On Olympia.

Question: OK, those of us who live on the North Idaho side of the state line know that our communities are nicer than Spokane. But … “Scam Capital of America”? C’mon. What do you think Spokane should be known for?

Nonini ‘Golden Parachute’ Bill Wins OK

The House Ways & Means Committee has voted 4-3 in three straight party-line votes to introduce three new bills: A compromise on election consolidation, with the state covering school district and local government costs; a concurrent resolution calling for an interim committee to study transportation funding; and a new version of Rep. Bob Nonini’s education fundning bill, this time to phase out a teacher early retirement program. Minority Democrats on the panel objected in all three votes/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Panel OKs Day-Care Regs … Finally

Today marked the first time - in five straight years of trying - that the day care licensing bill has made it out of committee and to the full chamber in either house. “That’s a breakthough of sorts,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene. The 8-1 vote to send the bill, SB 1112, to the full Senate for amendments was a strong one, with just Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma, voting no. Even Sen. Denton Darrington voted in favor of … the bill. … “Sen. Darrington has, I think, appreciated that the current statute needs changing,” Sayler said after the vote. “I think he was aware of public opinion and the changing nature of Idaho, and that there was a lot of public support for this legislation even though he didn’t support it/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

DFO: Put your hands together for state Rep. George Sayler, D-CDA, who has persisted after 5 years to move this common-sense, day-care bill to the House floor.

EOB: Boaters Face Sticker Purchase

The threat to Idaho from invasive zebra and quagga mussels is so great, according to Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, that Idaho needs to enact emergency legislation right away to make every boat owner in the state purchase a sticker that’d help fund wash stations to keep the tiny and insidious shellfish out of Idaho’s waterways. Anderson won unanimous support from the House State Affairs Committee this morning to introduce his bill; next step is a full public hearing. “It’d be a $100 misdemeanor to not have that (sticker) on your vessel,” he told the panel. “However, the intent of this is not to fine, the intent of this is to educate”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should boaters pay $10 to $20 more for a sticker to fight the waterway threat from zebra and quagga mussels?

EOB: Idaho Able To Fix Dover Bridge

It appears that Idaho will be able to replace the Dover Bridge in North Idaho, purchase a much-needed maintenance management software system for the Idaho Transportation Department, and pour millions into fixing roads statewide with federal stimulus funds, state lawmakers heard this morning. But there are two things Idaho can’t do with the money: Fund all eight of its high-priority “shovel-ready” projects, and pay off GARVEE bonds/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

EOB: Booze Tax Hike Bill Fills Room

It’s standing-room only at the hearing this morning on legislation to raise Idaho’s beer and wine taxes - unchanged for the past four decades - to fund substance abuse treatment. “This increase is pocket change for the vast majority of responsible drinkers,” sponsor Keith Allred of The Common Interest told the House Revenue & Taxation Committee. Though the taxes would more than triple, the increase would be less than a dollar a month for a beer drinker who buys a six-pack a week, he said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you care whether the Legislature hikes taxes on beer and wine to fund substance abuse programs?

Eye On Boise: Privatize Prisons?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Denton Darrington, R-Declo, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations committee this morning, “I think there is a limit to how far we ought to go with our prison beds being in private hands.” Even big prison states like Texas are at about 35 percent private, Darrington said. “We’re in the 40s, and it’s going to creep up a little.”  He warned, “If our prison population gets too high of a number in private hands, there are ways in which we will have less control over our own system, I have no doubt. So I would say that we’re about as far as we ought to go, on percent of our inmates in private hands. I have no problem with what we’ve done, but we’d better have a word of caution”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here

Question: Should the state of Idaho privatize prisons?

EOB: No Mouse Preservation In S.F.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office says there is no truth to Idaho Sen. Jim Risch’s contention today that the federal stimulus package contains $50 million to save the “red-breasted harvest mouse” in Pelosi’s California district. Drew Hammill, spokesman for Pelosi, called the story about the mice “a total fabrication.” It apparently originated a week ago in talking points distributed by Republicans in Congress, charging that $30 million would go to the mouse/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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