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Posts tagged: Idaho Senate

Nonini Primary Mischief An Issue

Fourth-term state Rep. Bob Nonini is running for the Senate, but his actions in the primary — pouring thousands into the campaigns of unsuccessful challengers to several sitting GOP lawmakers, including three senators — could make him an unpopular arrival there. “I'm getting back-door support from moderate Republicans,” said his Democratic challenger, Kristy Reed Johnson. “Mr. Nonini has left the center of the party.” Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, says, “I'm going to have some bridge-building to do, I'm sure. And I'm confident that I can do that.” It's the hottest race in North Idaho's District 3, a heavily GOP legislative district that nevertheless has Democrats mounting challenges for all three seats. Johnson's husband, Ronald K. Johnson, is challenging Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; while fourth-time Democratic candidate David Larsen is up against GOP primary winner Ron Mendive for Nonini's old House seat/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Which action by Nonini do you consider worse — his primary support for Tea Party candidates in other districts or his unabashed support as House Education chairman in 2011 for the Luna Laws?

IFF Decries Senate Ethics ‘Gag Order’

And that makes the 2012 Senate’s session-ending ethics rule change that much more puzzling and worrisome. The Senate passed a rule that says ethics complaints are to be confidential until such time that the bipartisan ethics panel finds probable cause to move forward with a full-blown investigation of a complaint. Under the new rule, a complaint can be brought in secret, reviewed in secret and dismissed with the permanent promise of secrecy, so long as the Senate Ethics Committee lacks a majority vote finding that probable cause exists of an ethics violation. Indeed, under the new rule, it is a violation of the Senate’s ethics rules to disclose anything about the workings of a confidential Senate ethics matter—the senator involved, the nature of the complaint or the reasoning for a dismissal. Senate Democrats, who voted against the rule change, called it a “gag order.” They’re right about that/Wayne Hoffman (pictured), Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: It's been awhile since I've said this. But I agree with Wayne on the Idaho Senate's ethics “gag order.” How about you?

NI Senators Back Secret Tribunals

The Senate has adopted proposed new ethics rules in a straight party-line vote, 28-7. In his closing debate, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said, “There's a lot that was said in opposition to the bill that I agree with.” But he said a public ethics process before probable cause has been determined “does not … preserve reputations against frivolous allegations.” He said, “When we make it part of the public discourse, let's at least have confidence that we've met a probable cause standard, and if we have, then it should be part of the public discourse”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

DFO: This 28-7 party-line vote means all five North Idaho GOP senators supported the secret ethics tribunals. Extremely bad form, Shawn Keough, Joyce Broadsword, Steve Vick, John Goedde & Jim Hammond. What was the need to rush this through in the closing hours of the 2012 Legislature?

Question: Does this issue matter to you?

Senate H&W Kills Minors Tanning Bill

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee has voted 5-3 to kill HB 486a, the bill to ban kids under 16 from using tanning beds and require those age 16 or 17 to have parental consent. Sharee Skinner, owner of Southern Exposure Tanning Center in Nampa, told the committee her salon already requires parental consent for minors to tan and won't allow anyone under 13 to tan. She called the bill “great overreach of the government,” and said, “You can moderately tan and that's what we have people do in our salon”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you consider tanning-bill legislation for minors to be a government over-reach?

Senate OKs Ultrasound Bill 23-12

The Senate has voted 23-12 in favor of SB 1387, the pre-abortion ultrasound requirement. Retiring Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, rising to explain her vote, said, “You know, fellow senators, as a woman, and as a person of faith, this bill makes me want to cry. I want an end to abortion as well as all of you do, and I am totally opposed to abortion except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But I find this bill to be intrusive into my faith and it is punitive as a woman.  This senator votes no”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. And: How they voted.

Question: Agree/disagree with the bill?

Senate Convenes Ethics Committee

The Idaho Senate has convened its Ethics Committee this morning, for the first time in seven years, to review a conflict-of-interest complaint against Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce (pictured), R-New Plymouth. Pearce arrived at the meeting with attorney Chuck Peterson, one of the state’s leading criminal defense attorneys. Peterson defended Randy Weaver in the Ruby Ridge case; was part of the team defending Sami al-Hussayen against terrorism charges and defended 14-year-old Zachary Neagle on charges of murdering his father. Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, Ethics Committee chairman announced that as required by Senate rule, he has notified Pearce in writing of the ethics complaint against him, for failing to disclose a conflict of interest through 22 votes in committee and in the full Senate on oil and gas drilling legislation/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Any prediction on the outcome?

Pearce Sez Ethics Complaint ‘Political’

Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, the subject of an ethics inquiry in the Senate over failing to disclose a conflict of interest through numerous committee and full Senate votes on oil and gas rules and legislation, tells the Associated Press he did nothing wrong, pointing out that he did disclose during Senate-floor debate on Wednesday over House Bill 464 that he had leases dating back to the 1980s for oil and gas. Pearce's latest leases in western Idaho are to Snake River Oil and Gas, one of the main companies behind the 2012 legislation/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Of course this is political. But does that mean it isn't valid, too?

30-Year Senator Darrington To Retire

Sen. Denton Darrington (pictured), R-Declo, who in his 30th year in the Senate is the longest-serving senator in Idaho history, has announced that he won't seek re-election. “I would like to thank my constituents who have so generously supported me in the State Senate,” Darrington said in a news release. “My wife and I have long considered the appropriate time for me to retire from the senate. That time is now.” You can read Darrington's full news release here; had he sought re-election, he'd have been in a face-off with Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, who is in the same new legislative district/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.

Question: Do you think Darrington retired because his time had come to do so — or did he retire rather than face Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron?

DM: Senate Leaders Betrayed Idaho

Larry Grant, Chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, is often quoted about his disgust with the “culture” of the GOP controlled Idaho State Senate. His comments seem to often link it with the word “corruption” or some other perjorative word; though his recent quotes have not seemed to link those two words, anymore. Maybe Larry Grant's more correct than many of us gave him credit for. Not that the Idaho State Senate GOP Leadership is “corrupt” - as I have witnessed nothing that reflects an out-and-out ignoring of Idaho's laws…pending the Attorney General's report on Mr. McGee's actions, as an individual. However, the press reports on this event have NOW appeared throughout the US, today. Amercia sees Idaho once again as a laughing-stock, back-mountain wild west show/Dennis Mansfield. More here. (AP photo: Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill announcing John McGee's resignation Wednesday)

Question: Is McGee the first domino to fall in a legislative culture in Idaho that has for too long enabled misbehavers and scofflaws to continue to operate as though nothing has happened?

Popkey: McGee’s Fall Rooted In Hubris

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill disguised any anger he may feel for his disgraced former caucus chairman, John McGee. But Wednesday’s decision by the Republican majority to acknowledge McGee is accused of sexual harassment by a woman staffer reveals the sting of betrayal. Most institutions would have trotted out the “personal reasons” boilerplate, leaving Idahoans to speculate on what might have finally brought the man-who-would-be-governor down. Not the Idaho Senate under Brent Hill. Hill is both a gentleman and a gentle man. And he may simply be heartsick — the word Majority Leader Bart Davis chose to describe his own mood. But Hill made it clear he’s had his fill with McGee’s recklessness/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP photo: Sen. Bart Davis walks to a news conference for the announcement of the resignation of Sen. John McGee)

Question: Is John McGee's political career over?

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Parting Shot — 2.22.12

Idaho State senate leadership, Chuck Winder, left, Brent Hill, center, and Bart Davis announce the resignation of Sen. John McGee during a press conference earlier today at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. Faced with sexual harassment allegations, Republican Sen. John McGee was given two choices: Quit or go before a state Senate ethics panel. The 38-year-old four-term lawmaker opted to resign on Wednesday, capping a political free-fall that began last year with a Father’s Day drunken driving and car theft arrest. Roundup of stories about resignation here. (AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Chris Butler)

McGee Quits Over Harassment Claims

The three remaining Senate GOP leaders — Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, Majority Leader Bart Davis, and Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder — have announced to a packed press conference that Sen. John McGee (pictured) has resigned from the Senate in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment of a Senate attache. Hill said the harassment charges are being investigated by the Idaho Attorney General, and the attache, a woman who is not a minor, is on paid leave. McGee, R-Caldwell, is a fourth term state senator and also is the chairman of the Canyon County Republican Central Committee. A former aide to then-Sen. and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, McGee, 39, is the marketing director for West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, and is married with two young children. He was widely viewed as a rising star in the Idaho GOP before the bizarre incident last June in which he was arrested and convicted of drunken driving/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: About time?

LeFavour’s ‘Add The Words’ Try Fails

Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, has been overruled in her attempt to challenge Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder's ruling that her amendment to SB 1215 can't be considered. The bill is about increasing penalties for prison contraband; LeFavour argued that the bill says it's about promoting safety and security, and so was her amendment — to expand the Idaho Human Rights Act to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That would include prison employees who are gay or lesbian, she said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support Sen. LeFavour's attempt to resurrect “Add the Words” legislation?

Senate OKs Anti-Occupy Bill 26-9

The Senate has voted 26-9 in favor of HB 404a, the anti-Occupy Boise bill, which would evict the encampment from state property on an emergency basis. The bill now goes back to the House for a vote on it as amended in the Senate, which adjusted clauses on property seizure. In the vote, every Senate Democrat voted against the bill, and they were joined by two Senate Republicans, Sens. Patrick Malloy, the substitute for Sen. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian; and Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston. All other GOP senators voted yes/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: How would you have voted on the anti-Occupy Boise bill?


Senate Lauds ‘Add The Words’ Group

The Senate is beginning its annual Lincoln Day commemorative program, but before it started, Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, rose to introduce guests in the gallery, as is the custom, including her partner, Carol Grohoski, and a large group of folks “who have worked with the Add The Words campaign for the last several months” to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Idaho's Human Rights Act. LeFavour reeled off names of those in the gallery, adding, “and all the amazing people who have worked so hard and who I love dearly. So please give them a warm welcome.” The Senate responded with a vigorous round of applause/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Betsy Russell posts on “Add the Words” discussion:

Question: Isn't this odd behavior by the Senate after the action against “Add the Words” in committee?

Broadsword To Run For Commission

Retiring District 2 Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, plans to run for a seat on the Bonner County Commission, Idaho News Service has learned. Sen. Broadsword, a fourth-term Idaho lawmaker who currently represents Benewah, Shoshone and portions of Bonner and Kootenai counties, said she expects to make an official announcement for the District 1 Bonner County Commission seat sometime this week. Sen. Broadsword said in an e-mail that she expects to officially file with the state to run for the position on the Bonner County Commission late in the Idaho secretary of state’s public office filing process n which runs from Feb. 27 until the 5 p.m. March 9 deadline/David Goins, St. Maries Gazette Record. More here.

Question: Is this a good decision by Joyce Broadsword to abandon her state Senate seat for a run for Bonner County commission?

Nonini Eyes Hammond Senate Seat

Shortly after Coeur d'Alene Sen. Jim Hammond announced his plans not to run for re-election on Thursday, Rep. Bob Nonini declared the same day that he will campaign for Hammond's seat instead. “I wanted to get it out there. I've been thinking about it and talking to Sen. Hammond for weeks,” said Nonini, who has won four elections and served eight years in the state House. After six years as chair of the House Education Committee, Nonini said, he felt it was time to move forward and let another House member take on that role. “If I'm successful running for Senate, I'll give up my seniority, obviously, but I just think it's the natural progression for me,” the Coeur d'Alene Republican said. “I think I could do a good job over there”/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: How would you rate Nonini's overall job as a legislator in the state House of Representatives?

Hammond Won’t Run, Nonini Will

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, has decided not to seek re-election to the Idaho Senate. “I've made that decision,” Hammond confirmed this afternoon. Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, has decided to seek Hammond's Senate seat. Hammond, a third-term senator, is the current chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee; Nonini, who's in his fourth term, is the chairman of the House Education Committee/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Nonini is quoted as saying that he's done some heavy lifting on education reform and that his experience would be valuable in the Senate. Is that the kind of heavy lifting that voters wanted?

Idaho Senate Hazes Newcomer

New Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, (pictured) was assigned to carry his first bill in the Senate today; he's the appointee who replaced Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, who took a job as the chief lobbyist for the University of Idaho. The non-controversial measure, HB 356, came from the state Tax Commission and clarifies application procedures for property tax exemptions; it had earlier passed the House unanimously. As is the Senate custom, to Johnson's surprise, nearly every senator voted against the bill - then they rose, one by one, and changed their votes to yes. After the bill had passed overwhelmingly, Johnson said, “I need a sweat towel right now, thank you”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.

Question: Have you ever been target of a hazing/initiation ritual?

9 Senators Wanted McGee To Quit

Nine Idaho senators, including Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said they were outvoted on last week's vote on retaining Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, (pictured) in his No. 4 position in the Senate Republican caucus. The nine, in a statement issued Friday, said they want to clarify how they voted. They said media reports of the vote to retain McGee “led many of our constituents to mistakenly conclude that all members of the Senate GOP caucus voted to affirm support for Sen. McGee. …” “Our constituents expect us to stand up for the convictions, principles and values we have said we represent and … our constituents deserve to be reassured that their confidence in us us not misplaced.” The signers of the statement, in addition to Winder, were Sens. Russ Fulcher, Dean Mortimer, Sheryl Nuxoll, Mitch Toryanski, Monty Pearce, Shirley McKague, Steve Vick and Lee Heider/Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: If you do the math, you'll notice that Steve Vick, R-Hayden Lake, was the only North Idaho senator who wanted John McGee to step down. What's up with the other 4 North Idaho senators?

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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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