House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby; Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol; and Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; listen to testimony on three different bills to raise vehicle registration fees to fund road work. The House committee has been hearing testimony on various bills, including those proposed by Gov. Butch Otter, in hopes of then considering some type of compromise on road funding.
Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, asks the House State Affairs Committee to introduce his resolution declaring Idaho's sovereignty from the federal government, which he said "oughta back off." The committee agreed on a 13-4 vote to introduce his bill.
Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, urges a House committee to enact major legislation consolidating all of Idaho's elections to two specific May and November dates, plus two more in March and August for school bonds and levies. The intent is to increase voter turnout and eliminate voter confusion; currently, various jurisdictions and districts run their own elections, sometimes with different polling places voters must visit on the same day.
Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa calls for consolidating Idaho's elections to improve voter turnout. Public policy should be made by the highest possible participation of voters, he told lawmakers.
Members of the House State Affairs Committee listen to testimony for and against the giant election consolidation bill, HB 201, which runs 98 pages and would consolidate all of Idaho's elections to four dates, with the polls to be operated by county clerks with consistent, standardized polling places.
Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, opposed an election consolidation bill because he said he doesn't want more people to vote. If, for example, people who didn't care about schools voted in school board elections, he said, they might not have the best interests of education in mind.
The Idaho Transportation Board begins a special meeting Tuesday on which transportation funds to apply for under the federal stimulus legislation, now that information is available on just which projects qualify. Replacement of the Dover Bridge in North Idaho is among the projects being considered.
Idaho Transportation Board member Monte McClure, of the Treasure Valley, launched a last-minute push to remove the area's Vista Interchange from the federal stimulus funding list, saying it could be funded with GARVEE bonds and the $40 million-plus for that project could go to something else. But when other board members said it was too late to make such changes, a day before the department's proposals to the governor are due, he backed off, and the plan passed with a unanimous vote.
Pam Lowe, ITD director, briefs the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Wednesday morning about the plan for spending transportation stimulus funds that the ITD board adopted in a special meeting on Tuesday.
Rep. Judy Boyle introduces legislation to create an optional "certificate of early fetal death" for women who miscarry before 20 weeks of gestation. Her measure attracted lots of notice when it was listed on the House State Affairs Committee agenda as being a bill about "early termination of pregnancy," but it wasn't abortion legislation after all.
Rep. Tom Loertscher, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, pitches his bill to excuse pharmacists or pharmacies from filling prescriptions that violate their conscience. The committee voted to introduce the measure and hold full hearings on it, though two members objected.
Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, says Idaho is at "extreme risk" for invasive zebra and quagga mussels getting into its lakes and waterways. He's calling for emergency legislation to require stickers on boats, with the funds from the sticker fees paying for anti-mussel efforts including boat-washing stations.
Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d'Alene, explains the day care licensing bill to the Senate Health & Welfare Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Sayler has proposed such a bill every year for five years in a row. Last year's version didn't get a hearing; this year's committee hearing on SB 1112 drew a full house.
Idaho Schools Supt. Tom Luna talks with lawmakers at the Capitol Annex on Thursday, as he briefed lawmakers on his recommendation to Gov. Butch Otter for $62 million in cuts in public schools next year, despite receiving millions in federal stimulus money. Luna said the federal money helps, but without cuts in addition, Idaho's education funding is facing a "cliff."
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has withdrawn his legislation to allow people to get their criminal records expunged if they're not convicted, including records of trials and arrests. Emboldened by support for the concept among House members, he's working on a farther-reaching bill to propose next year.
Gov. Butch Otter addresses the Idaho Press Club on Friday morning. While he was answering questions from reporters, he was handed a note by a staffer, and announced that wolves would be delisted in Idaho within the hour.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee hears a new revenue forecast from the Otter Administration that shows further deterioration in Idaho's fiscal situation, 3/6/09
Gov. Butch Otter, shown here addressing the Idaho Press Club on Friday morning, has what appears to be a bright-green racquetball velcro-strapped onto the outside of his sling. Here's why: It's actually a squishy exercise ball that aids in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Otter said he squeezes the ball with his hand on the injured side about 500 times a day, as part of his therapy. Asked if he had any good news, Otter quickly responded, "I get rid of this sling in a week."
Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, champions her joint memorial urging delisting of wolves in Idaho - hours after the federal government announced it'd do just that.
Gov. Butch Otter, speaking to the Idaho Press Club on Friday, was asked if he agreed with radio host Rush Limbaugh recent controversial statement that he hopes President Obama fails. "No," Otter responded, adding that he hadn't heard Limbaugh's speech. "My answer to that's no, I don't share that. Spending billions of dollars and getting nothing from it - I think it'd deepen and lengthen and maybe even go into a depression if we failed. So for my part, I'm gonna do all I can to get as many people working."