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Eye On Boise archive for Feb. 2010

THURSDAY, FEB. 25, 2010

Bill delayed for 'posturing' 

The Senate has agreed unanimously to put off its debate on HB 391a, the "Idaho Health Freedom Act," for a day. "With the consent of the sponsor and other individuals," Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis told the Senate, a delay is sought "as everybody gathers…

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Retirement boosts and 'the smell test'...

Here's a link to my full story from November on the payment of more than $125,000 in retirement boosts in six months to three employees at three different state agencies in exchange for their earlier-than-planned retirements; at the time, the move prompted comments from top…

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Mussel program nearly trimmed

JFAC this morning came very close to passing a new restriction on the state Department of Agriculture to stop it from issuing unlimited deficiency warrants to fund the invasive species program, which is seeking to avoid the introduction of quagga and zebra mussels into Idaho…

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 24, 2010

Vote-switch prompts talk about conflicts 

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Keith Roark says the state's conflict of interest laws need strengthening, citing yesterday's vote-change that killed a tobacco bill, by a senator whose husband is a tobacco lobbyist. The senator, Melinda Smyser, said her vote had nothing to do with her…

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The House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee debates HB 591, a measure to block a new requirement for vehicle emissions testing in Canyon County, on Wednesday afternoon before voting 6-5 to kill the bill. (Betsy Russell)

Canyon emissions bill killed, 6-5

After a long hearing this afternoon, the House Environment Committee has voted 6-5 to kill HB 591, a proposal from Rep. Steve Kren, R-Nampa, that opponents said would "gut" the legislation passed two years ago to address the Treasure Valley's air quality. Rep. Eric Anderson,…

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House gives 2/3 vote to airport debt measure

HJR 5, the second constitutional amendment regarding governmental indebtedness, has passed the House on a 57-12 vote, well above the two-thirds mark needed. This measure deals with indebtedness of public airports; it now moves to the Senate. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds votes in each house…

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The Idaho House deliberates during its session on Wednesday morning, which included unanimous approval for HB 544, the bill to set up a "higher education stabilization fund" to ease state colleges and universities through future economic downturns. There's not much money to put in the fund yet, however; the bill now moves to the Senate. (Betsy Russell)

House approves college fund 

The House has voted unanimously, 69-0, in favor HB 544, the measure from House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, to set up a "higher education stabilization fund" to ease state colleges and universities through future economic downturns. There's not much to go in the…

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Gov. Butch Otter visits with members of the press after his annual talk to the Idaho Press Club on Wednesday. Otter said during his talk that he supports a 1 percent COLA for state retirees; he's still waiting to announce his re-election plans; and he opposes pending legislation to gut last year's bill to require vehicle emission testing in Canyon County. (Betsy Russell)

Guv opposes Canyon air quality bill

Here are some more highlights of Gov. Butch Otter's talk this morning to the Idaho Press Club:AIR QUALITY: The governor said he opposes Rep. Steve Kren's legislation - which is up for a committee hearing this afternoon - to gut air quality legislation requiring vehicle…

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Idaho Press Club members listen to Gov. Butch Otter speak Wednesday morning as part of his annual "Headliner" address to the press, which included an on-the-record question-and-answer session. (Betsy Russell)

Otter to press: 'I got it off my chest'

Gov. Butch Otter said he was prompted to write his recent guest opinion slamming press coverage of his budget proposals because "I would like to see some compassion, maybe that's the word I'm looking for," he said. "This is a tough, tough position to be…

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Guv wants flexibility on $71M fund

Gov. Butch Otter says the $71.3 million in Millenium Fund money that's now being squirreled away as a hedge against future drops in the federal match for Medicaid is something he'd like the flexibility to spend starting in June, if it's not needed for Medicaid.…

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Gov. Butch Otter addresses the Idaho Press Club on Wednesday (Betsy Russell)

Otter: Caution warranted on budget 

Gov. Butch Otter is giving his annual talk to the Idaho Press Club this morning, and his first focus has been on the budget. "Obviously it's been difficult, obviously with the moving target that we've had on the budget numbers, it's been an uncertain process…

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The urban renewal bills...

Urban renewal agencies in Idaho could face sweeping changes under the seven bills now being reviewed by a legislative subcomittee, reports Ben Botkin of the Twin Falls Times-News; his article today takes a look at the potential changes, many of which are aimed at boosting…

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TUESDAY, FEB. 23, 2010

Budget stifles fossil plan

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The State Historical Society has abandoned a plan to transfer oversight of discoveries of woolly mammoths and other ancient creatures on state land to an Idaho State University museum, at least for now.…

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Harwood withdraws road-kill bill

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, has asked the House Resources Committee to let him withdraw his road-kill bill, HB 562, and the committee agreed unanimously. "My intention with this bill was just to make it real simple, if you see a dead furbearer out on…

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AARP lauds Senate move on retiree COLA 

The AARP of Idaho has released a statement lauding the state Senate for killing HCR 42, the measure to block a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase next month for state retirees. “Without this COLA, state retirees living on the brink would see tougher times ahead,”…

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Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, presents legislation to the House Resources Committee on Tuesday to exempt hunting licenses and tags from the Idaho Public Records Law. (Betsy Russell)

Resources panel backs hunter secrecy bill 

The House Resources Committee has agreed to send HB 531 to the House's amending order with committee amendments attached, to clear up a wording problem in the bill. The measure, from Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, would make all hunting licenses and tags secret, plus add…

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Hospital debt amendment easily clears House

There was a long debate, but in the end, HJR 4, a constitutional amendment to allow indebtedness for hospital districts without voter approval, easily gained the two-thirds vote it needed to pass the House today. The measure passed 65-5, with just four Republicans and one…

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