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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 17, 2011

MONDAY, JAN. 17, 2011

Guv to announce new Tax Commish chair

Gov. Butch Otter will hold a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m. to announce his choice for a new chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission. The press conference, in the governor's ceremonial office, will be streamed live here. Meanwhile, former longtime state tax auditor…

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Cigar group wants Idaho to ban 'blunt wraps' 

The Cigar Association of America wants Idaho to outlaw "blunt wraps," a type of roll-your-own cigar wrapper, as drug paraphernalia. Russ Westerberg, lobbyist for the group, told the Idaho Senate Judiciary Committee today that "blunts" traditionally were cigars rolled in a single, continuous tobacco leaf,…

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Holocaust survivor Rose Beal speaks in the Capitol rotunda at the state's official observance of Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day on Monday. (Betsy Russell)

MLK Day ceremony draws hundreds to rotunda

Hundreds of people filled the Capitol rotunda today for Idaho's official observation of Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day, including lots of children. Estella Zamora, president of the Idaho Human Rights Commission, quoted Martin Luther King: "Now is the time to make justice a…

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The changing FMAP rate...

At the height of the increased matching rate that the federal government offered states for Medicaid, Idaho was getting a 79.18 percent federal matching rate for the program, meaning the state only had to fund 20.82 percent of the program's costs. Now, the federal match…

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State Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong tells lawmakers at a joint hearing on Monday that the only option to cope with soaring Medicaid costs is to cut services. Idaho already has the strictest eligibility criteria in the nation, he said, and provider rates are "dangerously low" already. (Betsy Russell)

Armstrong: Only option is to cut services

How to save money in Idaho's ballooning Medicaid program? State Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong said, "We already have one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the nation as far as eligibility. Further tightening would not help us much, even if we could."…

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Armstrong details H&W struggles 

Idaho led the nation in food stamp growth in 2010, state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong told lawmakers this morning. That's partly because in 2008, Idaho was 48th in the nation for food-stamp participation. At that time, only half the Idahoans who qualified for…

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JFAC joins with the House and Senate health and welfare committees in a joint hearing Monday morning on Health & Welfare and Medicaid budgets. (Betsy Russell)

Really, really big joint committee convenes

It looks like a really, really big committee that's holding a joint hearing today on Health & Welfare and Medicaid budgets. That's because the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee - which itself has 20 members - is sitting jointly with the House and Senate health and welfare…

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Today is MLK/Idaho Human Rights holiday

Today is Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day, an official state holiday, though the Legislature - which doesn't take holidays - is in session. Legislative doings today include a joint hearing between JFAC and the House and Senate health and welfare committees in the…

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Eye On Boise

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