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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter signs 45 bills, lets discretionary $ increase in school budget become law without his signature

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed 45 bills into law today, including measures encouraging gun safety classes in Idaho schools; overhauling the state’s foster care laws; expanding suicide prevention education; restricting the use of public funds to campaign for candidates or ballot measures; and requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders, which prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

Also signed into law: Salary increases for judges, state elected officials and jurors; a new funding system for magistrate courts; and “good samaritan” legislation barring those seeking medical treatment for drug overdose from being charged with drug possession solely because they sought treatment.

Otter also signed legislation creating a license plate to honor the Rotary  Club; granting a minimum wage exemption for minors who work for family-owned businesses; and ensuring that rape victims’ health insurance isn’t charged for the cost of evidence collection from their bodies.

Otter chose to allow SB 1349, the budget bill for the operations division of Idaho’s public school budget, to become law without his signature. He wrote that the way lawmakers structured the budget, he couldn’t exercise his line-item veto for appropriation bills to remove an “$11 million increase in discretionary funding, which I neither recommended nor support.”

While the Legislature wrote a budget for public schools that did increase discretionary funding to school districts, as requested by state Schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra; lawmakers trimmed other items so that in the end, the budget they passed came in at a 5.9 percent increase in state funds for public schools next year, below the 6 percent Otter requested and the 6.8 percent Ybarra sought. Overall, the school budget for next year comes to $1.785 billion in state general funds, an increase of $100 million from this year.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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