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Eye On Boise


Senators seek payoff to tobacco sellers

Incredibly, when the amendments to the cigarette tax bill came out in the Senate today, they included raising the percentage payout to tobacco wholesalers. A lobbyist for the wholesalers, Jerry Deckard, had made a pitch unsuccessfully to raise their take from 2.61 percent of the…

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The ugly ties are out

There’s a tradition among Statehouse reporters, started by the famed Bob Fick, formerly of the Associated Press, that when the legislative session has dragged on long enough, reporters start wearing hideously ugly ties, in an effort to prompt lawmakers to wrap it up – so…

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Ah, the politics

The Senate Local Government & Tax Committee voted this morning to amend the bill extending Idaho’s cigarette tax rate of 57 cents a pack for two more years. Without the bill, the rate would drop back down to 28 cents a pack.Senators want to consider…

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O, what a scene of foolery

The Idaho Legislature has adjourned on April Fools Day twice before – on April 1, 1994, closing an 82-day session, and on April 1, 1987, ending an 80-day session.But Boise State University political scientist Jim Weatherby points out that lawmakers appear to have intentionally avoided…

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Word is, they're talking

The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee is expected to vote today on the landmark Nez Perce water rights agreement, but it hasn’t happened yet. Word is that the committee opened its meeting to public comment from tribal members, and that’s been going on for hours.

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MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2005

Water bills clear the House

It took two long hours of hard debate, but the House just passed three major water bills – including the funding bill that addresses a southern Idaho water crisis and also funds a series of North Idaho water projects.Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, said funding…

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FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005

Wow - they just did it all

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee just finished a marathon meeting in which it resolved virtually every remaining funding issue of the legislative session, from a multimillion-dollar water settlement to raises for state employees. Starting with a 7:30 a.m. worksession, the 20-member committee worked straight through to…

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Pushing toward adjournment

Both houses of the Legislature are trying, in their own way, to wrap up the legislative session. But with the Easter weekend coming up, the Senate plans to quit at noon on Friday – Good Friday – and the House won’t be in session at…

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Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?

Just as Rep. Jim Clark was ready to start his opening debate in the House today on SB 1074a, the dog racing simulcasting bill, his neighbor, Rep. Ken Roberts, turned on some music. As “Who let the dogs out??” pulsed through the House chambers, Clark…

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And they say they're pro-business

Jaws are still dropping over anti-abortion activist David Ripley’s comments to the House Health and Welfare Committee yesterday that a proposed family-planning bill would be a way “for the government to get deeper into the sex-facilitation business.”

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Birth-control pills replacing God?

For anyone who missed it, here’s the central part of Rep. Janice McGeachin’s tearful tirade in the House Health and Welfare Committee yesterday against a bill that would have given some low-income Idaho mothers, age 19 or older, access to cancer screenings, family planning and…

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An end in sight?

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis told the Senate this morning that the plan is for the Senate to adjourn at noon this Friday, then not meet on Monday, to allow the House to catch up on pending legislation. Then, if all works as planned, both…

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Corporate incentive bills triumph in House

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s corporate tax incentive package – which gives an array of tax breaks to companies that bring in 500 new high-paying jobs and spend $50 million in the state – passed overwhelmingly in the House just now, as did another bill to give…

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Broadsword speaks out

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, wants everyone to know why she voted in favor of HB 33, the bill to define “economically viable alternative” to field-burning as only something that achieves the same agricultural results and costs farmers no more in the short or long term.…

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MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2005

Any debate on 'this good bill?'

Lt. Gov. Jim Risch added a rare editorial comment on a bill as he presided over the Senate today. “Is there further debate on this good bill?” Risch asked, drawing startled glances from some freshman senators. The bill in question was HB 178, to require…

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Rep. Anderson is on the move

The first annual “Legislators on the Move” competition winners were announced today, and Priest Lake Rep. Eric Anderson finished in 5th place by logging 510, 981 steps, or roughly 255 miles. Nearly a third of the Legislature (28 lawmakers) signed up for the contest, which…

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FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2005

Legislative horse-trading time

Here’s a hint as to why Senate Health and Welfare Chairman Dick Compton, R-Coeur d’Alene, was so hot to get a compromise bill passed to substitute for HB 143, the bill that would’ve removed the authority from the state DEQ to review many water and…

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Once every 11 years

Because state employees are paid every two weeks, a quirk of the calendar means that once every 11 years, there’s an additional paycheck within the state’s fiscal year. That’s because there’s slightly more than 52 weeks in a year, and over the years, those extra…

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Water funding bill in the works?

Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, dropped a somewhat tantalizing hint as she was pitching the Idaho Department of Water Resources budget bill to the Senate this morning. She had noted that the budget includes funding for a feasibility analysis of adjudicating water rights in the Coeur…

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GARVEE bonds pass Senate

In the end, there were only four votes against Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s proposal to fund $1.6 billion in highway construction through GARVEE bonds, which bond against future federal highway allocations. The measure cleared the Senate on a 30-4 vote, after a bid to amend the…

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What lurks under the dome

Workers who have been cleaning and repairing the state Capitol dome have discovered something interesting as they work on the small dome that sits atop the larger dome, 288 feet up in the air. The smaller dome has a silver coating, but it’s just layers…

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Just don't look back

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, was carrying a bill on penalties for inattentive driving when House Majority Leader Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, interrupted him with this question: “Would this take care of the driving habits of the gentleman from (District) 1?”Harwood responded, “I’m not sure anything…

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Dead, dead, dead - times seven

The House Revenue & Taxation Committee officially killed seven homeowner property-tax relief bills this morning, opting instead to call for an interim committee to study the issue and develop proposals for next year.Meanwhile, North Idaho folks are planning to rally for property tax reform Thursday…

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MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2005

License plate bill against license plate bills

Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, got worked up enough as she ran down the list of causes that want new specialty license plates in Idaho that she told the House there are even proposals to benefit “spraying and neutering of pets.”Wood, the House Transportation chairwoman, sponsored…

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Eye On Boise

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