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Eye On Boise Betsy Z. Russell

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2009

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, left, opens the first meeting of a legislative task force charged with finding new funding sources for Idaho state parks and the state police, when they lose gas tax funding in a year. Cameron co-chairs the task force, which also includes Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, center, Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, right, and five other lawmakers. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Will mean that this task force has failed'

As the Legislative Task Force that's charged with finding new funding sources for state parks and the Idaho State Police to replace gas taxes they'll lose one year from tomorrow began its first meeting this morning, Co-Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told the joint House-Senate panel…

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MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2009

TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2009



The Idaho Transportation Board meets Thursday in Boise. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

No change at the top at ITD

The Idaho Transportation Board wrapped up a two-day board meeting this afternoon, which included two executive sessions on personnel issues, without taking any action. That means they're not making any change in directors; ITD Director Pam Lowe, who drew political flak this legislative session as…

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FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2009

With all the thunderstorms and clouds floating around Boise this week, the weather has been changeable and mysterious. In this photo taken late Thursday afternoon, the sky appears to show right through this downtown high-rise, thanks to the reflections.
 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

See-through building?

With all the thunderstorms and clouds floating around Boise this week, the weather has been changeable and mysterious. In this photo taken late yesterday afternoon, the sky appears to show right through this downtown high-rise, thanks to the reflections.

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THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009

Idaho's invasive species sticker has been required since 2009 on all boats that launch in Idaho, to help fund a fight to keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels out of the state's waterways. The stickers cost $5 for non-motorized craft, $10 for boats registered in Idaho, and $20 for boats registered elsewhere. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

That's the sticker... 

Swung by the Idaho parks & rec office and purchased my invasive species sticker, which I then plastered onto my sailboard. Now we'll see if it sticks. They were plenty busy, but it was a breeze picking up the $5 sticker (for non-motorized craft; Idaho-registered…

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TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009

Tamarack Resort head Jean-Pierre Boespflug addresses the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday. Boespflug said the troubled ski and golf resort may have a buyer. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Possible buyer for Tamarack? 

The failed Tamarack Resort near Cascade could have a buyer in the offing, Tamarack chief Jean-Pierre Boespflug told the state Land Board today. "We do have a very difficult situation," Boespflug told the board. The ski and golf resort boosted employment in Valley County by…

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SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2009

Gov. Butch Otter vetoed dozens of hard-fought, successful budget bills this year to make his point to lawmakers that he wanted action on his transportation proposal. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Otter's hard line softens over time 

When Idaho Gov. Butch Otter was a legislator back in the ’70s, he was precisely the sort of outspoken, no-new-taxes, shrink-government conservative as those in the House who stymied his transportation initiative this year. Now he can’t understand why the young lawmakers don’t get his…

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More Idahoans trying to quit smoking 

Soaring numbers of Idaho smokers are trying to kick the habit, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports, to the point that they've used up the rest of the year's worth of funding for a free nicotine replacement therapy program. Since last July, Project…

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Rex Rammell, former elk rancher and former independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Idaho, stands by his decorated campaign RV, which now has been changed twice - first from Senate to Congress, when he thought he'd run for Congress next year, then again to reflect his new decision to run for governor as a Republican.  (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Rammell: 'We just covered up the words' 

Rex Rammell has had to change the colorful graphics on his giant, decorated "Conservative Express" RV twice in the last month and a half. First, he changed, "Time for a new kind of Senator" to "Time for a new kind of Congressman," when the former…

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Gov. Butch Otter said this week that he felt some lawmakers' criticisms of him during the legislative session were "a little misguided." (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Criticism a little misguided' 

Musing on some of the things some lawmakers said about him this year, Gov. Butch Otter said this week, "In the heat of battle there's some passion that sometimes is released. I'd like an opportunity to set down and let 'em know where I thought,…

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MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009

Rep. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, embraces Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, as the legislative session ends on Friday. At left are Reps. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, and JoAn Wood, R-Rigby. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

The (final) week that was...

Here's a link to the final, 17th week of this year's legislative session in photos as a slide show. And you can click below to read the various limericks and haiku in which I chronicled events of the final, tumultuous week.

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FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009

Gov. Butch Otter says on Friday, "I'm a user-pay guy." (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'I'm a user-pay guy' 

"I'm a user-pay guy, and the people that buy gasoline use the roads," Gov. Butch Otter said, explaining why he wanted a gas tax hike to fix roads. But he said more than that, he wants revenue to fix the roads, and he wants certainty…

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Gov. Butch Otter joins with lawmakers at a press conference at the close of the legislative session on Friday afternoon. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Otter: 'We do have a short term solution'

Opening his press conference at the close of the legislative session, Gov. Butch Otter said he wanted to "run over" some of what happened, then stopped himself, amid laughter, saying perhaps that wasn't the best phrase. "I've already signed 313 pieces of legislation," he said.…

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Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, speaking from his seat in the House balcony, asks the full House on Friday to refuse to concur in Senate amendments to his bill, HB 286, about the Garwood-to-Sagle road project.  (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

House won't concur

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, asked the House to not concur in the Senate amendments to his bill, HB 286, and the House unanimously agreed. Henderson said lawmakers long ago signed onto policies stating that they wouldn't pick highway projects, they'd leave that role to…

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Reps. Brent Crane, Mike Moyle and Scott Bedke listen as Sen. Chuck Winder presents a bill in the House Transportation Committee on Friday morning regarding design-build contracts at ITD. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

House committee hears bill early

The House Transportation Committee is holding a hearing this morning on a bill that actually hasn't yet passed the Senate. SB 1147a, from Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, would allow the Idaho Transportation Department to enter into design-build contracts, something that's been permitted for other public…

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Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, presents HB 374 to the Senate Education Committee late on Thursday afternoon. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Senate Ed passes Nonini ed bill

There was some heated debate and a divided, 6-3 vote, but the Senate Education Committee has approved HB 374, Rep. Bob Nonini's latest education funding bill. The measure restores language about virtual education that the Senate amended out of a previous education funding bill, HB…

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Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, right, presides over a meeting of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday afternoon. At left is her co-chair, Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

JFAC approves transportation appropriations

JFAC is now meeting to take up two topics: Authorizing spending authority to match the new transportation bills, and a shift in school funding for fiscal year 2009 to match a newly received directive regarding the use of federal stimulus funds. The shifting about leaves…

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The Idaho House resumes its floor session Thursday afternoon, amid an on-and-off, constantly changing schedule. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Both houses back in session...

Both houses have gone back into session. So many lawmakers were milling around in the foyer that when the bell rang unexpectedly, signaling the need for House members to be at their seats for a roll call, groans could be heard. The House has a…

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Lawmakers stand around, talking, on the House floor on Thursday afternoon, waiting for various developments amid delays. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'All we know is what we tell each other' 

As lawmakers stand around waiting for something to happen - a new, corrected version of a bill, a delayed committee meeting, etc. - Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, recalled a favorite line from former state lawmaker Dane Watkins: "All we know is what we tell each…

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Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, presents SB 1130 to the House Transportation Committee on Thursday. The committee passed the bill, which caps the number of temporary truck trip permits; it's one small piece of a session-ending transportation funding deal. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

House Transportation clears truck permit bill

The House Transportation Committee has passed SB 1130, a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, to cap the number of temporary trip permits for truckers at three per vehicle per calendar year. Corder explained to the committee that some truckers abuse the self-issued…

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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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