Week 4 of Idaho's 2010 legislative session in photos
Fri., Feb. 5, 2010
Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, tells JFAC on Monday morning that a joint task force, after an exhaustive review over the summer, decided that a slice of gas taxes that goes to parks for trails should continue to go there. The money reflects gas taxes paid on fuel burned in boats, ATVs and snowmobiles.
Betsy Russell The Spokesman-Review
State Parks Director Nancy Merrill presents a much-reduced budget request for state parks to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday morning.
Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, questions whether a plan to increase timber harvest on state endowment lands will actually mean more income for the state, with timber prices so far down and construction depressed. His question came during the state Department of Lands budget hearing on Monday morning.
The Idaho House agrees, by unanimous consent, to send the "Idaho Health Freedom Act" to its amending order on Monday. The bill, which seeks to fight federal health care reform, as written would inadvertently invalidate a 2002 law requiring Idaho state college students to purchase health insurance. That law was passed as part of money-saving Medicaid reforms.
Eddie Trout from "Partners for Clean Water" visits the state Capitol on Monday as part of the Idaho Children and Nature Network's "Be Outside" celebration, aimed at fighting "nature deficit disorder" among kids and getting them back outside.
Idaho Secretary of State presents "a pretty bare-bones budget" for his office to legislative budget writers on Tuesday. He's proposing trimming costs further by not sending a pamphlet to voters about constitutional amendments that are on the ballot; Idaho had been scheduled to do that next fall for the first time.
Cal Groen, director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department, tells lawmakers that more people are now viewing wildlife without hunting or fishing, and the department is looking into how to tap those users for funds. Fish & Game is funded by fishing and hunting license and tag fees, along with federal funds; it receives no state general tax funds.
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director Toni Hardesty tells lawmakers on Tuesday that the budget request for DEQ for next year will be the lowest state funding level in a decade, though the agency has taken on additional duties. Layoffs, furloughs and cuts in services have resulted, she said.
"Media Day '10" in the Capitol on Tuesday included displays showcasing parts of Idaho's "creative economy," from filmmaking to video games.
Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, proposed this year's first new tax break - a temporary, two-year sales tax exemption for nonprofit homeless shelters. The House Revenue & Taxation Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the bill and sent it to the full House.
Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank, releases a new hunger report on Wednesday that shows a 59 percent increase in Idahoans seeking emergency food from 2006 levels.
Lawmakers enjoy homemade pie at the annual "Pie Day" sponsored by the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators on Wednesday. Home-schooled students also displayed their studies and projects and played music.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden tells lawmakers that his office has taken significant budget cuts, and any further cuts will "place the state's legal position in peril."
Brigadier General Gary Sayler of the Idaho Military Division tells lawmakers Thursday that if Boise gets assigned as a new training base for F-35 Strike Fighters, the Idaho Air National Guard presence in southern Idaho will be guaranteed for the next 40 years and its payroll will double. There also would be significant military construction and resulting economic impact.
Col. Jerry Russell, director of the Idaho State Police, answers questions from legislative budget writers on Thursday about the ISP's budget. The state police could catch far more drunk drivers and other offenders if it just did more patrols, he said, but it doesn't have the resources.
State Appellate Public Defender Molly Huskey tells lawmakers Thursday that her agency could get far more work done for the same amount of money by hiring two attorneys, rather than paying high prices to hire outside lawyers.
Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, urges the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday to introduce a non-binding memorial to Congress urging changes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited corporate and union spending on independent campaign expenditures. The measure died after two party-line votes, after a long debate about the proper role of corporations in politics, but Cronin said he'll bring back a new version with changes to make it more palatable to Republicans.
Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, asks the House to amend his "Idaho Health Freedom Act" to take out a conflict between the bill and an existing state requirement for state college students to purchase health insurance. The bill seeks to ban enforcement of federal health care reforms in Idaho, including any requirements for people to purchase health insurance. The amendment was approved unanimously on Thursday, freeing the House to consider the amended bill when it comes back up on its calendar.
Idaho state prisons chief Brent Reinke tells the Legislature's joint budget committee on Friday morning that he can make cuts proposed by Gov. Butch Otter for next year, but any deeper cuts will require releasing inmates - something he can't do without direction from lawmakers.
Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, question state prisons chief Brent Reinke in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Friday morning, after returning from two days off for surgery.
Idaho state parks Director Nancy Merrill tells the House Resources Committee on Friday that the department is looking forward to reopening Dworshak State Park and having 30 state parks again. The state Parks Board decided in September to close the park and turn it over to non-state management; this week the board reversed that decision.
This photo shows the Idaho Maximum Security Institution south of Boise. Idaho's corrections chief told lawmakers Friday that budget cuts are hitting prisons hard enough that even prison guards are now taking unpaid furloughs, and further cuts beyond those already recommended by the governor for next year will mean releasing prisoners.
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