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Idaho Politics

Political and legislative news out of Idaho.


News >  Idaho

New Idaho law on vacation rentals seeks middle ground

Idaho has a new law to govern how short-term vacation rentals, like those marketed on Airbnb and other services, are regulated and taxed, and it may bring peace in a long-simmering fight over the growing industry.
News >  Idaho

Doctor, developer launches campaign for governor of Idaho

UPDATED: Wed., March 1, 2017, 10:57 p.m.

Tommy Ahlquist launched his Republican campaign for governor of Idaho on Wednesday, addressing close to 400 people closely crowded into the 17th-floor conference room of the Zions Bank building in downtown Boise, which Ahlquist’s company built.
News >  Idaho

Idaho Senate panel agrees to delete climate change from new school science standards

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 28, 2017, 10:02 p.m.

Despite efforts by members and the chairman of the Idaho Senate Education Committee to convince their House counterparts to go along with approving new state science standards without deleting five sections referring to climate change, the senators reported that the House wouldn’t budge, so the senators reluctantly gave in.

Blog Posts

News >  Idaho

When political debates also include comic relief…

When six GOP candidates for Idaho’s open 1st District congressional seat faced off in the “Idaho Debates” last week, much of the fireworks – and the humor – came in the closing statements. First, Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, lit into rivals Russ Fulcher and David Leroy...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, I join host Melissa Davlin to discuss the events of the week with Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell, Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert, and Idaho Reports producer Seth Ogilvie. There are also clips from the four final...

News >  Idaho

Why one House Dem leader donated $100 to a Republican…

Idaho Reports producer Seth Ogilvie spotted an odd item in one of the first state campaign finance reports to be filed in advanced of next week’s Tuesday deadline: A $100 contribution to Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, who’s running for lieutenant governor, from Rep. Ilana Rubel,...
News >  Idaho

3 GOP governor candidates participate in final debate

Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidates Raul Labrador, Brad Little and Tommy Ahlquist continued to exchange jabs Monday in an otherwise familiar primary debate that covered education, health care and prison reform. Little — a three-term lieutenant governor — maintained Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter had successfully led Idaho out of...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist wins endorsement from prominent young Trump backers; link to my full story

Tommy Ahlquist, a GOP candidate for governor of Idaho, was endorsed by two prominent millennial Trump supporters today – Charlie Kirk, who was the millennial director of the Trump campaign, and Candace Owens, a conservative commentator and YouTube star who rails against the Black Lives Matter movement. “We have a disruptor in D.C. – now we need...
News >  Idaho

Former state Rep. Kathy Sims booted from May ballot; link to my full story

Former state Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, is being removed from the ballot in her bid for a comeback in a Post Falls district, after the Idaho Secretary of State’s office determined that she had just registered in her new district in February. Under the Idaho Constitution, candidates for the Legislature must have been registered in...
News >  Idaho

6 GOP candidates spar in Idaho congressional debate

Republican candidates vying for Idaho's open 1st Congressional District on Sunday all promised to support President Donald Trump's agenda during their latest televised debate. Former lieutenant governor and ex-attorney general David Leroy, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, Rep. Luke Malek, Rep. Christy Perry and first-time candidates...
News >  Idaho

Ybarra, Dillon clash in spirited debate

In last night’s GOP state schools superintendent debate with incumbent state Superintendent Sherri Ybarra, challenger Jeff Dillon decried a lack of leadership and vision from Ybarra’s shop, Idaho EdNews reports, while Ybarra defended her record, dismissed some allegations as gossip and myth, and worked in...
News >  Idaho

Labrador opens door to overturning Medicaid expansion initiative if voters pass it; link to full story

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador said Thursday that if the state’s voters both elect him governor and pass the initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho, he’d consider working to overturn the voter-passed initiative. In Idaho, a voter-passed initiative has the same status as a law passed by the Legislature – lawmakers and the governor can change or...
News >  Idaho

Sen. Foreman calls his own county a ‘cesspool of liberalism’

Idaho Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, at a candidate forum last night in Fernwood, referred to the county he represents in the Legislature as a “cesspool of liberalism,” the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports. “Latah County, particularly the university, greater Moscow area, is a cesspool of liberalism,”...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, I join host Melissa Davlin to discuss the events of the week with Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise; Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise; and reporter Clark Corbin of Idaho EdNews. There also are clips from the two “Idaho Debates”...
News >  Idaho

Medicaid expansion initiative in final push, just 5,000 signatures from goal

An effort to expand Medicaid in Idaho through a citizens initiative is coming down to the wire, the Lewiston Tribune reports, with about 5,000 qualified signatures still needed before the May 1 deadline. Organizers estimate they've collected 51,000 valid signatures so far. To qualify for the November ballot, they need 56,192...
News >  Idaho

Dems on session: ‘It was entirely about politics’

House and Senate Democrats touted their legislative successes this year, but said when it came to the session’s top-tier issues – from two major tax bills to the “stand your ground” law and anti-trespassing bill – majority Republicans shunted them aside. “Democrats were completely cut...
News >  Idaho

Sunday column: From the odd to the bizarre…

In my Sunday column this week, there’s the odd – GOP gubernatorial candidate Raul Labrador claiming that the health care bill the Idaho House refused to debate last year was “Medicaid expansion” and would have added thousands of "able-bodied adults" to the Medicaid rolls, when...
News >  Idaho

Limerick: Holding up the budget vote

Context: He actually did this, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the naming of the White Clouds Wilderness after the late longtime Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, who died last year just short of his 85th birthday: Watch out for Sen. Jim Risch When dissing ol’...
News >  Idaho

‘Fake news’ smear takes hold among politicians at all levels

An Idaho state lawmaker urges her constituents to submit entries for her "fake news awards." The Kentucky governor tweets #FAKENEWS to dismiss questions about his purchase of a home from a supporter. An aide to the Texas land commissioner uses the phrase to downplay the significance of his boss receiving donations from employees of a company...
News >  Idaho

Candidates flock to file for May primary election…

Idaho’s May primary ballot will be a crowded one, with an array of contested races from governor and Congress to North Idaho legislative seats; the filing deadline is just 10 minutes away at this point. Outside the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, former House Minority...
News >  Idaho

Dust-up over CBD oil bill prompts apology, political jabs; link to full story

An Idaho Senate committee chairman apologized Tuesday for violating Senate rules a day earlier by convening an impromptu–and likely illegal–closed meeting of his committee, over a move to force a hearing on House-passed legislation to legalize medical use of CBD oil in Idaho. Meanwhile, all three leading GOP candidates for governor weighed in...
News >  Idaho

Labrador, Ahlquist issue statements on CBD oil bill

Both Raul Labrador and Tommy Ahlquist, rivals for the GOP nomination for governor in the May primary, have issued statements on the brouhaha over the CBD oil bill in the Idaho Legislature, which passed the House but hasn’t had a hearing in the Senate. The...
News >  Idaho

Idaho officials pitch health care plan to federal officials

Idaho officials pitched the state's plan for health care to federal officials, making a case to allow insurers to sell plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act. The Idaho Statesman reports Republican Gov. Butch Otter and Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron met with top federal health care officials last weekend...
News >  Idaho

Candidate says election payments to family don’t violate campaign platform

An Idaho candidate for governor, who would ban political candidates from paying campaign funds to family members, gave his son-in-law $20,000 last month for campaign-related services. A campaign finance report this week for Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist listed the payment as an official campaign expense. Thursday, after questions from...
News >  Idaho

2nd GOP candidate now favors term limits, financial scrutiny of elected officials

A second leading Republican candidate for governor now says he would pursue term limits, some form of financial disclosure requirements and other reforms targeting Idaho politicians. The proposals by U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador come on the heels of the Republican-dominated Legislature showing signs it will continue to resist such reforms. The House...
News >  Idaho

Tax issues unresolved for Giddings…

The Ada County Assessor’s Office is still awaiting a response from Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings as to why the White Bird Republican deserved the $1,200 tax break she received in 2016. The office sent Giddings a “notice of intent” last November, saying it intends to collect back taxes after she erroneously received a homeowner’s exemption...
News >  Idaho

Cher endorses Paulette Jordan for governor of Idaho

Singer and actress Cher has endorsed Democratic state Rep. Paulette Jordan in the race to become Idaho's next governor. Cher tweeted Wednesday that she met Jordan at the Las Vegas women's march and said Idahoans would be well served under Jordan's leadership...
News >  Idaho

Lawmaker apologizes for comment made during training

A northern Idaho lawmaker says he apologized to seven fellow legislators for an inappropriate comment he made during an anti-sexual harassment training earlier this year. Republican Sen. Bob Nonini from Coeur d'Alene said Tuesday that his remark...
News >  Idaho

Hartgen to retire, endorses wife Linda for his seat

Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, announced today that he plans to retire at the end of his current term – and endorsed his wife, Linda, who plans to run for the seat. “As many of you know, I have had some health issues these past...
News >  Idaho

Sunday column: Truck fees, BSU survey…

Here’s a link to my full Sunday column, which reports on the Legislature’s hemming and hawing over truck registration fees – still not addressed, despite 2015 legislation declaring it was the “intent of the Legislature” to impose a new registration fee on commercial trucks to...
News >  Idaho

Balukoff calls for grocery tax repeal

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff called yesterday for the Legislature to introduce legislation to repeal Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax on groceries. “The state is balancing its budget on the backs of working Idahoans every time they go to the grocery store and it’s time...
News >  Idaho

Labrador calls for waste, fraud, abuse hotline, investigatory agency

If elected, Raúl Labrador says he would reduce fraud and mismanagement in Idaho government by creating a hotline to anonymously report problems, and an independent special unit to investigate them, the Idaho Statesman reports. “There’s currently no easy way for citizens and whistleblowers inside government...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist campaign decries defeat of disclosure bill

David Johnston, campaign manager for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist, issued this statement: “Today's failure by the House State Affairs committee highlights yet again politics as usual and the need to elect a political outsider like Tommy Ahlquist as Governor. Tommy has been championing the...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Raybould to retire, endorses granddaughter for his seat

Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, announced today that he won’t seek re-election after his current term; he is in his 9th House term and currently chairs the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. “As I look back, I consider myself very lucky to serve in the House...
News >  Idaho

Idaho’s MLK Day ceremony draws big crowd, recalls King’s words

There’s a big crowd gathered on all floors of the Capitol rotunda today for Idaho’s official Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day ceremony. Today’s ceremony, themed “Find Common Ground,” opened with trumpeting from Boise State University trumpeters; the national anthem sung by Nichole Warner,...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist: $100M promise may not result in Idaho budget cut

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist says his high-profile campaign promise to cut $100 million in 100 days if elected to the position may not result in a reduction of the state budget. Ahlquist first announced his plans to trim $100 million of the state budget last year. During a radio interview with KLIX this week, Ahlquist...
News >  Idaho

Labrador pushes bill to build wall

Raul Labrador and three other Republicans are introducing a bill that would let some undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children stay for another three years, while also passing a host of other immigration-related measures Republicans have been discussing, including a $30 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and cutting legal...
News >  Idaho

Vick defeats Lakey for Senate assistant majority leader

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, has defeated Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, for assistant majority leader in the Senate; Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, was elected caucus chair in a four-way race. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, is the new majority leader. Asked why he decided to run...
News >  Idaho

Idaho lawmakers to convene under political spotlight

Idaho’s upcoming legislative session – which kicks off Monday with third-term Gov. Butch Otter’s final State of the State address – will tackle big issues in health care, taxes, education and ethics, and it will come in one of the biggest election years the state has seen in decades. “It’s going to be like the OK Corral – there’s going to be...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist campaign rips health care executive order

Tommy Ahlquist’s campaign is disparaging the executive order issued by Gov. Butch Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little today on health care, suggesting it’s a campaign stunt. Here’s the campaign’s statement, from campaign manager David Johnston: “Sadly, this is just the latest example of Boise’s...
News >  Idaho

From session priorities to politics to science standards…

Among the issues that legislative leaders from both parties addressed at this morning’s AP Legislative Preview: SESSION PRIORITIES: House Speaker Scott Bedke said, “I believe there’s going to be a discussion on tax policy, and that will include tax relief. We’re going to attempt to...
News >  Idaho

Nine ‘liberty legislators’ hold their own legislative preview

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, held a legislative preview last night in Meridian that promised to reveal “what conservatives want for the upcoming session,” featuring, along with her, Reps. Ron Nate, Karey Hanks, Dorothy Moon, Christy Zito, Priscilla Giddings, and Bryan Zollinger, and Sens. Dan Foreman...
News >  Idaho

Idaho governor to push for higher education changes

Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter offered a rare glimpse into his agenda for the upcoming legislative session on Thursday by announcing plans to ask lawmakers to create a chief education officer who would help make key changes inside Idaho's postsecondary system."We have a lot of agencies clinging to the status quo and status quo isn't going to get us...
News >  Idaho

Rammell announces new campaign for governor - of Wyoming

Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has announced a new campaign for governor – of Wyoming. Rammell, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Idaho governor in 2010 and as an independent against Sen. Jim Risch for the U.S. Senate in 2008, told the Jackson...
News >  Idaho

Catching up on the news

Here’s some of the news that happened while I was off: IDAHO IS FASTEST-GROWING STATE: New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Idaho is the nation’s fastest-growing state, with a 2.2 percent population increase over the year that ended in July of 2017, up...
News >  Idaho

Labrador votes yes on tax plan, misses others for fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador cast a yes vote for Congress’ tax plan overhaul in Washington D.C. after missing several votes the day before to attend a gubernatorial campaign event in Idaho. The Republican congressman attended the fundraiser Monday and then flew back east that night to make Tuesday’s vote. Labrador declined to comment...
News >  Idaho

Labrador, Simpson laud GOP tax bill as it passes House

The U.S. House voted 227-203 in favor of the GOP tax bill today, and Idaho Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson both lauded the bill; the Senate is expected to vote later today. “Any time we can allow hard-working Idahoans to keep more of their...
News >  Idaho

Man wins tied southern Idaho election following recount

A southern Idaho city has filled a council seat after an election that ended in what officials thought was tie and was followed by a coin toss and a recount. The Times-News reports Minidoka County officials recounted ballots Monday, finding Dick Galbraith had won the seat on the Heyburn City Council by one vote...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Giddings receives stay in property tax case for military service

Idaho state Rep. Priscilla Giddings has requested and received a stay until April 1, due to military service, of an Ada County notice ordering her to repay the county about $1,200 for claiming a homeowner’s exemption there in 2016 – while also claiming to live in Idaho County, which she represents in the Legislature. Giddings cited a federal law...
News >  Idaho

Boise Democrat to challenge Simpson for congressional seat

A Boise Democrat will challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District in 2018. The Post Register reports that Aaron Swisher announced Saturday he plans on challenging the GOP incumbent in the upcoming election. Swisher, an economist...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist clarifies breaching dams stance after forum

Idaho gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist's campaign said Friday the Republican businessman has always been against breaching dams along the Snake River despite not stating that position when asked at a recent sportsmen's forum. In an opinion piece published earlier this week, Ahlquist said he would fight to protect Idaho's waters for farmers...
News >  Idaho

Crapo, 1st CD candidates address net neutrality decision

We asked members of Idaho’s congressional delegation today for their comments on the FCC’s net neutrality decision; Sen. Jim Risch was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment, and neither 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador nor 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson responded. Sen. Mike Crapo said, “I opposed the decision of the FCC to reclassify...
News >  Idaho

Federal tax bill could have big implications for Idaho’s state budget

Idaho officials say the federal tax reform bill currently being finalized in Congress likely will have a huge impact on state revenue collections, but they aren't sure yet whether the effect will be positive or negative, the Lewiston Tribune reports. Estimates from various state agencies suggest the tax reform effort could...
News >  Idaho

Guv candidates talk tax policy; state budget trends and status; economic signs and more; my Sun. column

When Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, speaking via video, was asked to address tax policy as a candidate for governor last week at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference, he said Idaho’s government “needs to be slashed.” “My tax plan, just to be clear, it’s going to take some years,” Labrador said, after touting his “5-5-5” plan...
News >  Idaho

Idaho, facing crowded prisons, to send inmates out of state

As many as 1,000 Idaho inmates could soon be serving out their time in out-of-state prisons as the state grapples with overcrowding at home. The inmates could end up in a private prison facility – despite Idaho's long history of trouble when it comes to getting some private prison providers to meet the terms of their contracts...
News >  Idaho

Balukoff welcomes Rep. Jordan to Dem governor’s contest for 2018

A.J. Balukoff, the Democrat already in the race for governor of Idaho in 2018 before Rep. Paulette Jordan’s announcement tonight in Moscow, has issued a statement welcoming her to the race. Here it is: Idaho gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff applauded tonight’s announcement from Paulette Jordan...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Paulette Jordan announces she’ll run for governor as a Democrat

The only Native American lawmaker currently serving in the Idaho Statehouse says she's running for governor in 2018. Rep. Paulette Jordan, a Democrat from Plummer and member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, announced Thursday she would run for governor rather than seek a third term as a state representative. Jordan's announcement...
News >  Idaho

Otter sends warning: He still opposes repeal of Idaho’s grocery tax

Gov. Butch Otter drew a line in the sand Wednesday, warning that he’s still firmly opposed to removing Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax from groceries. Last year, lawmakers passed legislation to do just that – by a 2/3 margin – and Otter vetoed it. Lawmakers sued, but failed to get the veto overturned; my full story...
News >  Idaho

Labrador to ATI: ‘Government needs to be slashed’

At this afternoon’s “Gubernatorial Forum on Taxation” at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho conference, two of the GOP candidates for governor – Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Boise physician and developer Tommy Ahlquist – are appearing in person, but 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador appeared...
News >  Idaho

How tax-cut proposals can have price tags…

I’ve had a couple of people question the premise of my reporting on the price tag of tax-cut proposals from the GOP candidates for governor – can a proposal like that have a price tag? The answer is yes. State economists compare the amount of...
News >  Idaho

3 Idaho candidates for governor share similar wildlife views

Three top candidates trying to be elected Idaho's governor in 2018 have widely different backgrounds but share similar views on managing the state's wildlife conservation and access to public lands. The Idaho Statesman reports Republican gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist joined Democratic candidate...
News >  Idaho

Idaho GOP governor hopefuls’ tax-cut plans have hefty price tags

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador’s tax-cut plan would cost Idaho’s state treasury roughly $900 million a year if he were elected governor. Rival Tommy Ahlquist’s tax-cut proposals add up to a $630 million a year reduction to the state treasury. And Lt. Gov. Brad Little, the other major GOP hopeful in the race, has a plan that would cost the...
News >  Idaho

Crapo parts with Bowles, Simpson over GOP tax bill, deficit

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo on parting with his longtime deficit allies, the Committee for a Reponsible Federal Budget, over the GOP tax bill; congressional hopeful Russ Fulcher gets a superPAC's backing; and lawmakers eye lobbying fees; my Sunday column...
News >  Idaho

Newly appointed Idaho lawmaker filed for bankruptcy in March

A newly appointed state senator in eastern Idaho is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings. The Post Register reports that Republican Sen. Tony Potts of Idaho Falls filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in March. According to his bankruptcy filing, Potts has roughly $250,000 in debts, including $16,000 in unpaid taxes...
News >  Idaho

AG Lawrence Wasden finds Mar-a-Lago ‘interesting,’ not really his ‘style’

When Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who attended a mid-November Republican Attorneys General Association meeting in Florida that included a reception and dinner Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s golf club and retreat, was asked how he liked Mar-a-Lago, Wasden said, “It was gaudy.” Wasden said he and a group of other GOP attorneys general...
News >  Idaho

Study shows Idaho’s overall taxes are lowest in the region, 48th in nation

Even as Idaho politicians continue to call for tax cuts, a new state study shows Idaho’s overall taxes are the lowest in the region and rank 48th in the nation. The annual Tax Burden Study, which the Idaho State Tax Commission has prepared each year since the 1970s, shows that Idaho’s total state and local tax burden...
News >  Idaho

Little voluntarily discloses his financial assets

Lt. Gov. Brad Little is the latest gubernatorial candidate to voluntarily release information on his financial assets. Idaho is one of just two states that don’t require elected officeholders to disclose any of their personal financial information. Yet the topic has become a key talking point for Idaho’s 2018 gubernatorial race after first-time...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Cheatham to seek Nonini’s Senate seat in 2018

Second-term Idaho state Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, announced today that he’ll run for the open Senate seat in his district that’s being vacated by current Sen. Bob Nonini’s run for lieutenant governor in 2018. “I really like the House,” Cheatham said. “The Senate, I...
News >  Idaho

Former Sen. Schmidt says he’s decided against run for governor – at least for now

Former state Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, a physician and outspoken advocate of improving health care in Idaho, says after much consideration, he’s decided against running for governor next year – at least for now. “I have no plans to at this time,” Schmidt told Eye on Boise. “Honestly, I did look at it pretty hard. But you’ve got to...
News >  Idaho

Rift between Ada and IAC causes ‘kerfuffle,’ almost costs Ada taxpayers big $$

The Ada County Commission yesterday voted quickly and unanimously to reverse its earlier decision to withdraw from the Capital Crimes Defense Fund and refuse to sign a joint powers agreement for criminal defense, after learning that the move, rather than saving the county’s taxpayers money, would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars...
News >  Idaho

Cameron raises concerns about state worker insurance self-funding proposal

Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron is raising major concerns about a consultant’s recommendation that Idaho switch to self-funding for the health insurance plan that covers thousands of state employees. “This is a very difficult, complex, complicated issue,” he told the Legislature’s interim committee...
News >  Idaho

Election results from around the state…

In election results around Idaho, Boise’s city council races were won by former state Rep. Holli Woodings, incumbent TJ Thomson and activist Lisa Sanchez, and voters overwhelmingly approved renewal of an open space tax levy. Nampa Mayor Bob Henry, who was first elected in 2013,...
News >  Idaho

Otter names Wagoner to replace Hixon in the Idaho House

Gov. Butch Otter has named Jarom Wagoner, a senior city planner for the city of Caldwell, to replace Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, in the Idaho House; Wagoner was the top choice of the District 10 GOP committee, which submitted three nominees to the governor. Wagoner...
News >  Idaho

Bangerter, Frasure tabbed for USDA Idaho posts

President Donald Trump has appointed two Idahoans to serve in state director positions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Layne Bangerter, former director of Trump’s election campaign in Idaho, was appointed Friday to become the state director for USDA Rural Development in Idaho. Rural development directors are tasked with improving...
News >  Idaho

Ada County to seek back taxes from Rep. Giddings

Ada County is moving to collect back taxes from state Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, for claiming a homeowner’s exemption for her Garden City home in 2016 while also claiming to be a resident of the north-central Idaho district where she was elected to the...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Dems name new executive director, Elle Casner

The Idaho Democratic Party has named Elle Casner as its new executive director; she’s served as the party’s chief financial officer since 2015. “Elle’s experience in the fundraising and political sector will serve the organization well as we lay the groundwork and strategy to expand...
News >  Idaho

Little’s answer to Labrador’s Cruz endorsement: His own endorsement from local leader in Emmett

Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s campaign had no comment today on rival Raul Labrador’s endorsement by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Idaho gubernatorial race, but said it would have an endorsement announcement of its own today. It’s out now, and it’s from Gem County Commission chairman and former Emmett mayor Bill Butticci. “It is humbling to have...
News >  Idaho

PAC backing Rand Paul allies says it’ll support Labrador

A new political action committee dedicated to supporting allies of Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced today that it will support Raul Labrador in the race for Idaho governor in 2018, the AP reports. The Protect Freedom PAC, headed by GOP operative Michael...
News >  Idaho

Former VP Dick Cheney endorses Yates for Idaho lieutenant governor

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has endorsed Steve Yates in Idaho's open lieutenant governor's race. Cheney said Tuesday in a statement distributed by the campaign that he appreciated Yates's time working as a deputy on his national security staff and praised Yates' dedication to the Republican Party. Yates, an Idaho Falls businessman...
News >  Idaho

Senate GOP leadership posts draw hopefuls

Leadership contests are taking shape in the Idaho Senate, as the departure of longtime Majority Leader Bart Davis prompts a ripple effect through the Senate GOP leadership. Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, told Eye on Boise on Friday that he’s running for majority leader, and so far there’s no one running against him. That leaves..
News >  Idaho

Simpson names Bedke, Crapo, Risch as re-election campaign co-chairs

Idaho 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson today launched his re-election bid and named his campaign co-chairs: House Speaker Scott Bedke and U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. Simpson said in a statement, “Idaho leads the nation in common sense solutions for tough problems...
News >  Idaho

Idaho GOP taps longtime Florida GOP official as its new exec director

The Idaho Republican Party has named a new executive director: Frank Terraferma, a longtime Florida Republican Party employee and consultant. Jonathan Parker, state party chairman, said, “Frank knows all aspects of Republican campaigns, inside and out. We are excited to hire someone of his caliber...
News >  Idaho

Mitt Romney endorses Tommy Ahlquist for Idaho governor

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is endorsing Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist in the race to become Idaho’s next governor in 2018. Romney, who will appear with Ahlquist at a campaign rally in Idaho Falls this evening, said in a news release, “Tommy Ahlquist’s unparalleled real-world experience as both a doctor and...
News >  Idaho

Conference addresses U.S. role in creating, solving current worldwide refugee crisis

The United States has helped create the current worldwide refugee crisis, former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones said Monday, and it needs to step up to help solve it. “I think we have a lot of soul searching to do,” Jones told the 34th annual Frank Church Conference on public affairs at Boise State University; my full story...
News >  Idaho

Advocates file Idaho Medicaid expansion ballot initiative

Health advocates who have been stymied by Idaho's Republican-dominant Legislature to expand Medicaid have filed paperwork for a ballot initiative. Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst said Monday that the state elections office received the ballot initiative proposal last week. The initiative must now be vetted by the Attorney General's office...
News >  Idaho

Nonini: ‘I’m more conservative than Janice’

North Idaho Sen. Bob Nonini, asked why he decided to join the now five-way race for lieutenant governor in 2018, went directly after one of the four Republicans already in the race. “I look at the candidates that are in the race, and there are no real strong conservatives, although Janice says she is,” Nonini said, referring to rival...
News >  Idaho

Idaho candidates talk transparency in buildup to 2018

As the buildup to the 2018 election begins to accelerate, Idaho's 30-year-old ethics laws are facing scrutiny as top candidates wrestle with how much of their finances they should disclose to voters. Idaho is one of just two states that don't require elected officeholders to disclose any of their personal financial information. This means the...
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New Idaho PAC wants Independents, Democrats to register GOP

A former GOP state lawmaker has launched a new political action committee to encourage Independent and Democratic voters to register as Republicans so they can participate in Idaho's closed GOP primary election. Kathy Skippen said Wednesday that her group, called Moderates Are Taking Hold, will help educate...
News >  Idaho

Otter picks Potts to serve out Davis’ Senate term

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has appointed Tony Potts, a property manager and salesman at Bish’s RV Supercenter in Idaho Falls, to replace longtime Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls. The District 33 GOP committee gave Otter three choices: Potts; current state Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls;...
News >  Idaho

Nonini joins lieutenant governor race

northern Idaho lawmaker is joining the race to win the state's open lieutenant governor seat in 2018. GOP Sen. Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene filed to run for the position on Tuesday. Nonini is in his third term in the Idaho Senate after serving four terms in the Idaho House...
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County GOP central committee decries one of GOP guv hopefuls

The same Kootenai County GOP committee that recently condemned Idaho GOP Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo for backing sanctions against Russia has passed a resolution blasting Tommy Ahlquist, one of the three leading GOP candidates for governor in 2018, for having donated to Democrats, and questioning whether he’s really a Republican. According to...
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Idaho governor candidate lists business assets, investments

Idaho gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist on Thursday said he owns 25 businesses and has 27 investments worth more than $5,000 each, in an announcement aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise to disclose his wealth. However, the Republican's economic interest disclosure does not include a range of how much each asset is worth...
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Record suggests Risch could surprise; my full Sunday column

What might Idaho Sen. Jim Risch be like as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one of the most powerful committees in Congress? Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus and longtime observer of Idaho politics, says the result might not be what most would assume...
News >  Idaho

Self-insurance proposal could save Idaho $13M

According to Mercer — the state's newest actuarial consultant — Idaho taxpayers could save roughly $13 million during the first year of implementing a self-insurance model. Under a such a plan, the state would pay for health insurance for about 45,600 state workers and family members directly rather than purchasing insurance through...
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Labrador lauds Trump decision to cut refugee cap for 2018 to 45,000

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is praising an announcement from the Trump Administration that it will drop the cap on refugees admitted to the United States next year to 45,000, even lower than the 50,000 that Labrador and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte proposed in legislation...
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Idaho breathing easier now on fire bills

Although the fire season seemed downright awful, with heavy smoke choking much of the state, Idaho is coming out of it without any pressing bills. Also, Ahlquist goes on tour; and Idaho group raises concerns about Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill; my full Sunday column
News >  Idaho

Hoffman defends Giddings; we stand by our story

Wayne Hoffman, head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a lobbying and political action group, has sent out a column seeking to discredit my article on residency questions surrounding Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird. The facts in my article all came directly from public records: That...
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Ahlquist kicks off 44-county tour in Meridian

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist laid out his political agenda Thursday to hundreds of supporters in Meridian while kicking off his statewide tour to visit all of Idaho's 44 counties over 44 days. Ahlquist promised to improve Idaho's educational system, work to lower health care premiums for Idahoans and reform the state's tax...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist to launch 44-day, 44-county tour; names 107 county chairs

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Tommy Ahlquist plans to launch a 44-day tour of Idaho’s 44 counties on Thursday, with a 7 p.m. event at the Scentsy Commons Amphitheater in Meridian. The tour will move the next day to Payette and Emmett, continue around the state and...
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Residency questions raised about controversial north-central Idaho lawmaker

A controversial north-central Idaho legislator, who’s made her mark as an extreme stickler for the rules, may not have been qualified to run for the office because she still was claiming a homeowner’s exemption in southern Idaho. Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, had a homeowner’s exemption on a house she owns in Garden City...
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AdWatch: New Ahlquist ad targets ‘political insiders’

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist has launched a new TV campaign commercial repeating the claim he made in June that he’d cut $100 million from the state budget in his first 100 days if elected, but offering no new details. Instead, the new ad focuses...
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Lt. Gov. Little open, Rep. Labrador mum on releasing assets

Lt. Gov. Brad Little's campaign says he's open to voluntarily disclosing his assets at some point along the gubernatorial campaign trail, but his staffers aren't saying what Little will hand over or when that might happen. The Associated Press asked Little and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, both Republican candidates...
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CdA’s political waters calm, as mayor, council go uncontested in November

Despite a history of hard-fought campaigns and an unsuccessful but bitter recall attempt against the mayor and council just five years ago, Coeur d’Alene’s city elections are looking much different this fall: Mayor Steve Widmyer and three city council members all are running unopposed. Friday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline came and went without...
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Hundreds turn out to support DACA at Idaho rallies

Close to a thousand people rallied at the Idaho Capitol over the weekend in support of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has protected “dreamers” – those brought to the United States as small children by undocumented parents – from deportation, while...
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Labrador announces legislation targeting criminal alien gang members

Idaho 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador announced today that he’s sponsoring legislation designed to “make our communities safer by making it easier to deport alien gang members.” Labrador is joining three other GOP House members to propose the bill, entitled the “Criminal Alien Gang...
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Labrador names Phillips chief strategist, campaign spokesman

Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who is running for governor, today announced that former Idaho Republican Party executive director and longtime GOP campaign strategist Scott Phillips has joined his campaign team. “He brings a level of expertise and a drive to win that enhances our...
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IACI endorses Little for governor; Ahlquist names campaign co-chairs

IACI’s political action committee, the Idaho Prosperity Fund, announced today that it’s endorsing Brad Little for governor in 2018; the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry is a prominent business lobbying group. Alex LaBeau, the group’s president, said in a statement, “Education, workforce development, and...
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Risch on DACA: Program was ‘directly contrary to existing law’

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, had this statement Tuesday on DACA: “President Obama’s creation of the DACA program was a unilateral attempt by the president to create a law directly contrary to existing law. Of course, a president can’t unilaterally create laws and the federal government...
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Otter appoints Rusche to Idaho Water Resources Board

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has appointed John Rusche, former House minority leader and a retired pediatrician from Lewiston, to the Idaho Water Resources Board. “John Rusche has been a reasonable and constructive partner in developing public policies that work for the people of Idaho,” Otter...
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Sen. Crapo on DACA: ‘Reforms must be done through a public process’

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo issued this statement on DACA: “The appropriate treatment of children brought to the United States illegally at a young age is one of the key issues we must deal with in immigration reform legislation. However, the DACA program was created unconstitutionally...
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Idaho ACLU on DACA decision: ‘No way to lead a nation with heart’

The ACLU of Idaho issued this statement today on the Trump administration’s announcement that it will terminate the DACA program: “Our nation is strongest when every one of us can contribute and share ideas, and when everyone’s basic rights and dignity are respected. The DACA...
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Otter backs DACA phaseout

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued this statement today on DACA: “I appreciate the Attorney General’s recognition of the constitutional problems with the Obama administration’s executive action. I also support the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to phase out the DACA program in a way that...
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Wasden: Trump’s DACA announcement paves way for Congress to act

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden issued the following statement today on the Trump Administration's announcement that it will phase out the DACA program: “I’ve long held that DACA was created through an unconstitutional executive order because, under the Constitution, the responsibility of creating immigration policy...
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Labrador applauds Trump’s DACA decision

Idaho 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, in a news release today, said he applauds President Trump’s decision today “to end the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saying, “DACA, which was illegally created by President Obama in 2012, allows certain illegal immigrants...
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Ahlquist calls for term limits, ethics reforms

Idaho’s top politicians should face term limits and tougher disclosure laws, political newcomer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist declared Tuesday as he unveiled a 10-point plan for ethics reforms...
News >  Idaho

Idaho schools chief seeks boost in education spending

Idaho's public schools chief is seeking a 6.8 percent increase in education spending for 2018, describing it as a budget with no surprises and no new initiatives. Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra released her plan Friday. If approved by lawmakers in January, Idaho's public school funding would bump up nearly $114 million more...
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Crowds, memories fill BSU ballroom for Andrus memorial service

BSU’s Jordan Ballroom is filling for this afternoon’s public memorial service for the late Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus. There are lots of hugs being exchanged, and memories shared, by people from all over the state. Jeff Fereday recalled working for Andrus at the Interior Department...
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Malek, wife escape serious injury in Highway 95 crash

Idaho Rep. Luke Malek is feeling very lucky that he and wife Tara are alive and escaped serious injury in a horrific crash on Highway 95 north of Moscow on Saturday afternoon that totaled his pickup. “We’d be dead if we hadn’t been wearing our seatbelts,” said Malek, 35, R-Coeur d’Alene, who is running for Congress...
News >  Idaho

Little unveils tax-cut proposals

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little released a series of tax-cut proposals today that he said he’d enact if he’s elected governor next year – topped by a $350 million cut in Idaho’s personal and corporate income taxes. That big cut would come over time, Little...
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Idaho Republican Party seeking new executive director

The Idaho Republican Party is seeking a new executive director, with the news that the current executive director, Lyndel Strong, will leave in September; she’s been in the position since April. Jonathan Parker, state party chairman, said in a statement, “I want to thank Lyndel...
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Risch: Health care changes must be bipartisan

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch declared Thursday that health care reform can’t succeed with just one party backing it, saying it must be bipartisan. Risch, a conservative Republican, said no major social program in American history has succeeded with just one party backing it, and he said that’s at the root of problems with Obamacare, which he called...
News >  Idaho

What Labrador said about Kustra on the radio…

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador’s call this week for Boise State University President Bob Kustra to resign – in which he labeled Kustra “a 60-something white male from a liberal state trying to tell me, a young Hispanic male, how I should react to racism” –...
News >  Idaho

House Speaker Paul Ryan visits Idaho to fundraise for GOP

House Speaker Paul Ryan has made his first official visit to Idaho as sitting speaker to host a GOP joint fundraiser. Ryan's brief appearance in downtown Boise on Tuesday included a $10,000-per-person VIP roundtable discussion, a $5,000-per-person photo opportunity and a $2,500-per-person or $1,000-per-person luncheon...
News >  Idaho

E. Idaho lawmaker boasts of donations after conspiracy post

An Idaho lawmaker says his political supporters have found a way to take advantage of the wide-ranging criticism he's received for sharing a conspiracy theory suggesting the recent tragedy in Charlottesville might have been organized to undermine President Donald Trump. Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, said Monday at least five donors...
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After prodding from Otter and reminder of Idaho’s experience, Labrador breaks silence, condemns racist violence

Gov. Butch Otter recalled Idaho’s experience with neo-Nazi white supremacists, when the Aryan Nations was headquartered in North Idaho–and called on Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, who had remained mum for 3 days, to join the other three members of Idaho’s congressional delegation in denouncing white supremacist violence. Tuesday evening, Labrador did...
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Otter condemns violent white supremacy; calls on Labrador to do the same

Asked about the racist violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, Gov. Butch Otter today recalled Idaho’s own experience with neo-Nazi white supremacists, when the Aryan Nations was headquartered in North Idaho. “We’ve not new to that – we’ve had those problems in Idaho before,” Otter...
News >  Idaho

Crapo, Simpson, Risch condemn racist violence; Labrador stays mum

Three of the four members of Idaho’s all-GOP congressional delegation have spoken out strongly against the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, condemning racism and white supremacy as counter to American values. The fourth, 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, had no comment...
News >  Idaho

Risch condemns ‘hateful acts of racism,’ white supremacy

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch this afternoon issued a statement condemning the “hateful acts of racism” in Charlottesville over the weekend. Sen. Mike Crapo and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson issued statements yesterday; 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador's office still hasn't responded to repeated requests for...
News >  Idaho

Catching up on the news…

The depths of summer used to be such a slow news time that a week off wouldn’t yield a ton of missed news – but not this year. Here’s a catchup on some of the news from the past week while I was off...
News >  Idaho

An oddity in the filings…

Among the candidacy and statement of campaign treasurer filings at the Idaho Secretary of State’s office is an oddity: Three fairly obscure candidates who have filed to run for governor, all as Republicans, all listing the same campaign treasurer, Britne Tingey. Deputy Secretary of State...
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Nope, Goedde’s not planning a Senate comeback…

I thought I was onto a little scoop when I spotted the filing in the Secretary of State’s office recently showing former state Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, apparently running for the Senate in District 2 – which is Sen. Steve Vick’s district. But that...
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Former Commerce chief Sayer signs on with Hagedorn campaign

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, has announced the endorsement of former state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, who is joining his lieutenant governor campaign as its treasurer. Sayer said he’s signing on with Hagedorn – who’s facing four other Republicans vying for the post thus far – because he believes economic development...
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Rivals for Idaho lieutenant governor post amass campaign funds

Idaho’s lieutenant governor is a relatively low-profile position, considered part-time and paying less than the state’s other top jobs. But five Republican candidates already are campaigning for the post in 2018, and the latest campaign finance reports show they’re amassing campaign funds from a variety of sources – including their own pockets...
News >  Idaho

Idaho governor hopefuls raise more than $1.8M combined, as race for open seat heats up

It may be 10 months until the 2018 primary in the race for an open Idaho governor’s seat and 16 months before the general election, but the three leading GOP contenders for the post already have raised more than $1.8 million combined for their campaigns. The reports – the first filed since the contest shaped up into a competitive battle between...
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Little: ‘Obamacare continues to wreak havoc on Idahoans’

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little issued this statement today on the proposed premium rate increases for Idaho insurers that was announced today by the state Department of Insurance: “Obamacare continues to wreak havoc on Idahoans and another year of increased premiums confirms this reality. Prior...
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Campaign finances, more races taking shape, and Crapo on Russia…

In my Sunday column: Campaign finance reports in Idaho state races are due Monday, but some already had started trickling in last week. Also, GOP hopeful Tommy Ahlquist touted his fundraising numbers in advance of today's filing; schools Supt. Sherri Ybarra has been outraised by a challenger; 3 are now running for state treasurer; and more...
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Little says if he’s elected governor, Idaho ‘will act’ on health care

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little unveiled a series of proposals on health care, the economy and regulation on Wednesday, saying they’re things he’d enact if elected governor in 2018. Little is in a contested race for the open seat Gov. Butch Otter will leave when he retires after next year; other big-name Republicans already in the race are GOP...
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Idaho GOP elects former executive director Jonathan Parker as chairman

Jonathan Parker will be the next Idaho Republican Party chairman after a vote Saturday. Elected by secret ballot where voters scribbled down a candidate’s first name, Parker – the party’s former executive director – could not attend the GOP general session on Saturday because he was called away Friday on an urgent family matter.
News >  Idaho

GOP candidates for governor speak out on Trump, taxes, health care

With 10 months to go until the Idaho gubernatorial election, the race’s three Republican candidates answered a series of business-centric questions Friday during a forum held at the state GOP’s summer meeting. Convened by the local business community, the intent of the forum was to clarify where each candidate stood on issues...
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Rep. Barbieri ‘livid’ over Idaho SupCourt’s grocery tax ruling

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, tweeted today that he’s “livid” over the Idaho Supreme Court decision yesterday upholding Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of grocery tax repeal legislation; Barbieri was among the 30 lawmakers who sued in an attempt to overturn the veto. In a lengthy...
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Idaho Rep. Labrador stops paying wife salary from his campaign

After keeping her on the campaign payroll since his first term in Congress, Idaho 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador stopped paying his wife, Becca, a $2,022 monthly salary on Jan. 1. Labrador’s campaign confirmed Wednesday that Becca Labrador no longer is being paid to keep the campaign’s books...
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Yates launches lt. gov. campaign, joining crowded race

Steve Yates, former Idaho Republican Party chairman, launched his campaign for lieutenant governor today with an announcement on the state Capitol steps in Boise, to be followed by appearances today in Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls. Yates was introduced by Milford Terrell, who lauded Yates’...
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2018 gov candidates already out on the stump together

All three major GOP candidates for governor were sitting at the same table on the Fourth of July, at the big Idaho Falls fireworks extravaganza hosted by Melaleuca owner Frank VanderSloot. Nor were Tommy Ahlquist, Raul Labrador and Brad Little the only notable additions to the party.
News >  Idaho

2018 gubernatorial candidates already out on the stump together…

And the race is on: The three major GOP candidates for governor in 2018 already are out on the stump together, appearing together on July 4 in Idaho Falls, and again this Friday at the Idaho Republican Party's summer meeting in Coeur d'Alene; my full Sunday column...
News >  Idaho

Idaho health advocates slam new Senate GOP health care bill

Close the Gap Idaho, a broad coalition of health care providers, charities, advocates and others, has released a statement strongly opposing the new Senate GOP health care bill unveiled this week, the Better Care Reconciliation Act or BCRA. The group raised particular concern about the...
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Idaho Dems, state in settlement talks over voter info request

A court hearing was canceled Thursday and the Idaho Democratic Party announced that it had entered into settlement talks with the state in its lawsuit seeking to bar Secretary of State Lawerence Denney from releasing Idaho voter information to a Trump commission.
News >  Idaho

Keough won’t seek re-election; endorses Jim Woodward for her seat in 2018

Longtime Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, has announced that she won’t seek re-election after her current term ends next year, and instead is endorsing longtime Bonner and Boundary county resident Jim Woodward for her seat. Woodward, a Republican from Sagle, owns and operates APEX Construction...
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Labrador used state seal for campaign fundraising mailer

Republican U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador sent Idaho voters a campaign mailer asking for contributions to his gubernatorial bid ornamented with the state seal, even though the secretary of state's office says the seal should only be used for official state business. Labrador's fundraiser flier asked voters to give $50, $75, $100 or more...
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Ahlquist alters his ‘blueprint’ plank on same-sex marriage

Idaho GOP candidate for governor Tommy Ahlquist has changed the wording on his website about his position on gay marriage, the AP reports today, deleting a promise to continue fighting legal same-sex marriage – which many read as a promise to take the state...
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Little-known Idaho Democrat steps forward in 1st CD race

So, who is that little-known Democrat who filed back in March to run for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat? After many weeks of trying to reach him, I received a call from Michael William Smith of Post Falls last week, and he filled me in; my full Sunday column...
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Simpson wants Idaho sheep research station to stay open despite Trump’s budget

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson will try to keep open an Idaho sheep experiment station despite President Donald Trump's proposed budget calling for its elimination. The Post-Register reported that Clark County economic development officials worry closure of the station could have a major negative impact on the economy. The U.S. Sheep Experiment Station...
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Malek considering a run for 1st District congressional seat

Idaho state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, hasn’t made a final decision, but he acknowledged today that he’s mulling a run for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat, which will open in 2018 when current Rep. Raul Labrador runs instead for governor. “The people of the...
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New legal opinion undercuts aerial fireworks ‘loophole’ argument

There’s lots of talk today about a new Idaho Attorney General’s opinion on Idaho fireworks laws, particularly because it was issued just weeks before the Fourth of July holiday. The legal opinion, written in response to a request from a state lawmaker, isn’t legally binding...
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Labrador named chair of House immigration subcommittee

Idaho 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador has been named chairman of the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced today. Labrador replaces Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who will shift to chair the...
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Of student achievement goals, school report cards, legal compliance…

The issues being discussed at today’s joint House-Senate Education Committees meeting are pretty detailed, but one major point of contention has emerged: The long-term goals for student achievement within every sub-group that had been set in Idaho’s proposed plan to comply with the federal ESSA...
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House, Senate Ed panels open rare summer meeting at Capitol

The Idaho House and Senate Education committees are holding a rare joint interim meeting today at the state Capitol; you can watch live online here. Topping the agenda is the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which Idaho faces a...
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Idaho Democrats head north to recruit volunteers

The Idaho Democratic Party is sending field organizers up north for the first time since pulling a volunteer nearly a year ago amid intimidation accusations. Democratic leaders announced this week that the move is part of a statewide effort to locate volunteers and train activists in an overwhelming Republican-dominant state. "When we put more...
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Catching up on the news…

Idaho state treasurer Ron Crane's website hacked with an Islamic State message; fire season arrives in southern Idaho; giant sequoia moved; Payette cabin sites auctioned; Balukoff mulling another guv run; and more from while I was gone...
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Sun. column: Idaho’s political switcheroo

Idaho’s big political switcheroo – with former state Sen. Russ Fulcher dropping out of the governor’s race after nearly a year of campaigning, switching instead to the 1st Congressional District race, and earning current 1st Congressional District Rep. Raul Labrador’s endorsement in the bargain – is raising plenty of questions...
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Idaho guv candidate makes big promise to cut ‘wasteful’ state budget

Tommy Ahlquist, one of the GOP candidates for governor of Idaho in 2018, launched a new TV ad on Wednesday promising to cut $100 million from the state budget in his first 100 days in office. Ahlquist’s ad says he’ll “cut $100 million dollars in wasteful government spending,” but offers no details. Believe or disbelieve Alquist promise? CH
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Bangerter considering possible congressional run

The former director of President Donald Trump's election campaign in Idaho says he is seriously considering running for the state's open U.S. House seat in 2018. Layne Bangerter told The Associated Press Monday that he's weighing several options – including a possible appointment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – but running for Idaho's...
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Idaho justices hear arguments in grocery tax case

Four Idaho Supreme Court justices had sharp questions for both sides, as they heard arguments Thursday in a court challenge to Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of legislation repealing the state’s sales tax on groceries. Bryan Smith, attorney for a group of 30 legislators who wanted the tax repealed and sued to invalidate the veto, came away confident.
News >  Idaho

In packed courtroom, Idaho justices hear arguments in grocery tax case

Four Idaho Supreme Court justices had sharp questions for both sides, as they heard arguments Thursday in a court challenge to Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of legislation repealing the state’s sales tax on groceries. Bryan Smith, attorney for a group of 30 legislators who wanted the tax repealed and sued to invalidate the veto, came away confident...
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Fulcher drops out of guv race

Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, has dropped out of the race for governor and instead will run for the 1st District congressional seat being vacated by Raul Labrador – who’s also running for governor. And the move has won Fulcher Labrador’s endorsement.
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Crapo’s bipartisan Russia sanctions bill passes Senate, 97-2

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s bipartisan legislation to step up sanctions against Russia has passed the Senate on an overwhelming 97-2 vote. “This legislation signals to the world the United States’ unflagging commitment to the sanctity of territorial integrity, human rights, and good governance,” Crapo, chairman...
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Idaho Legislature to re-examine ethics, campaign finance laws

Idaho is one of just three states with no financial disclosure requirements for state legislators – or any elected or appointed state official. It also lacks “revolving-door” laws that in most states prevent elected or appointed officials from immediately moving into related roles in the private sector...
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Idaho Gov. Otter wants more education improvements, tax cuts

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, in his annual address to the business community on Wednesday, touted the state’s current economic growth and said it’s proof his strategy during the recession worked, including refraining from raising taxes. And Otter outlined his top priorities for his final legislative session next year: Education and tax cuts...
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Couple who believe in prayer healing charged in baby’s death

Two members of the Followers of Christ faith-healing sect have been arrested in Oregon in the death of their premature baby; Sarah and Travis Lee Mitchell are accused of murder and criminal mistreatment. Idaho, unlike Oregon, hasn’t acted to remove faith healing as a legal...
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Lt. Gov. Brad Little served as acting governor 373 times

If Lt. Gov. Brad Little wins his bid to be Idaho's next governor in 2018, he will be the only candidate to already have hands-on experience with the job. The two-term Republican has served as acting governor 373 times since taking over the second-in-command position in 2009, according to records requested by The Associated Press. Under the...
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Changes at agencies, new faces in campaigns…

From a new state Health & Welfare director to two new parole commissioners to an array of moves among the gubernatorial campaigns and lobbying groups, my Sunday column offers a roundup. Also, Sen. Crapo pushes to extend Secure Rural Schools funding, and 'dozens' turn out for Labrador-for-governor campaign stop in eastern Idaho...
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Ahlquist names Damond Watkins as campaign chairman

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Dr. Tommy Ahlquist today named Damond Watkins as his campaign chairman. Watkins, of Idaho Falls, is Idaho’s national committeeman for the Republican Party. Watkins said he generally doesn’t endorse in primary races, but in the 2018 race for Idaho governor – which...
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‘Dozens’ turn out for Labrador’s Idaho Falls campaign kickoff

The Post Register in Idaho Falls reports today that “dozens” turned out for 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador’s Idaho Falls campaign stop yesterday, part of his three-day tour of the state to launch his 2018 campaign for governor. About 80 people attended Labrador’s Wednesday...
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Eaton to shift from Realtors, become IACI vice president

John Eaton, government affairs director for the Idaho Association of Realtors, has been named vice president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, or IACI; he’ll replace Zach Hauge, who will start June 14 as campaign manager for Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s 2018 gubernatorial...
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Labrador’s North Idaho campaign stop draws about 80 people

Raul Labrador’s North Idaho stop on his three-day tour of the state to launch his 2018 gubernatorial campaign drew about 80 people Wednesday at the American Legion Hall in Post Falls, most of them veterans and senior citizens, writes S-R reporter Abby Lynes. Labrador called...
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Little names IACI VP Zach Hauge as his campaign manager

Lt. Gov. Brad Little announced today that Zach Hauge will be his campaign manager, starting June 14. Hauge currently is the vice president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), the business lobbying group. He’s also worked on numerous Idaho campaigns, including serving...
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Labrador kicks off campaign for Idaho governor

Raul Labrador launched his campaign for governor of Idaho on Tuesday, declaring that he’s proven in his four terms in Congress that “I could be a leader for conservative change.”
News >  Idaho

Labrador kicks off campaign for governor, touts record in Congress

Raul Labrador launched his campaign for governor of Idaho on Tuesday, declaring that he’s proven in his four terms in Congress that “I could be a leader for conservative change.” “Idahoans don’t care what your title is, or they don’t care how many terms you have served in office, what committees you are on or how many earmarks you’ve secured...
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Idaho Courts: Balance of powers and food sales tax

When Idaho’s legislative and executive branches face off in court on June 15, much will be at stake. First, there’s the fate of the state’s unpopular 6 percent sales tax on groceries. If the group of 30 lawmakers who sued wins the case, the tax would go away, following a two-year phaseout.
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3 of 4 Idaho GOP governor candidates have voted frequently

Four Republican candidates are vying to be Idaho's next governor, a race that's expected to be one of the state's most competitive in 2018. According to voter participation records requested by The Associated Press, three of the candidates have a strong history of casting votes on Election Day. The fourth voted, but not as often...
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EOB: Candidates for Idaho governor hit the campaign trail early

A year out from the primary election in the 2018 race for governor of Idaho, the campaign has started heating up. 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, one of the hopefuls, has announced he’ll go on a three-day tour of the state to formally announce his candidacy, with stops Tues in Boise, Wed in Post Falls and Thurs in Idaho Falls.
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Labrador hasn’t won VanderSloot’s endorsement

Raul Labrador’s choice of venues for his campaign kickoff tour this week gave rise to some speculation that he had landed the support of major GOP campaign funder Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca in Idaho Falls – but he hasn’t. Labrador's Boise announcement this afternoon...
News >  Idaho

Guv candidates hitting the campaign trail early; my full Sun. column

A year out from the primary election in the 2018 race for governor of Idaho, the campaign is heating up. 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, one of the hopefuls, has announced he’ll go on a three-day tour of the state to formally announce his candidacy, with stops Tuesday in Boise, Wednesday in Post Falls and Thursday in Idaho Falls...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, co-host Melissa Davlin interviews BSU professors Justin Vaughn and John Freemuth about federal issues from Craters of the Moon to the federal budget and debt ceiling; and producer Seth Ogilvie speaks with Idaho Education News reporter Kevin...
News >  Idaho

And in campaign news…

Raul Labrador announced today that he’ll go on a three-day tour of the state to formally announce his candidacy for governor in 2018, with stops Tuesday May 30 in Boise, Wednesday May 31 in Post Falls and Thursday, June 1 in Idaho Falls. Labrador also...
News >  Idaho

Lawmakers’ travel expenses for 2017 session came to $107,000

Idaho lawmakers have billed state taxpayers roughly $107,000 so far this year for travel expenses accrued during the 2017 legislative session. The Associated Press obtained the information through a public records request for this year's travel reimbursements for the 105 state lawmakers...
News >  Idaho

Analysis: Idaho state budget could take big hits under Trump proposal

In Idaho, the Trump budget proposal unveiled today, if enacted, would mean big hits to the state budget, from health care to education, according to an analysis by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. Lauren Necochea, director of the center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that...
News >  Idaho

Idaho schools Supt. Sherri Ybarra rips Trump’s education budget proposal

Idaho state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra, a Republican and longtime Trump backer, ripped President Trump’s education budget proposal today, Idaho Education News reports, and invited Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Idaho to see the potential impacts of the budget cuts firsthand. “I cannot and will...
News >  Idaho

Trump budget raises concerns for Crapo, Risch, Simpson…

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said while there’s “significant agreement” that the nation needs to bring the federal budget into balance, the budget proposal released today by President Trump calls for “dramatic cuts to programs affecting Idahoans and its communities...
News >  Idaho

GOP still posting strong numbers in Idaho; full Sunday column

With all the roiling national hubbub surrounding President Trump, there’s been speculation on the national scene that voters may turn away from the GOP, but there’s certainly no sign of that here in Idaho. According to data posted Friday by the Idaho secretary of state’s office, about 50% of Idaho’s registered voters were Republicans...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes a rundown of the developments of the week, and also explores immigration in Idaho, through the eyes of three naturalized citizens in the Magic Valley who walk about when they started to feel American, and when the...
News >  Idaho

Labrador presses immigration crackdown bill in Congress

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador pressed a sweeping immigration enforcement bill Thursday that would add 12,500 additional armed federal immigration officers, penalize sanctuary cities, enlist state and local police in federal immigration enforcement, impose new criminal penalties and step up detentions and deportations...
News >  Idaho

Crapo, new Senate banking chair, wants bipartisan approach to financial reform

InvestmentNews, a national publication for financial advisers, reports today that Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is pledging to seek “bipartisan support for legislation” to reform and reduce federal financial regulations. “We will have a strong grounding from which...
News >  Idaho

Otter endorses Little in Idaho governor’s race

Gov. Butch Otter says he's endorsing Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little in Idaho's 2018 governor race. Otter said Monday that while the gubernatorial race currently has a several capable candidates, he's always supported Little. Otter appointed Little to serve as his second-in-command in 2009 his announcement is the first high-profile endorsement...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Rep. Simpson speaks out on health care bill, as do protesters…

While vigorously defending the GOP House-passed health care bill, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson told the Idaho Healthcare Summit that he wouldn’t have voted for it if that was what would have actually become law. Instead, Simpson said, it’s the first step in a long process he contends is needed to get to a bipartisan solution on how to fix...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes new U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s first visit to the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho; flooding problems around the state, and more. On the pundits panel, I join Marty Peterson, former U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy...
News >  Idaho

Candidates, candidates: Yates files, Luna issues statement…

Steve Yates, who recently stepped down as executive director of the Idaho Republican Party, has filed paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to run for lieutenant governor, joining three GOP hopefuls already in the race: Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon;...
News >  Idaho

David Leroy announces candidacy for 1st District congressional seat

Former Idaho lieutenant governor and attorney general David Leroy announced today that he’ll run for the open 1st District congressional seat Rep. Raul Labrador will vacate in 2018 as Labrador runs for governor of Idaho instead. “I have been out of elective and appointive politics...
News >  Idaho

Little needles Labrador with tweet, web page

Now that we’ve got a four-way race for the GOP nomination for governor in 2018, Lt. Gov. Brad Little kicked things off this morning with a website and tweet needling new rival Raul Labrador. The tweet includes an enticing scenic picture of Idaho, with the...
News >  Idaho

Bumpy start for a long-pondered bid for governor…

Today marked a bit of an odd start to a bid for governor that Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador has pondered for years, coming as he’s in the midst of a national swirl of negative publicity over his recent comment that “nobody dies because they don’t...
News >  Idaho

Little on Labrador filing: ‘Idaho is not Washington, D.C.’

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little has issued the following statement on Rep. Raul Labrador’s entry into the 2018 gubernatorial race: “Here in Idaho, we are leading the nation in job growth, we are in the top three for best places to own a business, and...
News >  Idaho

Labrador quietly files paperwork to run for governor in 2018

Idaho 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador filed the initial paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office this morning to run for governor in 2018. Labrador, accompanied by his wife, Becca, and his campaign treasurer, Milford Terrell, signed the necessary forms in Secretary of...
News >  Idaho

Former Idaho Gov. Kempthorne, set for honorary UI degree, now crusades for life insurance, retirement options

These days, former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne is the chief representative of the life insurance industry, traveling the country and the world, giving speeches and representing insurers to the Trump administration, states, international groups and nations. It’s a role that’s brought the former Boise mayor, U.S. senator and U.S. secretary...
News >  Idaho

It’s already AdWatch time in 2018 guv race; full Sun. column

It’s pretty much unheard-of for statewide TV ads in an Idaho governor’s race to begin airing more than a year before the primary election, but that’s what’s happening. Tommy Ahlquist, a Boise physician and developer who’s running as a Republican, has been running two ads since March...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television looks at who we are now in Idaho – who’s moving in, and from where; who’s moving out, and to where. It also examines Idahoans’ attitudes and how they’ve changed, as documented in the Boise State Public Policy...
News >  Idaho

North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott draws GOP challenger for next election

Mike Boeck, a 4th-generation Bonner County resident, former Priest River Chamber of Commerce president, longtime county GOP central committee member and longtime forest products industry employee, announced Friday that he'll challenge controversial Rep. Heather Scott in 2018. “I just feel that we haven’t gotten the quality of representation we...
News >  Idaho

Senate passes omnibus spending bill; Crapo, Risch both vote ‘no’

The U.S. Senate has passed a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government operating through September, on a 79-18 vote; both Idaho GOP Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted “no.” The 18 “no” votes all came from Senate Republicans. On Tuesday,...
News >  Idaho

Labrador, Simpson split votes on spending bill

Idaho’s two House members split in the House vote today to approve a $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and fund the federal government through Sept. 30: 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador voted no, and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson voted yes....
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television examines state contracting and procurement, data and accountability, and the latest Idaho Supreme Court rulings. On the pundits panel, I join AP Boise correspondent Rebecca Boone; Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert; and co-host Melissa Davlin to discuss...
News >  Idaho

Crapo-led panel explores more Russia sanctions

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo wants to ramp up economic sanctions and “impose real costs” on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s ongoing military incursions and interference in democratic elections in the United States and Europe, reports Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence. Crapo is chairman...
News >  Idaho

Labrador sets town-hall meetings in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston next week

Idaho 1st District GOP Congressman has announced town-hall meetings in Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene next week, both on Friday, May 5. Labrador will take questions from constituents in Lewiston at 11 a.m. at Lewis-Clark State College, Silverthorne Theater; and at 6:30 p.m. in Coeur d’Alene...
News >  Idaho

Homeless gubernatorial candidate arrested, remains in Ada jail

A Boise man who recently registered to run for governor in 2018 using a local homeless shelter as his address is in the Ada County Jail, after turning himself in over the weekend on a probation violation. According to Ada County jail records, Troy Minton, 39, also was served with a warrant for an additional charge of petit theft...
News >  Idaho

Labrador’s Nampa town hall draws 350

1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador’s second town-hall meeting in two weeks, held last night in Nampa, drew a crowd of about 350, and health care issues dominated the questions. Labrador expressed support for a border wall on the Mexican border, saying, “I am for...
News >  Idaho

Grocery tax repeal veto prompts debate in Idaho over powers of Legislature, governor

After Idaho Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a popular bill to remove the state’s 6 percent sales tax from groceries, North Idaho Sen. Steve Vick is renewing his push to change the Idaho Constitution to allow lawmakers to reconvene to override a veto that’s issued after they adjourn for the year. “It’s not uncommon, it’s not some sort of strange idea...
News >  Idaho

Labrador says he’s ‘not going to go on a witch hunt’ aimed at Trump

At one point during Rep. Raul Labrador’s town-hall meeting tonight, after an extended exchange with a questioner who called for him to back investigations of President Trump, the crowd began chanting, “Do your job, do your job!” Labrador paused, smiled, and spread his arms. “Two...
News >  Idaho

Crowd pours in for Labrador town-hall meeting…

The doors just opened, and the crowd poured in for 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador's town-hall meeting tonight in Meridian; many were waiting outside. The initial surge filled the large Meridian Middle School auditorium a little more than half full, and people are still...
News >  Idaho

Group of lawmakers files suit over grocery tax repeal veto

A group of 30 lawmakers, including some legislative leaders, is urging the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a nearly 40-year-old ruling on when the governor can veto a bill. According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday, lawmakers contend that Gov. Butch Otter violated the Idaho Constitution earlier this year when he vetoed a proposal that would...
News >  Idaho

Race for lieutenant governor attracts another candidate

The 2018 race for lieutenant governor in Idaho continues to attract more candidates. Steve Pankey of Twin Falls has filed to run for the position as a Republican. Pankey previously ran for governor in 2014 as a Constitutional candidate, during which he described himself as Idaho's first openly gay gubernatorial candidate. In 2010, Pankey ran...
News >  Idaho

Labrador still coy on run for governor

Now that the critical first 100 days of the new Trump administration are nearly at an end, Congressman Raul Labrador says he’ll be turning his thoughts to Idaho’s 2018 gubernatorial race, reports Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence. There’s long been speculation that Labrador would make a bid to succeed three-term Gov. Butch Otter...
News >  Idaho

Little: ‘Disappointed’ by Otter’s veto of grocery tax repeal

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little issued this statement on Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of HB 67a, the grocery tax repeal bill: “While I am disappointed by the governor’s veto, I remain committed to tax reform, including a more sustainable solution for all Idahoans on the...
News >  Idaho

Idaho GOP chairman to step down

Idaho Republican Chairman Steve Yates says he intends to resign later this month to consider running for another political office. Yates announced Monday that his last day as party chairman will be April 24. Vice Chair Mike Mathews will then serve as acting chairman until a replacement is elected at the party’s summer meeting on July 22nd in CdA.
News >  Idaho

EOB: It’s in Otter’s hands

It’s Gov. Butch Otter’s turn, as the Legislature left town with hundreds of bills awaiting his signature or veto. Last week, the governor signed more than 100 bills into law, including a bill that provides $52 million from the state’s current-year budget for emergency road repairs around the state. He signed that bill on Thursday.
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, there’s a rundown of the week’s events, and a report on Idaho’s welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF. On the pundits panel, I join BSU Professor Stephanie Witt, Idaho Statesman Managing Editor Bill Manny,...
News >  Idaho

Boise man in homeless lawsuit to run for governor

A Boise man who was once a plaintiff in a high-profile anti-panhandling lawsuit has registered as a Republican candidate for Idaho governor. Troy Minton joins an increasingly crowded race. With Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter saying he will not seek a fourth term in 2018, the race already has three competitive GOP candidates...
News >  Idaho

Otter appealing denial of federal disaster aid

At his press conference this afternoon on this year’s legislative session, Gov. Butch Otter said he received a rejection from FEMA for his request for a major disaster declaration, and he’s appealing it. That’s part of Otter’s concern over the state budget, concern that he...
News >  Idaho

The session that was; full Sun. column…

Four big issues were supposed to dominate this year’s Idaho legislative session: Health care, education, transportation and taxes. But when the gavel fell last week on the stormy 80-day session...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, there’s a rundown of the events of the final week of the legislative session; co-host Melissa Davlin interviews Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg; there’s footage from the Senate transportation debate and the House and Senate minority post-session press...
News >  Idaho

Longtime Idaho Senate majority leader reflects on just-concluded session

Longtime Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, who is widely rumored to be the leading candidate to be Idaho’s new U.S. Attorney, said Thursday that he sees funding for improved teacher pay – and the five-year plan in which the boost is the third year – as among the top accomplishments of the Idaho Legislature. “That’s one of the best things...
News >  Idaho

2017 Legislature drags on

In her Sunday column, Betsy Russell/Eye on Boise reports that the 2017 Idaho Legislature is growing restive as the session drags on. A large part of the problem is the antics by state Rep. Heather Scott & allies to delay votes by demanding a full reading of House bills. Another part is lawmakers who want something done about roads.
News >  Idaho

Bedke: ‘We’ll put the wheels back on, and we’ll finish’

Pressed by reporters about the dysfunction in the House GOP caucus this year, House Speaker Scott Bedke said the House functions, in part, on unanimous consent. “If we have unanimous consent, we’ll proceed. If we don’t, then we’ll see what we absolutely have got to...
News >  Idaho

Thousands rally at Idaho Capitol to keep public lands public

More than 2,000 people braved a chilly drizzle and rallied at the Idaho Capitol on Saturday to demand that public lands be kept in the hands of the federal government. Boise hunter Kevin Braley told the Idaho Statesman he doesn't think politicians fully understand the groundswell of opposition to transferring...
News >  Idaho

Retired Idaho legislator, longtime public servant Mike Mitchell dies at 91

Described by friends as a gentleman and go-to government expert, writes Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence, longtime Lewiston lawmaker Mike Mitchell died in Boise on Friday. He was 91. Mitchell spent nearly 40 years in public service in Idaho, spanning the executive and legislative branches....
News >  Idaho

Bedke on school funding, roads, tax cuts…

House Speaker Scott Bedke, addressing the Idaho Press Club today, said he believes this year’s legislative session will be successful if lawmakers have “touched three bases” – Keeping their commitments for the third year of the five-year plan to improve the state’s public schools; dealing...
News >  Idaho

Ahlquist launches GOP campaign for governor

Tommy Ahlquist launched his Republican campaign for governor today, addressing close to 400 people closely crowded into the 17th-floor conference room of the Zions Bank building in downtown Boise, which Ahlquist’s company built. Ahlquist was introduced by three-time Olympic gold medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong, who...
News >  Idaho

Denney: Republican to file for Idaho gov following complaint

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney says Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist has promised to file as a registered candidate for governor following a complaint, the AP reports. Denney said Monday he received an informal complaint last week...
News >  Idaho

Former U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson joins Stoel Rives as a partner

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson, whose last day in office was Friday, is joining the law firm Stoel Rives LLP as a partner effective today, joining the litigation practice group in its Boise office. Tim Snider, head of the firm’s litigation practice group, said,...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, co-host Melissa Davlin interviews outgoing U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson, and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls. The show also includes a roundup of the events of the week; and on the pundits panel, Idaho...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

This week’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes a roundup of the events of the week; a report on flooding in Idaho including in the Magic Valley and in Weiser; and an interview with Reps. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, and state veterinarian...
News >  Idaho

Clergy, faith leaders press Otter on refugee stance

Nearly 30 Idaho clergy and faith representatives filled Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office on Wednesday urging the Republican to welcome all refugees and not just give preference to persecuted Christians. Otter recently said that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority in the U.S. refugee program...
News >  Idaho

Lawmakers, racing commission divided on saving industry

Officials with the Idaho Racing Commission say they'll run out of money by 2018, leaving them unable to regulate the state's horse racing industry unless lawmakers help funnel funds their way. However, top Republican leaders say they no longer trust the racing industry because of their ongoing efforts to reinstate illegal instant racing...
News >  Idaho

How many DeVos calls? Neither Idaho senator will say

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch received numerous calls, mostly negative ones, before both voted in favor of confirming Betsy DeVos’s nomination as education secretary, the Idaho Statesman reports, but neither will say how many called. “It isn’t available and we’re not going to...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

This week’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes a roundup of the events of the week; an interview with Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director John Tippets on the uncertainty Idaho’s DEQ faces with changes in the EPA at the national level; and a...
News >  Idaho

Risch on blocking letter from Coretta Scott King in Senate: ‘Doesn’t matter who wrote it, rules are rules’

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch is staunchly defending his role in blocking a letter from Coretta Scott King from being entered into the record in the U.S. Senate during Tuesday evening’s debate over the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, saying Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren violated Senate rules by bringing up the letter...
News >  Idaho

January state tax revenues beat forecasts by nearly $23 million

January state tax revenues came in 6.7 percent ahead of projections, $22.9 million higher, largely due to strong individual and corporate income tax collections for the month. The January figures pushed fiscal year to date collections to 2 percent above forecasts, and were 12.3 percent...
News >  Idaho

Otter sends Trump appreciation letter for executive actions

President Donald Trump's executive orders have spawned more than 50 lawsuits in the past few weeks, but they earned a "hearty congratulations" from Idaho's chief executive, writes Bill Spence of the Lewiston Tribune. In a recent letter, which Gov. Butch Otter described to the Idaho...
News >  Idaho

Idaho governor says Christian refugees deserve priority

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he agrees with President Donald Trump that persecuted Christians should be treated as priority in the U.S. refugee program despite acknowledging that such preference is discriminatory. "It is," Otter said during an interview on Idaho Public Television's Idaho Reports. "(But) we want a safe country." Otter...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

This week’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes a roundup of the events of the week, and co-host Melissa Davlin’s extended interview with Gov. Butch Otter, on everything from refugees and immigration to transportation funding. Otter makes some surprising comments, including suggesting that the...
News >  Idaho

Repealing illegal laws in Idaho not always certain

A federal judge has ordered the Idaho Legislature to repeal unconstitutional laws before the end of this year's legislative session, but Idaho lawmakers aren't jumping to take on the challenge. The inaction is part of the ongoing hesitation of Idaho's Republican supermajority to remove unenforceable laws that are sprinkled in both the state's...
News >  Idaho

Labrador proposes constitutional amendment to impose congressional term limits

Reflecting a top priority of President Donald Trump, Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador hopes to impose term limits on members of Congress, the Lewiston Tribune reports. Labrador introduced a joint resolution Thursday proposing a constitutional amendment that would limit representatives to six two-year terms; senators would...
News >  Idaho

Ybarra adds Westfall to her communications staff

State schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra announced today that Allison Westfall will join her staff, starting a week from Monday, as director of communications. Westfall, who served as public information officer for the state Department of Education from 1998 to 2006, is currently the director of...
News >  Idaho

Court record system rollout delayed in 10 counties

The Idaho Supreme Court has delayed implementation of a new court records system in Idaho after hearing concerns from counties across the state, Idaho Public Television reports. The delay comes in the wake of revenue shortfalls for the courts and unexpected costs for the two...
News >  Idaho

Labrador praises Trump’s executive order on refugees, immigration

Idaho GOP Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, in a statement issued Sunday, praised President Trump’s new executive order suspending refugee arrivals and barring entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, calling it “bold” and saying, “President Trump has finally taken necessary national security and public...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

This week’s night’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes co-host Melissa Davlin’s interview with Rep. Maxine Bell and Sen. Shawn Keough, the two co-chairs of the Legislature’s powerful joint budget committee; an in-depth interview with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden; and a a report on serious problems with non-emergency...
News >  Idaho

New NIC President MacLennan makes first budget pitch to lawmakers

North Idaho College President Richard MacLennan made his first budget pitch to state lawmakers on Monday, telling them NIC “stands proudly as the oldest community college in Idaho” and touting its new career-technical education center in Rathdrum. “This $20 million project was funded entirely by...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

This week’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes a rundown of the events of the week; co-host Melissa Davlin’s one-on-one interview with House Speaker Scott Bedke about the recent hubbub in the House; producer Seth Ogilvie’s look back at impressions of the first two...
News >  Idaho

Risch: ‘A privilege to be a part of today’s ceremonies’

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch had this statement in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration today: “Congratulations to President Donald J. Trump on becoming our 45th President of the United States. It was a privilege to be a part of today’s ceremonies and to witness the...
News >  Idaho

Senate unanimously rejects contest of District 29 election results

The Idaho Senate has voted unanimously to reject a contest of the November election results from Tom Katsilometes, a Pocatello Republican who lost in November to new Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello. Today’s vote followed a three-hour hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday...
News >  Idaho

Arts Commission thanks lawmakers for donations to its small budget

After last year’s Idaho Commission on the Arts budget was unexpectedly defeated on the floor of the House in an unrelated squabble between House Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers drafted a new version with just one difference: An extra $200 from legislators’ private donations to add...
News >  Idaho

Senate panel rejects election challenge; link to full story

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how an Idaho Senate panel turned itself into the equivalent of a court on Monday, hearing arguments, weighing evidence, and ultimately rejecting a challenge to the November election results in one eastern Idaho district. The...
News >  Idaho

Ruchti: ‘Sen. Nye did not do what he is accused of doing’

“The basic allegations against my client are wrong,” James Ruchti, attorney for Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, told the Senate State Affairs Committee as it considered Nye’s election opponent's contest of the election results. “Sen. Nye did not do what he is accused of doing.” The...
News >  Idaho

Davis questions Katsilometes’ attorney; listen live…

Though no cross-examination was planned as part of today’s Senate committee hearing on the challenge of the District 29 election, Sen. Bart Davis’ close questioning of Kahle Becker, attorney for election contestant Tom Katsilometes, is a thing to hear. A sample: “This isn’t about discretion;...
News >  Idaho

Katsilometes, citing charts, says he believes election result was off

Demonstrating with large blowups of printouts of individual precinct results from this year’s District 29 Senate race, unsuccessful GOP candidate Tom Katsilometes told the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning that he believes the election results – in which he lost to Sen. Mark Nye,...
News >  Idaho

Becker: If Sunshine law was violated, election was unfair

Attorney Kahle Becker told the Senate State Affairs Committee that Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, who previously served in the House, collected nine campaign donations between Jan. 1 and his formal announcement that he would be running for the Senate, not the House, and then transferred...
News >  Idaho

Nye and Katsilometes, well lawyered-up, face off in Senate committee

Both Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, and his GOP challenger, Tom Katsilometes, are represented by attorneys this morning for the election contest hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Katsilometes’ attorney is Kahle Becker; Nye is represented by former state Rep. James Ruchti, and also is...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes an update on the events of the tumultuous first week the of the legislative session; co-host Aaron Kunz’s interview with BSU School of Public Service Dean Corey Cook about the new Idaho Policy Survey; a report on...
News >  Idaho

No charges in North Idaho voter intimidation case

Idaho's top prosecutor has decided not to file criminal charges after his office was asked to review accusations of possible voter intimidation and interference during campaigning for last November's election, the AP reports. A Democratic Party volunteer in Bonner County had reported harassment by backers of Rep. Heather Scott.
News >  Idaho

Of rules review, air quality, primacy and the feds…

At the first portion of this afternoon’s House Energy, Environment & Technology Committee meeting, Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, who had been on that panel before she was stripped of all her committee assignments this morning, was sitting in the audience, agency rule book open on...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Supreme Court hears arguments on public defense reform

Idaho's Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state over its faulty public defense system, the AP reports. Attorneys on both sides told the high court today that they agree Idaho's public defense system has serious...
News >  Idaho

Leadership: $8M for broadband settlement not likely

Top legislative leaders are no longer optimistic that the $8 million they squirrelled away last year will be used as a settlement in the state's ongoing school broadband legal disputes, the AP reports...
News >  Idaho

Otter puts focus on education, fight in store over tax cuts

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter put his focus squarely on education Monday as he kicked off the legislative session with an address to a joint session of the House and Senate – bitterly disappointing many House Republicans by ruling out big new tax cuts. You can read my full story here...
News >  Idaho

The week that was, and the week ahead…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes an update on the events of the week, and thoughts from citizens, local government leaders, education and local government lobbyists and more about the upcoming legislative session. There’s also a full report from today’s AP Legislative Preview,...
News >  Idaho

Legislative leaders say teacher evaluation system must be fixed, and quickly

Legislative leaders from both parties were sharply critical this morning of the state Department of Education for “sitting on” problematic teacher-evaluation audit data for six months, before it finally came out through public records requests and suggested extensive problems with the evaluation process. House Speaker...
News >  Idaho

Legislative leaders talk education, surplus, roads and tax cuts…

Top legislative leaders are addressing reporters this morning at the AP Legislative Preview. Among their comments thus far: House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, said his caucus hopes to “continue to partner with the majority party as much as possible on education policy in Idaho,”...
News >  Idaho

Otter on education, roads, health care, more…

Gov. Butch Otter said today, “I think the legislative session should be short. … My focus again is going to be on education.” He said, “We’re starting to realize the promise the career ladder,” the teacher-pay improvement plan that’s now entering its third and biggest...
News >  Idaho

State Treasurer Crane won’t seek re-election

Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane announced this week that he won’t see re-election in 2018 to a sixth term, and will retire instead. “Twenty years is a long time and I've enjoyed it immensely but I believe it is time for someone else to put...
News >  Idaho

Crapo named chairman of the Senate Banking Committee

Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo was named chairman of the Senate Banking Committee today, succeeding Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. The Senate tonight passed a resolution ratifying an earlier vote of the committee making Crapo the new chair. He had been in line for the chairmanship...
News >  Idaho

Both Simpson, Labrador opposed secret vote to gut House ethics office

Both of Idaho’s U.S. House members – GOP Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador – opposed the secret vote to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, reports Rob Hotakainen of McClatchy News. Simpson’s spokeswoman, Nikki Wallace, told McClatchy, “Congressman Simpson voted no and spoke against...
News >  Idaho

Catching up on the news…

The holidays aren’t typically a big news period, but lo and behold, there was legislative news while I was off, and it wasn’t about taxes, health care, education funding or roads. Instead, it was wedding bells, as House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, tied the...
News >  Idaho

Otter: ‘We’re at Door No. 2 now’

Gov. Butch Otter, at a ribbon-cutting in Twin Falls today, confirmed that he’s being vetted as a possible nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, and told Times-News reporter Nathan Brown that he'd listed his favored positions in a Trump Administration as Interior, Ag, and heading the International Trade Administration. "We're at Door No. 2...
News >  Idaho

Otter being considered for Secretary of Agriculture? Maybe?

Given the on-and-off announcements about various prospective Trump appointees in recent days, it’s with some hesitance that I pass along this maybe-news: Idaho Gov. Butch Otter now is supposedly among the candidates being vetted for Secretary of Agriculture. Otter is in San Diego at a Western Governors...
News >  Idaho

Hold the dominoes – Trump tapping Zinke for Interior?

The Washington Post is now reporting that President-elect Donald Trump has decided on first-term Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as his Secretary of the Interior – not Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador or Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. This isn’t the official word; the Post reports that...
News >  Idaho

Labrador reportedly being considered for Secretary of the Interior

Politico is reporting today that Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is being considered for secretary of the interior in a new Trump Administration. Citing “multiple sources,” the news site says Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers still is the frontrunner, but that Trump has expanded his search...
News >  Idaho

Of Labrador, Trump, and political dominoes…

Here's a link to my full, updated story at spokesman.com on the news today that Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador met with Donald Trump and may be up for a post in his administration, and the political dominoes that would cause to start falling in Idaho,...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes an update on the events of the week, and a report from co-host Aaron Kunz on the environmental impact process for 14 federal dams in the Columbia Basin, including comments from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the...
News >  Idaho

Risch introduces Scotchman Peaks wilderness bill

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch introduced legislation Thursday to protect the Idaho portion of the craggy, scenic Scotchman Peaks as a federal wilderness area. The action follows a decade of grassroots efforts to gain wilderness status for the peaks northeast of Lake Pend Oreille, writes S-R...
News >  Idaho

State employee pay still lags, despite this year’s 3% merit raises

Idaho state employee pay remains more than 20 percent below market rates, according to a new state report, despite the 3 percent merit raises that lawmakers granted state workers this year; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. “It was a lot of money,”...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television includes an update on the events of the week, including the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference, a traditional run-up to the legislative session; and the Idaho Legislature’s organizational session this week. Co-host Melissa Davlin interviews Boise attorney...
News >  Idaho

Denney proposing Sunshine Law changes, including increasing penalties

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney is proposing a series of changes to Idaho’s sunshine laws – including increasing penalties for violations from $250 to $2,500 – that at least initially are drawing positive reviews, reports Melissa Davlin of Idaho Public Televisions’s “Idaho Reports.” Davlin,...
News >  Idaho

Otter for interior secretary? The speculation continues…

Might Idaho Gov. Butch Otter be considered for interior secretary in a Trump administration? Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker explored the possibilities in a column over the holiday; you can read it here. Two previous Idaho governors were appointed secretary of the interior – Cecil...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Reports: The session ahead, in the election’s wake…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television features a look at immigration in Idaho and where it stands after the election; the path forward for Idaho Democrats after election losses; and more. On the pundits panel, I join Marty Peterson, Bruce Newcomb and co-host Aaron...
News >  Idaho

Secretary of State reflects on Election Day spent as poll worker

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney says he has a new appreciation for county clerks and election staff after spending two days as a poll worker in northern Idaho. "There was an incredible amount of stress at times," Denney said. "I think that helped me get a better feel for what goes on." A full report from the Associated Press.
News >  Idaho

Departing Sen. Schmidt: ‘There was a lot more I wanted to do’

When Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, took the lead on crafting the state’s complex Health and Welfare budgets four years ago, there was a “very steep learning curve,” the longtime physician said. “It was like medical school.” Schmidt lost his seat in Tuesday's election, but made his mark on budgets. My Sunday column.
News >  Idaho

Lawmakers get another dose of good state budget news

Legislators received another dose of good budget news this week. The state is on target to end the 2016-17 budget year with a $132.5 million surplus – well ahead of the $48.4 million cushion lawmakers wrote into the budget when they adjourned the 2016 session...
News >  Idaho

The week that was…

On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television, co-hosts Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz examine the news of the week – election results and fallout. On the pundits panel, I join Jim Weatherby, Kevin Richert, Davlin and Kunz to discuss the implications for anti-federalism, education...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Jordan: ‘A message of hope’

Not only is Paulette Jordan now the only Democrat in the Idaho Legislature from north of Boise, she’s also the only Native American member. A longtime Democratic activist and former Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council member, Jordan, D-Plummer, said, “My campaign has just been about staying...
News >  Idaho

Crapo: ‘Last night, voters sent a message’

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo issued this statement on the election results: “I express my sincere thanks to the people of Idaho for their trust in re-electing me to represent their values in Washington. Additionally, voters have elected Donald Trump as our next president and I...
News >  Idaho

Marley: ‘We are saddened but we are not disheartened’

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Bert Marley issued this statement on the election results: “The Idaho Democratic Party would like to thank the hundreds of thousands of Idahoans who supported our candidates this year. We are proud of the work that we have accomplished together and...
News >  Idaho

Yates: ‘Today, I couldn’t be more proud to be a Republican’

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates issued this statement on the election results: "I would first like to take a moment and congratulate President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senator Mike Crapo, Congressman Raul Labrador, Congressman Mike Simpson, and all of the down ticket...
News >  Idaho

Otter ‘bullish’ on a Trump Administration

Running on little sleep after a trade mission to China followed by Tuesday’s election, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter was buoyant Wednesday about a Donald Trump presidency, the state’s lively economy and plans to better prepare its workforce. “I’m bullish. I’m really optimistic on a Trump administration,” Otter said in remarks in Coeur d'Alene...
News >  Idaho

Labrador on Trump win: ‘We must seize the moment’

Idaho GOP Rep. Raúl Labrador issued this statement today: “I congratulate President-elect Donald Trump for his historic victory that brings Americans the new leadership they’ve long demanded. This election was a ringing call for change and I am eager to work with the president-elect to...
News >  Idaho

Rep. Rusche reflects on loss, path forward for Idaho Democrats…

House Minority Leader John Rusche, who’s held that position for the past eight years and served two years before that as House Democratic caucus chair, lost his seat yesterday to Republican Mike Kingsley, 41.8 percent to Kingsley’s 58.2 percent. “Obviously the district wanted a different...
News >  Idaho

Election leaves Idaho Legislature with just one Democrat from north of Boise

If you thought the Idaho Legislature couldn’t get more Republican, think again. Tuesday’s election results bumped up the GOP supermajority in the Idaho Legislature from 80 percent to 84 percent. There’s now just one Democrat serving in the Idaho Legislature from north of Boise: Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Boise. My full story...
News >  Idaho

Of ‘citizens’ groups, Pocatello politics and high court role models…

When "Citizens for HJR 5" are a batch of elected officials and lobbying groups; Pocatello politics include duplicate names and a candidate in a hazmat suit; and we learn the favored role models of the candidates in the relatively quite Supreme Court race; it must be almost election time. My full Sunday column.
News >  Idaho

Independent campaign expenditures in Idaho races top $330K- so far…

It’s not just the candidates who are campaigning frantically as Election Day approaches on Tuesday. Since Oct. 19, nine groups have made a total of $330,077 in independent expenditures on campaigns in Idaho – and that’s just as of 4:30 this afternoon. The number could...
News >  Idaho

Tonight’s ‘Idaho Reports’ - The 2nd CD race, and the week that was…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television will feature the 2nd District congressional race, in which nine-term GOP Rep. Mike Simpson faces a low-key challenge from Democrat Jennifer Martinez, who is making her first run for office. Simpson and Martinez will be interviewed separately by...
News >  Idaho

Election-related harassment claims in North Idaho reflect hardened political attitudes

Claims of election-related intimidation and harassment in North Idaho’s Bonner and Boundary counties haven’t been confirmed by authorities, but for some local politicians, both Republican and Democrat, the claims are believable and reflective of hardened political views, writes S-R reporter Eli Francovich in today’s Spokesman-Review....
News >  Idaho

Rep. Labrador stumps for Trump across the country

Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador is criss-crossing the country stumping for Donald Trump, speaking at Trump rallies so far in Florida, Arizona and Utah. Labrador’s high-profile national role in the Trump campaign comes despite his lukewarm support for the GOP nominee, whom Labrador, who earlier supported Rand Paul and then Ted Cruz...
News >  Idaho

Labrador spreads $$$ to candidates

On Oct. 18-19, Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador sent campaign contributions of either $250 or $500 to 40 GOP candidates for the Idaho Legislature, plus $10,000 to the Idaho Republican Party, which has been gathering big donations from various groups to run a campaign in favor of HJR 5, the administrative rules constitutional amendment.
News >  Idaho

It’s not THAT Tom Katsilometes…

Rep. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, is running for the Senate, now that Democratic Sen. Roy Lacey has retired, and the GOP opponent who’s listed on the ballot as running against Nye is Tom Katsilometes. But that’s not the Tom Katsilometes who’s currently an Idaho state tax commissioner, a Democrat, and who was long a county commissioner...
News >  Idaho

District 1: Politics heat up in Idaho’s northernmost legislative district

In Idaho’s northernmost legislative district, the legislator who made headlines when she displayed the Confederate battle flag at a local parade and visited occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff in Oregon is fighting for re-election in a race that’s drawing attention across the state. Controversial Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard...
News >  Idaho

District 2: Rep. Barbieri argues he fits this conservative stronghold

North Idaho’s Legislative District 2 is among the most conservative in the state, and GOP incumbents Vito Barbieri and Eric Redman are hoping to keep it that way. Both face Democratic challengers in November, with longtime area teacher Kathy Kahn challenging Barbieri, and Richard Kohles,...
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Candidates focus on experience in Idaho Supreme Court debate

Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie downplayed his partisan ties and defended his resume as a qualified candidate for an open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court, while Rupert attorney Robyn Brody pointed to her 20 years of working in a variety of court rooms during their first and only televised debate Friday...
News >  Idaho

Brody, McKenzie debate tonight on statewide TV

Idaho Supreme Court candidates Robyn Brody and Curt McKenzie will face off on statewide television at 8 p.m. tonight in the "Idaho Debates." The hour-long debate is co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club, Idaho Public Television and the League of Women Voters of Idaho, along...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Dems file complaint alleging GOP broke campaign laws in minority leader’s race

The Idaho Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's office claiming that an official inside the Idaho Republican Party violated the state's campaign laws. According to the complaint submitted Friday, Idaho Republican Party Executive Director David Johnston coordinated with GOP candidate Mike Kingsley's campaign...
News >  Idaho

Two vie for open Idaho Supreme Court seat

The two attorneys facing off for an open Idaho Supreme Court seat have taken decidedly different approaches to their campaigns. Here's my full story as rivals Robyn Brody and Curt McKenzie face off tonight in an 8 p.m. debate on Idaho Public Television.
News >  Idaho

Idaho Dem leader defends mailer touting conservative ranking

House Minority Leader John Rusche's campaign sent out political mailers boasting that a free-market think tank ranked him as one of the most conservative Democratic lawmakers in the state, but not mentioning that the Idaho Freedom Foundation gave Rusche an F- this year. "Is it misleading? It is what it is," Rusche told the AP...
News >  Idaho

AdWatch: Crapo touts help for Idaho vet

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s latest campaign commercial features an Idaho veteran, Dan Pugmire of Caldwell, and talks about how Crapo’s office helped him get needed care from the Veterans Administration. “This comes from a plain-spoken Idahoan, obviously not a script written by a PR firm,”...
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Tweetgate? Labrador slams Piotrowski over ‘socialist’ tweet

1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador slammed his opponent, James Piotrowski, over a February tweet that Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby called 'a major unforced error,' while Piotrowski says his economic views are 'middle of the road.' My Sunday column.
News >  Idaho

McMullin draws crowd to Boise High rally

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin drew more than 600 people to a rally at the Boise High School auditorium over the weekend, the Idaho Statesman reports. “The Republican Party in nominating Donald Trump has lost its way,” he told the crowd. Elected leaders “spend more...
News >  Idaho

Evan McMullin schedules Boise rally on Saturday

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin has scheduled a rally Boise on Saturday, from 2-3 p.m. at the Boise High School auditorium, 1010 W. Washington St. McMullin, who is offering himself as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump, held overflowing rallies last weekend in Idaho Falls...
News >  Idaho

New fundraising group backing Idaho Democrats in key races

A new political committee is raising thousands of dollars from the state's handful of wealthy left-leaning groups to help support Democrats in Idaho's toughest legislative races, the AP reports. According to the group's first campaign fundraising report, Responsible Leadership for Idaho has raised more than $158,000 since it formed...
News >  Idaho

Risch ‘disgusted’ by Trump comments but will still vote for him

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch has finally commented on the 2005 videotape in which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, saying he’ll still vote for Trump for president even though he’s “disgusted by the vulgar and indefensible revelations relating to the Republican nominee’s character.” Risch...
News >  Idaho

About that Piotrowski tweet that Labrador read during last night’s debate…

During last night’s 1st District congressional debate, GOP Rep. Raul Labrador went after his Democratic challenger, James Piotrowski, saying, “He’s not a moderate,” and reading a tweet that Piotrowski sent from his personal Twitter account in February of this year. The tweet: “@BernieSanders this tweet cost you the vote of this lifelong...
News >  Idaho

Labrador, Piotrowski clash in testy, televised debate

In a testy debate Monday night, Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador clashed repeatedly with his Democratic challenger, James Piotrowski, over everything from public lands to congressional gridlock. “I think we need to remember that gridlock is a part of Congress,” Labrador said, after Piotrowski criticized...
News >  Idaho

Crapo says during debate that he might still vote for Trump after all, hasn’t decided

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, who was among the first U.S. senators to disavow Donald Trump last weekend and call for him to step aside as the GOP presidential nominee, said in a televised debate Friday night that he might still vote for Trump. Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, Jerry Sturgill, said he’ll back Clinton “because she is the better...
News >  Idaho

Debates, forums coming up in top Idaho races…

Tonight on Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports,” Sen. Mike Crapo and his Democratic challenger, Jerry Sturgill, will appear together for a discussion moderated by co-host Melissa Davlin. On Monday, KTVB-TV will host a debate between 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador and his Democratic challenger,...
News >  Idaho

Challenger Kate McAlister outraises Rep. Heather Scott in North Idaho race

The latest campaign finance reports from the race between Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Democratic challenger Kate McAlister of Sandpoint show McAlister out-raising the outspoken first-term incumbent. McAlister, president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, raised $16,831 in the most recent reporting period, and...
News >  Idaho

Just a handful of Dems outraise GOP opponents in Idaho legislative races

Just a handful of Democratic candidates are outraising their Republican opponents in legislative races, the AP reports, according to the first campaign finance reports since post-primary reports were filed in June. AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi reports that Democratic challenger Steve Berch of Boise has substantially...
News >  Idaho

AdWatch: Rep. Labrador launches first TV campaign commercial since 2010

1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, who did no TV advertising in either his 2012 or 2014 campaigns, has launched a new TV campaign commercial that’s running across the 1st Congressional District, including in the Boise and Lewiston broadcast markets as well as on DirectTV...
News >  Idaho

AdWatch: Sturgill runs two more ads, but only in Boise

Jerry Sturgill, the Democrat challenging Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo, has been running two new TV campaign commercials, but only with very limited airings in Boise. Both are critical of Crapo, one over his vote against major education legislation, and the other charging that Crapo...
News >  Idaho

IACI endorses Dem challenger to Rep. Heather Scott

Idaho's pro-business lobby says Republican state Rep. Heather Scott has one of the worst voting records on supporting commerce and has decided to throw its support behind her Democratic opponent. Kate McAlister is the only non-incumbent the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry has endorsed during this year's general election...
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Dem challenger blasts Labrador for sticking with Trump

James Piotrowski, 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador’s Democratic challenger, had this comment today: “I can't understand why it took Congressman Labrador four days to denounce Trump's comments about sexual assault. It clearly demonstrates that Rep. Labrador continues to value political ideology over basic humanity or...
News >  Idaho

A tide of Idaho voters want vote-by-mail

Idaho state leaders remain dubious of switching to a vote-by-mail system for elections, as Washington and Oregon have done. But voters in Idaho are growing more comfortable with the concept of voting at their own pace, away from the polls, as a steadily increasing share...
News >  Idaho

Examining the issues, as legislative elections approach…

Tonight’s “Idaho Reports” includes a wrapup of the events of the week, and a report from Gooding County, a rural county that faces big issues as elections approach, from immigration to water rights. On the pundits panel, Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman joins co-host...
News >  Idaho

Idaho Dems pull field organizer out of Bonner, Boundary counties, charge harassment by Heather Scott supporters

The Idaho Democratic Party has pulled a party field organizer out of Bonner and Boundary counties after the young man reported he was repeatedly stalked and harassed by supporters of GOP state Rep. Heather Scott. This follows concerns expressed this week by Scott’s Democratic challenger Kate McAlister about an armed Scott backer who confronted...