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BOISE – Gov. Butch Otter seemed a bit surprised that he’d already received a public records request for documents related to his move to create a public records ombudsman position in his office, before he’d even formally announced the move. “Did you hear about that?” he asked reporters before his press conference in the governor’s office, referring to the request from AP reporter Rebecca Boone. “She asked for public records on the executive order I’m signing about public records today!” When a reporter – OK, it was me – responded, “What a great idea!” a laughing Otter said, “You guys – get outta here.”
BOISE – Three big issues – education, health care and prisons – loom over Idaho lawmakers as they convene their legislative session Monday. But at the same time, every seat in the Idaho Legislature is on the ballot this year, with the primary election coming up in May. And so is every statewide office – including that of Gov. Butch Otter, who faces a primary challenge from a member of the Senate GOP leadership.
BOISE – After a string of ethical lapses and questions about Idaho lawmakers’ conduct, new lawmakers will face something unprecedented when they arrive in Boise for their organizational session next week: formal ethics training. That’s not all. When the Legislature convenes its 2013 session the second week of January, business will pause on the session’s third day as all lawmakers – veterans and newcomers – are put through an hourslong ethics training session.
BOISE – In practically every legislative district in Idaho where there’s a contested race – and even one where there’s not – the Senate Republican PAC has made a campaign contribution to the Republican candidate. The two exceptions: Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, in District 8, and Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, who’s running for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene. It turns out that Pearce was left out by mistake. “It was an oversight if we didn’t make him one,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “We need to make one to him. … It wasn’t intentional.” Pearce, chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, faces Democrat Alma Hasse in the November election.
Campaign finance reports show that Idaho state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, has reimbursed the Senate for the cost of an end-of-session letter she sent out to Republican voters that touted her record and thanked supporters as she seeks re-election.
Kris Sabo, of Sagle, was surprised when an official state-funded letter arrived in the mail from Idaho Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, talking about Nuxoll’s record and thanking supporters as she seeks re-election. “My gosh, she’s from Cottonwood – where the heck is that?” Sabo asked. “If she’s using our money to help her campaign to keep her job, that shows disrespect for our money. Nobody’s going to pay for me to go out and try to keep my job.”
Kris Sabo of Sagle was surprised when an official state-funded letter arrived in the mail from Idaho Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, talking about Nuxoll's record and thanking supporters as she seeks re-election. “My gosh, she's from Cottonwood – where the heck is that?” Sabo asked. Sabo currently is in Idaho's legislative District 2, one of the North Idaho Panhandle legislative districts. But redistricting in Idaho will put her in the new District 7 next year, which stretches from southeastern Bonner County all the way south to the Valley County line at the mid-section of the state; Cottonwood is nearly a four-hour drive south of Sagle.
BOISE – While unveiling their draft legislation setting up a new independent state ethics commission Thursday, Democrats in the Idaho Legislature said they hope to have a bipartisan bill within two weeks. They’ve agreed to set up a working group with lawmakers from both parties and both houses to craft that bill.
BOISE – There’s a desperate edge to the talk in Boise as Idaho’s legislative session approaches. “It’s not going to be a fun place to be in the Capitol this year,” said new Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “We’re probably facing the worst year coming up that I’ve ever seen.”