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BOISE – Idaho lawmakers have sent the final piece of a plan to reform the state’s public schools to the governor’s desk, following three months of fierce debate that dominated the 2011 legislative session. The controversial bill calls for phasing in new laptop computers for every Idaho high school student, diverting school district funds to online course providers, and shifting funding from teachers to technology, among other changes. It passed the House on Friday on a 44-26 vote after a debate that lasted more than four hours, during which protesting Democrats forced a full reading of the 24-page bill.
BOISE – A bill requiring merit pay for teachers cleared the Idaho House on Wednesday, sending it to the governor’s desk and giving the state schools superintendent a second big win in his push for sweeping school reform. Teachers and their supporters protested at after-school rallies across the state Wednesday in response.
BOISE – Controversial bills to trim Idaho teachers’ collective bargaining rights and impose a merit pay plan cleared the House Education Committee on Thursday and headed to the full House for final passage. Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, the committee chairman, hailed both bills, saying he’d been for them “from the get-go.”
BOISE – Relationships between Idaho’s five recognized Indian tribes and the state are once again a focus at the 2011 Legislature, with Republican lawmakers starting a push to tax cigarettes sold on Indian reservations – over tribal objections. House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, said Wednesday his bill will help prevent Idaho residents from traveling to reservations just to get a good deal, while leveling the playing field for off-reservation retailers that bear the full burden of the 57 cent-per-pack state tax. Currently, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe charges just a 10 cent tax per pack, while the Nez Perce Tribe near Lewiston charges 24 cents.
BOISE – After a stormy two-hour debate in which opponents raised fears including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe taking away people’s guns as they pass through the North Idaho reservation, the Idaho House on Thursday rejected the tribe’s policing bill by one vote. “There are ghosts and goblins out there that people are trying to come up with … that don’t exist,” state Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the House as he rebutted claim after claim about the policing bill.
BOISE – Coeur d’Alene Rep. Bob Nonini’s bid to join the Idaho House GOP leadership fell short Wednesday night, but there were shakeups elsewhere as Idaho lawmakers met in closed caucuses to pick legislative leaders. While the House GOP leadership team, including Speaker Lawerence Denney, is unchanged, the Senate has a new president pro-tem: Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. Hill defeated Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, a rising leader of the Senate’s most conservative wing, for the chamber’s top leadership post in a hotly contested race. Former Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, retired from leadership.
BOISE – Now that the election is over, for state lawmakers, the elections are coming. That would be the leadership elections, set for early December when the state Legislature gathers for its organizational session in advance of its 2011 session in January.