Democratic chairman faults Legislature's ethical standards in tobacco vote

Idaho Democrats see a fresh opportunity to make a point in a Senate committee's rejection of a bill to prohibit dissolvable tobacco lozenges.

Democrat Elliot Werk of Boise sponsored the bill, but it failed on a 5-4 vote after Republican Sen. Melinda Smyser of Parma, whose husband is a tobacco lobbyist, changed her mind and voted against it.

Here is the most recent news story on the vote. And here is the full text of a Democratic news release today, edited only for punctuation:

Otter supports PERSI change, grocery tax credit, will announce soon

Gov. Butch Otter met with members of the Idaho Press Club on Wednesday morning.

Here are some highlights from Otter’s meeting:

Otter supports Senate action on PERSI cost-of-living adjustment

Otter lauded the job that Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho executive director Don Drum and board chairman Jody Olsen have done with the fund. They “are very responsible and do a terrific job,” Otter said.

Animal advocates to lobby lawmakers Thursday

Citizens from across Idaho will gather at the Statehouse Thursday, "Humane Lobby Day 2010" to show their support for S1317, which increases the jail time and misdemeanor fines for those who commit cruelty to animals.

If passed, the bill would make cockfighting a felony in the state and includes new definitions for animal neglect and torture.

A hearing on S1317 will be held at 8 a.m. in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Organizers will be at the capitol at 7 a.m. to hand out information on the bill and others concerning animal welfare.

Idaho Sen. Smyser's change of heart kills tobacco ban

From the Associated Press:

An Idaho senator whose husband is a tobacco-company lobbyist snuffed out a bill Monday to ban the industry's latest product.

Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma, changed her vote after members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee initially voted 5-4 for a bill that would bar dissolvable tobacco lozenges, strips and sticks now being tested by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Another company is already selling such lozenges here.

Smyser's switch killed the measure.

AARP presses Senate committee to stop move to trim 1 percent COLA for state retirees

Hours before a Senate Committee was scheduled to hear legislation blocking a 1 percent cost of living increase for government retirees, AARP released a survey finding older Idahoans are struggling financially.

AARP, which says it has 180,000 members in Idaho, is fighting HCR 42, which would stop a COLA approved by the board of the Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho, which covers retired employees of state and local governments, including school districts.

1266940094 AARP presses Senate committee to stop move to trim 1 percent COLA for state retirees Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

House vote pending, Rep. Thayn enlists Tea Party Boise in support of his early graduation bill

Rep. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, got help from Tea Party Boise in advancing House Bill 493.

An e-mail to Tea Party Boise's 2,000 members on Saturday said Thayn "has requested the Tea Partiers help with getting (the bill) out of the House. We are asking you to make your own decision on how you wish to support this proposal."

The e-mail from Tea Party Boise included the addresses of all 70 House members and said Thayn "asked that emails of support be sent by Sunday night, since the proposal comes up Monday morning."

The bill passed 61-7 and moves to the Senate.

1266876623 House vote pending, Rep. Thayn enlists Tea Party Boise in support of his early graduation bill Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

BSU student body president to challenge Democratic lawmaker in Southeast Boise's District 18

Trevor Grigg, Boise State's student body president for the past two years and a former president of the College Republicans at BSU, announced Friday that he will challenge two-term Democratic Rep. Phylis King.

Grigg was elected student president in April 2008 reelected in April 2009, only the second time a student president has been elected to consecutive terms at BSU.

1266612027 BSU student body president to challenge Democratic lawmaker in Southeast Boise's District 18 Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Idaho congressional candidate picks up three more endorsements from national figures

Republican Vaughn Ward has won the support of a Utah congressman, a former GOP presidential candidate and the sister of former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, former Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Bay Buchanan all back Ward, according to news releases from the Ward campaign. Ward, of Eagle, faces state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, and Michael Chadwick of Post Falls, who entered the race this week.

The winner of the May 25 primary will challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick.

1266596987 Idaho congressional candidate picks up three more endorsements from national figures Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Star Mayor Nate Mitchell announces candidacy for Idaho House seat held by Labrador

Star Mayor Nate Mitchell is the first candidate to announce he'll attempt to fill the House seat being vacated by Republican congressional candidate Raul Labrador.

Mitchell, who has been mayor for six years, issued a news release Thursday afternoon saying he'll be a GOP candidate in House Seat 14B.

Labrador, of Eagle, faces Vaughn Ward of Eagle and Michael Chadwick of Post Falls in the May 25 Republican primary for the right to face freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick.

In his statement, Mitchell said:

1266532997 Star Mayor Nate Mitchell announces candidacy for Idaho House seat held by Labrador Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Immigration bill fails in House committee

An effort to impose penalties on business for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants failed in an Idaho House committee on Thursday. It is the first of three bills dealing with immigration issues making their ways through the Idaho Legislature to get a committee hearing.

House Bill 497, sponsored by Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, would have revoked business licenses from business who knowingly hired illegal immigrants for up to one year on a third offense.

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