Montana's Tester to keynote Frank Church banquet for Idaho Democrats

Sen. Jon Tester, a model for Western Democrats aspiring to win statewide elections, will address the Frank Church banquet on Feb. 27 at the Boise Centre.

"It's an honor to speak with fellow Democrats about the values important to the West," Tester said in a party news release. "We have a lot to be proud of, and we have a lot of work to do together. I look forward to visiting Idaho and talking about the challenges and opportunities we face as westerners--from job creation to renewable energy development to bringing common sense back to Washington, D.C."

Minnick continues his fundraising advantage

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Walt Minnick continued to hold onto his fundraising edge as he fights to keep the congressional seat he won in 2008.

Federal campaign disclosure forms released Monday show that over the past year, Minnick raised nearly $1.1 million -- a fundraising number that outstrips that of his two Republican rivals, Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador. Minnick, the only Democrat in Idaho’s congressional delegation, raised $274,000 in the final quarter of the year, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures. Minnick has $816,000 in his campaign account.

Kemp to appear in premiere of new cable public affairs show

Treasure Valley Community Television is launching a new public affairs show, Capital Rap, with independent gubernatorial candidate Jana Kemp as the first guest. The program will focus on education.

The weekly show will air at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Cable One's Channel 11. The show's host is Lance Thompson. The program also can be seen live online at www.tvctvonlineorg.

Kemp is a former Republican who served one term in the Idaho House representing District 16, northwest Boise and Garden City. Kemp has collected enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.

Idaho Foodbank to release hunger study at Statehouse

We tried to get a few bits of info ahead of time about the state of hunger in the Gem state, but Foodbank spokesman David Proctor said we'd have to wait along with everyone else.

Feeding America has embargoed the results of its hunger study until Wednesday. Foodbank officials will reveal them at 10 a.m. in West Wing 53 of the Capitol.

Lifelong Boise Democrat, 78, miffed at "census" fund-raising letter from GOP

Joan Lang is a 78-year-old Idaho native who says she has "never voted for a Republican in my life."

Nevertheless, Lang received a fund-raising letter from the Republican National Committee that's being criticized for confusing citizens as the decennial census is conducted this year.

The mailing from RNC Chairman Michael Steele is billed as an "official 2010 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS" and came with "Census Tracking Code #A10PD25." In much smaller type, the survey says, "Commissioned by the Republican Party," and notes that the mailing was paid for by the RNC.

Noted opinion writer back to prowl the Statehouse

A legendary Idaho political journalist returned to the refurbished and expanded Capitol on Thursday and pronounced it good. Well, mostly.

“I think it’s 60 percent improvement and 40 percent loss,” said Bill Hall, who for 38 years wrote four columns and seven editorials a week for the Lewiston Tribune. Hall was wowed by the restoration and large hearing rooms in the new below-ground garden level.

But Hall said the bigger quarters have come with a price as lawmakers, citizens and reporters are far more spread out. Every legislator now has an office, most on the garden level.

Crapo marks his decade-long commitment to fighting family violence

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has helped convince his colleagues in Congress to extend National Teen Violence Awareness and Prevention Week to a month-long effort to prevent family violence.

Crapo has focused on the issue since a visit to a safe house for abused children in Twin Falls County more than a decade ago.

House passes Simpson-Minnick bill...but as Minnick-Simpson bill

WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation allowing about 20 private property owners to hold onto their water rights within Idaho's wilderness areas.

The bill -- although a relatively non-controversial measure originally sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson -- had a tumultuous history in the highly polarized House. Simpson's bill had no opposition, so it was put on a part of the House calendar when normal rules are suspended to allow for expedited approval of noncontroversial bills. Such bills require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Council on Developmental Disabilities plans a Statehouse trip

On Thursday afternoon, members of the agency that faces loss of state funding over the next four years in Otter's proposed budget, will visit with lawmakers.

The looming cuts won't be the only issues on their agenda. The council has been working on legislation to remove the words "mental retardation" and "handicapped" from Idaho law and replace them with updated terms.

The visitors also plan to tour the newly renovated Capitol and check out its accessibility for people with disabilities.

Ex-Boise City Council candidate Baumbach blasts Vaughn Ward

Boise City Council candidate Lucas Baumbach, who got 22 percent of the vote in November in losing to Maryanne Jordan, took after Vaughn Ward on the day he made his official announcement for 1st District Congress.

Baumbach is part of the GOP's conservative-libertarian wing. He released a statement commenting on Ward, saying he's not conservative enough for Idaho. Baumbach urged Ward to abandon a campaign informally began 10 months ago.

Baumbach's statement, titled "Leaving Idaho Alone," follows:

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