GOP congressional race begins to take shape, splitting party's wings

The candidates vying to face freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick — state Rep. Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward, both of Eagle — are separating into camps representing the Idaho Republican Party's establishment and libertarian-conservative reform wings.

Ward made his official announcement at the Statehouse Tuesday afternoon and the crowd was loaded with GOP luminaries, including Dirk Kempthorne, a former governor, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of the Interior and Boise mayor.

Democrats to gather for State of the Union address

Volunteers with Organizing for America Idaho will gather from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday at the Falcon Tavern, 705 W. Bannock St., in Boise to watch
President Obama deliver his State of the Union address.

The Boise event is one of many planned across Idaho and the country in
anticipation of the president’s speech.

Former Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe will also hold a
conference call with volunteers in advance of the State of the Union address
to discuss the next steps for Organizing for America, the ongoing grassroots

Tea Party: The Documentary Film screens Wednesday in Boise

Eight days after Sen.-elect Scott Brown turned Washington on its head with help from Massachusetts Tea Party groups, Idahoans can see the movie about the movement.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. screening in Boise are $10 at the door, or available online at
http://teapartyboise.com/merchandise for $8.

The movie will be shown at the Reel Theater at 4550 Overland Road, Boise.

Questions?: contact@teapartyboise.com.
 
To see a trailer of the film: http://www.teapartymovie.com/trailer.html

Minnick eschews earmarks again this year

WASHINGTON – Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, said Monday he will once again this year not seek out any earmarks in the federal budget. He is one of three Democrats and 37 Republicans who’ve declined to seek out earmarks, his office said

People want Congress to spend less money and they "want us to approach major issues in an independent way, Minnick said Monday in a statement.

"One significant step I can take to show I am serious about heeding those lessons is to refuse earmarks," Minnick said. "We want more elected officials with the courage to put constituents and fiscal responsibility before politics."

Earmarks, which got a bad name in recent years as federal spending ballooned, have been criticized for giving the most powerful lawmakers to determine spending on pet projects -- rather than need or merit. Earmarks aren't reviewed by relevant committees or even state agencies, and are often tacked onto unrelated congressional bills.

Minnick spokesman to move to campaign, former newsman to take over

Rep. Walt Minnick's communications director, John Foster, will be leaving the congressional staff at the end of February to manage Minnick's re-election campaign.

Foster will be replaced by Dean Ferguson, a former reporter for the Lewiston Tribune who is leaving his post as Minnick's regional director in Lewiston and moving to the Meridian office. Ferguson takes over as communications director on Feb. 1.

Hunger relief groups converge on the Statehouse Monday

Hunger relief advocates are in town to remind lawmakers that food insecurity is still an issue in Idaho.

The Idaho Foodbank, as only one example, has seen the need for its services increase nearly 30 percent in the last six months.

Sixteen organizations that comprise the Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger will have information booths set up on the Capitol's fourth floor until 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Pamphlets, fact sheets, as well as Idaho potatoes, apples, and coffee from the Boise company Dawson Taylor will be among the free giveaways.

Legislators talk nonprofits on 'Nonprofit Legislative Day,' Feb. 2

With certain social service agencies — including the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Independent Living Council — facing loss of state funding in Gov. Otter's proposals, some say the nonprofit sector will inherit even more responsibilities to advocate for the vulnerable among us.

That fact is bound to make this year's Nonprofit Legislative Day even more interesting than usual.

The day-long event will include lunch with legislators and panel discussions with legislators who have actually served on the board, or staff of an Idaho nonprofit agency.

Panelists:

President: U of I has lost more than $22 million in funding last two years

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis said the school has lost more than $22 million in funding from the state government during the last two fiscal years — a figure that does not include $10 million funding that was stripped from the livestock research center in Parma.

The figure includes a $14.2 million reduction from Fiscal Year 2009 to 2010 and two holdbacks this year, totaling $7.9 million.

“These budget problems do have an impact on our academic programs,” Nellis told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday morning.

Could Idaho better use $400,000 set aside to study rebuilding Teton Dam?

The money still hasn't been spent on a 2008 bill to study rebuilding the dam that failed and killed 11 people. Rocky Barker examines the argument for shifting it to higher priorities at Letters from the West.

Olson vs. Luna?

Stan Olson, Boise School District superintendent, will decide in about 10 days whether he'll run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Right now, he said, he's talking to people who have experience in campaigning to help him decide if he should toss his hat into the ring.

See our Statesman
story on idahostatesman.com
and in Saturday's Idaho Statesman.

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