First Amendment on parade Monday at Statehouse

A political melting pot will gather Monday at the Idaho Statehouse and offer a dramatic expression of free speech as three groups will converge on the Capitol with very different agendas.

The annual march honoring Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day will wind up inside the Capitol for a noon event with Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho Human Rights Commission.

You don’t need no stinking elk horns?

A pair of foul-smelling elk horns belonging to House Majority Leader Mike Moyle are for sale on Craigslist. Moyle, R-Star, had the horns in his office ready to mount as part of a friendly hook-and-bullet competition with House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, whose adjoining office is decorated with pelts of wolf, coyote, bobcat and fox.

The horns were “borrowed” from Moyle’s office Tuesday, said Rep. Marv Hagedorn, who took them to his cubicle in the remodeled Capitol’s new garden level.

Former Idaho legislator seriously injured in Canyon County crash

Read the news story on the Statesman's Idaho Legislature page.

Tragedy darkens opening week for the House

The first week of the session has been emotionally difficult
in the Idaho House, as two members lost loved ones, Rep. Gary Collins,
R-Nampa, and Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot.

“I’ve never seen it so grim as (Wednesday),” said House GOP Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of Donnelly said Thursday.

On Tuesday, Roberts said, Collins’ grandson, Tyler Collins, 22, died as
a result of a traffic accident in Canyon County on Saturday. On
Wednesday, Marriott’s wife, Colleen, died.

Political party donations may disappear from Idaho tax forms

Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker introduced legislation Thursday that
would eliminate donations to political parties on Idaho state tax

The money comes not from an individuals’ return, but from money in the
general fund, Luker said. Last year, more than 34,000 people checked
the $1 box, diverting part of their taxes to the political party of
their choice.

In 2008, an election year, more than 71,000 people made the donation.

The provision has been on Idaho's tax returns since 1976, Luker said.

How grazing disputes shaped an Idaho legislative leader

Read Rocky Barker's blog post

Crapo salutes Tea Party group as it prepares for Statehouse rally

As conservatives from around Idaho prepare to rally Monday at a “Tea Party Convergence on the Capitol,” they have won the backing of the senior member of state’s congressional delegation, GOP Sen. Mike Crapo.

In a guest opinion submitted to newspapers across the state, Crapo wrote that a movement that wasn’t taken seriously in some quarters “has only grown in size and commitment since the first rallies early last year.”

Government spending in Idaho rises 86% between 1999 and 2009

The amount of spending by government agencies in Idaho has risen from $3.1 billion to $5.8 billion from 1999 to 2009, according to legislative budget analysts.

State government has done not all of the spending as federal funds and dedicated funds, such as fees, are included in those numbers. The figures also do not account for inflation, population growth, law changes or workload increases — which makes it difficult to add context to the numbers.

Hours trimmed for state workers

State agencies were given a 5 percent reduction in personnel costs during last year’s legislative session. On Wednesday, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee heard what that has meant to state employees.

In fiscal year 2009, 149 state employees were laid off, though that number could include employees who were fired or let go for other reasons than budget concerns.

In fiscal year 2009, 4,536 state workers took 96,166 furlough hours.

In fiscal year 2010, which ends on June 30, there have already been 146 layoffs.

Democrats offer rebuttal to Otter's proposals

Idaho Democrats said Tuesday that proposed cuts to public education, higher education and other state services will have a detrimental effect on attracting private business to the state during their rebuttal to Gov. Otter’s State of the State address.

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