New House tax committee chair: Otter's local-option gambit took my breath away

The Legislature's new gatekeeper on taxes says he had no warning when Gov. Butch Otter proposed authorizing local-option taxes in his State of the State speech Monday.

"There was kind of a big pause when the governor mentioned that in his talk," said House Revenue & Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins, R-Nampa. "At least my breath -- my breathing -- changed a little bit. That was a big surprise to me. I think it was to a lot of different people. I guess that will just be part of the conversation."

Idaho gets a good start on the snow pack for 2012-2013 season

Idaho’s watersheds are starting out 2013 with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports.

With heavy snow falling in Boise Monday as Gov. Butch Otter gave his State of the State speech, he went off script to celebrate what it means to Idaho farmers and others.

“If God will help us with this in our watersheds he surely will help us here today and throughout this year,” Otter said.

Idaho Reports: You can watch the legislative ethics training Wednesday

All 105 lawmakers are set for an unprecedented afternoon of ethics training Wednesday, and you can follow along from your home computer, thanks to Idaho Public Television's "Idaho in Session" streaming service.

The session is schedule to start at 1:15 p.m. in the Statehouse auditorium, with an introduction from Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, who is one of the key leaders who created the mandatory training.

From our Idaho in Session legislative page, click on the "auditorium" feed to watch.

Idaho media Week 4 high school boys basketball poll

Records as of Monday, Jan. 7

Team (1st-place votes) W-L Points Previous
1. Borah (9) 11-0 45 1
2. Rocky Mountain 9-2 26 2
3. Mountain View 9-2 23 3
4. Hillcrest 10-1 21 5
5. Lake City 8-3 8 -
Others receiving votes: Highland 6, Madison 5, Post Falls 1.

Team (1st-place votes) W-L Points Previous
1. Skyview (7) 10-1 43 2
2. Bonneville (2) 9-1 38 1
3. Bishop Kelly 5-5 11 3

Ride Idaho route to be unveiled Wednesday, Jan. 16

Idaho Tourism and Ride Idaho are teaming up to announce the 2013 Ride Idaho route and to release the new Idaho State Travel Guide from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Beside Bardenay in downtown Boise.

Ride Idaho is an annual seven-day, fully supported bicycle tour that features a different region of the state each year. The 2013 tour will take place August 4-10. Tour registration will open at 7 p.m. during the kick-off event and simultaneously online so everyone has an equal opportunity. Last year’s ride toured north central Idaho.

Liberal groups offer counter State of State: Otter is 'largely out of touch with the realities facing Idahoans'

United Vision for Idaho and United Action for Idaho issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to Gov. Butch Otter's State of the State and Budget Address on Monday.

The groups, which include labor, human rights and activists of various stripes, say Otter favors business over ordinary workers and belittles the contributions of the public sector.

The full statement follows:

1357683399 Liberal groups offer counter State of State: Otter is 'largely out of touch with the realities facing Idahoans' Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Boise Democrats in two districts begin public forums Thursday

The six Democrats representing the Boise Bench (District 17) and Southeast and South Boise (District 18) have announced their schedule for meetings with constituents during the 2013 legislative session.

The forums allow residents to ask questions and raise concerns with their lawmakers. All seven forums begin at 7 p.m.

The first forum is in District 18 is Thursday at Maple Grove Elementary School, with a preview of session.

The second District 18 forum is Feb. 14 at East Junior High School. (Bring your valentine?)

What would Otter have said if the court had ruled the other way on roadless?

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter used the 9th Circuit Court’s upholding of the Idaho Roadless Rule as the rationale for his pursuit of a state health insurance exchange under Obamacare.

But imagine how Otter would reacted had the 9th Circuit had ruled against Idaho.

Idaho Reports: The experts react to the State of the State

If you missed our live broadcast (or the repeat) of the State of the State yesterday, you can still catch the reaction from Idaho Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert, Boise State University professor Stephanie Witt and Division of Financial Management Administrator Jani Revier.

Otter taps Stevenson, Barker for Water Resource Board

Rupert farmer John “Bert” Stevenson, former chairman of the Idaho Legislature’s House Resources and Conservation Committee, is still going to play a key role in the public policy issue he knows about the most, water.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter appointed Stevenson to the Idaho Water Resource Board Tuesday ensuring that the Magic Valley will have strong representation on the board. He joins Vince Alberdi, the retired Twin Falls Canal Co. manager from Kimberly, who was reappointed.

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