March 3, 2017
Writer: Yanni Klapsakis

The Idaho Capitol in BoiseEffort to fund construction of two new INL buildings clears first obstacle

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee unanimously recommended that Senate Concurrent Resolution 105 be passed by the full Senate.

If the resolution passes, the Idaho State Building Authority would approve $90 million in bonds to pay for two new education and research facilities, which would be paid back by Idaho National Laboratory through a lease. The land belongs to Idaho State University.

According to INL Director Mark Peters, the two buildings would become a major center for supercomputing and a wide variety of scientific research.

The resolution doesn't only have to pass on the Senate floor, but also the House committee and the House floor before heading to Gov. C.L "Butch" Otter's desk for a signature.

Bill seeks to block lawmaker emails from becoming public

The House State Affairs Committee agreed to advance a proposal Wednesday with no debate or discussion about the bill. The proposal would block state lawmakers' private forms of communication such as emails and texts from being public.

This is something that constitutes a massive change of the Idaho Public Records Act that was adopted in 1990, and shields most forms of communications between members of legislature and legislative staff.

Currently, email and personal calendars of Idaho lawmakers can be available to the public upon request.

Under the current law, officials can request to review the emails or texts for possible exemptions before turning public records over. In addition, state employee personnel information is exempt from disclosure.

Even though Idahoans can watch or listen to all legislative committee and floor sessions, legislative leaders can meet behind closed-doors in meetings among lawmakers who typically discuss policy positions and vote counts before public debates.

Resolution to urge Congress to make Craters of the Moon a National Park

Senate Joint Memorial 101 intends to communicate to the U.S. Congress the Idaho Legislature's support for the redesignation of the Craters Monument National Monument to a National Park in hopes to draw more tourism to the area.

The county commissions of Bonneville, Custer, Lemhi and Butte counties started the process by passing resolutions supporting the plan. Last year, voters in Butte County approved an advisory referendum on the subject.

However, the lone voice of opposition to the proposal was the Idaho Farm Bureau. The organization is concerned about agricultural shipping and nearby grazing allotment, and that the federal government won't keep its word.

Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway of Terreton, the committee chairman and sponsor of the memorial, indicated that he included a number of provisions designed to protect existing land uses and shipping routes.

Passing in committee hearings and floor votes in both the House and Senate is required.

Bill that would allow voters to use concealed weapons permit as a voter ID goes to House floor

House Bill 149 passed unanimously from the Idaho Senate State Affairs committee and moved to the full Senate. 

If the Bill passes, voters will be able to use their state-issued concealed carry permit as a valid form of ID on election day.