Legislation to Propose Expansion of Victim's Rights

Senate Joint Resolution 103 was discussed today in the Senate State Affairs Committee during a very emotional hearing.

The legislation known across the country as "Marsy's Law" is proposing to give equal rights to crime victims throughout the entire criminal justice process.

Marsy's Law refers to the California Bill of Rights Act of 2008 that expanded the legal rights of victims of crime to include 17 rights in the judicial process. Those rights include the right to legal standing, protection from the defendant, notification of all court proceedings, and restitution, as well as granting parole boards far greater powers to deny inmates parole.

This particular amendment has already passed in five states, and Idaho is one among many states where it's being proposed.

Bipartisan Grievances Over Committee Chairman Powers

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise

On Wednesday, Democrats and conservative Republicans alike expressed their longstanding grievances regarding the issue over the power of committee chairmen to decide whether bills will eventually get a hearing or not.

Anti-Motorcycle Profiling Ban Heads to Senate Floor

Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa
The Idaho Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee advanced legislation that would ban law enforcement agencies from profiling motorcyclists. Idaho might become the third state that will ban motorcycle profiling. The other two are Washington and Maryland. House Bill 12, which is sponsored by Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, defines motorcycle profiling in state law, and prohibits officers from stopping bikers for merely riding motorcycles or wearing biker gear. If the bill becomes a law, police must have a legitimate reason for stopping, questioning, searching or arresting bikers.

Abortion Laws-Reversal Heads to House Floor

In January, a federal judge, gave the Idaho Legislature some time until the end of the legislative session, to repeal two laws banning women from receiving abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine. If those laws don't get repealed, they will be deemed unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

Medicaid Gap Patch Advances but Faces Amendment Process First

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-MeridianThe bill, discussed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and sponsored by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, would create a limited primary care and drug cost support system for poor patients. The program will focus on those suffering with chronic conditions and diseases such as diabetes that require medical attention.

In order to be consider eligible, someone must make less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (about $24,000 for a family of four), not qualify for Medicaid, have Idaho residency established and not be covered through an employer's insurance plan. 

No More Toothy Smiles on Idaho Driver's Licenses

The Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles no longer allows people to flash a big grin when they get their picture taken for a new driver's license. The reason for this change is due to the new facial recognition software that aims to prevent people from getting licenses under different names.

An example of an Idaho driver's license shows a man without a toothy smile.

Rural Schools Network Bill Barely Passes the House

House Bill 223 would cost $300,000 annually, and proposes the formation of a three-year pilot project in Northern Idaho, where rural schools would collaborate and share resources, barely passed the House floor with a vote of 37-33.

A similar proposal by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, died in the Senate last year.

Bill that Raises Hunting and Fishing Fees by 20 Percent Heads to Senate

If this bill passes, it will the first hunting and fishing licenses and tags increase since 2004. House Bill 230 passed on a 43-26 vote and if it passes the Senate and gets signed by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter, a 20 percent increase will be effective in 2018.

Resolution for INL Buildings Passes in Senate

The resolution passed unanimously and without debate, and will allow the Idaho National Laboratory $90 million in bonds for the construction of two new buildings. Now it has to pass as well through the House.

Bill to Raise Awareness of Birth Defect-Causing Virus

The Idaho House passed this bill with a 59-10 vote. The bill would allocate $15,000 for informational material to schools, child care providers and other programs regarding the congenital cytomegalovirus. This virus is responsible for birth defects and a threat to patients with impaired immune systems. Now what is required is the Governor's signature. 

Idaho Legislators Curtail Boost in Probation, Parole Officers

The proposed plan by the Idaho Department of Correction to add two dozen probation and parole officers to Idaho's prison system next year, was cut in half due to the increased inmate numbers that altered its budget. In addition, the department has to report semi-annually to both the legislature and the governor's Division of Financial Management regarding the monthly number of probationers and parolees under supervision, along with their assessed and supervised risk levels. 

Idaho Legislature Approves Higher-Ed Building Plan

A rendering of Boise State University's Center for Materials Research

The plan proposal by Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter that allocates $35 million for a higher-ed construction program next year, won the approval of the Idaho Legislature.

More specifically, the plan includes $10 million for a Center for Materials Science at Boise State University; $10 million for the University of Idaho to build the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment in the Magic Valley; $10 million for Lewis-Clark State College to build a Career-Technical Education building; and $5 million to complete the remodeling of the Gale Life Sciences Building at Idaho State University.

$3.4 Million Settlement Reached with School Broadband Vendors

After a lengthy lawsuit over a failed public school broadband program, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter along with top Idaho legislative leaders announced they reached a $3.4 million settlement agreement Thursday with the vendors involved.