Governor’s Speech at BSU, Games Begin

All the papers have “Legislature Starts Today” headlines, or something like that. The Statesman’s Legislative pullout section has useful info… I usually hang onto it through the session… the map will be helpful this year. Most of the “preview” coverage is recycled, but a few new tidbits (a Cuba policy bill, some criticism of teacher pay efforts, and indication they may step into the water on water appropriations) today. Listen to the Legislature live from this link. [Refresh your browser for updates throughout the day]

Otter is Glad to Finally be in Charge. State’s chief executive tells Statesman he was never a leader in Congress or on the Legislature. Now he can run the show. Also, Otter calls Luna’s teacher pay plan too much too soon, says he supports school vouchers and wants to keep the state out of siting nuke plants. Durzin and Popkey in the Statesman. And, Popkey says Otter more pragmatic in ’08 than he was 30 years ago… now willing to accept half a loaf. (Popkey also pointed this out in 2002.)

Speaker, Gov Chip Away at Luna’s Teacher Pay Plan. Speaker Denney: “My calls are running almost equally from people who say that we’re giving away too much, and people who say that’s a union-busting bill. So I have a feeling that it’s probably not going to make it.” Anne Wallace Allen in the Statesman.

AP Calls Annex “Mountain Climbing Inside a Doll House.” Cramped hearing rooms, lynching mural, no galleries… Miller, AP in the Press-Tribune.

No Public Galleries in House and Senate this Year. No rotunda for striking deals. Look for law makers out to lunch with lobbyists. Druzin in the Statesman.

Otter Wants to Up State Pay, Cut Bennies. Mike Gwartney, head of Admin, state employee: “Mainly, the governor asked us to do this: I don’t want a state employee to leave here because they could get a better deal on the benefit side anywhere else.” Russell in the Spokesman Review.

Luna Wants 7.9 Percent Budget Hike. Mostly for teacher pay plan but also for Math Initiative and Vo/Tech for high schools. Jodi Walker in the LMT. Also, dig around the site for profiles of North Idaho lawmakers.

Dem Plan for Grocery Tax Similar to Old Risch Plan. Former interim Gov. Risch: “I’m flattered they would copy that. But, again, you have to keep in mind, that they’ve got to deal with the chief executive in this because he’s the one responsible for putting the overall budget. It’s impossible for them to do something of that magnitude and also spend, spend, spend.” Jared S. Hopkins in the Times-News.

Treasure Valley Caucus DOA? GOP members from West Ada and Canyon felt they were being lectured to by Ada Dems. Sen. David Langhorst: “They’re saying people who are concerned about air quality, people who are concerned about transportation are Democrats. I think they need to think about that long and hard.” Druzin in the Statesman.

Statesman Legislative preview page here. With cool tour of Annex, rundown of issues and some important links.

Other Legislative previews: Spokesman Review says it will be a “wild session.” Times-News: Unpredictable. Idaho Public TV pundits.

Rural Rep to Introduce Cuba Trade Memorial. Rep. Tom Trail wants the Feds to normalize trade with Cuba (and to make dog fighting a felony). Ken Andrus says the Legislature may get involved in the ground water case… and then it will have to go to the Supreme Court. And more elk farming bills coming? Debbie Bryce in the Press-Tribune.

Local Option Tax Constitutional Amendment? House conservatives looking at changing the Constitution, but many who support local tax say it’s a delay tactic. Twin Falls Mayor Lance Clow: “It’s a local control question, and a local-option tax is something I think the people should be allowed to decide. The Legislature from Boise shouldn’t be controlling all the decisions.” Jared S. Hopkins in the Times-News.

Trail Has Proof of Dog Fighting in Idaho. Moscow Rep. Tom Trail will try again to make dog fighting a felony and this time he has some key support. And momentum from Vick case. Forester in the Statesman.

Roark is New Idaho Democratic Party Chairman. Attorney Keith Roark is heading up the Idaho Democrats. Roark: “Where there is no effective, two party system there is no accountability. Where there is no accountability there is no responsibility. Elected officials, under such circumstances, eventually ignore not just those who did not vote for them but those who did as well.” Jill Kuraitis on NewWest.

Betsy Z. Russell on Podcast. Russell talks to Boise State’s Bob Kustra about the Legislative session, reporting in Idaho and open government. Here or [MP3 here.]

Public Input Part of Nuke Approval Process. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will take lots of public comment on nuke power plant in Payette Co. County decision may not come until 2012. Casey Clark Ney in the Argus-Observer.

Gem County Christian Group To Take Over Gem County. A group called Christian Exodus that believes in limited government has picked Gem County over South Carolina as the place to take over and install “Constitutionally limited government founded on Christian principles.” AP in the Charlotte Observer.

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