Orientation, Drug Rehab & Primaries

A measure to add sexual orientation to Idaho’s anti-discrimination law got an initial nod in the Senate, and will likely have a full hearing in coming weeks. Also, an update on GOP fight over Idaho’s open primaries, why Otter didn’t fully fund drug rehab and the first day of a week of teacher pay hearings…

Bipartisan anti-discrimination bill introduced on MLK Day. Bill would add sexual orientation to Idaho’s civil rights protections list. Leslie Goddard of the Human Rights Commission: “I have no way of knowing how many people in Idaho need this protection, but I do know there are some. … They know that they could be fired tomorrow for a reason having nothing to do with their work.” Russell in the Spokesman. Darrington, Davis vote not to introduce. Hopkins in the Times-News.

Drug Czar wants $22 million more than governor requested. Drug treatment request came too little, too late for governor to put in his budget. Margaret Henbest: “How is that fiscally sound to pull out the rug on our efforts to fight substance abuse in our state? If we don’t fund, what kind of outcome is the gentleman in the Borah Building expecting?” Rebecca Boone, AP in the Press Tribune. Spend $25 mil now to save $67 mil later. Fisher on NewWest.net.

GOP primaries bill hung up in backroom debate. Closed primaries was one of the first measures introduced this year, but may not see the light of day. Dean Cameron: “You could say, that my perspective would be, if we were forced to do something, would be to go to a modified open primary system for both Republicans and Democrats, where party members would not be allowed to cross over and would be able to vote for candidates of their choice without any record of who they wanted.” Hopkins in the Times-News.

Education committees vet dueling teacher plans. Union plan lacks detail, Luna plan contentious. Druzin in the Statesman.

Tax credit for conservation easements to be introduced. $3 million program to encourage farmland, open space conservation in the works. Lobbyist Suzanne Budge Schaefer: “I hope that it would give our elected folks a lot of comfort to know how broad the support is for something like this.” Matt Christensen in the Times-News.

Three sex offender bills introduced. One would make it a felony to knowingly harbor a sex offender, which raised questions from the committee. Another would allow sex offenders to enter a school to vote or get mail. Simon Shifrin, AP in the Press Tribune. Goins in the CDA Press.

Geddes: Too many task forces. Senator wants to limit number of interim committees, etc. to save money and time. State spent $35,000 on 15 interim groups last year and some had no recommendations. Druzin in the Statesman.

Sheepmen threatened by bighorns. Domestic sheep ranchers fear bighorns are putting them out of business. Conservationists say sheep ranchers have had it too easy for years. Berg in the S. Idaho Press.

Revised wolf delisting rule explained. New 10-J language would give state wildlife managers more leeway to kill wolves, whether or not they are delisted next month. Kauffman in the Mtn. Express.

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