Highlights from 01-29-2013
Democrats bills aim to make voting easier
House and Senate Democrats unveiled five bills they called the Voting Opportunity and Trustworthy Elections initiative.
They say the ideas emerged in talking with voters and monitoring the November election. Democrats say voting was hampered by long lines, confusion over registration, and voter identification requirements.
The package includes a proposal to allow online voter registration.
Democrats also want to see voter registration materials handed out when a person gets a drivers license and that counties be required to set up early voting centers.
Another proposal would require a political party that opts for a close primary election to pay incremental costs accrued by the county.
The House State Affairs Committee refused to introduce the Voter Convenience Act that would have required Idaho counties to set up at least one full-service polling place that allows Election Day voting and voter registration.
The Associated Press & Spokesman-Review
Sheriffs could take inmate money
The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee has agreed to hold a hearing on a bill that gives law enforcement permission to tap inmate commissary accounts to pay off other jail debt.
The bill is backed by the Idaho Sheriffs Association.
ISA lobbyist Michael Kane said sheriffs frequently get court orders allowing them to drain an inmates commissary account used to buy candy and sundries. Kane says the practice helps offset the unpaid jail costs after inmates are released.
Republican Sen. Bart Davis of Idaho Falls voiced concerns, saying such sweeps could anger parents, relatives, and others who contribute to the accounts.
The Associated Press
Governors nominees clear committee
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee approved Gov. Butch Otters four-year appointments to the Idaho Water Resource Board.
The committee approved Vince Alberdi of Kimberly, former Rep. Bert Stevenson of Rupert, Albert P. Barker of Boise and Roger Chase of Pocatello.
It also approved appointment of Gary Spackman as director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources.
The appointments now go to the full Senate.
Melissa Davlin, Times-News
Political parties should pay when limiting access
Under a personal bill introduced by House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston, any party that chooses to restrict access to their primary ballots would have to reimburse counties for any incremental election costs.
The move comes in response to the closed primary law Republican lawmakers adopted last year.
If youre going to restrict voter access, youre having a private election and ought to pay for it, Rusche said.
The bill was co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum.
Rusche didnt expect the measure to get a favorable reception in the House State Affairs Committee, so he introduced it as a personal bill. That allowed him to side-step the committee process and at least get it printed; the bill wont advance to the House floor unless a committee chairman agrees to hold a hearing.
William Spence, Lewiston Tribune
Fish & Game proposesthree-year licenses
The departments director, Virgil Moore, told legislative budget writers Tuesday that allowing sportsmen to buy three-year licenses is part of a plan to generate more revenue and reduce sportsmen turnover.
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee is expected to debate the bill Wednesday.
The agency is pursuing new revenue sources to offset the decline in sales of nonresident hunting tags.
Moore says his agency also is working to lure more of Idaho's youth to the outdoors. In the last 20 years, he said, Idaho's population has increased by 600,000, but license sales have increased just 46,000.