Legislative Notebook

January 31, 2014 

SECRETARY OF STATE

Woodings schedules announcement

Freshman Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, will likely announce Friday that she’s running for secretary of state to replace retiring Republican Ben Ysursa.

A scheduling advisory for reporters calls the noon event an “important announcement” on her intentions.

Perhaps more tellingly, Woodings prompted a mix of knowing nods and puzzled faces on the House floor Thursday when she used the daily announcement period to remind colleagues that Sunshine reports are due Friday.

Woodings won election in her North and East End district in 2012. A renewable energy consultant, Woodings is a graduate of Boise State and is married with two young children.

Four Republicans are already in the race: Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale; former Sens. Evan Frasure of Pocatello and Mitch Toryanski of Boise; and Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane.

— Dan Popkey

MEDICAID

Company apologizes for Idaho problems

The company overseeing mental health and substance abuse treatment for Medicaid in the state says it’s fixing problems, including long telephone wait times that providers said potentially put patients’ lives at risk.

Executives from Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, told the House Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday that average waits for providers seeking approval for services have dropped to under three minutes. Users had complained last week of delays of up to seven hours.

Optum Vice President Craig Herman conceded that the problems had hurt the ability to provide services in Idaho.

Optum is being paid $10.5 million monthly to administer outpatient behavioral health services as Idaho seeks to control costs, boost efficiency and give incentives to providers to offer appropriate services when needed.

— The Associated Press

GOVERNOR’S RACE

Fulcher reports campaign funds

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher says he raised $250,000 for his campaign to unseat GOP Gov. Butch Otter in the May 20 primary.

Otter raised about $686,000 during the July-to- December reporting period. Fulcher didn’t begin campaigning until forming an exploratory committee in mid-October.

As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Fulcher had not filed his Sunshine report with the secretary of state. His announcement came in a news release.

It’s unclear whether Fulcher, who works in commercial real estate, contributed a significant amount himself. Fulcher and other candidates have until Friday to file their reports.

Fulcher attributed Otter’s bigger take to the power of incumbency.

— Dan Popkey

ED DEPARTMENT

SchoolNet fixer Roger Quarles quits

Roger Quarles was hired in July to fix the troubled school software system and address educator complaints about the system, funded largely by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

Quarles quit Tuesday to return to a program at Boise State also funded by the Albertson Foundation.

Schools chief Tom Luna said Quarles is quitting because he came aboard last year on the assumption that Luna would be running for re-election. Luna announced this week that he wouldn’t seek another term.

Quarles was paid $120,000 annually in his state post. He said he will not run for Luna’s position.

— The Associated Press

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