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Connecting the dots with Idaho's D- score

A long list of grades was released yesterday, sorting states in order of their level of accountability. The Center of Public Integrity reported a D- rating for Idaho citing the state's lack of financial disclosure and even legislature votes that conflict with personal interests.

Two stories are coming off the AP wires that tie together with the above characteristics that earned the state its rating. 

An ethics panel is exploring allegations that a Idaho senator broke their rules during a vote last week. A complaint filed by Democrats says state Sen. Monty Pearce did not disclose industry ties during committee and floor votes regarding the energy industry.

Last November, Pearce signed a lease with a company that would restrict county and city control over gas drilling projects.

Pearce's attorney, Charles Peterson, says the Senator did what he needed to do to disclose the leases that date back to the 1980s.

Idaho Scores D- On Accountability

Would you say the state of Idaho is accountable? If you thought yes, your opinion would not match the score of a recent integrity investigation. The state ranks #40 in the nation, or a D- if you want to go by the letter grading system. The Center for Public Integrity released new data yesterday that examines state politics and just how dirty it gets.

Idaho ranks in the same level as many other sparsely-populated states in the nation like Wyoming and the Dakotas. The watchdog group says the honest belief that “everybody knows everybody” has overridden the perceived need for strong protections in law.

They also cite libertarianism roots, that small-town and neighborly approach to government. A lack of transparency is also to blame. Idaho has no financial disclosure requirements for lawmakers and executive branch officials.

Senate Debating Proposed Abortion Measure

Following last week’s testimony, Idaho senators are now debating a proposed measure that would require women to take an ultrasound before having an abortion.

The measure would require doctors performing abortions to conduct an ultrasound so the woman could view the fetus and hear its heartbeat. Women could decline the ultrasound, but they’d need to complete a release form.

According to the AP, the measure would also require the Department of Health and Welfare to put together a list of places offering free ultrasounds and providing that to women considering abortions, also requiring an ultrasound during the procedure.

If the physician failed to offer the tests, it could result in a $100 civil penalty.

According to the bill’s Fiscal Note, there would be a $2,600 one-time expense to the General Fund to print revised Informed Consent Brochures.

This is the statement that would be supplied to women by physicians:

Anti-Bullying Legislation Passes Idaho Senate

Legislation approved by Idaho state senators on Thursday would “toughen up” on bullies in Idaho public schools. This would apply to 115 school districts statewide.

If passed by the House, the legislation would require schools to go through professional training on bullying and how to intervene if they witness a student being harassed, including cyber-bullying.

The floor sponsor, Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, says the measure fosters a safe learning environment across the state and addresses an issue gaining national attention: youth suicides.

One opponent of the bill, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, wonders if they’re "making a mountain out of a molehill". 

The measure passed in the Senate 25-8.

Governor Signs Bill, Pushing Entrepreneurship

New legislation has been signed into law by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. A $5 million plan could help grow Idaho’s economy with $5 million that bolsters university research and businesses.

The legislation ties in with his Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission, IGEM, intended to get new research at Idaho universities into the commercial markets sooner.

Starting June 1st of this year, the legislation puts $1 million toward grants for start-up businesses and tech, while $2 million goes to Center for Advanced Energy Studies and $2 million to each Idaho research university.

The legislation passed on March 6th with 30 ayes and 4 nays.

Online Document: House Bill 546 is available for reading online at the legislature’s website, which also shows the history and votes on the bill. 

Proposed Senate Budget Skips WSU Cuts

The table could turn for budget cuts at Washington State University if a supplemental budget proposal is approved by Washington's Senate during the Ways and Means Committee meeting today.

If approved, it would be the first time since 2007 that WSU has not received cuts in appropriations. Since then, the university has lost 52 percent of its appropriations from the state. The House budget would still cut about $9.3 million from operations.

The proposed budget is up for discussion during a public hearing scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. You can check the hearing's agenda and notes online after the meeting starts.

WSU Reacts To More State Cuts

There's good and bad news when it comes to Washington State University and its budget woes. The bad news: the State House is proposing a $9.34 million cut to the school's budget. The good news: it's far less than the $26 million the Governor proposed in November.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd says it's sign the State is working to make things easier for his students.

"The budget from the House indicates a willingness by the legislature to slow the decline in higher education funding, which has had a dramatic impact on our students," said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. "We appreciate these efforts given the massive cuts higher education has had to endure these past four years." /WSU News 

WSU has been dealing with massive cuts in recent years. Since 2007, its state appropriation has been reduced by 52 percent.