Submit questions for our live coronavirus show

Idaho Reports is airing a special hour-long live program with Gov. Brad Little and officials from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to answer your questions on the coronavirus outbreak. The program will air Thursday at 8 pm MT/7 pm PT on Idaho Public Television.

E-mail questions for consideration to melissa.davlin@idahoptv.org. Please include your name and the town you live in. Alternatively, you can submit videos with your questions via e-mail.

On Friday’s Idaho Reports, hear from the director of the Idaho Department of Labor about relief for workers, as well as an emergency room physician about the state of Idaho’s hospitals.

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Idaho Reports COVID-19 special

On Thursday, March 19 at 8 pm, Idaho Reports will air a half-hour statewide special on COVID-19, with information on how to stay safe, what to do if you feel ill, and how the outbreak could affect your daily life, whether you live in rural or urban Idaho. We’ll have state policymakers and medical experts on air to answer your questions and concerns.

If you have questions you want us to answer, either online or on air, send them to melissa.davlin@idahoptv.org.

Idaho Public Television has also launched a resource hub with links to Idaho-specific info on school and higher ed closures, courts, public health district contact information, and more. We have statewide information, so no matter where you are in Idaho, we hope this will be relevant to you. Click here for more. 

 

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Locking down 35

By Devon Downey, Idaho Reports

A proposed constitutional amendment would ensure that the number of legislative districts in Idaho stays at 35.

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) introduced a resolution in the House State Affairs Committee that would amend the Idaho Constitution to remove language that allows for between 30 and 35 districts. Bedke explained that the “proposed change would set the floor and the ceiling at 35 legislative districts.” 

In his testimony, Bedke referenced that the previous two redistricting plans had to be settled in court and intends for this bill to prevent a plan that uses fewer districts. He acknowledged that some of the districts in Idaho are geographically large, and that if they had to add even more population to some districts they would become unwieldy.

The bill was printed on a unanimous voice vote, but Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) released a statement through the Idaho Joint Democratic Caucus email expressing concerns with the change after the committee adjourned. “If we are going to change the constitution, we need to tread lightly,” Green said. “This legislation is especially concerning because it ties the hands of future legislators. We should use serious caution when attempting to legislate the future.”

Green’s concern over the legislation is not centered on the bill itself, rather on the necessity of it. “The bill before us will require us to open up our state constitution and this deserves a lot of dialogue.” 

If history is any guide, there will be plenty of dialogue. Legislation last year intending to add an additional member to the redistricting commission was heavily criticized by Democrats. At the hearing last year, the three Democrats on the committee walked out in protest of the speed in which the bill was proposed and debated.

Currently, the Speaker’s bill is only sponsored by the Republican leadership of the House; however, Bedke noted that “the co-sponsor page is wide open.” 

The public hearing for this amendment will be set at a later date, and we will continue to follow the story on Idaho Reports.

 

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Idaho Senator James Risch on Baghdad airstrike

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Risch-061609-18443- 0004On Friday, Idaho Reports interviewed US Senator James Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on whether he was briefed on the Iraq airstrike that killed General Qasem Soleimani, how he felt about President Donald Trump’s order, and whether he was concerned about what might happen next. Here is the full conversation.

 

 

 

For more, including coverage of today’s AP legislative preview, watch Idaho Reports tonight at 8:30 pm on Idaho Public Television, or stream the show on idahoptv.org.

 

 

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Sen. Risch responds to Baghdad airstrike

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Idaho Reports reached out to Sen. Jim Risch on Thursday to ask if he had been briefed on the Baghdad airstrike that killed General Qassem Suleimani. Here was his response. We’ll have more on Friday’s Idaho Reports.

“Congratulations to President Trump on his decisive action and the successful outcome. Qassem Suleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and his death presents an opportunity for Iraq to determine its own future free from Iranian control. As I have previously warned the Iranian government, they should not mistake our reasonable restraint in response to their previous attacks as weakness. The U.S. will always vigorously defend our interests and allies in the face of terrorist conduct and provocations.

“On behalf of every American serviceman and servicewoman who has either been killed or injured due to an Iranian-provided IED or rocket in Iraq over the years, today justice was done. Suleimani was responsible for the weapons program that caused those casualties and injuries with the use of those treacherous and cowardly devices.”

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A few changes at Idaho Reports

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

The new season of Idaho Reports begins on Friday with a 2020 legislative preview. When you tune in, you’ll notice some changes.

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The 2020 Idaho Reports on-air team, clockwise from top: Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News, Gemma Gaudette of Boise State Public Radio, Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press, and Melissa Davlin of Idaho Reports.

First, I’m going to be on maternity leave for most of this season, starting next week (or sooner, if this baby has other plans). Gemma Gaudette, host of Idaho Matters on Boise State Public Radio, will fill in for me on the anchor desk until I come back in mid-March. Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News and Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press will do one-on-one interviews with the policymakers and stakeholders at the statehouse. While I’m gone, the show will be half an hour, but will still feature the interviews and analysis you’ve come to expect from Idaho Reports.

Behind the scenes, associate producer Devon Downey will take over producing the show. University of Idaho student Logan Finney is interning for us for the session.

And for the first couple of Friday night shows, Idaho Reports will air at 8:30 pm before moving back to our regular 8 pm airtime in mid-January. As always, you can catch us online at your convenience at idahoptv.org.

 

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Erpelding resigns to join Boise Metro Chamber

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House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding (Source: Idaho Legislature)

By Devon Downey, Idaho Reports

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding of Boise has resigned from the legislature to join the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, one month before the Legislature convenes for the 2020 session. In his resignation letter, Erpelding cited his family’s future and the need to advance his professional career as reasons why he is leaving.

Following Erpelding’s resignation, Rep. Ilana Rubel of Boise will be the interim minority leader.

Erpelding was first elected to the House in 2012 and became minority leader in 2017. In his statement, Erpelding lamented the polarization in Idaho, writing “I encourage my legislative colleagues to increase bipartisan efforts rather than kowtow to the extreme views being advocated on both ends of the spectrum.”

When asked on Wednesday morning what policy areas could see bipartisan legislation, Erpelding cited education, transportation, and Medicaid. “The culture of the legislature is being pulled apart by what I think is dysfunctional parties. Compromise is not incentivized.”

This isn’t to say that Erpelding disliked serving in the Legislature. “I’m going to miss the people and the opportunity to directly impact policy,” Erpelding said. “I’m going to miss it, but I’m excited to advocate my beliefs with the Chamber.”

The resignation of Erpelding follows high profile turnover within the Idaho Democratic Party, which recently lost its political director and abruptly fired their executive director before their hiring was even announced. It also comes one day after Idaho’s highest-profile Democrat, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, lost the runoff for his reelection in a contentious race that divided Treasure Valley Democrats.

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