News Briefs for the Week of Mar. 8, 2017

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Check out the latest news from around the nation!


Last-Ditch Effort to Add LGBT Protections in Idaho Added

(AP) A surprise rule technicality blocked Idaho's House Democrats attempts to add last-minute legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from employment and housing discrimination.

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding said Thursday that his caucus was planning on submitting an amendment to an election-related bill that would have deleted the majority of the bill's original language. Instead, the proposal would have added the words "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to Idaho's Human Rights Act.

That effort came to a halt after Republican leadership pointed out that the amendment would have violated House rules because the proposal was not germane to the original legislation.

The state's Republican-controlled Legislature has consistently blocked efforts to amend the Human Rights Act for nearly a decade.


Arkansas Lawmaker Backs Off Transgender 'Bathroom Bill' Plan

(AP) An Arkansas lawmaker on Thursday backed away from a broad "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people that had drawn opposition from the state's Republican governor, but said he will propose another measure giving schools legal protection over their restroom policies.

Republican Sen. Greg Standridge said he's withdrawing his one-sentence bill to address gender identity and bathroom privileges. A co-sponsor of the measure had said it was intended to require that people use public restrooms consistent with the gender on their birth certificate.

Standridge said the bill isn't needed after President Donald Trump revoked an Obama-era federal directive instructing public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender.

"The bathroom bill to begin with was to do some things for the schools, and I think we've got that worked out now federally with Trump coming down with what he said," Standridge told reporters.

The bill Standridge introduced last month offered no specifics. It had faced criticism from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and tourism groups who warned the move was unnecessary and would hurt the state. A similar law in North Carolina has drawn widespread criticism and boycotts from businesses, and prompted the NBA to pull this year's All-Star Game out of Charlotte. Business groups and LGBT-rights supporters have warned that a North Carolina-style bill being considered in Texas could cost that state many millions of dollars and the opportunity to host future pro sports championships.

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