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Idaho Briefing – February 12

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 12. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Legislative conflicts arose last week over a wide range of subjects, from a proposed constitutional convention, to tax cuts, to health care. Meanwhile, statewide campaigns heated up, as one legislator – Democrat Paulette Jordan – resigned to devote full time to the campaign trail.

Representative Paulette Jordan said on February 7 that she is officially stepping down from her District 5 legislative seat to concentrate on running for governor full-time.

Senator Mike Crapo, chair of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today delivered the following remarks during a full committee hearing entitled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the SEC and CFTC.”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains tax incentives for investments in low-income census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Department of Commerce are calling for cities, counties, and tribes in eligible areas to apply for a Governor’s nomination to participate.

House Bill 463, the largest tax cut in Idaho history, passed today on straight party-lines with a 59-11 vote in the Idaho State House of Representatives.

Due to a shortage of beds in Idaho’s prisons and jails, the Idaho Department of Correction will soon move up to 250 male inmates to the Karnes County Correctional Center in Karnes City, Texas.

At the groundbreaking ceremony last June for Albertsons Companies’ new Broadway Market location, CEO Bob Miller hinted that Boise shoppers may ready themselves for a brand-new shopping scene, unlike any other in Idaho.

PHOTO Republicans in the state Legislature today announced a Regulatory Reform Joint Subcommittee to focus on the rules and regulations of state licensing boards and look at ways to improve them. The joint subcommittee will operate under the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee and the House Business Committee, and will consist of three majority members and one minority member from each committee. Representative Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens and chairman of the House Business Committee, said the subcommittee will invite state regulatory boards to appear before it and examine the licensing rules and regulations specific to each industry. (photo/Idaho Republican Party)
 

Idaho Briefing – February 5

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 5. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The news web site Politico reported on January 31 that, with the retirement of Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, Idaho Representative Mike Simpson may put in a bid for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee.

Governor C.L. “Butch”Otter signed the first bill sent to him this year by the Idaho Legislature today, immediately reducing unemployment insurance tax rates and saving Idaho employers about $115 million over the next three years.

The Idaho Water Resource Board may set a new record for recharging Snake River flows into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) in the winter of 2017-18, potentially going as high as 370,000 acre-feet, officials said.

Idaho State Police Forensic Services posted the annual Toxicology Trends Report on the ISPFS website. This report contains statistics related to drug and alcohol impaired driving in Idaho.

Fish and Game will continue managing Priest Lake as primarily a lake trout fishery while also protecting native cutthroat trout and bull trout in Upper Priest Lake.

The Idaho State University College of Business is now accepting applications for the state’s first Master of Healthcare Administration program, scheduled to begin August 2018.

The Federal grazing fee for 2018 will be $1.41 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.41 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the USDA Forest Service. The 2017 public land grazing fee was $1.87.

PHOTO Boise State University President Bob Kustra spoke to all 475 students at Payette High School Thursday, urging them to consider going on for more education after graduation. Idaho has one of the lowest “go on” rates in the nation of students starting college right after high school, but the state, its K-12 system and its public universities are working to improve that pathway — estimates show that as jobs become more technical and Baby Boomers retire, more and more people in Idaho’s workforce will need education beyond high school. (photo/Boise State University)
 

Idaho Briefing – January 29

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 29. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Budget hearings are well underway at the Idaho Legislature, and much of the relatively substantive debate is about to get underway. Outside the capitol dome, winter continues apace.

Schools chief Sherri Ybarra asked budget-writers to keep Idaho’s public school students in mind while weighing her request to increase state spending on K-12 by more than $113 million next year.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission on January 17 voted to continue the current general hunts in the popular Sawtooth Elk Zone A and B tags sold on a first-come, first-served basis in 2018, but commissioners signaled a plan to change elk hunts in the zone to controlled hunts in 2019.

As required by Idaho Code, Idaho State Police Forensic Services provided the annual Idaho Sexual Assault Kit report to the Idaho Legislature on Friday.

Boise State University and its alumni drove nearly $1.9 billion in Idaho in fiscal year 2015, according to a report commissioned by the university and conducted by Tripp Umbach, a national economic analysis group.

Idahoans who receive natural gas service from Avista Utilities will pay less this winter after regulators approved a decrease to the Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment set in November 2017 through the company’s annual PGA filing.

The Bureau of Land Management recently took quick action to close off a collapsed mine shaft that opened suddenly in the historic mining town of Silver City, 50 miles southwest of Boise. The resulting sinkhole was adjacent to the community park and near a campground frequented by recreationists, posing an immediate safety risk.

PHOTO The Idaho State police respond to a snow slideoff in eastern Idaho, where many roads were impacted by snowfall last week. (photo/Idaho State Police)
 

Idaho Briefing – January 22

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 15. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The Idaho Legislature is grinding into action, as is Congress (though the activity in Congress, as of late last week, was much more suspenseful). Education issues appeared to dominate a good deal of discussion during the week.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held at 2.9 percent in December for the third consecutive month after reaching its record low of 2.8 percent in September. The state’s labor force - the aggregate of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work - continued to grow from November to December by 6,464, or 0.8 percent, to 842,429.

The 366th Surgical Operations Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base was officially put into inactive status during an inactivation ceremony on January 12. The inactivation of the squadron's 24/7 facility was part of the 366th Medical Group's transition to out-patient care.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently accepted a 795-acre parcel of important wildlife habitat in the Hailey area donated by long-time Wood River Valley resident and developer Harry Rinker.

The College of Idaho spent roughly two hours on lockdown Monday after a student reported being threatened with a gun by two individuals in a campus parking lot adjacent to the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.

The Bureau of Land Management will hold 14 public meetings in six western states to identify issues and receive public comments.

Pocatello Regional Transit is looking for your help in planning the future of public transportation in the community. On January 24 at the Senior Activity Center, 427 N. 6th Avenue, PRT will be hosting an open house and looking for input on the service’s draft master transit plan. The document shows three different service plans for PRT’s future operations.

PHOTO Representative Raul Labrador speaks to a group in Meridian on immigration, a hot subject in Washington as well as Idaho. (photo/Representative Labrador)
 

Idaho Briefing – January 15

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 15. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The 2018 Idaho legislative session was gaveled to order on January 8, with the normal financial, education and health issues on the table. The first week of the session was, as usual, dominated for many lawmakers by review of the rules adopted by state agencies over the last year. The first major event of the session was the annual, and for Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, final state of the state address.

The Idaho Water Resource Board is poised to surpass recharging 200,000 acre-feet of water into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, and on course to exceed the board’s annual recharge goal of 250,000 acre-feet per year, officials said January 8.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Labrador, and House Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) introduced the Securing America's Future Act.

If they can help it, nobody wants to think about “brown grease,” the nasty, gunky stuff that builds up in the drain trap under the sink. But while the stuff in your home may continue to be a nuisance, at restaurants, food processing plants and waste treatment facilities, it’s becoming increasingly feasible to turn grease into biodiesel fuels for trucks, buses and generators.

Three Idaho Department of Correction prisons south of Boise as of January 12 remained on secure status with some of their housing units on lockdown. There is no timeline in place currently to ease restrictions. Visiting at the facilities is also suspended through the weekend.

Boise State University once again has exceeded its benchmark number for yearly bachelor’s degree graduates set when the state adopted the goal to ensure that 60 percent of Idahoans between 25 and 34 had a degree or certificate by 2020.

Idaho Panhandle Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth on January 12 signed the decision, selecting alternative B, for the Halfway Malin Project located on the St. Joe Ranger District.

PHOTO Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter delivers his valedictory state of the state address on the first day of the 2018 Idaho legislative session. (photo/IdahoEdNews)
 

Idaho Briefing – January 8

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 8. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Lieutenant Governor Brad Little on January 5 signed an executive order that positions Idaho to be the leader in affordable health care for Idahoans.

The week ahead kicks off pollitics and government for the coming year, as the Idaho Legislature returns for its annual session and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter delivers his last state of the state address. And Congress launches into its 2018 activities, as everyone keeps an eye on the elections a few months hence.

In fiscal year 2017, Idaho National Laboratory operations added $1.94 billion to Idaho’s gross domestic product, and the lab spent $139 million with Idaho businesses. Those are just two of the key findings in INL’s Research & Development Economic Impact Summary for FY 2017.

The City of Boise announced plans today for transforming a wide variety of plastic it collects through its popular citywide recycling program into synthetic diesel fuel. Rather than being sent to the landfill, this new program will create a valuable product for beneficial reuse.

Idaho Falls community members will have new pathways to enjoy in the future, thanks to a recent landmark agreement between the City of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Irrigation District.

Idaho is seeing more influenza-related deaths at this point in the season than in the same timeframe in the previous seven seasons, and public health officials are concerned.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has scheduled two public workshops regarding the future of the Idaho Universal Service Fund (IUSF). Set for January 17 and February 28 in Boise, the workshops will allow any interested party the opportunity to provide insight and commentary on the sustainability of the IUSF amid the evolving telecommunications landscape.

A rate increase took effect January 1 for Avista Utilities electric and natural gas service as a result of a settlement adopted by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

PHOTO Patrons in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District are split over the prospect of nixing a 20-year-old, open-enrollment policy and carving up new middle and high school boundaries. Over 100 people attended a special school board meeting at Pocatello High School Thursday night to see the district’s currently proposed boundary changes and voice concerns to trustees. (photo, caption/IdahoEdNews)
 

Idaho Briefing – January 1

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 1. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The U.S. Air Force has selected the Idaho Air National Guard’s Gowen Field in Boise as one of three “reasonable alternative” sites for the future basing of F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft. Truax Field in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama were selected as preferred alternatives. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Boise Mayor David Bieter and Brigadier General Michael J. Garshak – Idaho’s adjutant general – said they were pleased that Gowen Field would remain under consideration to receive an F-35 mission. However, Gowen Field is not among the top two contenders.

All four of Idaho’s members of Congress voted in favor of the Republican-backed tax overhaul legislation, signed into law shortly before the end of the year by President Trump.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Idaho Falls City Council member Barbara Ehardt to complete Janet Trujillo’s unexpired term in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Idaho's standard unemployment insurance tax rate for 2018 - will drop 1.5 percent to 1.374 percent for 2018.

The Boise City Council on December 19 approved a number of changes to the city’s downtown parking regulations in an effort to increase availability of on-street parking for short-term visits and to encourage use of garages and perimeter parking for longer stays.

It must be ice fishing season, because Lake Cascade is again kicking out record fish. Meridian angler Dave Gassel recently landed a 9.04-pound largescale sucker to take home the title.

PHOTO A hunter hunting water fowl in the southwest region. (Image: Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish & Game)
 

Idaho Briefing – December 18

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 18. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

With the arrival of new winter storms in many areas around Idaho, the state slows down many activities for the Christmas holiday period. Around the bend: a new legislative session and renewed activity on the political campaign front.

On December 7 the U.S. Department of State announced that formal negotiations with Canada over the fate of the fifty-three year old U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty will begin in early 2018. A broad coalition of conservation, fishing and religious organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Pacific Northwest residents, hailed the announcement.

Members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation praise the announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy to extend the operations contract of the Battelle Energy Alliance at the Idaho National Laboratory as well-deserved reflection of their outstanding work and contributions to U.S. energy security.

Students who enroll at the College of Eastern Idaho will now be able to automatically enroll in the University of Idaho through an agreement brokered between the two schools.

Greek housing student leadership at the University of Idaho has self-imposed a moratorium on all alcohol-related activities until specific benchmarks, created by student affairs and Greek leaders, are met by each house. The moratorium is not in response to any one incident but instead a response to the growing national crisis surrounding personal violence like hazing and sexual assault, as well as alcohol abuse.

The Idaho Transportation Board approved a resolution today (Thursday, Dec. 14) to analyze three alternate locations for the Idaho Transportation Department District 4 administrative office from its current location in Shoshone to near the Interstate 84/U.S. 93 junction.

Orgill will use a $151,032 Workforce Development Training Fund grant to hire and train 167 new workers for permanent full-time positions at its Post Falls distribution center.

The numbers are in and they’re impressive. In 2017, anglers caught and removed more than 191,000 northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers, protecting young salmon and steelhead from predation.

PHOTO Plans were released for a replacement hospital at Nampa, to be built by the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center organization, at I-84 and Garrity/ (Image: St. Alphonsus)
 

Idaho Briefing – December 11

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 11. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

As the Legislature gets closer to its 2018 session, political news picks up in advance of the political holidays: Democrats got a new governor candidate, the Republican candidates continued with hot campaigning, and a legislator was named to the state Tax Commission.

State Representative Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, 38, said she will run for governor in 2018.

The Senate Banking Committee, led by Chairman Mike Crapo, advanced the bipartisan “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,” S. 2155, with 16 committee members supporting the measure.

After a nearly eight-month review of National Monument designations under the Antiquities Act, Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and U.S. Representative Mike Simpson on December 5 applauded the Department of Interior’s decision to follow the delegation’s recommendation to make no modifications to Craters of the Moon National Monument.

The Idaho Department of Lands on December 6 sold five commercial properties today for $8,490,000 at an auction in Meridian. All bids totaled $1,585,000 above the appraised price of the properties. There was competitive bidding on all properties that sold.

The city of Nampa is exploring different options to fight the masses of crows gathering in the Downtown Nampa area. The city has received several complaints. Research so far shows that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to disrupt the crows roosting habits.

An inmate who escaped from what is now known as the East Boise Community Reentry Center 19 years ago is in custody after the Idaho Department of Correction’s Special Investigations Unit located her living under an assumed name in South Dakota.

PHOTO From a hearing on public health issues organized by Idaho Voices for Children. A participant reported, “the turnout was much larger than expected. The room was filled past capacity and many people were standing waiting to testify, they even had to prepare an overflow room. The testimony was overwhelmingly positive and focused on including mental health conditions on the 1115 waiver, there was only one oppositional testimony.” (Photo: Idaho Voices for Children)
 

Idaho Briefing – December 4

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 4. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Representative Mike Simpson discussed the issue of fire borrowing during a House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Chief of the Forest Service, Tony Took. Specifically, Simpson emphasized the need to fund wildfires like other natural disasters.

Finding strange, non-native creatures living in the Boise River has nearly become a tradition, or at least, a recurring incident, and Idaho Fish and Game would like to see it end. In a recent case, Fish and Game crews surveying the Boise River near Warm Springs Golf Course discovered a freshwater shrimp commonly known as “grass” or “ghost” shrimp that are native to the lower Mississippi River.

Essential services like hospitals and water treatment depend on energy distribution to ensure reliable and continuous operations. As the power grid evolves, becoming more connected and responsive, those new, smart devices can introduce greater cyber vulnerabilities. To address this challenge, the power grid test bed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory has been transitioned to a more adaptive architecture.

Governor C.L. “Butch”Otter on November 27 said that Chief Operating Officer Bobbi-Jo Meuleman will become director of the Idaho Department of Commerce on January 1 when Director Megan Ronk departs to lead business development efforts for Idaho Power Co.

Avista Corporation said on November 21 the preliminary results of a special meeting of shareholders to approve the proposed acquisition of the company by Hydro One Limited.

Twin Falls on December 1 held the grand opening of the new Twin Falls City Hall with guided tours, building dedication, and Tree Lighting.

PHOTO Winter season at Lolo Pass Visitor Center, located on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests along Highway 12 at the Idaho–Montana state line, will begin Saturday, December 2. (Photo: Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests)