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Idaho Weekly Briefing – October 22

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 22. Would you like to know more? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

We're at work trying to make the Briefing a free-access publication through contributions. See our donation site at IndieGogo.

Still more debates were held last week between candidates for state office as the general election reaches its final phase. The biggest debates had to do with finances in the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 2.7 percent in September, continuing at or below 3 percent for the 13th consecutive month. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – was 853,076 people, essentially unchanged since July.

Idaho National Laboratory has completed a Technical Assistance Agreement with a company seeking independent evaluation of its test plans for improving a cybersecurity product designed to safeguard industrial controls and critical infrastructure.

Entomologists with the Idaho Department of Lands and U.S. Forest Service spent this fall sampling selected trees for infestations of tiny wingless insects that can have devastating effects on fir stands in Idaho and the region.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Tamarack Homeowners Acquisition Company have agreed to a land exchange and bond-transfer agreement to settle outstanding debt associated with Tamarack Resort near Donnelly.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter reported positive initial feedback on October 18 from the 11 Idaho companies and organizations that joined him on a trade mission to Toronto, Canada from October 1 – 4, 2018.

The Boise City Council on October 17 approved the purchase of a downtown property to house a Boise Police Department microdistrict substation to serve Boise’s growing and vibrant downtown core.

President Donald J. Trump has signed into law legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Gary Peters (D-MI) aimed at helping small businesses safeguard their intellectual property with expanded education on obtaining and protecting patents.

The city of Nampa is beginning a process to review and update its Comprehensive Plan which guides growth and development in Nampa. Community members are invited to join in the process by attending open houses, completing surveys or participating in the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. The first advisory committee meeting will be held October 23.

IMAGE This is a smaller example of the type, but forests of political campaign signs have sprouted all over Idaho with the arrival of October. (photo/Randy Stapilus)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – October 15

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 15. Would you like to know more? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

We're at work trying to make the Briefing a free-access publication through contributions. See our donation site at IndieGogo.

Still more debates were held last week between candidates for state office as the general election reaches its final phase. Wildfires continue active around the state even as winter firmly arrive in parts of eastern Idaho (though weather toward the west is distinctly autumnal).

The United States Senate this evening voted to confirm Ryan Nelson of Idaho Falls to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Final 2019 premium rates for individual and small group health insurance plans have been released by the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Idaho Fish and Game recently reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assume operations of the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery, which raises about 1.6 million juvenile steelhead for release in the Upper Salmon River Basin.

Idaho conservation groups issued a harsh rebuke to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter today after the governor committed the state to four more years of support for failed federal salmon policies.

The Micron Foundation announced a $1 million grant for universities and nonprofit organizations to conduct research into how artificial intelligence (AI) can improve lives while ensuring safety, security and privacy.

Governor C.L. “Butch”Otter announced the appointment of retired Fish and Game employee Don Hancock Beck Jr. to fill a vacancy on the Nez Perce County Commission created by the recent resignation of Commissioner Bob Tippet.

Jeanne Higgins, Forest Supervisor for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, is pleased to announce she has signed the decision memo for the Hanna Flats Good Neighbor Authority Project on the Priest Lake Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo voted in favor of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act. Among many important upgrades to our waterways, irrigation systems and dams, the bill will help ensure water delivery to Idaho ranches and farms, and will increase water storage in the West. It also removes unnecessary red tape, making billions of dollars in deauthorizations to help reduce the deficit. The President is expected to sign the bill into law.

Christians and other faith leaders launched a week of prayer and action in support of Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion ballot intuitive.

IMAGE Downtown Moscow was packed with crowds as the city’s popular farmers market attracted people from around the region. (photo/Randy Stapilus)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – October 8

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

Debates between candidates – including a gubernatorial debate of sorts at Caldwell – began in earnest last week. This week also marked possibly the largest monthly drop (this year) of state regulations, reflected in this issue. Fall and touches of winter began setting in, though the National Interagency Fire Center note that a large list of fires are reported as still active in the Gem State.

The Reclamation Title Transfer Act of 2018, which was introduced by Senator Jim Risch, passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee without objection on October 2.
The legislation would make it less burdensome for non-federal entities, like irrigation districts, to obtain the title for Reclamation projects they operate and have repaid.

The Bonneville Power Administration paid its 35th consecutive U.S. Treasury payment. This year’s $862 million payment brings BPA’s cumulative payments to the Treasury during those 35 years to over $29.8 billion.

Nampa citizens will soon have greater access to their library, with five additional hours open each week. Survey results and comments from patrons were the catalyst for this positive change. Avista’s residential electric rates fell by 5.5 percent as a result.

Nampa citizens will soon have greater access to their library, with five additional hours open each week. Survey results and comments from patrons were the catalyst for this positive change.

The Idahoans for Healthcare campaign on October 3 launched the first Yes on 2! television ad in several media markets across Idaho. Using graphics and data from several impartial Idaho studies, the ad highlights the benefits of expanding Medicaid to 62,000 Idahoans in the healthcare coverage gap.

The construction closure for the Sissons Bridge on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District will begin the week of October 8, for up to two weeks. Visitors to this area are asked to plan ahead. Construction will occur during the week in order to keep the bridge open for weekend travel.

IMAGE Fish and Game and the Bureau of Reclamation agreed on a financial settlement and developed a mitigation plan related to the sediment release to address concerns raised by anglers, help rebuild fish populations and increase recreational access along the lower Payette River. In order to determine whether smallmouths recolonized, or rebuilt their numbers naturally, Fish and Game conducted electrofishing surveys in June of 2018. Fisheries staff electrofished 12 sites between Plaza Bridge (near Emmett) and approximately 2 miles above the confluence of the Snake River. (photo/Idaho Department of Fish & Game)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – the campaign

stapiluslogo1

Local and regional journalism is in financial trouble and under attack from critics. That means we're all in trouble. Do you know what your elected officials are doing? If you don’t know, how can you keep them accountable? Studies are showing that governments are less efficient and more corrupt when the people see less of what they’re doing. And the same applies to other kinds of organizations.

For people in Idaho, The Idaho Weekly Briefing helps. We have been reporting about Idaho’s governments, business and other organizations, and the demographic and other changes sweeping the state, for many years. Our reports and analysis, some original and some curated from source documents, are packaged in an e-magazine 40 to 50 pages in length. Easy to scan quickly or read in depth.

I'm Randy Stapilus, editor and publisher. I’ve been reporting about Idaho for more than 40 years, as a newspaper editor and reporter, writing about a dozen books and editing periodicals about the state. My weekly column runs in newspapers serving Boise to Twin Falls, Lewiston, Pocatello and beyond.

The Idaho Weekly Briefing is read by legislators, activists, government and business leaders, and interested citizens, has always been sustained by subscription fees. We're launching this campaign to make the Weekly Briefing free of charge, freely available, through e-mail or download. No paywall, no ads, no subsidiary income stream.

We need $6,000 to underwrite the next year's Briefings - just enough keep the Briefing going free-access, for 52 issues.

But we hope to go beyond that, to continue into the future ... and to make the Briefing more than it is now. We want to add more features, news and investigative articles from writers around the state, mid-week updates, and much more. The more funding we receive, the more we can do.

As another organizer on IndieGoGo said about their effort, "This campaign is about so much more than money. It's about community - because success requires a huge backing of people who believe that it's possible, and want to be a force in making it happen."

We see the Idaho Weekly Briefing is a prototype. If we can make it work in Idaho ... with you as a contributor as well as a supporter ... it could inspire more efforts around the country. We want to be a part of that, and I’m asking you to become a part of it too.
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – October 1

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for September 24. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Campaigns roared ahead last week as candidates from governor on down hit the trail around the state. The climate cooperated, cooling down and tamping down the remaining wildfires from summer.

Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today voted to refer the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court to the full Senate. The committee voted 11-10 to report the nomination favorably to the full Senate for consideration. Timing on proceeding to the nomination will be determined by the Majority Leader.

A trade mission headed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and put together by the state departments of Commerce and Agriculture was slated to take off for Toronto on October 1.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a draft hazardous waste storage and treatment partial permit renewal for the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project on the Idaho National Laboratory.

The city of Idaho Falls City Council passed a resolution on September 27 authorizing Idaho Falls Power to begin a pilot program to examine the costs associated with providing high-speed fiber optic access to Idaho Falls residents.

Representative Mike Simpson voted this week for a series of bills aimed at protecting and expanding the historic wins accomplished by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District and Caribou-Targhee National Forest on September 28 released a draft environmental impact statement analyzing different alternatives for expanding the phosphate mine at Smoky Canyon, east of Soda Springs.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced that Idaho, 49 other states and the District of Columbia have all reached an agreement with California-based ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. The settlement addresses the company’s one-year delay in reporting a data breach to affected drivers.

Friends of the Palouse Ranger District on September 25 personally delivered over a thousand signatures to the Boise offices of Senator Jim Risch, Senator Mike Crapo, and the Idaho Lands Department.

IMAGE After a second failed attempt in a year to pass a bond issue, the Idaho Falls School District is again reconsidering ways to upgrade its schools. The school board met Wednesday to discuss possible paths forward and to address why its $99.5 million request to rebuild Idaho Falls High School and remodel Skyline High School failed in August. (photo/IdahoEdNews)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – September 24

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for September 24. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The Paulette Jordan gubernatorial campaign because the subject of discussion and controversy after several members departed, while both major ballot issues picked up support and opposition.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 2.8 percent in August, continuing at or below 3 percent for the 12th consecutive month. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – was virtually unchanged at 852,878 people, breaking a streak of month-to-month increases.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) formally declared their opposition to Proposition 1, which would effectively allow the unlimited expansion of gambling machines – called “historical horse racing” terminals – throughout Idaho.

In his State of the City address, Boise Mayor David Bieter said the electricity that powers the City of Boise’s own facilities and operations will be 100 percent renewable by the year 2030.

State regulators have approved a new procedural schedule for processing the proposed merger of Avista and Hydro One. The schedule approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission calls for a settlement conference on Oct. 16 and a technical hearing to begin on Nov. 26.

On September 21, the Federal Trade Commission announced that a provision in Senator Mike Crapo’s Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) will go into effect, providing consumers who are concerned about identity theft or data breaches the option to freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts for free.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has determined that approximately $44 million spent by Idaho Power Company on efficiency programs in 2017 was prudently incurred.

The Idaho State Board of Education has hired a consulting firm to look for ways to consolidate services and create potential efficiencies at Idaho’s four-year institutions.

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Assessment to evaluate the impacts of a proposed increase in wastewater flows from the Sorrento Lactalis dairy products facility in Nampa, Idaho.

IMAGE Democratic candidate Cindy Wilson on September 17 said she would accept the general election endorsement of the Idaho Education Association--of which she is a lifetime member--in her campaign to be Idaho’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction. Throughout her career, and as an association member, she has advocated for students, teachers, and schools across the state. The IEA’s mission is to advocate for education professionals across Idaho and unite its members and the state in fulfilling the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed. Its history spans 120 years, and is Idaho’s largest professional employee organization. Wilson has also been endorsed by the Idaho AFL-CIO, which is one of nearly 500 state and local labor councils of the AFL-CIO. (photo/Wilson campaign)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – September 17

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for September 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The Medicaid expansion ballot initiative got some organizational backing last week, as political campaigns continued to gain in visibility around the state.

The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association on September 12 endorsed Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative. If passed, Proposition 2 will provide healthcare for the 62,000 Idahoans who fall into the state’s health coverage gap.

Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on September 13 voted there to advance the nomination of Ryan Nelson to the full Senate for consideration. An attorney from Idaho Falls and sixth-generation Idahoan, Nelson has been nominated by President Trump to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

ECobalt Solutions Inc. on September 11 said that it has successfully completed pilot-level metallurgical testing for the Company’s 100% owned Idaho Cobalt Project, located near the town of Salmon, in the Idaho Cobalt Belt.

The House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 6510, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act and H.R. 502 today, which permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Representative Mike Simpson was a leader on both issues having introduced legislation to reauthorize LWCF and address deferred maintenance on our public lands.

During his annual State of the City address this afternoon, Mayor David Bieter called on Boiseans to embrace “kindness and wonder” as the city focuses on how its continued success will shape its future.

Representative Mike Simpson praised passage of H.R. 5895, which includes the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation, which also includes legislation to fund the Veterans Administration, Military Construction projects and the Legislative branch, by a vote count of 377-20.

IMAGE The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the Minidoka boat ramp construction project, below Minidoka Dam, will begin October 2. The ramp and the surrounding area will continue to be closed to the public, including all boater and angler traffic. The area will re-open after construction is completed, which is on or about December 20. (photo/Bureau of Reclamation)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – September 10

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for September 10. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Education was a keynote last week, as the state considered funding formulas, the Boise School District held its election, the College of Idaho got an honor and another college in Canyon County saw a ribbon cutting, College of Western Idaho propose big new levy, and planners at Idaho Falls public schools try to figure out how now to handle increasing student population growth there.

Senator Mike Crapo on September 6 questioned Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s second round of questioning as part of its week-long hearing to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In Robert Martin et al v. City of Boise, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on September said that the city of Boise violated the federal eighth amendment to the constitution – banning cruel and unusual punishment – with its rule banning outdoor sleeping away fr homeless shelters even when no other shelter was available.

College of Western Idaho’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously, on September 4, to place a $39 million plant facility levy on the general election ballot this November.

Several hundred people gathered on the Idaho State University-Meridian campus Sept. 5 to tour the new Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and listen to remarks from educators, community leaders and founders of the state’s first medical school.

Senators James Risch and Mike Crapo joined with Senate colleagues Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Chris Coons, D-Del., to introduce bipartisan legislation to boost nuclear energy innovation and ensure advanced reactors can provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable power to meet national and global energy needs.

Hunters can look forward to a good fall season in 2018, with similar elk and white-tailed deer populations as last year and likely more mule deer in many areas.

Rocky Mountain Power is asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to determine that approximately $8.5 million of the company’s investments in energy efficiency and conservation programs in 2016-17 were prudently incurred and benefited customers.

IMAGE Aerial view of the Cllege of Idaho at Caldwell’ the college was named top college in Idaho in the Wall Street Journal’s 2018 rankings. (photo/College of Idaho)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – September 3

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for September 3. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Fires eased back last week as Idaho readied itself for Labor Day weekend and the fall season – and school reopenings and the return of heated political campaigns.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter's office facilitated a meeting on August 30 with the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association, the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, Idaho State Police, Idaho Association of Counties, the Idaho Transportation Department and other stakeholders to discuss ongoing computer problems at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The Idaho Department of Lands auctioned 51 state-owned lakefront lots on Priest Lake for deeded ownership during public, oral auctions Friday and Saturday in Coeur d’Alene. The land sales generated $25,580,124 for the endowment fund that supports public schools. Competitive bidding on five of the lots drove up the bids $625,500 over the appraised value of the lots.

The governor of Idaho and the administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration met in Sandpoint, Idaho, today to celebrate the completion of the historic Albeni Falls wildlife settlement agreement. Idaho agrees that the $24 million settlement satisfies BPA’s wildlife habitat mitigation responsibilities for impacts from Albeni Falls Dam.

The 2017 Crime in Idaho Report has been released on the new interactive Crime Dashboard. The 2017 publication was created on the newly implemented database with the upgraded system.

The state of Idaho auctioned another U.S. Forest Service timber sale today under Good Neighbor Authority, a State-federal partnership that increases management activities on federal lands in Idaho.

Micron Technology on August 29 announced plans to invest $3 billion by 2030 to increase memory production at its plant in Manassas, Virginia, creating 1,100 new jobs roughly over the next decade.

In order to reduce harvest on hatchery steelhead and protect wild steelhead, Idaho Fish and Game has temporarily reduced the daily bag limit to one steelhead starting Sept. 3. The lower bag limit applies in the Clearwater River from the mouth to Memorial Bridge, North Fork of the Clearwater River, Snake River, Salmon River and Little Salmon River.

Rates for customers of Intermountain Gas Company would decrease by an average of 10.2 percent if state regulators adopt the company’s annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment proposal.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on August 30 announced the appointment today of school teacher Galen Earl Colter to fill a vacancy created on the Camas County Commission by the death earlier in August of Commissioner Bill Davis.

IMAGE A view along Indian Creek in downtown Caldwell, an area of extensive recent redevelopment in that city. (photo/Randy Stapilus)