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Idaho Weekly Briefing – July 16

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 9. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The summer quiet continues. A few wildfires flare up from time to time, but they’re small; the state revenue and budget picture wound up on track; and wild animal stories proliferate.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and State Controller Brandon Woolf on July 13 said that continuing strong economic growth enabled the State of Idaho to end fiscal 2018 with $100.7 million more tax revenue than anticipated despite June collections that were $19.3 million less than forecast.

Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired the hearing for Ryan Nelson, an attorney from Idaho Falls and sixth-generation Idahoan, who has been nominated by President Trump to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In comments about Nelson, to his Senate colleagues, Crapo highlighted Nelson’s legal experience.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little traveled to Washington D.C. on July 12 to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on the subject of grazing on federal lands.

The city of Twin Falls is seeking volunteers to fill seven at-large openings on a citizen advisory committee that will explore the feasibility of remodeling or building four fire stations in our community. Residents living within the city limits are encouraged to apply for the ad hoc committee.

Search warrants served on several businesses in the Coeur d'Alene area suspected of trafficking in unlawful alcohol beverages.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved the sale of Falls Water Company to NW Natural Water Company, LLC. Falls Water serves approximately 5,500 customers in Bonneville County.

IMAGE The Eli M. Oboler Library at Idaho State University is displaying an exhibit of photography by ISU biology Professor Chuck Peterson titled “Snakes of Idaho” that will be on display through Sept. 28 in the library’s first floor art exhibit area. Peterson's research interests include the ecology and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. Much of his work has focused on reptile populations on Idaho's Snake River Plain and on amphibian populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Peterson received the Outstanding Herpetologist award from the Idaho Herpetological Society in 1997. This image is of a groundsnake. (photo/Idaho State University, by Peterson)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – July 9

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 9. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Following a weekend highlighted by biennual political party conventions at far ends of southern Idaho, Idaho politics – and much else – quieted considerably in the week following. A good deal of attention was paid, however, to a a Boise tragedy in which a man stabbed a number of refugees from Africa at a child’s birthday party. Six children and three adults were injured.

After working for months to put healthcare on the ballot, volunteers on July 6 caravaned into Boise from the far corners of the state, converging on the State Capitol to rally and deliver boxes of signatures to state officials from all 44 counties. The signatures come from more than 70,000 Idaho voters.

The City of Twin Falls and Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency will open the new Downtown Commons with a ribbon cutting and art unveiling at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 6. The community event will celebrate the opening of Twin Falls’ newest public area and the completion of the Downtown Redesign Project.

Micron Technology on July 5 announced that the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court, Fujian Province, China today notified two Chinese subsidiaries of Micron that it has granted a preliminary injunction against those entities in patent infringement cases filed by United Microelectronics Corporation and Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co.

Members of the 428th Fighter Squadron came together and said their goodbyes to their former commander, Lt. Col. Donald Sandberg, and welcomed their new commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Gilbert, during a change of command ceremony June 29, at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is closing campsites #30 - 34 of the Three Pines Campground located on Kalispell Island within the Priest Lake Ranger District to protect an active bald eagle nest located within the site. The nest was recently discovered during a bald eagle survey. This is the first year an active nest site has been confirmed since 2014.

IMAGE Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan campaigning in Idaho Falls last week. (photo/Jordan for Governor, Facebook)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – July 2

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 2. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The two political parties in Idaho held their conventions – the Republicans in Pocatello and Democrats at Caldwell – and both generated some headlines. The Republicans had Oliver North and protests, and Democrats had efforts at working toward clearer self-definition.

A sense of inequity and urgency dominated the testimony of witnesses at at June 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on expanding government compensation for victims of cancer known as “downwinders.” S. 197, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2017, was the subject of the hearing.

Idaho is on pace to have a carryover of more than $100 million when its budget year ends Saturday, according to the latest numbers presented to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Monday.

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Joel D. Horton said on June 29 he intends to retire at the end of 2018 from the Idaho Supreme Court.

On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a requirement that retailers must have a physical presence in a state to collect that state’s sales tax (South Dakota v. Wayfair). The Idaho State Tax Commission is still studying how the decision affects out-of-state retailers, such as online sellers. In a statement, the agency said, “We’re closely watching any actions by the U.S. Congress on this issue. We’ll also continue to follow developing legal issues arising from the decision.”

On June 27, the Department of the Interior announced fiscal year 2018 Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments, which compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on federal land.

A court order calling for Meridian city to build a new magistrate court facility has been vacated. On June 27 the Ada County Fourth Judicial District Court issued a decision to vacate the 1994 and 2018 orders after a long-term solution, presented to Legislators during this past session, was approved.

Idaho ranks last in the nation for early childhood education participation. The early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for future success. Yet Idaho is one of only six states that does not invest in prekindergarten or school readiness programs.

Idaho’s Hispanic population grew 3.6 percent between mid-2016 and mid-2017, up from a 3.4 percent increase the prior year, according to recent estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The total number of Hispanic residents of 215,392 accounted for 12.5 percent of the state’s population of 1,716,943.

State regulators have denied an Intermountain Gas Co. proposal to implement an Infrastructure Integrity Management Mechanism, which would have allowed the company to recover from ratepayers the costs incurred on infrastructure improvements made during the previous calendar year.

IMAGE One of the Boise city library proposal design concepts, in this case the view from the Greenbelt and Anne Frank memorial. (photo/Boise city)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – June 25

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for June 25. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Traffic around Idaho drew a lot of attention last week, especially after a massive accident on Interstate 84 in western Ada County. A number of people said the fatal accident resulted in considerable part from lane closures during road construction, which has resulted in a review of construction protocols.

The State Board of Education approved a pilot program at its meeting on June 21, reducing tuition fees for American Indian tribal members from Idaho’s five federally recognized tribes to attend Idaho State University.

Boise Mayor David H. Bieter and members of the Boise City Council on June 19 called upon Idaho’s congressional delegation to end the Trump administration policy separating immigrant children from their parents at the nation’s southern border.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on June 21 said Netherlands-based NewCold is investing $90 million to build a 140-foot-high, 25 million cubic feet sub-zero cold storage warehouse in Burley. This will be one of the largest frozen storage facilities of its kind in the United States.

Idaho National Laboratory nuclear research will benefit from a $15 million pilot program secured by Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch, and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to recycle spent naval fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors.

Cristina McNeil, Democratic candidate for Idaho’s 1st congressional district, has made a statement on immigrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S. border. McNeil, who immigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1995, said our immigration system is antiquated, complex and broken. She said the crisis of families being separated at the border is a direct result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward immigrants and is completely inhumane.

Senators Jim Risch and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act. The legislation would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to give state and tribal managers more flexibility in addressing predatory sea lions in the Columbia River system that are threatening both ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

The Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a revision to sediment wasteload allocations in its plan to address elevated sediment and E. coli bacteria in the Salt River Subbasin in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.

PHOTO The fourth annual Bengal Roar is set for June 28 at Idaho State University. The event is designed to help students planning to attend classes in the fall to register for classes, meet with advisors and learn about campus resources that might otherwise be overlooked. This year, Idaho State University is giving more than $14 million in Idaho Resident four-year recruitment, Step Ahead and Honors Scholarships to more than 2,500 new, incoming Idaho students who are admitted for fall 2018. Other scholarships are also available through the Bengal Online Scholarship System. (photo/Idaho State University)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – June 18

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

Summer news has quieted, as politics enters a seasonal quiescence (to be briefly interrupted in a week by the two major party state conventions) and much governmental activity as well. Wildfires keep threatening to become a bigger story, however.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed steady at 2.9 percent in May, continuing a nine-month streak of 3 percent or lower. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – continued to increase, gaining 1,222 people from April to May for a total of 850,605.

Representative Mike Simpson released the following statement after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army announced they will be sending a proposed ‘Step 2” rule that would define ‘waters of the United States to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.

The Idaho Department of Lands on June 15 auctioned nine state-owned lots at Payette Lake for deeded ownership during a public, oral auction in Boise. The land sales generated $3,870,000 for the endowment funds that support State Hospital South, Idaho State University, and Lewis-Clark State College.

Kristin Collum, Idaho Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, exited today from a successful career as a tech leader to engage in full-time pursuit of the state office.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden on June 15 announced a $100 million settlement with Citibank for fraudulent conduct involving the manipulation of LIBOR.

The Department of Fish and Game will accept controlled hunt applications for a 2018 grizzly bear tag June 15 through July 15. The drawing is limited to Idaho residents with a valid Idaho hunting license.

PHOTO A shot of Idaho Falls, along the Snake River not far from downtown, used to illustrate the city in Wikipedia. Its author is labeled as “Twunchy.” It was originally uploaded in October 2007.
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – June 11

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

The wildfires were not large either in number or in individual size, and by the weekend all were more or less extinguished. But their presence makes clear that wildfire season is returning to Idaho, amid some warnings that 2018 could be a rough fire season in the Northwest. Meantime, both major political parties plan their conventions for later this month.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on June 5 signed a delegation memorandum that will allow the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to begin issuing and enforcing discharge permits for businesses and municipalities across the state.

The Idaho Republican Party said Oliver North, retired United States Marine Lieutenant Colonel and soon-to-be president of the National Rifle Association, will speak at the state GOP convention in Pocatello on June 29.

The 2018 Idaho State Democratic Convention will be held at the College of Idaho in Caldwell on June 29 and 30 with keynote speaker Jason Kander, president of Let America Vote and former Missouri Secretary of State.

Representative Mike Simpson praised the passage of H.R. 5895, which included the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

Boise residents are invited to participate in one of two moderated community workshops this month as part of the City of Boise’s community conversation on growth.

As the next step in aligning federal habitat conservation efforts with state wildlife management plans, the Bureau of Land Management will hold three meetings in Idaho beginning June 21, 2018, to provide information and answer possible questions regarding the recently released draft amendments to Greater sage-grouse plans finalized in 2015.

The Idaho State Tax Commission website has a calculator that lets Idaho taxpayers estimate 2018 property taxes.

PHOTO Environmental Protection Agency Administrator daho Falls school officials are looking at trying again after a $110 million bond issue for major upgrades at two high schools – revisions to Skyline High School are pictured here – failed at the polls last month. (photo/Environmental Protection Agency)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – June 4

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

Education uncertainty continues this week, as Boise State University gets an interim, not permanent, president, and thew University of Idaho sees leadership changes there met with a local silence. Brigham Young University-Idaho, however, while quietly rolling along, posted new enrollment records.

With the necessary signatures collected to place an initiative before voters this fall, supporters of a measure that would provide health care to tens of thousands of Idahoans began preparing for the next phase of their campaign Thursday.

The United States and Canada began negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime in Washington, D.C. on May 29-30. Acting Assistant Secretary Francisco Palmieri welcomed U.S. and Canadian negotiating teams and opened the first session of talks.

The State Board of Education on June 1 appointed Dr. Martin Schimpf as interim president of Boise State University.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management today signed the Record of Decision for the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project.

The Idaho Transportation Department will host the first public meeting as part of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s recently formed Executive Committee focused on the study of autonomous and connected vehicles in Idaho.

Official spring semester enrollment totals for both on-campus and online students at Brigham Young University-Idaho show continued growth.

Strong results from a bi-annual citizen survey drove a rare 4.5-star rating for the city of Boise for its “quality of governance and vision.” Seattle-based Northwest Research Group conducted the survey of Boise residents between March 14 and April 8. In its report of survey results, Northwest said its 5-Star rating system for municipalities, which is used to rate more than 1,000 cities nationwide, is designed to make a perfect score very difficult to achieve and “very few have even achieved a 4.5-star rating.”

A dozen innovative water-saving technologies received a financial boost today from the federal government and water agencies across the Southwest with the announcement of this year’s Innovative Conservation Program grant recipients.

PHOTO Idaho Falls school officials are looking at trying again after a $110 million bond issue for major upgrades at two high schools – revisions to Skyline High School are pictured here – failed at the polls last month. (photo/Visit Idaho)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 28

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 28. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The shifts in university leadership go on, as the state Board of Education – even while continuing to struggle with finding a new president for Boise State University – reaches a “mutual agreement” with University of Idaho President Chuck Staben that he will move on after this coming academic year. Could the changes portend some change in structure such as those Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has suggested?

The State Board of Education and President Chuck Staben, have mutually agreed that the 2018-19 academic year will be Staben’s last as president of the University of Idaho. The state board is developing a Request for Proposal for a firm to lead the search to find new presidents both at the University of Idaho and at Boise State University.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment of veteran Second District Judge John Stegner of Moscow to fill the Idaho Supreme Court vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Warren Jones.

Idaho Water Resource Board officials estimate they will reach a new record of 524,000 acre-feet of water flowing into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) by the end of the winter 2017-18 recharge season – more than double the annual recharge goal of 250,000 acre-feet.

Community banks and credit unions across the country will soon see regulatory changes from Senator Mike Crapo’s Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which was signed into law on May 25. As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Crapo worked with his colleagues in the Senate, House, and outside groups and stakeholders to craft and usher this bipartisan banking legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk.

Idaho Fish and Game Southwest Region staff will soon have a different business address thanks to the efforts of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation which is funding construction of a new office building just off the Garrity Exit of Interstate 84.

Two legislative provisions authored by Senator Mike Crapo were included in the May 23 Senate passage of S. 2372, the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act.

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper on May 24 named Rick Cloutier to fill the position of Airport Director at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The hiring was approved by the city council.

PHOTO A view at Craters of the Moon National Monument, at the Visit Idaho web site, promoting tourism to the site. (photo/Visit Idaho)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 21

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 21. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The governor’s primaries are done, with Brad Little winning on the Republican side and Paulette Jordan on the Democratic. A string of other contests, notable among them races for the first U.S. House seat, lieutenant governor and superintendent of public instruction. Next: A breather, then the launch of general election campaigning.

A year’s worth of campaigning led up to the evening of May 15: Primaries in the Republican and Democratic parties that settled the nomination – and in some cases the tenor – of a number of major office races. The top line was the race for governor, won on the Republican side by the candidate from the inside, Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, and on the Democratic by the candidate from the outside, former state Representative Paulette Jordan.

Representative Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee this week, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.

Air Combat Command officials announced the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB will test a new wing organizational structure. The experimental structure, initiated by the commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, directs the 366th Fighter Wing to create an organization that will test possible ways to improve squadron readiness, develop unit leaders and encourage innovation. Changes at the wing are expected to start this month.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent in April, continuing an eight-month run at or below 3 percent. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – continued to increase, gaining 1,242 people from March to April for a total of 849,373.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources issued a final notice on May 17 to more than 400 ground water irrigators who have yet to comply with an order requiring installation of approved flow meters on ground water pumps in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests visitors should be prepared to encounter personnel working on and near Forest Service roads near the Orogrande community this summer as fuels reduction and restoration projects move forward.

The Board of Ada County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 9 AM to consider Ordinance No. 833 that would amend Ada County code to include a new section for unmanned aircraft. This public hearing will occur during the Open Business Meeting in the Commissioners’ conference room on the 3rd floor of the Ada County Courthouse.

PHOTO Would you release a 30.5-inch rainbow trout if you caught it? David Raisch of Pocatello did, and he's now a state-record holder. Raisch caught his record fish in late March and recently submitted it into Idaho Fish and Game's catch and release records, which allows anglers to claim a state record while letting the fish live. The program started in 2016, and it complements the traditional "certified weight" records that require anglers to weigh the fish on a certified scale, which means the fish is typically killed. Raisch was fly fishing in the Snake River when he landed the record rainbow, which coincidentally is where the previous record of 29.3 inches was caught. (photo/Department of Fish & Game)