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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)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 14

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 14. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

And it’s (almost) all over but the voting, for the primary election at least After more than a year on the campai9gn trial, Raul Labrador, Brad Little and Tommy Ahlquist are about to find out which two of them will have a fairly free calendar the next few months. Contenders in a string of other competitive primaries will learn the same on Tuesday night.

Idaho’s gubernatorial candidates combined to raise more than $6.6 million during the reporting period that ended Tuesday.

Ryan Nelson, an attorney from Idaho Falls, was on May 9 nominated to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. When confirmed, Nelson will take the seat of Judge N. Randy Smith, who announced he will take senior status later this year.

The U.S. Forest Service projects that the upcoming wildfire season will be another historic year of destruction across several western states. Thanks to bipartisan legislation, the U.S. Forest Service is well-positioned to lay the groundwork to stabilize its wildfire fighting efforts beginning this year and well into the future.

State regulators have determined that differences in the electricity usage and load characteristics of Idaho Power customers with on-site generation and customers with standard electric service warrant the separation of the two groups. As a result, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission ordered the closure of the company’s current net-metering classification and the creation of two new classes for customers with on-site generation, Residential and Small General Service.

Albertsons, Inc., a national retail grocery chain, violated federal law when a class of Hispanic employees in San Diego were subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment through the implementation of a no-Spanish policy, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed last week.

More than 830 acres of forested state lands affected by wildfire or wind blow-down events were treated this spring to prevent infestations of bark beetles.

Self-advocates and mothers with children gathered at the offices of Idaho’s members of Congress urging Idaho representatives to protect and preserve existing Medicaid. Deliveries began at Senator Crapo’s office and made additional stops at Senator Risch and Congressman Simpson’s offices. Advocates have been carefully watching the Congressional agenda after multiple attempts to cut or add new burdensome regulations to Medicaid over the last year.

PHOTO More than 830 acres of forested state lands affected by wildfire or wind blow-down events were treated this spring to prevent infestations of bark beetles. Idaho Department of Lands and U.S. Forest Service employees stapled 11,475 “bubble capsules” filled with a pheromone produced by Douglas-fir beetles to trees affected by the Clearwater Complex Fire near Kamiah and the Tepee Springs Fire near Riggins in 2015. Several infested stands near Rexburg in eastern Idaho also were treated. (photo/Department of Lands)
 

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 7

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for April 30. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

As votes start to drop, various forms of political conflict accelerate, including sharp discussion about a new form of political mailer. Meantime, the arrival of spring coincides with a renewed look at the prospects for wildfires this year.

allot initiative to bring quality, affordable health care to 62,000 people by expanding Medicaid in the state. Over the past several months, a diverse group of volunteers, from Bonners Ferry to Driggs, have been collecting signatures from citizens covering the entire political spectrum to qualify the initiative, which would bring health coverage to residents who are caught in what’s known as “the health coverage gap.”

A 48-page printed publication called “The Idahoan,” self-described as “written by conservatives, information for everyone,” was broadly distributed around Idaho last week, evoking numerous questions and an inquiry to the Idaho secretary of state’s office.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing an $8,500 fine to Idaho State University for failing to maintain control and surveillance of one gram of radioactive material.

After more than five years of bipartisan collaboration, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined Representative Mike Simpson on May 2 at the National Interagency Fire Center to mark the end of the practice known as fire borrowing. Also present was Vicki Christiansen, Acting Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Vista Outdoor Inc. on May 1 announced its strategic business transformation plan, designed to allow the company to focus resources on pursuing growth in its core product categories.

The Bureau of Land Management marked a milestone in the administration’s effort to better align plans for managing Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on federal lands by publishing a draft environmental impact analysis of proposed changes to resource management plans in Idaho.

PHOTO U.S. Senator Mike Crapo has held scores of small meetings in recent months at communities around Idaho, many of them in communities too small to be cities, sometimes in houses where no public buildings would have been available. This photo shows one of them, a constituent meeting held at a house in Pleasantview, in Oneida County (image/Senator Crapo)
 

Idaho Briefing – April 30

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for April 30. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Early voting is about to kick in, and the various primary contests – a considerable number of them, in both parties – are reaching their final pitches. Lots of endorsements are coming in (and need to; they’d do little good in another couple of weeks).

About 1.7 million acres of forest land in Idaho is family-owned, representing about 36,000 landowners and 56 percent of all privately-owned forest land in the state. As much as 560,000 acres, or 33 percent of family owned forests in Idaho, are likely to have new owners within five years, according to a new survey released on April 24.

The Challis-Yankee Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork Ranger Districts recently advertised five timber sales for public bid. Four sales on the Challis-Yankee Fork and Middle Fork Ranger Districts are salvage timber sales, which is material being harvested that is dead or dying and is being removed in order to improve the health of the stand.

The City of Boise on April 24 released its bi-annual Livability Report to highlight and outline progress on the broad array of city initiatives that are enhancing Boise’s celebrated livability.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently set rules for the 2018 migratory bird season, which includes ducks, geese, mourning doves, American crow, snipe and coots, and sandhill cranes.

Idaho Power has proposed decreasing the portion of its rates that changes every year due to the variable costs of providing power to its customers.

Idaho public health officials are warning Idahoans to avoid consumption of products that contain kratom because they could be contaminated with Salmonella. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho Public Health Districts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating on the investigation of Salmonella infections linked to the consumption of products containing the plant substance kratom.

State regulators have suspended a surcharge that helps qualified Idahoans afford basic telephone service for the second consecutive year as the number of recipients and contributors continues to decline.

PHOTO The state Department of Lands is launching a program to try to block invasive insect species from invading Idaho, setting up trapping sites at various locations around the state. This rtap set is located near the Canadian border. (image/Department of Lands)
 

Idaho Briefing – April 23

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for April 16. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Campaigns for major office in Idaho roared ahead this week, with a number of major debates in many of the top contests held, and a string of new television spots released. Little additional polling has surfaced, however.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has approved routes for segments of the Gateway West electric transmission line project on public lands in southwestern Idaho, connecting previously authorized routes in southern Wyoming and eastern Idaho. The project will improve the nation’s energy infrastructure and boost the economy in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West.

State regulators have approved a settlement agreement in a case involving the relicensing of Idaho Power’s largest hydropower complex. The settlement allows approximately $216.5 million in expenditures related to the relicensing of the Hells Canyon Complex to be designated as prudently incurred and eligible for inclusion in customer rates at a later date.

The Idaho State Board of Education on April 19 voted to increase tuition and fees for fulltime undergraduate resident and nonresident students at each of Idaho’s four-year institutions effective in fall 2018.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 2.9 percent in March, ending a six-month run of 3 percent and remaining at low levels last seen in 2007 and 2008. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – increased by 1,646 from February to March for an all-time record high of 848,097.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest announced they will be extending the comment period on the Wild and Scenic River Draft Eligibility Report to July 16, 2018. The Forest was originally seeking comment by May 4.

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has been very open about his support for Lt. Governor Brad Little, and on April 10 he makes his endorsement official.

One of Pocatello’s busiest intersections will be getting a facelift. Starting April 23, crews will begin work on the intersection of East Alameda Road, Jefferson Avenue, Hiline Road, and Pocatello Creek Road.

PHOTO As soil temperatures rise and snow melts, reforestation efforts are underway on private lands burned in the 2015 Clearwater Complex Fire. The Idaho Department of Lands in partnership with the Idaho County Soil and Water Conservation District is leading the tree replanting effort. Approximately 27,000 Ponderosa Pine seedlings were just planted on 90 acres of private land in the Lolo Creek drainage. The seedlings are part of a larger project that will bring more than 130,000 seedlings to private forestlands hardest hit by the 2015 catastrophic fires in the Clearwater basin. The project targets non-industrial private lands that are at extreme risk of landslides, insect and disease outbreaks, and weed invasions post-fire. (image/Department of Lands)