Writings and observations

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 6. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

H20 was the big topic in Idaho last week – first in colder form, as heavy snowfall that in some places threatened to break all-time snowfall records, and later as rain and snow melt that led to widespread flooding, mainly in the southern part of the state.

The House Education Committee voted on February 9 to remove references to climate change and human impact on the environment from a new set of science standards.

The Canyon County Board of County Commissioners announced on February 8 their plan to keep the Canyon County Fair at its current location in Caldwell for the foreseeable future.

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear said on February 9 the availability of fiscal year 2017 funds for small business vouchers to assist applicants developing advanced nuclear energy technologies who are seeking access to the world class expertise and capabilities available across the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories complex.

Vista Outdoor Inc., a major employer at Lewiston, reported diminished operating results for the third quarter of its Fiscal Year 2017, which ended on January 1.

Citing Idaho law and the State Water Plan, the Idaho Water Resource Board unanimously approved a resolution Monday opposing additional fish-passage requirements on the relicensing of the Hells Canyon Dam complex.

PHOTO Heavy snowfall early in the week turned, in many places, to flooding later on in the week. (photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

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Senator Mike Padden said he went into the 2015 regular session with a goal of increasing the opportunities for public participation in the legislative process. An analysis of the Senate’s remote testimony pilot program shows that Padden and his colleagues in the Senate took significant steps toward achieving that goal in that chamber, and now he plans to push just as hard to encourage the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead. Remote testimony was offered 53 times during the regular-session pilot project – 31 times by invited participants and 22 times on an unsolicited basis from members of the public. (photo/Washington Senate)

Early indications: The Washington legislature will be using up most of the days available to it in special session. Maybe all of them.

The big legislative and budget news in Oregon this week was made not at the Statehouse but nearby – at the Oregon Supreme Court, which rejected (as violating contract terms) most of a grand compromise agreed to in 2013 by Democrats and Republicans. The PERS battle may begin again.

The suspense finally broke, at least on one level, last week: Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said that he would call the legislature back into session this month. Whether it will do what he is asking it to do – pass a child support interstate agreement it rejected during the regular session – remained a little less clear.

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news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Study says Ada County doesn’t recycle much (Boise Statesman)
CWI board leader apologizes for property buy (Boise Statesman)
CWI can bypass land reappraisal (Nampa Press Tribune)
Airstream moves into Caldwell tomorrow (Nampa Press Tribune)

First of 18 cruise ships comes to Astoria (Astorian)
State upholds Clatsop ruling against LNG pieline (Astorian)
Long Beach consider dog ban from ball parks (Astorian)
Court rejects most PERS reforms (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Discover Klamath seeks to hire two people (KF Herald & News)
Salem looks into bicycle boulevards (Salem Statesman Journal)
Portland Building work may cost $175m (Portland Oregonian)

Sterling Life may shut down (Bellingham Herald)
32 cases of e coli from festical at Lynden (Bellingham Herald)
Permit rejected by Bremerton gun club (Bremerton Sun)
Money missing from Bothell police safe (Everett Herald)
Little electronic evidence on Kelley (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald)
Food concerns over oysters and pesticides (Seattle Times)
Spokane finds gap in adult dental care (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co okays e-cigarette ban (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima air quality called poor (Yakima Herald Republic)

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bear creek
 

Jeremiah Griffin scouts the Bear Creek site, in a greenway in the Rogue Valley, for any trash as crews prepare the are for landscaping. (photo/Oregon Department of Transportation)

 
Has a Clive Bundy situation arrived in southern Oregon? Maybe not quite yet, and if things defuse, maybe not at all. But plenty of people in the area are concerned about the real possibility.

So the Washington Legislature in fact is coming back, this Wednesday, having been unable to resolve the budget in regular session. Don’t expect this round to take just a few days.

Will Governor Otter call a special session this week? That remains as unclear today as it did a week ago, though prospects may be considered to diminish with time.

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seaweed
 

Sugar kelp, or Saccharina latissima, is native to Puget Sound. The University of Washington will be working with the Bainbridge Island-based Puget Sound Restoration Fund to see whether growing seaweed could help combat ocean acidification in Puget Sound waters. (photo/Mego Huang, University of Washington)

 
The Washington Legislature is nearing the constitutional end of its regular session, with a lot of business concluded but the big question – what to do about state budget and revenue – still hanging in the balance between the House and Senate.

Spring finally arrived in a big way around Oregon last week – almost everywhere. The cover picture this week shows one of the exceptional areas (in the Wallowa Mountains) but across much of the state sun and warmer temperatures, into the upper 60s, tended to prevail.

Hanging in the balance last week and surely one of the top topics of the week to come: Will Governor Otter call a special session to pass a bill blocked in the House earlier this month, which would give Idaho access to national child support collection organizations? Prospects for passage in the House remained unclear last week, as did Otter’s plans.

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cormorants

 
The double-crested cormorant is a waterbird associated with inland waterways as well as on the coast. They catch fish by swimming and diving, and nest in trees, cliffs and on the ground on predator-free islands. Cormorants are protected by international treaty and federal law. (photo/Department of Fish & Game)

 

Spring seemed to arrive in the Northwest in mid-March, but the end of the month pulled it away in favor of resumed colder temperatures. Given April’s history, that could last a while.

As the Idaho Legislature seemed to be moving toward an adjournment early in April, many of its members seemed to pull back on quick and easy resolution of the remaining financial issues (especially transportation). The spring groundhog says: Look for another week, or maybe two or beyond, of this.

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Yakima
 

Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke recently made a presentation to the Downtown Yakima Rotary Club about the proposed Yakima Central Plaza. Click on the link below to see the PowerPoint that was created for the presentation, which includes information about the origins of the plaza concept, how a design for the plaza was developed, and the return on investment the plaza is intended to provide. (image/City of Yakima)

 

Conflicting budget pictures are about to engage in the ring at the Washington Statehouse, as talk rises that one legislative session this year won’t be enough.

In Oregon, public school budget numbers were released last week by legislative leadership, and appear likely to run through the process. That may well drive the rest of the budgeting process in what’s now looking like a relatively low-key session, about halfway through its run.

Idaho legislators came close last week to resolving most of the key remaining issues at the statehouse – teacher pay and education funding (a committee budget bill has been approved), highway funding and several smaller-bore topics. Will they be able to adjourn for the year by the end of this week? Less than likely, but possible if they move efficiently.

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Friday Harbor
 
Measurements were collected from the dock at Friday Harbor Labs, which also is used for experiments that simulate future ocean acidification levels. Water was also collected from the pumphouse, the small brown building in the background on the left. (photo/J. Meyer, University of Washington)

 

The Washington legislature is reaching its cutoff points; by the end of this week, Washingtonians should have a clearer idea of what will be up for final action and what won’t. In Oregon, the legislature has slowed its pace a little, and may cool a little more this week as Republicans return from their pair of unofficial annual gatherings.

Idaho legislators have been hoping to aim for session shutdown by the end of next week, but that’s looking increasing unlikely amid battles over highway funding and teacher pay.

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outside waiting

 
People who use e-cigarettes, own and work at vape shops, gather outside the Multnomah Building before the March 5 board meeting, at which new county rules on vaping were adopted.

 
The Oregon Legislature has begun to kick out a number of pieces of legislation, including some major measures on subjects ranging from motor-voter to clean fuels. It’s beginning now to look as if a busy session lies ahead.

More ‘shot heard ‘round the world’ quotes emerged last week from Idaho legislators, which may give leadership all the more incentive to try to shut down before the end of March (as is the current plan).

In Washington, the legislature is hitting its relative frenzied peak, with lots of legislation scrambling for position before the series of cutoffs hits and wipes out most of the prospects.

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Kitzhaber

 
Governor John Kitzhaber on January 12, about a month before he would announce his resignation. (photo/Office of the Governor)

 
The resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber completely preoccupied Salem and much of the rest of Oregon last week. (It became a national and international news story.) Next: What happens as new Governor Kate Brown takes office and develops a new administration?

In Washington, the legislature has gotten down to business – which is to say, questions of money. Transportation and education budgets were the subject of negotiations last week, and more will emerge this week. By the end of this week, it may be clear whether one legislative session will suffice, or more will be needed.

The most long-range significant event of last week in Idaho may have been the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the St. Lukes and Saltzer merger, which may set major guidelines for health care administration in the state – or, guidelines that might be addressed by law. The implications are far reaching; news coverage of the case was much less so.

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