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Idaho Briefing – March 12

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

Friday night marked the end of candidate filing – for partisan and judicial offices, at least – for this year, and more than 300 candidates signed for offices at the legislative level and up. You’ll find them all in this issue.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma on March 8 sent Idaho officials, including Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, a letter rejecting the state’s plan for a “skinny” health insurance plan. Such a plan, it said, runs afoul of the Affordable Care Act.

A group of eight senators and two representatives introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks.

Bipartisan legislation led by Senators Mike Crapo and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and cosponsored by Senator Jim Risch, cleared the Senate today by voice vote. The measure, S.97, known as the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, would create partnerships between private-sector innovators in nuclear energy with government researchers to create the next generation of clean, advanced nuclear power.

Due to a shortage of beds in Idaho’s prisons and jails, the Idaho Department of Correction will soon move 100 more male inmates to the Karnes County Correctional Center in Karnes City, Texas.

The State Board of Education on March 2 voted to take official positions on five separate pieces of education-related legislation being considered by state lawmakers. Board members voted unanimously to support three bills and to oppose two others.

Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Fish and Game biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.

The Salmon River Ranger District on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests will release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the Hungry Ridge Restoration project, for public review and comment.

PHOTO The two co-chairs of the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Senator Shawn Keough (second from left) and Representative Maxine Bell (second from right) were celebrated at an event on March 9 as their panel moved toward wrapping budgeting for this session. (image/Idaho Department of Health & Welfare)
 

Idaho Briefing – March 5

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

Last week was the first half of the two-week period for candidate filing for the primary election (in May) for statewide, congressional, judicial, legislative and some other seats. Candidate filing opened on February 26. It closes on March 9,at the end of business.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has revised Idaho’s statewide seasonally adjusted annual average unemployment rate for 2017 up slightly to 3.2 percent – one-tenth percent higher than the estimated 3.1 percent first reported. Idaho’s December 2017 unemployment rate was also slightly higher at 3 percent – revised upward one-tenth of a percent from the 2.9 percent reported before the benchmark.

The College of Idaho has appointed two highly successful business and non-profit leaders to the office of President to lead the state’s oldest private college into the future. Former President of TitleOne Corporation Doug Brigham and the former CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA Jim Everett have been selected as the Presidents of The College of Idaho. The appointment was finalized by a unanimous Board of Trustees vote of approval on February 23.

The State of Idaho auctioned another U.S. Forest Service timber sale today as part of a State-federal partnership to increase management activities on federal lands in Idaho.

The Office of Performance Evaluations has released a report on the “Child Welfare System: Reducing the Risk of Adverse Outcomes.”

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has accepted Intermountain Gas Company’s plan for meeting customer demand through 2021.

Plans to expand and modernize St. Luke’s McCall’s medical center have entered the next stage, and the project’s entitlement application for site preparation will go to the McCall City Council.

PHOTO The Boise Department of Parks andRecreation released a series of conceptual drawings for repairs and new development along the Boise River in the Boise area. This one shows proposed work on a bird observation and study area. (image/Boise Department of Parks and Recreation)
 

Idaho Briefing – February 26

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 26. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Albertsons Companies, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers, and Rite Aid Corporation, one of the nation’s leading drugstore chains, announced a definitive merger agreement under which privately held Albertsons Companies will merge with publicly traded Rite Aid.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on February 20 welcomed a proposal from the Trump administration to extend from three months to 12 months the length of allowed short-term health insurance plans, which could fill a need similar to the plans Idaho insurers can offer under the Governor’s groundbreaking January 5 Executive Order.

Acting Governor Brad Little announced the appointment today of Margie Gannon of St. Maries to the Idaho House of Representatives seat vacated by the recent resignation of Plummer Democrat Paulette Jordan, who stepped down to campaign for her party’s gubernatorial nomination.

The Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) will temporarily close its commercial service Runway 2/20 for rehabilitation in September and encourages customers to plan their travel accordingly.

State regulators have initiated an investigation into a small electric utility that serves the unincorporated community of Atlanta.

An entirely public Spokane River waterfront appears to be widely supported for the Atlas Waterfront project site based on the first round of public input gathered for the project.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today a settlement with TK Holdings, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese airbag maker Takata, over allegations the company concealed safety issues related to its airbag systems.

PHOTO Hundreds of concerned citizens marched through downtown Boise to the Idaho Capitol on February 19 to urge repeal of Idaho’s laws that shield members of faith-healing sects who deny children needed medical care. Marchers carried symbolic child-sized coffins with them as they walked to honor the 183 infants and children who’ve died from medical neglect since exemptions were enacted in the mid 1970s. (photo/Protect Idaho Kids)
 

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)