News

BLM, land, outdoors
Pete Zimosky / Idaho Statesman

 A committee of Idaho lawmakers tasked with looking at the possibility of acquiring federal lands - and putting them under state control - has issued a report to the full Legislature. 

John Milner / Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to determining America's best ski towns, it's not always about the best powder or accommodations. 

For the second year, real estate information company RealtyTrac has published a list of the best ski towns for investing. Three Idaho spots make this year’s list. 

The head of Idaho's horse racing regulatory agency has retired.

The Idaho Statesman reports that Frank Lamb's retirement is effectively immediately. An Idaho State Police spokeswoman declined to provide further information about why Lamb retired.

However, the announcement came two days after the Statesman reported Lamb had been working as a consultant in Wyoming for a simulcast and instant horse racing company.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra says she wants local school officials to decide how money should be spent in the classroom.

During her first budget presentation to the Legislature Thursday morning, Ybarra said she hadn't yet determined exactly how funds for some of her biggest policy initiatives would be spent. Instead, Ybarra said, she wanted to figure out those details once she saw just how much money the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee budgets for each line item.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Earlier this week, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a rare press conference announcing their support of laws that would protect gay and transgender people from discrimination while still safeguarding religious freedom.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Every year in late January volunteers around the country, and across Idaho, take to the streets to ask people experiencing homelessness where they slept on a particular night. It's a difficult task because people who sleep in their cars or in parks -- known as unsheltered homeless -- can be hard to find. But the numbers volunteers come up with are important because they're used for things like setting federal funding for local homeless programs.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A panel in the Idaho House is expected to vote this morning on a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The vote comes after three days of hearings.

The nearly 20 hours of testimony came from gay people speaking about their experience with discrimination in Idaho. Parents talked about worrying their gay or transgender children would be fired or kicked out apartments.

Boise State University

The head of Boise State University says state support has lagged behind the surge in enrollment in recent years.

BSU President Bob Kustra Wednesday told lawmakers the school needs to add at least 63 new faculty positions -- especially if Idaho is going to meet its goal to graduate more people from college.

Kustra says the student-to-faculty ratio is above average for a school of Boise State's size. And, he says, students sometimes experience course “bottlenecks.”

Nearly one year after lawmakers and small business owners cast a critical eye at the contractor managing mental health and substance treatment for Idaho's poor, company officials say approval ratings remain high and problems are few.

Executives from Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, told the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday that they had a 95 percent satisfaction rating among members who receive behavioral-health services under Medicaid.

That's according to the most recent sample survey the company sent out to their members.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's Rep. Raul Labrador is one of nine U.S. House Republicans this week who announced the formation of the House Freedom Caucus. The group includes some of the most conservative members of Congress.

Labrador says the formation of the new caucus is a way for the its members to better represent their constituents. 

Labrador has been part of a similar, but larger group in the Republican Study Committee. He says having his voice – and that of his constituents in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District – heard will be easier as part of the new Freedom Caucus.

Clark Gilbert
Courtesy BYU-Idaho

Deseret News CEO Clark Gilbert has been named the new president of Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The selection of Gilbert was announced Tuesday during a devotional at BYU-Idaho's campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Gilbert becomes the 16th president of the Mormon-owned school, and will take over for Kim B. Clark in April.

Idaho National Guard

According to Reuters, the U.S. Army is refuting claims that it's made a decision in the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Outlets including Fox News and NBC News reported on Tuesday that Bergdahl would be charged with desertion later this week.  

The reports cited unnamed senior defense officials.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

Mormon church leaders are making a national appeal for a "balanced approach" in the clash between gay rights and religious freedom.

The church is promising to support some housing and job protections for gays and lesbians in exchange for legal protections for believers who object to the behavior of others.

It's not clear how much common ground the Mormons will find with this new campaign. The church insists it is making no changes in doctrine, and still believes it's against the law of God to have sex outside marriage between a man and a woman.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho State University study has found most high school football players are wearing helmets that don't fit and aren't property maintaining the inflatable lining inside their helmets.

The University’s research finds nearly 98 percent of its participants played football in a helmet that required regular inflation of the liner, 43 percent of those respondents said they’ve never re-inflated their helmet liners.

Samantha Martin

For three weeks this winter, Samantha Martin spent her days inside a freezing-cold house ripping apart the walls, doors, and windows. She was salvaging whatever she could because the house was set for demolition.

Martin and her group Buffalo Heart Homes have been trying for two years to save a group of historic homes in downtown Boise.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Several hundred people packed an auditorium in the Idaho Capitol Monday for a hearing on a measure known as the Add the Words bill.

It’s the first time the Legislature has considered a bill that would make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class in Idaho -- like race or religion. Proponents have been trying to get it heard for nine years.

Some of the most emotional testimony came from the parents of gay and transgender children.

University of Idaho

The president of the University of Idaho says the school will freeze undergraduate resident tuition rates next year if lawmakers fully fund a 3 percent salary increase for faculty and staff.

President Chuck Staben made the suggestion Monday to lawmakers on the Legislature's budget committee.

Officials say the cost would be $1.6 million.

Staben says reducing tuition will increase access to education.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Thousands of Idahoans have flocked to the Statehouse to testify in front of lawmakers concerning a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state's Human Rights Act.

The legislation, commonly called the "Add the Words" bill, had been denied a public hearing for nine consecutive years.

Rick Gerrard / Idaho Public Television

Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch derailed a 2010 wilderness bill but says he's working now with U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson on a scaled-down version as others attempt to persuade President Barack Obama to designate a central Idaho area a national monument.

Risch, a Republican, tells the Idaho Statesman in a story on Sunday that he's looking forward to carrying a bill that he says is a collaborative product.

Kyle Green
Idaho Statesman

For the first time in nine years, supporters of the "Add the Words" movement will get the chance to testify in front of lawmakers. On Monday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear HB 2 beginning at 8 a.m.

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