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A bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine has passed in the Idaho House on a party-line vote.

House lawmakers voted 55-14 on Monday.

Supporters of the bill argued that the legislation will better protect women's health. Others pointed out that they hoped the bill would limit the number of abortions that occur in the future.

House Democrats countered that the bill inappropriately allowed the Idaho Legislature to regulate medicine rather than physicians.

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m.

More than 20 gay rights activists have been arrested after protesting in the Idaho House and Senate chambers in an attempt to pressure lawmakers into passing anti-discrimination protections.

Activists taking part in the protest that started Monday morning warned they would not voluntarily leave until legislators consider adding four words — sexual orientation and gender identity — to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

screen grab builtinboise.com

A new online media project called Built in Boise launched last week. Its purpose is to tell the stories of local companies doing interesting things.

The website's first stories included a husband-and-wife team who sell gourmet donuts, a game designer, and a banker-turned-paddle-board mogul.

Sun Valley Film Festival

The fourth annual Sun Valley Film Festival begins Wednesday. The five-day event will show off some Hollywood names, including giving a special honor to actor Clint Eastwood. Other big screen elites will make appearances, including actor Bruce Dern and two Academy Award winning screenwriters.

Sheep Bridge Jumpers / YouTube

NPR Music announced the winners of their inaugural Tiny Desk Contest Feb. 12. Nearly 7,000 bands from across the country sent in their videos for the music gurus to judge, including some Idaho groups.

In the end, the winner was Fantastic Negrito, an Oakland act with a soulful performance filmed in a freight elevator.

U.S. Dept. of Education / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the Idaho Legislature's most anticipated proposals to boost teacher pay has finally been revealed just nine days before lawmakers begin setting the state's public education budget.

The Idaho House Education Committee listened to the plan Friday but did not vote on any legislation.

Under the plan, beginning teacher pay would bump up from $31,750 to $33,000 per year school starting in fiscal year 2016 and eventually increase to $37,000 over five years.

The president of Idaho's largest business lobby offered to resign this week after a profane email targeting the chairman of the Senate Tax Committee was leaked.

Idaho Public Television reports Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry President Alex LaBeau will keep his job, despite the leaked email.

The City of Boise is taking applications for a new ombudsperson to help oversee the Boise Police Department. But unlike in the past, the person hired for the position will be part-time rather than full-time.

The city says the job entails investigating complaints of misconduct against police, as well cases that involve officers using deadly force.

City spokesperson Mike Journee says a lack of work led to the change.  

Uber app

Ridesharing company Uber has suspended operations in Boise.

The company in a three-page letter to city leaders on Thursday says it became clear at a city council work session on Tuesday that the city plans to impose unworkable and onerous regulations. Uber spokesperson Michael Amodeo says the company does vehicle inspections and background checks on drivers.

“We think additional background checks would just place an additional hurdle or barrier to entry for our drivers that would make it more difficult for them to earn a living with the Uber platform," says Amodeo.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

House Minority Leader John Rusche says Idaho needs a new office to investigate concerns about government fraud and waste.

Rusche pitched the idea to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The bill barely squeaked by the Republican-controlled panel after an attempt to kill the plan failed by one vote.

According to Rusche, currently there is nowhere for state employees or citizens to go if they have complaints regarding state-level corruption.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

After a fight that lasted a year-and-a-half, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) and the City of Boise have come to an agreement regarding parking meters in the city’s downtown.

With a 3-to-2 vote, ACHD commissioners reversed a previous decision and will now allow Boise to install high-tech sensors in the streets. The sensors will connect wirelessly to “smart” parking meters, which accept credit cards.

Lonnie Hutson

An Idaho artist has immortalized the state’s native fish, in the hopes that his art will encourage people to protect local rivers.

The health of Idaho’s rivers was the catalyst for a new art exhibit of native fish on display at the College of Idaho’s Rosenthal Gallery of Art. Artist Lonnie Hutson lives 25 miles outside of Moscow. When he’s not making art, he’s a river outfitter. He says the two professions are closely linked.

Kurt Wilson / Missoulian

Missoula, Mont.-based Neptune Aviation is considering launching a private charter service for direct flights to Boise, Seattle and Billings.

Neptune is known for its firefighting airplanes.

This week, Neptune’s CEO Ron Hooper outlined his idea to launch roundtrip flights from Missoula to Billings and Boise twice a week.

bullying
Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.
 

Travis Smith / Boise State Public Radio

Instructors at the University of Idaho and Boise State University and colleges around the country are protesting pay and working conditions for part-time faculty. National Adjunct Walk Out Day is meant to highlight the trend in higher education of relying on lower-paid, adjunct instructors who work from semester to semester.

A petition being circulated online and on Boise State’s campus Wednesday reads:

Tanning
Evil Erin / Flickr Creative Commons

A House panel is endorsing a bill that would require teens to get permission from their parents in order to use a tanning bed.

The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously passed the legislation Wednesday.

The bill requires parental permission for children ages 14 to 17. Children under age 14 would be banned from tanning beds completely.

Steven Mings, a dermatologist in Boise, told lawmakers that the ultraviolet rays in tanning beds are directly linked to the causes of skin cancer.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed into law a bill approving $3.64 million in emergency funding for Idaho's faltering broadband program.

The stopgap measure Otter approved Wednesday allows school districts to negotiate their own broadband contracts for the rest of this school year to replace the Idaho Education Network system.

The emergency fix comes after a district judge voided Idaho's $60 million broadband contract, creating the potential loss of broadband access to nearly 200 public high schools across the state.

Dainel Lee / Flickr

The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee says his family and the families of other committee members are being harassed by backers of a proposed law to allow Idaho residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Republican Tom Loertscher of Iona on Tuesday on the House floor said his and the home phone numbers of other committee members are being published.

But Loertscher says the lawmakers are at the Statehouse so family members are getting the calls in what he says is a "new low," and he is asking the callers to "cease and desist."

This post was updated Feb. 25

A Kootenai County Republican Central Committee resolution that would declare Idaho a Christian state was rejected Tuesday night.

The Spokesman-Review reports at least two-thirds of members supported a move not to vote on the resolution, tabling the idea.

The original post was created Feb. 24

Jeff Kubina / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) is looking to resolve a year-and-a-half long dispute with the City of Boise. On Wednesday, the five member commission will vote on a revamped plan to allow the city to install high-tech parking meters on its sidewalks.

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