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capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Lawmakers may be done setting the state budget and passing laws, but they'll continue to work on reviewing hot button issues varying from multi-million contracts, school broadband access and public defense reform.

Legislative leaders approved the 2015 interim committees on Tuesday. The panels will meet over the summer and provide recommendations to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

This included appointing members to a new committee to review Idaho's bidding and selection process of the state's most expensive contracts.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released a plan to protect the habitat of a struggling bird species from being destroyed by wildfire.

The new firefighting strategy comes as Western states work to avoid the sage grouse's classification as a threatened or endangered species. Experts say the restrictions that come with protecting the wide-ranging birds could damage the economies of the 11 states where they are found.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide Endangered Species Act protections this fall.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter praised lawmakers for successfully passing child support enforcement legislation during the Idaho Legislature's 11-hour special session.

Otter told reporters Tuesday that he will sign the bill once it gets to his desk.

Nicole Mays / Flickr

Federal investigators say that a Tennessee man and his family raised millions of dollars  for cancer patients, then spent the money on cars, luxury cruises, college tuition and to employ family members with six-figure salaries.

Officials say it's one of the largest charity fraud cases ever and involves all 50 states.

kevinkarnsfamily / Flickr

A drug, alcohol and mental illness treatment center for residents in north-central Idaho could open as early as this summer.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the Latah County commissioners have challenged a group of community members to open the recovery center as soon as possible after state funding is approved in July.

Barry Crabtree / Flickr Creative Commons

During a talk he gave in Oxford, England in 2013, environmentalist and writer Mark Lynas apologized to the very audience he used to demonize: companies and scientists that work with genetically modified foods.

"As an environmentalist and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a health and nutritious diet of their choosing," Lynas told the crowd, "I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path and I now regret it completely."

election day, voting
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Several school districts around Idaho are asking voters to approve levies and bonds Tuesday. That includes Horseshoe Bend, Notus, Parma and Marsing. Turning to local voters for money has become a fixture in Idaho in recent years as schools have sought to fill budget holes left by state cuts.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A special session of the Idaho Legislature has passed a bill that brings the state into compliance with federal rules governing child-support payments.

Similar legislation was rejected last month, jeopardizing U.S. involvement in an international treaty that aims to make it easier for parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter called lawmakers back to Boise recently after nine Republican House members killed a compliance bill, jeopardizing the treaty and state access to federal funds and programs.

ironpoison / Flickr

Farmers and ranchers in the West's worst-hit drought regions will receive an additional $21 million to help them save water and soil despite the long dry spell.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the aid Monday. The assistance will go to areas of the West that are rated in the highest categories of drought. That includes parts of California, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Utah.

The aid is meant to help farms and grazing pastures cope with drought through better irrigation, cover crops and other measures.

More than 13,000 businesses as well as state and local governments have received a portion of $35 million following the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the entities recently received the money after the Idaho Insurance Fund settled the lawsuit that focused on dividends.

The fund paid dividends to policy holders on a prorated basis, but plaintiffs said state law required the fund to pay equal dividends to policy holders.

The fund provides workers compensation insurance.

Idaho National Laboratory

A new federal lawsuit has been filed involving a 2011 accident at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility that exposed 16 workers to plutonium.

The Post Register reports the suit was filed Thursday on behalf of Ralph Stanton. It follows up on a 2013 whistleblower complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Labor by Stanton and then-colleague Brian Simmons.

The complaint alleged Battelle Energy Alliance created an unsafe work environment and retaliated after Stanton and Simmons raised health and safety concerns.

Census

You can’t understand Garden City, Idaho without understanding that compared to the cities surrounding it, it's a place of poverty and wealth and not much in between. That was the theme of one of the stories in our recent series, Growing Garden City.

Kelly DeLay / Flickr

Texas is reeling from a series of storms that have spawned tornadoes and flooding. People from around the country are pitching in to help residents clean up and brace for more rain.

NNU Facebook page

This week's resignation of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) President David Alexander has largely been blamed on backlash for firing a particular professor. When tenured theology professor Thomas Oord was fired, administrators said it was part of a budgetary shift at the private, religious university in Nampa. Another faculty member and four staff members were also laid off.

A judge has entered a not guilty plea for a 22-year-old Idaho man charged with killing a former Arizona power company executive, his wife and their adult son at a Boise home.

Adam Dees of Nampa appeared Thursday in 4th District Court but declined to enter a plea.

He's charged with three counts of first-degree murder as well as robbery and other crimes.

Prosecutors allege Dees killed 80-year-old Theodore M. Welp, 77-year-old Delores Elaine Welp, and 52-year-old Thomas P. Welp on March 8 or 9.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. has spent years leading negotiations toward an international treaty that would make it easier for single parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

But families across the country could be stuck with the cumbersome existing system after legislators in a single state rejected the deal because, they said, it could allow Islamic law to influence American courts.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

There’s an increasing number of musicians, visual artists and artisans who have chosen to set up shop in Garden City. Many of these artists are from Boise or other parts of the Treasure Valley. The trend has been led by a few visionaries who recognize two things about the town: the cheap real estate, and plenty of space to practice their passion.

srophotos / Flickr Creative Commons

The ACLU of Idaho is warning school districts against graduation dress codes. The ACLU says many Idaho high schools have rules requiring girls to wear dresses or skirts and boys to wear pants to graduation ceremonies. The organization says when schools mandate gender specific clothes, they violate federal laws as well as students’ constitutional rights.

ACLU of Idaho acting director Leo Morales says a letter his organization has sent to all Idaho districts is meant to help schools avoid last minute problems as they prepare for end of year activities.

Boise River
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The public will have the chance to talk with elected officials about a power outage that caused the Boise River to dry up earlier this year. The Ada County Commission is holding a meeting on May 27 to discuss the accidental dewatering.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Garden City has long been known for mobile home parks and poverty. But with more than three miles of underused riverfront property, developers have become interested in Garden City's poorest area. High-end houses are now being built next to mobile homes.

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