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Idaho Legislature
4:32 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Idaho Legislative Panel Backs State Employee Pay Raise

Credit Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

A Republican and Democratic lawmaker panel unanimously backed a proposal for a 2 percent pay increase for Idaho's 17,000 state workers in fiscal year 2015, saying agencies had for too long relied on savings from attrition to boost their employees' checks.

The 18-member Change in Employee Compensation Committee said Friday the pay should be awarded on a merit basis.

Half the increase would be built into ongoing salaries, while the other half would be considered for the year starting in July only.

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Idaho Prisons
3:17 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Idaho To Begin Process Of Taking Over Private Prison

The Idaho Board of Correction has officially ordered the state's prison department to begin the process of taking over operations at the privately run Idaho Correctional Center.

The board made the decision Friday, one week after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced that he believed the state's experiment with privatization at the facility was over.

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Road Closure
3:14 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Part Of Highway 21 Closes Due To Avalanche Danger

Idaho Transportation Department officials have closed a 12-mile stretch of State Highway 21 in central Idaho due to potential avalanches.

The agency closed the road Friday morning from Grandjean Junction to Banner Summit.

Officials say it's unclear when it will reopen.

That section of road is known as Avalanche Alley because it has about 60 avalanche chutes and 90 percent of the avalanches causing problems on Idaho roads.

Economy
10:45 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Palouse Knowledge Corridor Eyes Entrepreneurs

The Palouse Knowledge Corridor has announced plans intended to attract startup businesses to the region that includes north-central Idaho and eastern Washington state.

The group includes representatives from the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and area cities.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the group on Thursday presented an idea for a five-day conference called "Be the Entrepreneur Bootcamp" it hopes to hold June 21 to June 25.

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Health Insurance
10:35 am
Fri January 10, 2014

An Estimated 20,000 Idahoans Sign Up For Coverage On State's Health Insurance Exchange

Enrollment in Idaho's insurance exchange has blossomed after the federal government fixed the website that residents use to sign up for health insurance coverage.

Roughly 20,000 people signed up for individual and family coverage in time for it to begin Jan. 1.

That's up from 1,730 people who purchased coverage available via Your Health Idaho through Nov. 30.

The new total was announced Friday by Your Health Idaho spokeswoman Jody Olson.

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Reader's Corner
8:38 am
Fri January 10, 2014

'Blackett's War' And Operational Research In WWII With Stephen Budiansky

During World War II, a small group of British and American scientists worked tirelessly to defeat the German U-boats that were wreaking havoc on allied commerce. Armed with a dogged determination and a fair amount of mathematics, physics and probability theory, they forged the new field of operational research and forever changed how wars were fought and won.

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Media
8:27 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Watch Downtown Boise's 'Big Hole' Become An 18-Story Tower In Idaho Statesman's Time-Lapse

The new Zions Bank building in downtown Boise took 14 months to build. Photographer Darin Oswald documented its construction in a project that will be unveiled this weekend.
Credit Darin Oswald / Idaho Satesman

When a developer decided to build a new tower in downtown Boise, it was big news. It was especially newsworthy because of its location: the corner of 8th and Main streets. That spot had been empty for more than 20 years, earning it the nickname 'The Hole.'

So when word broke that Zions Bank would build its new Idaho headquarters there, Idaho Statesman photographer Darin Oswald decided to set out on an ambitious project. He wanted to document the building’s construction through time-lapse photography. 

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Public Rally
4:02 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Hundreds Expected To Rally For LGBT Rights In Boise

(L to R) Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, organizer Mistie Tolman, Rep. Grant Burgoyne at an Add the Words press conference last legislative session. Buckner-Webb and Burgoyne will speak at Saturday's rally in support of a bill that would seek to protect LGBT Idahoans from discrimination.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

For the eighth year in a row, Idaho gay rights advocates will attempt to get the attention of the Legislature with a rally at the Capitol this Saturday.

"Add the Words Idaho" organizer Mistie Tolman says more than 600 people have said on Facebook that they’ll attend. She says people from all across the state will ask lawmakers to add the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the state’s human rights amendment.

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Agriculture
2:54 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Idaho Farmers Receive Less In Government Subsidies

Credit JayneAndd / Flickr Creative Commons

Direct payments from the government to Idaho farmers and ranchers dropped 17 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year.

University of Idaho agricultural economists tell The Capital Press that the projections are based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

John Foltz, dean of University of Idaho's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, says government payments to Idaho farmers will likely continue to decline in future years.

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Campaign Finance
1:14 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Simpson Outraises Smith 4-to-1 In Idaho's GOP House Race

In the congressional fundraising horse race, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson says he outraised challenger Bryan Smith nearly four-to-one in 2013's final quarter.

Smith announced Thursday that he raised $111,066 in the fourth quarter. The money will go to his GOP primary election bid against Simpson, with the vote on May 20.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he brought in $430,000.

In total, Simpson says he raised more than $1.25 million in 2013, with Smith raking in $525,000, including his own money, since joining the race in June.

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Transportation
11:23 am
Thu January 9, 2014

46 Vehicle Crash Shuts Down I-84 Near Meridian

A look at one of the cars hit by the logging truck. This driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Credit Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Update 3:15 p.m.: The Idaho State Police (ISP) report the westbound lanes of I-84 reopened at about 2:00 p.m. That’s after a 46-car-accident caused a five-hour delay.

An ISP spokesperson says a swerving logging truck caused a chain reaction of accidents. Tow trucks, another logging truck, and a boom had to be brought in to clear vehicles and logs from the road.

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Transportation
9:02 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Oil Equipment 'Megaloads' Headed For Canada Stalled In Idaho

This is the 'megaload' sitting at the Idaho/Montana border.
Credit Rick Strack / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho State Police say two gigantic loads of oil production equipment headed for Montana didn't move Thursday morning.

One of the shipments is parked on U.S. Highway 20 east of Arco.

The other is parked on State Highway 93 at Lost Trail Pass about 10 miles from the Montana border.

The shipments being moved by Omega Morgan are bound for the Kearl oil sands of Alberta in Canada.

Weather has been a problem for moving the loads, and Montana officials have yet to issue a permit for the load 10 miles from the border.

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Idaho Legislature
4:09 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

State Workers Urge Idaho Legislature To Consider Pay Increases

State workers lamented wages falling further behind their private sector peers and urged a legislative panel to bring their salaries up — or risk losing employees to better-paying endeavors outside Idaho government.

Donna Yule, Idaho Public Employee Association dirctor, urged the Change in Employee Compensation Committee Wednesday to begin a three-year program of raising worker salaries.

Excluding benefits, Yule said, it would cost just over $16 million annually — but the expenditure would buttress morale that's taken a hit since the recession began in 2008.

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Recreation
10:13 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Bogus Basin Gets Much Needed Snow, All Runs Now Open

A web cam at Bogus Basin showing new snow Wednesday morning.
Credit Bogus Basin

Wednesday morning’s snow caused a lot of problems for Treasure Valley drivers, but area skiers now have a reason to celebrate.

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Water
4:29 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Gov. Otter Asks Idaho Lawmakers For $15 Million Down Payment On Dams, Water Study

This is an historic image of the Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River. It was constructed between 1911-1915.
Credit WaterArchives / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter aims to build billions of dollars in new or expanded Idaho dams, to capture more water in his state's drought-stricken southern desert for crops, cities and flushing endangered salmon to the sea.

He's asking lawmakers to give him $15 million down payment for, among other things, studying whether a new era of dam building make sense, given somebody will have to pay for it.

One project he's pushing, a new Weiser River dam, could be used for everything from flood control to electricity.

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Wildlife
3:52 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Conservation Groups Sue Over Idaho Wolf Kill Plan

Credit Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Some conservation groups are suing federal and state officials over Idaho's plan to track and kill wolves from two packs in central Idaho.

The lawsuit, filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch on Monday, asks the judge to stop the extermination immediately to give the case time to work through the courts.

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Election
1:40 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Idaho Falls Teacher, Democrat Announces Her Second Bid For Superintendent Of Schools

Jana Jones ran for the office in 2006.
Credit Courtesy Jana Jones

Longtime educator, consultant and Democrat Jana Jones is the first candidate to announce a run for Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Jones ran for the office in 2006 and narrowly lost to current Superintendent Tom Luna by just 2.5 percent.

Jones says the public has lost trust in Luna after his battles with teachers groups and others over his Students Come First laws. Voters repealed those laws in 2012.

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Idaho Legislature
12:09 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Idaho Democrats Say GOP Majority Is 'Starving Schools'

Democrats blasted Republicans during their annual response to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's State of the State speech, charging the majority party with "starving schools."

At a press conference Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Rusche, from Lewiston, and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, criticized Republican claims that education funding cuts over the last five years resulted from the "Great Recession."

Rusche and Stennett countered these cuts were "choice, intentional and deliberate."

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Idaho Budget
9:46 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Gov. Otter Aims To Boost Idaho Spending By 3.7 Percent In 2015

Gov. Otter (center) delivered his 2014 State of the State speech in Boise Jan. 6.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Under Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's fiscal year 2015 budget, state spending will grow 3.7 percent to $2.9 billion as Idaho's economy recovers.

Otter told lawmakers Monday he's sticking to a fundamental principle: Keeping the growth of government below the pace of the economy.

In the year starting next July, Otter's financial aides predict Idaho's general fund revenue will rise by 6.4 percent to $3 billion.

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Dance
6:45 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Trey McIntyre Project Plans To End Full-Time Dance Company

Credit Trey McIntyre Project

Boise's dance world was rocked Monday.

After six years in Boise, the nationally-acclaimed Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) will disband it's full-time dance troupe in July.

Choreographer and artistic director Trey McIntyre will remain in Boise but his focus will shift to include other creative pursuits, like film and photography. Here's more from Monday's press release:

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