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Education
12:21 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Idaho Kids Take New High-Tech Test This Week

Idaho has been giving its test the I-SAT on computers for years. Other states that gave their tests on paper have had to make big investments in computers to transition to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho school kids in 3rd through 8th, and 11th grades will be taking a new test starting Monday. The Smarter Balanced Assessment replaces the I-SAT which Idaho had been using to measure student achievement for years. Smarter Balanced is based on the Common Core standards Idaho and most other states have adopted. Students in more than 20 states are taking it this week.

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Federal Money
10:59 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Idaho Is More Dependent On Federal Government Than Most States

Federal money makes up 35 percent of Idaho's total revenue.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho ranks in the top half of states with the highest dependence on federal dollars, according to a new study.

The Idaho Statesman reports the Gem State outranks every neighboring state in dependence except for Wyoming, which comes in at a national ranking of 43rd to Idaho's 31st.

In personal finance website WalletHub's study, released last week, a higher ranking meaning more dependency.

That means only 20 states depend more on money from the government than Idaho.

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Transmitter Status
10:23 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Update: Circuit Move Complete, Salmon And Challis Return To Air

This post was updated at 2:00 p.m.

Salmon 91.9 fm and Challis 89.7 fm returned to air at 12:15 Monday after engineers completed the circuit move.

Original Post:

Boise State Public Radio's engineers are working with one of our network providers, Century Link, to move the circuit that feeds the Salmon and Challis stations.

The circuit move means Salmon 91.9 fm and Challis 89.7 fm will be off the air Monday morning.

We anticipate the stations will be back on air by Monday afternoon.

Transmitter Status
10:05 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Understanding The Technical Transition At Boise State Public Radio

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated on March 31, 2014

As we've detailed here, Boise State Public Radio is in the midst of moving into our new broadcast facility. The move isn't just a physical one, it's also a transition from analog to digital radio. The moves, both physical and technological, have created intermittent audio dropouts across the Boise State Public Radio network. Our engineers are aware of the disruptions, and we're moving closer to a permanent fix.

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Drought
8:55 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Drought In Idaho's Elmore County Means It's Now A Disaster Area

The latest drought map of Idaho, issued March 27, 2014 by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a southern Idaho county to its list of Idaho regions considered natural disaster areas because of drought.

The department designated Elmore County a primary natural disaster area, making farmers and ranchers in the county eligible for natural disaster assistance. Other Idaho counties with federal natural disaster declarations include Ada, Boise, Custer, Owyhee, Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls.

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Water
5:07 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho Seeks Preliminary Permit From FERC As Part Of Weiser Dam Study

Flooding on the Weiser River near Cambridge kept state crews busy in early March. Better flood control would be one goal of a new dam on the river.
Credit Idaho Transportation Department

 Idaho water managers this week filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The state's Water Resource Board continues to study the feasibility of building a new dam on the Weiser River. 

The Galloway Dam Site would include a 40-60 megawatt hydropower plant.  The project would be located 13.5 miles upstream of the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers.

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Reader's Corner
12:51 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Two Journalists Civil War Odyssey With Author Peter Carlson

History books are full of stories about the dangers and deprivations endured by soldiers who fought in the Civil War. What may be less well known are the challenges faced by journalists of the day who risked everything to get to the front lines of battle.

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Idaho Legislature
12:17 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho Agriculture Industry Happy With 2014 Legislature

Credit UGA College of Ag / Flickr

Idaho's farmers, ranchers and producers say they're happy with the outcome of the 2014 Legislature.

The Capitol Press reports a lot of things went right for the agricultural industry during the 74-day session, where numerous industry-boosting bills found a foothold.

That included the Agriculture Security Act, a dairy-backed bill that punishes those who film agricultural operations, and is designed to protect farmers from spying activists.

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Dams
11:51 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Army Corps To Kill Birds At Snake And Columbia River Dams

Columbia River Gorge
Credit Shawn Kinkade / Flickr

The Army Corps of Engineers this spring will begin killing birds at some Snake and Columbia river dams to help protect juvenile salmon and steelhead.

The agency unveiled a plan Thursday that will allow as many as 1,200 California gulls, 650 ring-billed gulls and 150 double-crested cormorants to be killed.

The Lewiston Tribune says the action will occur at McNary Dam on the Columbia River and Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River.

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Population
11:21 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho’s Population Shift To Urban Areas Slows

Franklin County
Credit J. Stephen Coon / Flickr

The shift of Idaho's population from rural counties to urban areas slowed last year.

Estimates released by the Census Bureau on Thursday showed the 33 rural counties saw their combined population increase for the first time in three years.

The population of the rural counties rose two-tenths of a percent from mid-2012 to mid-2013, or about 1,200 people.

The population of the 11 urban counties increased 1.5 percent.

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Idaho National Laboratory
10:50 am
Fri March 28, 2014

INL Contractor Gets 5-Year Extension

Credit Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance has received a five-year extension on its 10-year contract to operate the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

Battelle Energy Alliance began running the facility in early 2005 and will now operate the laboratory through Sept. 30, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the contract extension Thursday.

The agency says it extended the contract because of BEA's consistently strong annual performances.

The INL is one of the Energy Department's 10 national laboratories and a major employer in eastern Idaho.

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Guns
4:41 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Mental Health Records Added To FBI Gun Check

Idaho added mental health records to a national Federal Bureau of Investigations database, making it easier for background checks to discover if would-be gun owners have a history of mental illness.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports gun store customers are asked to complete a form revealing their legal status, criminal history and whether they have been committed to an institution for health reasons or found mentally unfit by a court.

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Wolves
3:44 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Governor Otter Signs Wolf Control Bill

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a bill to create a state board that will work to control the growth of wolf populations in the state.

Otter signed the bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservation groups.

The bill, which passed on the final day of the recent legislative session, creates a $400,000 fund and establishes a five-member board whose job is to authorize the killing of wolves that come into conflict with wildlife or livestock.

The money comes from the state's general fund.

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Grazing
10:57 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Bighorn Protection Plan

Credit Travis S. / Flickr

A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Forest Service plan to reduce domestic sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest by about 70 percent to protect bighorn sheep from diseases will remain in place.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, made the ruling on Tuesday.

Sheep ranchers in Idaho and other states in 2012 sued the Forest Service over the bighorn sheep protection plan announced in 2010.

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Politics
10:47 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Gets A C+ On Election Gender Equality By Sending One Woman To Congress

Credit screen grab from umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics

Idaho gets a C+ for the percentage of women it elects to Congress in a new election gender equality report card from the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog. The site, dedicated to data-driven political reporting, looked at all the U.S. House races for the past 25 years.

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Medicaid Cuts
2:25 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Judge Halts Idaho Medicaid Cuts After ACLU Lawsuit

Credit Jasleen_Kaur / Flickr Creative Commons

A U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction Tuesday to halt deep cuts to Medicaid and restore about $16 million in assistance to Idaho's developmentally delayed adults.

The decision lets an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho lawsuit on behalf of disabled Idahoans proceed as a class-action case.

That opens it up to more people who lost some their Medicaid dollars when the program was slashed in 2011.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill cited cases of severely mentally disabled Idahoans that can no longer afford necessary therapy and other care in his decision.

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Affordable Housing
1:11 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Report: It Takes A 73 Hour Work Week To Pay Rent On Idaho's Minimum Wage

Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

An Idaho worker earning the minimum wage would need to work 73 hours per week in order to afford a modest two-bedroom rental according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Protests
10:01 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Gay Rights Protesters Take Their Message On The Road, Begin Training Idahoans Outside Boise

Emily Shannon got involved with the "add the words" movement after seeing news coverage of this year's first Capitol protest. She participated in subsequent protests, was arrested and most recently trained people in Moscow to protest.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s 2014 legislative session may well be defined by protests. Gay rights advocates stepped up pressure on lawmakers to extend discrimination protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people. More than 100 people were arrested in numerous protests. Those were well choreographed and featured people standing silently, each with a hand over his or her mouth. Now, organizers are bringing this distinctive strategy to other parts of the state.

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Theater
1:30 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Actor Says It's A Thrill To Work On Boise Contemporary Theater’s Evolving New Play

Carie Kawa is a Los Angeles-based actor starting in BCT's new original play, The Uncanny Valley.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Carie Kawa awkwardly holds a beat-up, framed poster showing earth-seen-from-space to face the mostly empty seats at Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT.) The first week of rehearsal is ending for the original play The Uncanny Valley. The poster is a stand-in for a painting which is an important linchpin in the plot. The story turns on this prop, but the prop itself is too big for Kawa to turn around to show another actor as she’s supposed to.

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Wages
10:43 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Idaho's Share Of Minimum Wage Workers Declines, Now 2nd Highest In U.S.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports most hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage work in the service sector, largely in food preparation.
Credit Gorgeoux / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s share of minimum wage workers declined 0.6 percent from 2012 to 2013 according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The drop means Idaho no longer has the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country; Tennessee has taken Idaho’s spot.

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