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Education
10:09 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Election Roundup: Voters Approve Most School Levies Across Idaho

Three New Schools Approved By Twin Falls Voters: Twin Falls voters on Tuesday approved the biggest local school district bond ever — nearly $74 million to build three schools and pay for other facility projects. The total vote reached 67.7 percent — the required supermajority — with 3,079 voters supporting the request and 1,469 voters opposed. - Times-News

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Health Insurance
9:47 am
Wed March 12, 2014

44,000 Idahoans Sign Up On Insurance Exchange As Deadline Nears

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 44,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on Your Health Idaho.

The agency says Idaho remains second in the nation per capita for the number of people selecting plans on the exchange.

The latest numbers show a 33 percent increase from one month ago.

The enrollment period ends on March 31.

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Idaho News
5:25 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Idaho Prisons Director Takes Leave, Grandson Charged With Murder

The head of Idaho's Department of Correction is taking a leave of absence as his grandson faces a murder charge in southern Idaho.

Brent Reinke has led the department since 2007. Department spokesman Jeff Ray said in a prepared statement that Reinke is taking two weeks' leave, effective immediately, to address his grandson's criminal prosecution.

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Idaho Legislature
2:00 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Idaho Legislators Will Retain Special Gun Privileges

This statue of George Washington sits on the fourth floor of the Idaho Capitol.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho Senate panel has killed legislation that would have removed a special privilege for state elected officials to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Among the leading advocates of killing the House-passed bill was Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who is running for governor.

“My vote will not be to willingly give up the privilege that our predecessors granted,” said Fulcher. “We do not need to relinquish our privileges.”

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Public Lands
1:05 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Recreators And Environmentalists Reach Boulder-White Clouds Deal

The proposed national monument is 500,000 roadless acres.
Credit TheJesse / Flickr Creative Commons

Environmentalists and mountain bikers have reached agreement on a proposal for protecting the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument.

The Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday that the agreement creates zones to maintain wilderness characteristics in some areas, while continuing mountain bike access to the popular area north of Sun Valley.

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Water
7:30 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Recent Rain Turns Concern To Optimism For Idaho Rafting Companies

Credit Cascade Raft and Kayak

The stretch of rain and snow across much of Idaho in the last few weeks has transformed what looked to be a terrible water year into a pretty good one. It’s not just farmers who are breathing easier now. Many in Idaho’s tourism industry, like whitewater rafting companies, rely on snowpack and stream flows as well.

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Idaho Legislature
2:00 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bill To Help Payday Loan Borrowers Passes Idaho Senate

A plan to give people who use payday loans more leeway in settling their debt passed the Idaho Senate.

The bill, which passed 21-13 Monday, would let borrowers set up a payment plan to return the money if they get behind.

It also blocks lenders from piling fees and interest onto the remaining balance if borrowers opt for the payment plan.

The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Sen. Lee Heider, says it can provide an out for someone "caught in a lending cycle."

Paralympics
11:32 am
Mon March 10, 2014

How A Blind Idaho Athlete Shoots Targets In Paralympic Biathlon

2013 file photos of Paralympian Omar Bermejo training for biathlon in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A legally blind skier from Sun Valley, Idaho finished in 14th place in the opening biathlon competition at the Paralympic Winter Games this weekend.

Rookie Paralympian Jake Adicoff missed multiple rifle targets to take himself out of contention in the 7.5 kilometer event held in Sochi, Russia. This combination of cross country skiing and marksmanship unfolded on the same course used for the Winter Olympics last month.

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Idaho Legislature
10:01 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmaker: Budget Crunch Will Dent Wolf Killing Fund

Credit Idaho Legislature

The co-chair of the state's budget committee says a bill asking for $2 million to kill Idaho wolves likely won't get half that much money.

Republican Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome says the money is instead needed to pay for the Idaho Education Network broadband program.

Bell co-chairs the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

Legal wrangling over a contract the state awarded for an education broadband project has cut off federal funds for the program.

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Idaho News
9:53 am
Mon March 10, 2014

North Idaho Sheriff's Office Drops Boy Scouts Charter

A charter the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office in northern Idaho had with Boy Scout troop 911 has expired following the Boy Scouts of America opening its ranks to gay scouts.

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger last spring said he would be compelled to drop the charter because the organization is promoting a lifestyle that's against Idaho law.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports the charter the sheriff's office had with the troop expired at the end of 2013.

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Research
7:30 am
Mon March 10, 2014

University Of Idaho Researchers Find Common Chemical Changes Fetal Monkey Genes

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, is commonly found in plastics, soup cans, and store receipts. Scientists continue to study how the chemical affects people. New research from the University of Idaho may sound a cautionary note for humans. 

Gordon Murdoch is an associate professor of physiology at the University of Idaho. He focused on fetal heart development in rhesus monkeys.

For the study, pregnant monkeys were fed fruit containing BPA. “Our question was did it affect the genes in the fetal heart?” he asked, “And to our surprise and dismay, it did.”

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Education
6:30 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Idaho School Districts Increasingly Rely On Levies To Pay The Bills

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

School districts across Idaho will be asking voters to approve supplemental levies Tuesday. That includes Meridian, Nampa, and Kuna. Districts going to voters for more money has become commonplace in recent years.

A little more than a decade ago, about a third of Idaho schools had levies in place. Now it’s two thirds, according to Mike Ferguson, head of the non-profit research group Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. In that time, the money coming from levies has tripled to about $190 million. 

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Reader's Corner
6:00 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Author Ian Buruma On 1945 And The World After WWII

Stories about the heroics of World War II are deeply embedded in our popular culture. But the Hollywood storyline seldom reflects on the struggles of those left to survive amid the ruins of what was likely the most destructive war in human history.

In his new book “Year Zero: A History of 1945,” Ian Buruma examines the desperation and upheaval left in the wake of the war’s near complete rending of society’s fabric across large swaths of Europe and Asia.

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Wildlife
4:28 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Yellowstone National Park Ends Seasonal Bison Cull, More Than 500 Killed

Credit Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park administrators say shipments of wild bison to slaughter are done for the winter after almost 600 animals were removed in an effort to shrink their numbers.

Federal and state officials said Friday that 258 migrating bison were captured and transferred for slaughter. Hunters have killed at least 264, and 60 were placed in an animal contraception experiment.

The removals were part of an ongoing effort to reduce Yellowstone's herds to about 3,000 animals under an agreement with Montana.

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Idaho News
1:36 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

FBI Takes Over Idaho Criminal Investigation Of Prison Company CCA

The FBI has taken over the Idaho criminal investigation into private prison company Corrections Corporation of America.

The Nashville, Tenn.,-based CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the prison by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements.

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Protests
12:07 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Idaho Gay Rights Protesters Jailed After Vigil Attempt

Former Idaho lawmaker Nicole LeFavour says she's planning another vigil for March 7.
Credit Idaho Legislature

The leader of the Add the Words group and two other gay activists were arrested at the Idaho Capitol late Thursday night after police nixed their plan to hold an all-night vigil inside the building.

That marks the fifth arrest this year for former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who heads up the group pushing for the Legislature to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

So far, the issue has been denied a hearing by Republican leadership.

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Idaho News
9:49 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Idaho Man Convicted Of Shooting At Crop Dusting Plane

Credit Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A south-central Idaho man has been convicted of shooting at a crop duster.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports that a jury on Thursday found 42-year-old Christopher V. Lewis of Filer guilty of felony discharging a firearm at an aircraft.

Prosecutors say the pilot told police he saw someone holding a shotgun below him at about 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 24.

Authorities say that at about the same time, someone called the spraying company saying the pilot was flying too low over home and threatened to "dust the pilot with his 10-gauge shotgun."

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Prison
4:13 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Judge Keeps Idaho Juvenile Corrections Lawsuit Alive

A federal judge says a whistleblower lawsuit against the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections can move forward in court, but some of the claims must be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Thursday that a group of current and former Juvenile Corrections employees raised enough questions of facts in their lawsuit to merit bringing it before a jury.

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Business
3:48 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Boise-Based Albertsons To Merge With Safeway Stores

Credit RoadsidePictures / Flickr Creative Commons

Safeway says it has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Albertsons and several other supermarket chains.

The acquisition is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion.

It comes amid ongoing consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores.

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Idaho Legislature
3:27 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Guns On Campus Bill Passes Idaho Legislature, Headed To The Governor

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House has voted to back a bill allowing students, faculty and visitors carry guns on college campuses.

The bill passed with a 50-19 vote, with proponents arguing it upholds Second Amendment rights and allows people on campuses to protect themselves.

But lawmakers who voted against it skewered the measure, saying it's being pushed through despite opposition from leaders of all eight public colleges and universities.

Those leaders worry it will disrupt learning environments and put people at risk.

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