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Bowe Bergdahl
10:42 am
Sun February 23, 2014

Taliban Suspends Prisoner Swap Talks On Idaho Solider

Bowe Bergdahl has been held captive since 2009.

The spokesman for Afghanistan's Taliban says they have suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.

In a terse emailed statement Sunday, Zabihullah Mujahed blamed the "current complex political situation in the country" for the suspension of what was considered the best chance of securing Bergdahl's freedom since his capture in 2009. It is the first official acknowledgement of indirect talks with the U.S. to free Bergdahl.

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Campus Safety
10:28 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Boise State: Allowing Guns On Campus Will Cost University About $2 Million Each Year

Boise State University says proposed legislation that would allow guns to legally be carried on Idaho campuses would require an overhaul of its campus security.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State University says proposed legislation that would allow guns to be legally carried on its campus would cost the school about $2 million each year.

BSU’s head of security and police services, Jon Uda, detailed the costs in a university memo. In it, he says having guns on campus would present “myriad” of new threats for campus security.

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Reader's Corner
6:00 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Literacy Educator Jeffrey Wilhelm Says Let Kids Read What They Want

Research shows that kids who read well do better in school and have a distinct advantage in developing communication and logical thinking skills. Avid readers also tend to be more engaged in the world around them.

But how do you get young people to want to read? Today’s guest, Jeffrey Wilhelm, believes that kids and adolescents should be allowed to choose at least some of the books they read for school, so that their reading adds meaning to their lives.

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Idaho Legislature
2:18 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

After 3 Years, A Small Victory For Idaho Girl Lobbying For A State Amphibian

This is Hickman last year, when she was in 6th grade, lobbying for her bill.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A Boise seventh-grader's push to get recognition for her favorite amphibian slithered to victory in the Senate State Affairs committee.

Ilah Hickman has been prodding the Legislature to adopt the Idaho Giant Salamander as the official state amphibian for three years now.

Hickman thinks the creature would be a great fit: Not only does the Idaho Giant Salamander have Idaho in the name, but it also resides almost exclusively in the Gem State.

A poll of her classmates at Les Bois Middle School revealed that most students favor the salamander taking the crown.

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Idaho Legislature
12:34 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho House Approves $2 Million Plan To Kill Wolves

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Lawmakers voted 49-16 to direct $2 million to help kill problem wolves, over objections from Democrats who say it's a poor use of the money.

Friday's vote sends the measure, backed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and livestock producers, to the Senate.

Idaho has 118 packs and 680 wolves, according to 2012 figures.

This wolf control fund's proponents argue existing measures by federal trappers and hunters aren't enough to tackle wolves that prey on sheep, cattle and elk herds coveted by hunters.

This fund will help pick up the slack.

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Health Insurance
11:26 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho's Health Insurance Exchange Awards $40.8 Million In Contracts

Idaho's insurance exchange voted to give two companies publicly funded contracts worth $40.8 million to build and operate a state enrollment system due to replace the federal software in place now.

Your Health Idaho's board Friday voted to give the work to GetInsured and Accenture, the two companies that also built California's state insurance exchange.

Idaho has used the federal government's exchange for the past five months because it didn't have enough time to build its own system before the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline.

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Idaho Legislature
11:15 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho Commerce Director Pitches New Business Tax Incentive

Idaho's lackluster quiver of tax incentives make it flyover country for many companies looking to relocate or expand.

That's the verdict of Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, who pitched a plan Friday he says would change that.

Sayer's proposition: What if Idaho allows companies that hire new, well-paid employees to recoup up to 30 percent of their income, sales and payroll taxes after they've proven to have met their expansion promises?

That way, he says, the state would protect itself from companies that don't follow through.

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Agriculture
8:25 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Idaho Farm Profits Up, Number Of Farms Continues To Fall

In 2012, crops accounted for $3.4 billion dollars of Idaho's ag sector. Livestock and related products totaled $4.3 billion.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The value of Idaho’s agriculture products grew from $5.7 billion to $7.8 billion between 2007 and 2012. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.) It released preliminary results from its Census of Agriculture Thursday.  The USDA provides the update every five years and the latest covers 2012.  

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Gardening
4:15 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Author To Offer Tips On Creating Sustainable Gardens In A Dry Climate

Credit Toby Hemenway

Home gardeners are often frustrated by Idaho’s dry climate. Finding the plants best suited for your garden is not always easy. Toby Hemenway is an author who teaches and writes about permaculture and sustainable gardens and he’s coming to Boise.

“Rather than try to learn permaculture from a theoretical point of view, or try to understand it all, it’s a lot easier to just get involved in one aspect of it,” Hemenway says.

He says water conservation is an easy, gateway into learning permaculture.

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Idaho Legislature
5:56 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Disputed 'Ag Gag' Bill Advances In House Committee

Credit Mouldfish / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers voted to send a bill blocking activists from secretly filming agricultural operations in hopes of capturing abuse on camera forward to full House debate.

The 13-1 vote came Thursday after the House Agricultural Affairs Committee heard testimony from dozens of farmers and animal rights supporters.

The Senate has already backed the measure, 23-10.

The bill, backed by Idaho's dairy industry, would slap those who sneak onto farms or get access under false pretenses to film animal abuse with fines and up to a year in jail.

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Gay Rights
10:50 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Protesters Block Idaho Senate Again Over Gay Rights

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

UPDATE: 5:50 p.m.:

More gay rights activists were arrested by Idaho State Police after refusing to lift their peaceful blockade of the Idaho Senate.

In all, 30 people were arrested Thursday.

That included 23 people who posted themselves outside the Senate chambers for more than six hours but declined to leave when asked by law enforcement about 4 p.m.

All 23 were cited for misdemeanor trespassing.

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Recreation
7:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

As Sales For Next Ski Season Start, Bogus Doing OK Financially

Bogus Basin officials say inversions in the Treasure Valley - and sunshine on the mountain - helped boost January visits.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Next year’s Bogus Basin season passes went on sale this week. For skiers who buy before Monday, $229 will get them unlimited access to the ski mountain next season. Alan Moore, executive director of the non-profit attraction north of Boise, says prices are staying at the same level as this year.

The 2013-2014 season has been mixed, Moore says. Like many ski hills in Idaho, Bogus had pretty thin snow for a while.  But Moore says it’s also had a lot of sunny days that have drawn people out of the often hazy valley.  

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Gay Marriage
4:08 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Idaho Couples Ask Judge To Rule On Gay Marriage

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Four couples suing over Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage are asking a federal judge to rule in their favor without a trial, contending the facts of the case and recent federal court rulings elsewhere make it clear that Idaho's marriage laws violate the Constitution.

The defendant in the case, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, also is asking the judge for an immediate ruling, contending that states and not the federal government have the right to define marriage and that same-sex marriages would harm Idaho's children.

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Idaho Legislature
12:29 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Idaho Lawmaker Pulls Controversial Religious Freedom Bill

Credit Idaho Legislature

A lawmaker promoting disputed legislation to protect religious people who refuse to serve gays, lesbians and others to whom they object from lawsuits says he'll withdraw the bill, for now.

Republican Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise says his measure was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, but was misinterpreted to be a "sword for discrimination."

A previous hearing on his measure lasted nearly four hours and drew hundreds to the Capitol.

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Boulder-White Clouds
11:23 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Blaine County Pushes Plan For Boulder-White Clouds Monument

Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho plan to finalize a resolution supporting a central Idaho national monument by Tuesday.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that commissioners set that date so Commission Chair Larry Schoen can hand deliver the resolution backing a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument in person when he visits Washington, D.C., for a conference in early March.

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Education
10:27 am
Wed February 19, 2014

State Of Idaho Won't Pursue Disciplinary Action Against Pocatello Coach

The posting of this photograph of Laraine Cook last year led to her firing from the Pocatello school district. She has since been re-hired.
Credit KIDK via Facebook

The Idaho Attorney General's office has notified an eastern Idaho teacher that the state Department of Education is not going to pursue disciplinary action against her teaching certificate.

The Idaho State Journal in a story on Wednesday reports that Deputy Attorney General Andrew J. Snook notified Laraine Cook the office reviewed her case and found insufficient basis to go forward.

Cook was dismissed as a substitute teacher in Pocatello Chubbuck School District 25 in October over a photograph posted on her Facebook page showing her fiance touching her bikini-clad chest.

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Elections
7:30 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Idaho’s Initiative To Legalize Medical Marijuana Is Failing Despite Public Support

Kendall Jeffs says she started using medical marijuana after losing her index finger and part of her middle finger in an onion harvesting accident. She says it's the only thing that helps with the phantom pain that still troubles her regularly.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The majority of Idahoans approve of medical marijuana, that's according to a four-year-old poll, which is the most recent available. Still, an initiative to legalize medical pot in Idaho is failing spectacularly.

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Bowe Bergdahl
5:17 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Celebrities Use Bracelets To Raise Awareness For Idaho POW Bergdahl

Paul McCartney and American Soldier Network founder Annie Nelson wear Bowe Bergdahl bracelets at a dress rehearsal for the Grammy's.
Credit American Soldier Network

U.S. diplomats are reportedly renewing their efforts to arrange a prisoner swap for Idaho soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who's been in Taliban captivity nearly five years. Bergdahl would be exchanged for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Idaho Legislature
1:02 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Idaho Senate Passes Guns On Campus Bill, Heads To House

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Senate voted 25-10 for a bill to allow students, faculty and others to tote guns on college campuses.

Sponsor Sen. Curt McKenzie said Tuesday it's wrong to strip students and faculty of their Second Amendment rights.

The House will now consider the measure, where it's likely to pass.

Sen. Michelle Stennett opposed the bill, arguing it will burden schools with additional security costs and could escalate arguments.

A similar bill failed in 2011 in the Senate.

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Recreation
10:27 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Mud In Boise's Foothills Means Damage, Frustration For City Officials

David Gordon manages 150 miles of trails for the City of Boise.
Credit Jessica Murri / For Boise State Public Radio

Almost every day since the end of January, the Boise Foothills Trail Conditions Facebook page has warned hikers of the same thing: trails are muddy. Those conditions have forced would-be hikers to find recreation alternatives.

Pine Irwin is part of a group that uses Boise parks and the Greenbelt instead of hiking in the foothills.  Irwin and her dogs joined others in Veterans Memorial Park Sunday morning because, she says, using the foothills right now is not an option.

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