BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A bill intended to give Idaho insurance brokers an opportunity to help clients shop for health insurance is headed for debate in House committee.
The measure introduced in the House State Affairs Committee Thursday would give brokers access to customers looking for coverage through the health insurance exchange. The exchanges — a byproduct of the federal health care overhaul — will be set up like an online marketplace for insurance products for individuals and small businesses.
Idaho’s Superintendent of Education asked lawmakers Thursday to increase funding for public schools by 3 percent. For some details on that proposed budget our education reporter Adam Cotterell joined All Things Considered host Samantha Wright in the studio.
Here follows a transcript of that conversation:
Samantha Wright: Adam Where should we start?
Adam Cotterell: How about where Superintendent Tom Luna started with lawmakers?
Tom Luna: “A lot has occurred since I stood before you a year ago.”
The National Weather Service calls this morning an “historic freezing rain event.” A spokesman says Boise was the hardest hit by the ice. The conditions closed schools, highways, and caused cars to slip and slide. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office reports more than 41 crashes this morning and 32 slide offs or stalled cars.
UPDATE: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Salt Lake City International Airport has partially reopened after closing for more than three hours because of freezing rain and icy conditions that caused a Frontier airplane to slide on the runway during landing.
Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann says one of the three runways reopened at about 12:45 p.m. on Thursday. The other two remain closed.
Overnight freezing rain in southwestern Idaho led to slick roads, accidents, road closures, and school cancelations. Interstate 84 is now open after being closed for several hours this morning for more than 80 miles between east Boise and Bliss. That affected east and westbound lanes.
For the past three days, the presidents of Idaho’s state colleges and universities have stood before lawmakers. They’ve all made the case for why their school should get state money. But that’s been an increasingly tough sell over the years.
This year Idaho’s colleges and universities got a $19 million boost from lawmakers. But after several years of cuts that only brought higher education spending back to 2006 levels. And even in times when schools were getting more money each year, the increases did not keep pace with growth.
Idaho’s high school graduation rate is better than all but nine states with 84 percent of students graduating on time. That’s according to a report out this week from the U.S. Department of Education. But the annual report has a multi-year lag. This one looks at the 2009-2010 school year.
It also uses a method of counting grads and dropouts that even the authors consider antiquated. It compares the number of diplomas a state hands out with the number of students registered for 9th grade four years earlier.
In a unanimous vote last night, the Ketchum city council added protections for LGBT residents. The new law protects against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
Ketchum is the third city in Idaho to pass this kind of ordinance, following Sandpoint and Boise. Currently there is no statewide law protecting against housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Ice jams on the Salmon River are causing flooding concerns. The National Weather Service reports continued sub-zero temperatures in Lemhi County. The cold weather could mean the river will flood low-lying areas this week.
David Evetts is with the U.S. Geological Survey in Idaho. He says there is one ice jam north and one south of Salmon. Evetts says it’s common for ice jams to form in the area, but flooding isn’t always the end result.
When you order that special filet at a restaurant or store, you're often going on trust that the fish actually is what the menu or label says it is. In Washington, two state agencies are asking for tougher penalties to deter seafood fraud.
University of Idaho President Duane Nellis told state budget writers this morning that the 20 seats funded by the state in WWAMI, the cooperative medical education program with the University of Washington, are no longer enough to meet the state’s medical needs. He said Idaho needs more doctors.
A fight between western states and the federal government over control of public lands has surfaced in the Northwest. Last year Utah and Arizona lawmakers passed bills requiring the feds to sign public land over to them. Now Idaho lawmakers are discussing whether a similar bill is right for their state.
Police investigations continue into the deaths of two University of Idaho students in Moscow. They died in separate incidents over the three day weekend.
Moscow Police say 18 -year-old Joseph Wiedrrick of Hailey, Idaho was found dead on Monday after being reported missing by his dormitory roommate at noon on Sunday. Search and rescue teams spent the rest of Sunday and most of Monday looking for him. They found his body under a bridge just over three miles from campus. No foul play is suspected.
The protest group Occupy Boise packed up their encampment last June, seven months after building a tent city next to the Idaho Statehouse. But Idaho lawmakers are still arguing over rules crafted to regulate any future protests at state-owned buildings.
Winter weather conditions have trapped air pollution near the ground.
Much of the pollution contains fine particles from burning wood. Those fine particles can cause lung and heart damage. The conditions have led to temporary bans on wood burning stoves and outdoor fires.