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1:31 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Why Stoplights Hate Idaho Fog (And Why You Might Hate Stoplights)

Treasure Valley drivers made their way to work Monday morning in dense fog. This photo was taken on Amity in SE Boise.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Ada County highway officials say they received dozens of complaints Monday morning as heavy fog affected the operation of stop lights. 

Mike Boydstun, the Ada County Highway Department’s traffic operations engineer, estimates between 30 and 60 people called the department to report problems between 7 and 9 a.m.

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Wildlife
11:08 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Yellowstone Plans To Slaughter Up To 600 Bison

A group of bull bison gather near Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park administrators say they plan to ship as many as 600 bison to slaughter this winter if harsh conditions inside the park spur a large migration of the animals into Montana.

The Billings Gazette reports only 60 or 70 bison have crossed the park's northern boundary at last count this winter.

A state-federal agreement signed in 2000 requires the bison population to be kept at roughly 3,000 animals. There were about 4,600 as of June 2013.

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Idaho Legislature
9:59 am
Tue February 11, 2014

GOP Lawmakers Push Dumping Idaho Tax On Food

Shoppers pay Idaho's 6 percent sales tax on groceries.
Credit Qmnonic / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican lawmakers including Sen. Russ Fulcher aim to eliminate Idaho's 6 percent tax on groceries starting July 1, 2016.

Fulcher, a Meridian Republican running against Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May primary, and Boise Sen. Cliff Bayer are promoting the proposed legislation.

Currently, Idaho gives nearly all its residents a credit when they file their annual tax returns, to offset surcharges they pay on groceries.

This tax credit has been expanded since legislation passed in 2009.

Come next year, it's due to be $100 for everyone, and $120 for seniors.

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Education
7:30 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Idaho Isn't Very Fair About How It Doles Out School Cash, Report Finds

Credit FlickingerBrad / Flickr Creative Commons

A report from the New Jersey-based advocacy group the Education Law Center, says Idaho does not do a good job spending its education money fairly for all students.

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Idaho Legislature
5:03 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Two Idaho Republicans Want To Eliminate State's Catastrophic Health Care Fund

Sen. Nonini is a Republican from Coeur d'Alene.
Credit Idaho Legislature

Two Republican senators want to eliminate Idaho's fund that helps pay the medical bills of indigent people.

Sens. Steve Thayn of Emmett and Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene pitched the legislation on Monday.

They sold it to lawmakers on the Health and Welfare Committee as a better way to treat low-income people without insurance than the existing Catastrophic Care Fund.

Now, there will be a full hearing on the measure.

Currently, state and county taxpayers combine to cover indigent people's medical bills.

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Idaho Legislature
2:54 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Idaho Republican Wants To Shift Slice Of Sales Tax To Fund Roads

A view from U.S. 20 in central Idaho.
Credit TelstarLogistics / Flickr Creative Commons

A Republican lawmaker proposes digging into Idaho's sales tax revenue to fund highway and bridge projects.

Rep. Joe Palmer, House Transportation Committee chairman, pitched the idea Monday.

Typically, Idaho pays for roads from fees assessed on gas or vehicle registrations.

Palmer's measure would depart that tradition, but only after Idaho's revenue reaches certain thresholds.

Once general fund income hits $2.91 billion and education funding exceeds $1.4 billion — both pre-recession records — he'd begin taking a slice of the growing sales tax for roads.

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Wages
1:09 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Idaho Legislative Panel To Hear Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

Michelle Stennett is Idaho's Senate Minority Leader.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to put more money in the pockets of Idaho's lowest-paid workers cleared its first hurdle Monday when the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to send it forward to a full hearing.

The proposal would increase the state's minimum hourly pay from $7.25 the federal requirement— to $8.50 July 1, then raise it again to $9.75 in 2015.

But Republicans who control 81 percent of the Legislature immediately criticized the plan, throwing its future into doubt.

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Education
11:53 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Luna: Idaho May Have To Repay $13.3 Million In Education Broadband Cash

Credit Shane Pope / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho may have to repay $13.3 million if federal officials determine the state broke contracting rules on a $60 million education broadband project mired in a lawsuit for nearly as long as it's existed.

Department of Administration director Teresa Luna told the House Education Committee that even should Idaho prevail in the legal case, it still could be forced to repay the money that's gone to the Idaho Education Network.

The project is already growing far more expensive than Idaho intended.

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Film
11:46 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Boise Director Takes On Quirky Project For Feature Film Debut

Zach Voss is currently directing Treefort 2014's promotional videos. It's a multi-part series about a band on a flying ship. It's his first venture into stop-motion animation.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise filmmaker Zach Voss may be best known for his promotional videos for Boise's Treefort Music Festival. His 2013  Treefort work grabbed the attention of a northwest movie producer, and now Voss is preparing to make his feature-film directorial debut.

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Avalanche
10:27 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Avalanche Warning Issued For Sun Valley Region

The National Weather Service has issued an avalanche warning for central Idaho's Sun Valley region.

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center says the area got between one and a half to three feet of new snow, and that combined with strong winds have created a high avalanche danger. The warning includes the mountains around Fairfield, Galena Summit and Stanley.

Idaho News
9:58 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Snake River Canyon Jump Back In The Spotlight

Credit City of Twin Falls

The Twin Falls City Council will meet tonight and revisit the issue of planning a jump over the Snake River Canyon. It's the first meeting for the group since council members last week voted to deny access to city-owned land to a Texas stunt-man the city has been negotiating with for months. The council had concerns over Ed Beckley's proposed safety plan. 

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Idaho Legislature
9:50 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Idaho Democrats To Pitch Plan Raising Idaho's Minimum Wage

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

A Democratic lawmaker will ask her fellow legislators to sign off on a plan to raise Idaho's minimum wage.

But majority Republicans have largely rejected efforts to hike the minimum wage, even as neighboring states' pay goes up.

Idaho's wage is currently aligned with the federal minimum of $7.25, and hasn't gone up since 2009.

The state currently has the highest number of workers earning the minimum wage in the U.S.

Sen. Michelle Stennett's proposal comes alongside a proposed voter initiative that seeks to raise pay to $9.80.

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

Why American Kids Aren't The Smartest In The World With Author Amanda Ripley

Preparing students to excel in a fast-changing world is a concern for many nations.  Some countries, including our own, have implemented a variety of education reforms over recent decades, only to see piddling results. Others, including  Finland, South Korea and Poland, have realized major gains.

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Wildlife
1:25 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Mountain Lion Killed In Garden City

Fish and Game veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew (left) and Fish and Game conservation officer Bill London with the lion killed in the Riverside Subdivision on February 6.
Credit Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game officers and Garden City police tracked down and killed a mountain lion in Garden City Thursday.  The animal was shot along the Boise River Greenbelt in the Riverside subdivision around 5:30 p.m.

An eyewitness says the cougar was under his front porch. It ran from that location and the chase began.  Police, conservation officers and a houndsman tracked the animal through backyards and common areas in the subdivision.  They say they were hoping to tree the animal, tranquilize it and then move it to another location.

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Weather
11:41 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Highway 21, Idaho's 'Avalanche Alley' Closes Due To Slide Danger

Here's a look at Idaho 21 between I-84 and Robie Creek Road Friday morning from the ITD webcam.
Credit Idaho Transportation Department

“Avalanche Alley” will close at 6:00 p.m. Friday as a safety precaution. That’s the 12-mile stretch of Idaho 21 between Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit.  

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) reports the area received eight inches of snow Friday morning and more snowfall is expected Friday night and Saturday.

The area averages more than 250 inches of snow which brings 45-50 slides each year. About 90 percent of avalanches that affect Idaho highways happen on "Avalanche Alley."

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Politics/Policy
10:02 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Idaho Truckers Want To Increase Gas Tax To Improve Roads

Credit FutureAtlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

A trucking group says Idaho's 25-cent-per-gallon gas tax should be hiked 6 cents a gallon.

That's according to the Idaho Trucking Association's measure introduced Thursday in the House Transportation Committee, to do it over the next three years. It's considered a longshot to pass.

Truckers pitched the bill on grounds Idaho should get started on tackling an estimated annual $262 million backlog of road and bridge projects.

Still, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has already said highway funding probably won't be an issue in 2014.

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Weather
6:29 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Treasure Valley Wakes Up To New Snow; Boise And Meridian Schools Closed

Credit Jim Bauer / Flickr Creative Commons

Update, 6:41 a.m.: Bishop Kelly High School in Boise says it will close Friday.

Original post: The Treasure Valley is waking up to snow Friday morning. Forecasters say most of the region received one to two inches of new snow. 

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Business
5:15 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Applesauce-Maker GoGo SqueeZ To Open Idaho Facility Creating 230 Jobs

Credit TheImpulsiveBuy / Flickr Creative Commons

Applesauce-maker GoGo squeeZ says it plans to open an $85 million food processing facility in Nampa, Idaho that will employ at least 230 people.

The Idaho Department of Commerce announced the company's Idaho investment in a press release Thursday.

The Idaho Statesman reports the average wage at the new facility will be $16 an hour, more than double Idaho's minimum wage.

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Weather
12:41 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Dust Off That Snow Shovel, Up To 5 Inches Expected In The Treasure Valley

A shot of the Bogus Basin Ski Resort webcam, before the snow event begins.
Credit Bogus Basin

Snow is coming to southern Idaho, lots of it. The National Weather Service says a “significant snowfall event” will start Thursday night and last through Saturday.

The snow comes from a combination of moisture from the Pacific and an upper level low pressure system from Alaska. It will bring prolonged snowfall, which could mean substantial snow totals in the mountains.  NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from the Oregon border East to Twin Falls, Idaho.

Here are the latest projected snow totals from the National Weather Service:

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Medicaid
12:21 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Idaho's 2013 Medicaid Rolls At Highest Level Yet

Credit Data: Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare | Chart: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The number of low-income Idahoans on Medicaid increased 3.5 percent in 2013, a figure the Idaho Department of  Health and Welfare says marks a slow-down in growth of the program.

On average, 236,352 Idahoans were signed up for Medicaid each month of 2013. That's the highest average monthly enrollment the state has ever recorded.

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