News

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

Bonds in Idaho can be hard to pass, in part because a lot of “yes” votes are needed at the polls. So how school districts explain their need and the cost to voters is critical in a bond campaign.

In this installment of our Financing the Future Series, we take a closer look at the Boise District’s bond and why it could be a challenge to pass.

Chris Carlson / AP

 The northern Idaho city of Moscow is saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of water since implementing a conservation plan last year that provides rebates to customers who swap out their old toilets for more water-efficient ones.

Boise Police Department Cop Car
Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

A bipartisan bill to reform civil asset forfeiture rules is making its way through the Statehouse. Civil asset forfeiture is typically used by law enforcement to seize property in drug cases to keep profits from those illicit transactions out of the hands of drug dealers.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

On Feb. 9, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding convinced the House Local Government Committee to introduce a proposal to reduce Idaho’s two-thirds supermajority.

And that’s as far as it’s likely to go. Erpelding has been told his proposal will not get a hearing. By his count, there have been 11 attempts to reduce the supermajority since 1990, and none have made it through the Legislature.

“I guess I can get in line,” Erpelding, D-Boise, said Friday.

Flickr Creative Commons

House lawmakers have killed legislation allowing FBI background checks on some state employees despite warnings from the bill's sponsor that doing so will cause the state to lose critical federal funding.

The proposal would have allowed the Department of Labor to conduct FBI fingerprint-based background checks on employees, applicants, contractors, interns and other. The federal government requires the checks for any employee who handles confidential taxpayer information.

Daniel Weber / Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho Senate panel has agreed to exclude several references to climate change in the state's newest proposed science standards.

The standards haven't been updated since 2001 and have been criticized as vague. The House Education Committee sparked controversy earlier this month by removing several key mentions to climate change and human impact on the environment from the proposed standards. The amended rules needed to be adopted by the Senate panel in order to be implemented.

The Good News: There Were Fewer Inversions Than Last Winter

Feb 28, 2017
Jay Breidenbach / National Weather Service

The Treasure Valley has suffered through unusually high snowfall this winter. Between October 1, 2016, and February 1, 2017, more than 35 inches fell. All that snow has covered up the usual complaint about Southern Idaho winters: Inversions. Yes, those cold, grey, smoggy days.

Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News are partnering to produce a week-long series on how the March 14 statewide school elections affect students, communities and taxpayers.

High school junior Erin Frazer is laser-focused, moving her mouse deftly as she manipulates an image on her computer screen.

“I think Illustrator is my favorite out of all these programs,” she says.

Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game crews are feeding 4,000 elk in eastern Idaho this winter, after a fire burned 22,000 acres of their winter range.

The fire hit the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area in Bonneville County last year. Without grass, forbs and brush, elk and deer now have nothing to eat. Fish and Game worried they would travel to private property 13 miles away and start eating haystacks and spilling into towns.

MjZ Photography / Flickr

One of the main corridors of the Treasure Valley, Chinden Boulevard, could be expanded to a six lane highway over the next 25 years according to long range plans from the Idaho Transportation Department.

The section of roadway between Meridian and Caldwell would first be upgraded from two to four lanes in the next 15 years. Once that’s done, work would begin to widen it to six lanes by 2040.

John McCrostie for District 16 / Facebook

An Idaho Democratic lawmaker sparked objections from Republican members Monday for using an anti-motorcycling profiling bill to promote amending the state's Human's Rights Act.

Rep. John McCrostie of Boise praised the proposal for not allowing discrimination based on a certain lifestyle, adding that no one should be profiled if they are gay or a biker. McCrostie's argument caused vocal protest from lawmakers who felt he violated House floor rules.

This caused House Speaker Scott Bedke to warn Democrats to keep their debate focused on the proposed legislation.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise School District says it needs renovations to its schools and is asking voters to approve a $172 million bond to pay for it all. In Meridian, voters will consider a new bond for the West Ada School District worth $160 million over 10 years. And the Kuna school district has both a bond and supplemental levy on the ballot for the March 14 election.

Amalgamated Sugar

Employees at a sugar factory in Nampa may have had their personal information stolen by hackers.

Amalgamated Sugar bills itself as the second largest manufacturer of sugar from sugarbeets in the U.S. The factory is a familiar landmark off Interstate 84 in Nampa.

Last Thursday, the company found out it had been hacked. The hacker pretended to be Amalgamated’s CEO and mimicked his company email address. The hacker sent a phishing email to an employee asking for copies of personal information of workers.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News are partnering to produce a week-long series on how the March 14 statewide school elections affect students, communities and taxpayers.

Twitter: @SenatorRisch

Senator Jim Risch proposed a novel idea for protecting the nation's power grid from cyber threats. The senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks we should rely less on electronics and more on humans to manage the nation's electricity.

The Republican senator cited a 2015 cyber attack on Ukraine's power grid as evidence for his proposal. Power was cut to some 215,000 Ukranians in the incident, but the outage would've been even more widespread had humans not still been in physical control of some elements of the grid.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Attorney in Boise, Wendy Olson, is leaving her post Saturday after seven years in the top position and two decades with the office. Just two days before stepping down, Matt Guilhem spoke to Olson, an Idaho native, not just about her long career, but about her roots in the Gem State.

Wendy Olson's last day on the job is February 25. She'll be going into private practice at a Boise law firm.

 

Tom Britt / Flickr Creative Commons

Zebra mussels are knocking at Idaho’s door.

Montana, Utah and Nevada all have the invasive species, which attach to boats and can spread easily from different bodies of water. They can kill native lake species and cost millions of dollars in damage and mitigation. They first appeared in the Great Lakes after Eastern European boats introduced them in the 1980s.

 

AP

As we wrap up week seven of the 2017 Idaho Legislature, lawmakers have passed 37 bills into new laws. That number will increase dramatically in the next four weeks.

One hot button issue this week was a bill that could have had some effect on the types of gaming that Native American tribes in Idaho could offer in their casinos.

In our 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University professor Gary Moncrief says the House State Affairs Committee spent a lot of time on this bill. He say that was a little unusual for lawmakers.

In a story Feb. 23 about a lawsuit involving a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in Idaho, The Associated Press reported erroneously the disposition of the suit. The judge dismissed part of the lawsuit, not the entire lawsuit, and a decision on an action the groups have against the U.S. Forest Service involving Idaho for Wildlife's predator contest is pending.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

An informational hearing at the state capitol Wednesday centered on early childhood education.

The Senate Education Committee was scheduled to only hear about kindergarten and other early education resources for 20 minutes. However, questions from senators pushed the meeting to close to an hour.

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