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Economy
11:42 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Idaho's February Jobless Rate Drops To Five Year Low

Idaho's unemployment rate dropped another tenth of a percentage point in February to 5.3 percent, the lowest rate in more than 5 years.

That decline came as the participation rate - which is the percentage of the population 16 and older working or actively looking for work - fell a tenth of a percentage point to 63.7 percent.

Idaho's participation rate dropped below 64 percent last October - the first time in over 30 years - and has been gradually sliding since.

Higher Education
11:02 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Boise State Sets Policy As It Prepares For Guns On Campus

Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State University has released its preliminary plans for implementing the state’s new guns-on-campus law. It and other state colleges and universities have until July 1 before the law goes into effect.

The update from the university came in the form of an email Thursday from university president Bob Kustra. He says the school is in the process of revising policies and procedures and that administrators have already made several decisions. 

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Idaho Legislature
9:05 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Idaho's 2014 Legislative Session Ends After 74 Days

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature has wrapped up for the year after appropriating $2.9 billion.

The session lasted only 74 days — that's two weeks fewer than last year's session and only five days longer than the record shortest session in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis commended his fellow lawmakers as their final day on the floor drew to a close.

Senators also regaled the gallery with the state song and "God Bless America" before adjourning for the last time.

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Alert System
5:14 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Ada County Looking For New Phone Alert Company

Officials in highly populated Ada County in southwest Idaho are looking for a new phone alert company.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office tells the Idaho Statesman that the system hasn't been working as promised by My State USA.

Spokeswoman Andrea Dearden says that two out of three alerts have failed this year.

On Jan. 28 an alert went out on landlines in some neighborhoods in Boise about a missing teenager but the alert contained no message.

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Election 2014
3:52 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Mitt Romney Says Idaho Is A Leading Example Of Conservative Governing That Works

Rep. Mike Simpson, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Jim Risch, and Gov. Butch Otter speak with Idaho media. March 20, 2014.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is in Idaho this week campaigning on behalf of three longtime politicians.

On Thursday, Romney hosted a $250-per-plate luncheon for two-time Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. The event was also to benefit eight-time Rep. Mike Simpson, R-ID, and Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, who is campaigning for his first re-election bid.

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Wolves
12:26 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Lawmakers Want Gray Wolf Protections To Stay

Credit Washington Fish and Game

Federal lawmakers are pressing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to drop a proposal that would end federal protections for wolves across most of the Lower 48 states.

Seventy-four House members signed onto a Wednesday letter to Jewell that cites a peer-review panel's recent conclusion the government relied on unsettled science to make its case.

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Treefort Fest
11:34 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Boise's Treefort Music Fest Takes Off In Its Third Year

Treefort Music Fest organizers Eric Gilbert (left), Lori Shandro and Drew Lorona take a break from planning the third annual festival.
Credit Frankie Barnhill

West Coast music festivals like Sasquatch and Coachella are mainstays in the industry, attracting some of the biggest names in the business and fans from all over the country.

But this weekend, a newer music festival in Idaho is beginning to make a name for itself among music trendsetters.

Flying under the radar

Three years ago, Lori Shandro could never have imagined she’d be producing a music festival with more than 350 bands.

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Idaho Legislature
11:14 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Idaho House Passes $1.37B Budget For Schools

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Lawmakers in Idaho's House of Representatives have approved the state's public schools budget, including a 1 percent pay increase for teachers and administrators and money to improve classroom technology.

The House passed the $1.37 billion budget in a series of seven bills on Wednesday evening. The money represents about a 5 percent increase over last year. It now goes to the Senate.

Supporters said they felt it was important hold some money back this year to rebuild the state's coffers in case the economy again turns sour.

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Treefort Fest
6:00 am
Thu March 20, 2014

9 Things To Do At Boise's Treefort Music Fest

Credit Treefort Music Fest

Alright Boise, the wait is over. The third annual Treefort Music Fest is in full swing, and there's a lot of options. Like, a lot.

But instead of giving you music recommendations, we thought we'd try something different. Here's some ideas for unique experiences that Treefort has to offer -- in no particular order.

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2014 Election
3:17 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Mitt Romney Hosts Campaign Events For Otter, Simpson

Mitt Romney campaigned in Idaho during the 2012 presidential race.
Credit Screengrab from KBOI2

If there’s one place failed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can still be effective, it’s in Idaho. The former Massachusetts governor won nearly 65 percent of Idaho votes in the 2012 presidential race.

Thursday, he’ll ask Idahoans to re-elect two-time Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. Romney hosted a high-end fundraiser for Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho Falls Wednesday.

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Idaho Legislature
11:53 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Tax Incentive Plan Passes Senate Again In Revote

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho tax incentive bill is again bound for the governor's desk after sponsors say they've addressed concerns from the attorney general's office.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, already passed the Senate Monday.

But Senate leaders called for a revote after the attorney general's office released an opinion saying it could leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

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Audit
10:53 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Report: Idaho Doesn't Know Total Cost Of Death Penalty

A new report from Idaho's state auditors shows that sentencing a defendant to life in prison without parole is more expensive than imposing the death penalty.

But the Office of Performance Evaluations also found that the state's criminal justice agencies don't collect enough data to determine the total cost of the death penalty. Hannah Crumrine and Tony Grange presented the report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Wednesday morning.

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Idaho Legislature
10:33 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Former State Senator Hides In Statehouse Closet

Credit Idaho Legislature

Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour hid in an Idaho Statehouse closet for more than five hours as part of her effort to persuade Republican lawmakers to update the Idaho Human Rights Act.

The Spokesman-Review reports that LeFavour, a Boise Democrat, was discovered late Tuesday afternoon in a closet in the Senate lounge behind the Senate chamber.

Republican Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg says he asked her to leave and she complied.

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Policy
8:57 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Why Medical Marijuana Legalization Has No Traction In Idaho

Various strains of medical marijuana on display at a California convention.
Credit Audio Vision, Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

Four of Idaho's six neighboring states allow some form of legal marijuana use. Oregon, Nevada and Montana allow medical marijuana while Washington recently legalized pot for most residents. In each of those states, voters approved legalizing marijuana, but in Idaho, the issue has gotten nowhere.

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St. Luke's Lawsuit
4:35 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

St. Luke's Gets $10 Million Bill After Failed Lawsuit

Credit St. Luke's Health System

St. Luke's Health System has been handed a $10 million bill for a lawsuit the hospital lost, according to the Idaho Statesman.  

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Idaho News
3:23 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Twin Falls Sheriff Sued For Discrimination

Two former Twin Falls County sheriff's deputies have filed a lawsuit against the county, contending Sheriff Tom Carter discriminated against them based on their sex.

The Times-News of Twin Falls reported Tuesday the lawsuit was filed March 13 in federal court by Becky White and Susan Stringer.

They contend they were passed over for promotions, given fewer training opportunities than males and held to a higher standard than male deputies.

Idaho Legislature
12:52 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Business Tax Incentive Bill Heads To Idaho Senate Revote After Changes

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislators say they'll change a tax bill before trying it again on the Senate floor, after the attorney general's office said it might leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, cleared the Senate 29-6 Monday.

But that was before Deputy Attorney General Chelsea Kidney released an opinion that giving a seven-member board the final word on who gets tax breaks could result in unequal treatment of identical businesses.

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Idaho Legislature
9:52 am
Tue March 18, 2014

A Session Of Civil Disobedience, But Is Idaho Any Closer To Gay Rights Law?

Add the Words protesters encircle the upper level of the rotunda at the Idaho Capitol. They put a hand over their mouth to symbolize how they've been "silenced" by lawmakers.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This winter, protests hit the Idaho Capitol at a level rarely seen in Boise. Gay rights activists blocked entrances and were marched away in handcuffs.

They want Idaho's Republican-controlled Legislature to pass an anti-discrimination law similar to those in Oregon and Washington. It would make it illegal for employers, landlords and most businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But lawmakers plan to wrap up the session this Friday without ever printing the bill.

Pressure through civil disobedience

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Wildfires
3:56 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Idaho Should Have 'Normal' Wildfire Season Thanks To Recent Storms

Last Summer's Beaver Creek Fire Threatened Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey
Credit InciWeb / http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3635/

It's still at least three months away, but it looks as though Idaho’s wildfire season should be fairly normal in 2014. Ed Delgado manages predictive services at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

“We’ve got good snowpack right now and assuming it melts off fairly regularly over the next couple of months, that’s going to be good for the soils especially in the mountain areas,” Delgado says. “So that’s going to kind of prolong the wet period.”

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Wildfire Budget
3:03 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Interior Secretary Jewell, Congressmen Visit Boise To Tout Wildfire Suppression Funding Overhaul

Gov. Butch Otter flanked by Sec. Sally Jewell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Raul Labrador.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans gathered in Boise Monday to tout a proposal that would change the way the federal government pays for firefighting operations in the West and beyond.   

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

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