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House Republicans are introducing an eleventh-hour patchwork plan to raise more than $100 million for Idaho roads.

The House Ways and Means Committee introduced two of the three parts Wednesday morning — including registration fee hikes and up to $26 million in general fund dollars.

The proposal is similar to legislation killed by the House Transportation Committee last week.

But House Majority Leader Mike Moyle says that he hopes breaking the plan up into three pieces will let lawmakers approve at least some of the parts.

Oregon's congressional delegation is hoping to secure a two-year extension of timber payments to rural counties. The Secure Rural Schools provision is tucked in a bill the U.S. House is voting on this week.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The budget for Idaho’s behavioral health division includes funding for a second mental health crisis center.

The Spokesman-Review's Eye on Boise blog reports the Department of Health and Welfare’s budget plan includes $1.7 million for the 24-hour crisis center.

The crisis centers are meant to keep people out of jail or hospital emergency rooms, and instead connect them with appropriate mental health care services.

Treefort Music Fest
Matthew Wordell

The fourth-annual Treefort Music Fest kicks off in Boise Wednesday. The 5-day event will take over much of downtown Boise, as 430 musical acts are set to perform (check out the 13 must-see bands).

I spoke with Emilie Ritter Saunders Wednesday during Morning Edition about Treefort. Here's our conversation.

Roo Reynolds / Flickr

A bill clarifying that Idahoans can carry concealed weapons outside city limits without a permit has passed the Idaho House.

The House voted 57-11 to approve the plan to rewrite the state's concealed weapons laws.

An earlier version removed the exemption that allows lawmakers and government officials to carry concealed weapons without a permit. But the exception was put back in after lawmakers on the House's powerful State Affairs Committee said the bill would die without it.

U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened for comment a proposed plan to change the status of a herd of caribou in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington from endangered to threatened.

The agency on Tuesday opened the 30-day comment period based on new information.

The agency made the initial proposal last May after deciding to lump the small herd into the Southern Mountain Caribou population that has another 14 herds in Canada.

But Canadian officials recently determined those herds are faltering and should also be listed as endangered.

State officials are no longer requesting the Idaho Legislature approve new rules designed to tighten oversight on multimillion dollar contracts after lawmakers voiced concerns the proposed guidelines didn't go far enough.

An official with the Department of Administration says adopting the rules is no longer necessary because state lawmakers have since proposed creating an interim committee to review the state's procurement laws.

Kaje / Flickr

The Idaho House has passed a plan requiring school board candidates in roughly half of Idaho's school districts to file campaign finance reports.

The House voted 50-19 on Tuesday to require candidates in districts with at least 500 students to file the same campaign disclosure reports as other elected officials.

Republican Rep. Patrick McDonald from Boise says that companies or citizens may try to influence elections for local school boards, which often control multi-million dollar budgets.

Tyler Garcia / Treefort Music Fest

When Boise's fourth-annual Treefort Music Fest gets underway Wednesday, around 200 writers, bloggers and reporters will be covering the event. 

Kymm Cornelison is the festival’s publicity director.  She says music news outlets from places like Portland, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among those represented.   

More media will cover Treefort in 2015 than ever before. The number of credentials has doubled since the festival's first year. As coverage has grown, so has the festival. 

Treefort
Jeremy Conant / Treefort Music Fest

Yeah we know, 13 may seem like a pretty random number, but might as well choose a traditionally lucky number out of the dizzying 430 bands scheduled to play the fourth-annual Treefort Music Fest in Boise Wednesday through Sunday.

Clearly, the indie music fest has really owned the "go big or go home" ideal this year.

Legislative auditors say Idaho wasted $61 million on a software system to track and improve student performance that doesn't work for most districts.

However, a top Idaho State Department of Education official on Tuesday says the blame does not rest with the agency's current administration.

In a new report released Monday, legislative auditors found that the department gave all school districts access to Schoolnet but did not provide enough financial support or technical training. The department then minimized the system's problems.

Flickr Creative Commons

Visitors to Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area are being cautioned that bears are out of hibernation and are hungry after their long rest.

Park officials are asking visitors to make noise and travel in groups of three or more. They should carry bear spray and know how to use it and always stay at least 100 yards from bears.

Typically, about half of adult male bears are out of their dens by mid-March, and females with their yearlings emerge shortly after that.

Amazon.com

Idaho’s Senate Tuesday will consider two bills about cannabis-based epilepsy treatments.

Clare Carey has been asking lawmakers to allow access to a certain kind of hemp oil for nearly two years. One of the two bills in the Senate is called Alexis’ Law after Carey’s daughter, who suffers from debilitating, life threatening epilepsy.

Christy Perry
Idaho Legislature

The Idaho House passed an anti-bullying measure Monday after some impassioned pleas from several lawmakers who talked about the experiences of their own children.

This is the latest of several attempts in recent years to pass bills aimed at strengthening Idaho’s anti-bullying laws. Some conservative lawmakers have been skeptical the issue can be regulated at the state level and worry they might be opening schools up to lawsuits.

The Idaho Senate has passed legislation banning women from receiving abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine — an option not available in the state — on a 27-7 party-line vote.

The Senate's seven Democrats opposed the bill Monday, arguing the proposal improperly regulated how doctors should administer care.

Republican Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll from Cottonwood countered that the bill protects women against so-called "webcam abortions," because rarely medical abortions result in surgery.

Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons

The owners of Les Bois Park in Garden City say they'll close the facility permanently if the Idaho Legislature bans instant racing. A bill to do away with the betting terminals – which critics say too closely resemble slot machines – is making its way through the Legislature.

Courtesy: The Cabin

Boise's annual Treefort Music Fest isn't just about up-and-coming bands, there are "forts" for techies, beer enthusiasts, and yogis. Plus there's a fort for people who love words and stories.

Treefort kicks off this week and this will be the second year of Storyfort.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho House panel has endorsed expanding cuts to Idaho's personal property tax, a move that supporters say will help county officials attract companies while competing with other regions.

The House Revenue and Tax Committee approved the new measure Monday. 

According to the proposal, counties would no longer be restricted to giving tax breaks solely to manufacturing plants with $3 million worth of investments.

A coalition of conservation groups and the Nez Perce tribe are challenging the U.S. Forest Service's approval of a gold mining company's plan to reopen a 4-mile road in a central Idaho wilderness and drill core samples to find out if two claims are profitable enough to be mined.

The Idaho Conservation League and four other groups this month filed an objection with the federal agency as a first step in a potential lawsuit.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, two Idaho Republicans will tiptoe into a public preschool debate the state's Legislature hasn't been willing to confront. Idaho is one of 10 states without public preschool.

Reps. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, and Christy Perry, R-Nampa, are introducing a preschool pilot program they're calling "kindergarten preparedness."

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