News

Keith Kohl / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP

Antelope injured while falling on ice. Horses stranded in snowy mountains. Cougars descending from their wilderness lairs to forage in a town.

It's been a beastly winter in the American West, not just for people but for animals too. One storm after another has buried much of the region in snow, and temperatures have often stayed below freezing, endangering a rich diversity of wild animals.

John Miller / AP Images

Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson will resign at the end of February, after serving the district of Idaho for the last six years. She was sworn in by former President Barack Obama.

According to Idaho Reports, Olson says she is anticipating changes under President Donald Trump and wants to choose when she would leave her post. U.S. attorneys serve at the discretion of the president.

Idaho Ed News

House Speaker Scott Bedke has joined 140 GOP officials in endorsing Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s controversial choice for education secretary.

Bedke co-signed a letter calling DeVos “an advocate and ally for all children.” The letter was signed by state school superintendents, lieutenant governors and legislators from all 50 states. Bedke was the lone Idahoan to sign on — and said he did so at the urging of the Republican National Committee.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Legislature is ramping up its third week of the 2017 session.

This week, lawmakers are considering tax reductions in a surplus budget year. They’re also considering tweaking election rules when it comes to running for office. And the legislature’s budget writers, the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, or JFAC as it’s known, is hearing budget requests from state agencies.

In this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says the real work of the session is getting underway.

Keith Ridler / AP

As priorities and strategy dramatically shift in Washington DC with Donald Trump assuming the presidency, officials at the Idaho National Lab are altering their narrative to better align with the new administration.

With Trump's White House saying the jury is out on climate change and a lack of clarity on the direction of energy research, INL officials plan to focus less on themes surrounding greenhouse gases and more on the facility's role in energy security and as a font of good jobs.

AP

As the Idaho Legislature prepares its annual budget, it's debating on how best to handle a $139 million surplus. That's a good thing. But according to experts, the presence of a one-time surplus can make political decisions very difficult.

Earlier this month, a panel of academics and journalists at the City Club of Boise wondered what Idaho legislators would do with a substantial surplus. Retired professor Jim Weatherby said that dealing with excess funds can be harder than dealing with a deficit.

Dean Shareski / Flickr

This winter’s snow and cold temperatures have taken a toll on area roads. And it’s not just piles of snow that are causing problems. On many streets there are new potholes to worry about.

Potholes crop up every winter, but back-to-back storms this season have made these road hazards blossom.

The Idaho Transportation Department says usually there is time after a winter storm for crews to put temporary patches on potholes. But with so many storms so close together, they can't keep up.

Les Bois Park Live Horse Racing
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's horsemen groups are urging the state's racing commission to sign off on a last-ditch effort to save their faltering industry after failing to convince the Legislature to reinstate lucrative betting machines known as instant racing terminals.

John Sheldon, the operator of Idaho's largest horse racing track, told commissioners Wednesday that they already have the authority to allow tracks to use instant racing terminals.

flu, flu shot, sickness
US Army Corps Of Engineers / Flickr Creative Commons

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is particularly widespread and acute in the Gem State this year. Ten people over the age of 50 have died from the flu so far this season in Idaho.

Boise’s Saint Alphonsus Medical Center reports seeing a spike in instances of flu this January compared to the same month last year. A spokesperson tells the Statesman the hospital has seen a 300 percent increase in cases of the illness.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Wednesday evening, St. Luke's Men's Health Clinic is hosting a motivational speaker at Boise State University. Travis Mills has a New York Times bestseller and loads of confidence. But what he doesn’t have is a key part of the story.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

Projects centering on STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — took over the capitol rotunda in Boise Tuesday. From robots launching balls through a hoop to projects engineered out of Legos, the skills of tomorrow were on show by the students of today.

Among the displays at the event, one from the Wilder School District stands out. It focuses on an animation program that brings cartoons to the classroom. Jeff Dillon, superintendent of the Wilder School District and Wilder Elementary principal, explains the appeal to young students.

LED Street Lighs / Pinterest

As the city of Moscow replaces streetlights with energy-efficient LED bulbs, some residents are complaining the change is too bright for residential neighborhoods.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that as traditional high-pressure sodium lights burn out across the city they are being replaced with LED streetlights. Some people say the new bulbs glow too bright.

Idaho Representative Steve Hartgen / Facebook

The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted Tuesday to bring the state's tax code in line with federal rules, despite facing objections from two lawmakers who argued the state should not be recognizing same-sex marriages.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

State officials have captured a female mountain lion and her three kittens in a residential area near the eastern Idaho city of Pocatello and relocated them to a more remote spot.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said Monday that workers with a dog treed the mountain lion kittens weighing from 35 to 50 pounds on Thursday and used catch poles to extricate them from the branches.

Officials say workers treed the adult cougar Friday and used a tranquilizer dart.

Fish and Game says the four mountain lions were reunited and released in a remote area later Friday.

Troy Maben / AP Images

The harsh winter across much of Idaho has caused problems for some big game. Wildlife officials have begun emergency feeding for vulnerable species.

The unusually cold and snowy winter in southern Idaho has forced some animals to lower elevations in search of food. Idaho Fish and Game officials say winter feeding is necessary to help some big game get through the tough season, especially mule deer. The practice also helps deter the wildlife from highways and private property.

www.plannedparenthood.org

Women will no longer be banned from receiving abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine in Idaho under a newly reached agreement.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands announced Monday that the lawsuit settlement lifts unnecessary burdens on women seeking safe abortions.

The organization's lawsuit was directed at two laws passed in 2015 that required doctors to be present when administering pregnancy-ending pills.

Pat Joyce / Flickr

Researchers at Idaho State University have programmed drones to be able to identify potatoes infected with a virus.

Researchers say they've been able to find individual plants infected with potato virus Y, commonly called PVY, with 90 percent accuracy using cameras mounted on drones, The Capital Press reported Friday.

Bill Dentzer / Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a disaster declaration for Washington County in west-central Idaho due to snow accumulations.

The proclamation signed Monday makes available $65,000 that officials in Weiser say is needed to truck snow out of the city.

The document notes that snow is putting buildings at risk. The Idaho Statesman reports that Weiser's only grocery store collapsed under the weight of snow last week.

US Air Force / Flickr Creative Commons

People flying in and out of Sun Valley have had a difficult time this winter with flights regularly being diverted or canceled due to winter weather conditions.

The chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, Ron Fairfax, calls this winter the worst he’s seen in 20 years.

Data from the airport shows 30 flights were diverted between December 4 and December 26. Just two flights were canceled.

inl.gov

The director of the Idaho National Laboratory says it's problematic whether a small quantity of spent nuclear fuel needed for research will be allowed into Idaho this spring.

The lab renegotiated a research agreement to allow the shipment to be received later this year, Mark Peters told the Post Register.

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