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Population
11:21 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Idaho’s Population Shift To Urban Areas Slows

Franklin County
Credit J. Stephen Coon / Flickr

The shift of Idaho's population from rural counties to urban areas slowed last year.

Estimates released by the Census Bureau on Thursday showed the 33 rural counties saw their combined population increase for the first time in three years.

The population of the rural counties rose two-tenths of a percent from mid-2012 to mid-2013, or about 1,200 people.

The population of the 11 urban counties increased 1.5 percent.

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Idaho National Laboratory
10:50 am
Fri March 28, 2014

INL Contractor Gets 5-Year Extension

Credit Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance has received a five-year extension on its 10-year contract to operate the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

Battelle Energy Alliance began running the facility in early 2005 and will now operate the laboratory through Sept. 30, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the contract extension Thursday.

The agency says it extended the contract because of BEA's consistently strong annual performances.

The INL is one of the Energy Department's 10 national laboratories and a major employer in eastern Idaho.

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Guns
4:41 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Mental Health Records Added To FBI Gun Check

Idaho added mental health records to a national Federal Bureau of Investigations database, making it easier for background checks to discover if would-be gun owners have a history of mental illness.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports gun store customers are asked to complete a form revealing their legal status, criminal history and whether they have been committed to an institution for health reasons or found mentally unfit by a court.

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Wolves
3:44 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Governor Otter Signs Wolf Control Bill

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a bill to create a state board that will work to control the growth of wolf populations in the state.

Otter signed the bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservation groups.

The bill, which passed on the final day of the recent legislative session, creates a $400,000 fund and establishes a five-member board whose job is to authorize the killing of wolves that come into conflict with wildlife or livestock.

The money comes from the state's general fund.

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Grazing
10:57 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Bighorn Protection Plan

Credit Travis S. / Flickr

A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Forest Service plan to reduce domestic sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest by about 70 percent to protect bighorn sheep from diseases will remain in place.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, made the ruling on Tuesday.

Sheep ranchers in Idaho and other states in 2012 sued the Forest Service over the bighorn sheep protection plan announced in 2010.

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Politics
10:47 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Idaho Gets A C+ On Election Gender Equality By Sending One Woman To Congress

Credit screen grab from umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics

Idaho gets a C+ for the percentage of women it elects to Congress in a new election gender equality report card from the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog. The site, dedicated to data-driven political reporting, looked at all the U.S. House races for the past 25 years.

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Medicaid Cuts
2:25 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Judge Halts Idaho Medicaid Cuts After ACLU Lawsuit

Credit Jasleen_Kaur / Flickr Creative Commons

A U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction Tuesday to halt deep cuts to Medicaid and restore about $16 million in assistance to Idaho's developmentally delayed adults.

The decision lets an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho lawsuit on behalf of disabled Idahoans proceed as a class-action case.

That opens it up to more people who lost some their Medicaid dollars when the program was slashed in 2011.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill cited cases of severely mentally disabled Idahoans that can no longer afford necessary therapy and other care in his decision.

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Affordable Housing
1:11 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Report: It Takes A 73 Hour Work Week To Pay Rent On Idaho's Minimum Wage

Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

An Idaho worker earning the minimum wage would need to work 73 hours per week in order to afford a modest two-bedroom rental according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Protests
10:01 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Gay Rights Protesters Take Their Message On The Road, Begin Training Idahoans Outside Boise

Emily Shannon got involved with the "add the words" movement after seeing news coverage of this year's first Capitol protest. She participated in subsequent protests, was arrested and most recently trained people in Moscow to protest.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s 2014 legislative session may well be defined by protests. Gay rights advocates stepped up pressure on lawmakers to extend discrimination protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people. More than 100 people were arrested in numerous protests. Those were well choreographed and featured people standing silently, each with a hand over his or her mouth. Now, organizers are bringing this distinctive strategy to other parts of the state.

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Theater
1:30 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Actor Says It's A Thrill To Work On Boise Contemporary Theater’s Evolving New Play

Carie Kawa is a Los Angeles-based actor starting in BCT's new original play, The Uncanny Valley.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Carie Kawa awkwardly holds a beat-up, framed poster showing earth-seen-from-space to face the mostly empty seats at Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT.) The first week of rehearsal is ending for the original play The Uncanny Valley. The poster is a stand-in for a painting which is an important linchpin in the plot. The story turns on this prop, but the prop itself is too big for Kawa to turn around to show another actor as she’s supposed to.

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Wages
10:43 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Idaho's Share Of Minimum Wage Workers Declines, Now 2nd Highest In U.S.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports most hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage work in the service sector, largely in food preparation.
Credit Gorgeoux / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s share of minimum wage workers declined 0.6 percent from 2012 to 2013 according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The drop means Idaho no longer has the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country; Tennessee has taken Idaho’s spot.

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Flood Insurance
9:44 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Idaho Residents Face Big Flood Insurance Increases

About 1,400 flood insurance policies in Idaho subsidized by the government are facing hefty premium increases despite a congressional fix intended to limit the worse of the rate hikes.

More than a million policyholders across the nation will be required to pay higher annual premiums as the federal government cuts subsidies in an effort to cover the National Flood Insurance Program's more than $24 billion deficit brought about by the discounts and a series of catastrophic storms.

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Wildlife
9:41 am
Mon March 24, 2014

With Idaho Wolves On The Decline, Environmental Groups To Ask For Federal Protection

Credit Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Idaho's wolf population is on the decline, heading toward 10 breeding pairs, or 150 wolves.

That's the goal set in the 2002 wolf management plan that will remain the state's official policy unless it is changed by the Legislature.

The Idaho Statesman reports that last week's legislation to establish an Idaho Wolf Control Board, along with efforts to expand and increase wolf hunting and trapping, has galvanized some national conservation groups.

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Economy
6:45 am
Mon March 24, 2014

The Number Of Idaho Fur Trappers Doubles As Pelt Prices Soar

Patrick Carney sets his traps in a gated community pond near Eagle, Idaho.
Credit Jessica Murri / For Boise State Public Radio

Just four years ago, bobcat fur sold for about $200. Now, that same bobcat pelt can be sold for almost $2,000. Higher prices come from a rise in demand for fur in Asia, and it has led to more trappers in the field here in Idaho.

Patrick Carney, president of the Idaho Trappers Association, gets calls almost daily from folks who want advice on how to get into commercial trapping.

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Reader's Corner
1:26 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Author Adam Makos Tells An Incredible Story Of Chivalry In The Skies Of WWII

On December 20th, 1943, a crippled B-17 bomber desperately headed for the safety of the German coast and the North Sea. Piloted by a 21-year-old American airman on his first combat mission, it had been strafed by enemy fire after dropping a bomb load on the German town of Bremen. With half its crew dead or injured, its tail nearly blown away and gaping holes in its fuselage, the besieged bomber struggled to stay aloft.

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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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