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St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Bonners Ferry burned to the ground last spring. At the time, the loss of the building was estimated to be worth $1 million. Investigators found signs of vandalism in the church after the fire was put out, including a broken statue of Jesus they say was smashed before the fire brought the building down.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Friday we wrap up week six of the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers are getting down to the business of passing bills in committees and sending them to the House and Senate floor.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, or JFAC considered the final budget requests from the state agencies this week. That means this panel of 20 is switching gears and will start to draft bills, in fact, the committee is expected to write close to 100 budget bills.

splcenter.org

A report out this week from the Southern Poverty Law Center finds the number of hate groups went up between 2015 and last year.

According to the center, which tracks incidents of violence and hate, there were 917 bigoted organizations operating in the country last year – up from 892 in 2015. The Southern Poverty Law Center currently monitors 12 hate groups in Idaho.

Robert C. Sims Collection on Minidoka and Japanese Americans / Special Collections and Archives, Boise State University

Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Executive Order that authorized the internment of Japanese people in America during World War II.

Two months after Pearl Harbor, the order relocated 117,000 Japanese Americans into camps. Idaho’s Minidoka site housed 10,000 Japanese for three years. Once the war was over, no one wanted to talk about the internment.

Adam Theo / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho lawmakers are considering joining fellow Republican-dominated states calling for a constitutional amendment to limit federal government power.

Dan Brubaker Horst / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have extended the deadline for farmers to dispose of spoiled or damaged onions following the collapse of many onion storage facilities in southwestern Idaho due to heavy snow.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the March 15 deadline has been extended to April 15.

Agriculture Director Celia Gould says the temporary rule will give onion farmers some flexibility in dealing with the massive disposal effort. She says many facilities are reporting total losses.

Nigel Duara / AP Images

State lawmakers are considering putting an end to mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. The proposal has bipartisan support, but still has several hurdles to jump before becoming a law.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, says she first became aware of issues surrounding mandatory drug sentences when she spoke with judges around the state. The Boise lawmaker says Idaho’s standards are more stringent than they need to be, going above and beyond federal statute.

Bureau of Reclamation / WaterArchives.org | Flickr Creative Commons

The recent threat of catastrophic flooding at the Oroville Dam in Northern California has abated for the moment, but the incident dredged up old memories of Idaho's own dam catastrophe.

In June of 1976, the earthen Teton Dam in eastern Idaho failed, killing 11 people and causing $2 billion in damage. It cost $100 million to construct, but the government ended up paying over thrice that in damage claims linked to the failure.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Secretary of State believes a federal agency may have tried to hack the state's election website around the date of the presidential election without notifying Idaho officials in advance.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's IP address showed up as trying to access the state elections site around Nov. 8, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said Monday. Similar accusations were made by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in December, reported The Post Register reports.

Interfaith Equality Coalition / Facebook

Nearly 30 Idaho clergy and faith representatives filled Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office on Wednesday urging the Republican to welcome all refugees and not just give preference to persecuted Christians.

Otter recently announced that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority in the U.S. refugee program and then acknowledged his stance was discriminatory. Otter has since backed away from that claim, but his remarks have sparked alarm among the state's faith leaders.

screenshot / YouTube

After this week’s resignation of retired General Mike Flynn as President Trump’s National Security Adviser, Democrats on Capitol Hill called for an investigation.

Ernie Seckinger / Flickr Creative Commons

Health officials say septic systems are the likely source of wastewater contamination in several private wells near the southwest Idaho city of Nampa.

KIVI-TV reported Tuesday that Southwest District Health and the Department of Environmental Quality completed a review of nine private wells.

Southwest District Health spokeswoman Laurie Boston says none of the wells tested positive for E. coli bacteria but evidence indicates wastewater is starting to affect all the wells in the area.

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

An Idaho pastor who was imprisoned for nearly four years in Iran will have to serve community service for violating a restraining order.

The Idaho Statesman reports Saeed Abedini on Monday pleaded guilty to violation of a restraining order taken out by his estranged wife, Naghmeh. An Ada County Magistrate judge sentenced Abedini to 180 days in jail, but suspended all but five days. He will have to work off those days through community service.

On Tuesday, Abedini declined to comment on the matter.

Rick Bowmer / AP

Jury selection begins Tuesday in the second trial involving people who took part in last winter's armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon.

Jurors last fall acquitted occupation leader Ammon Bundy and six others who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the federal control of Western lands and the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires.

Idaho Racing Commission

Officials with the Idaho Racing Commission say they'll run out of money by 2018, leaving them unable to regulate the state's horse racing industry unless lawmakers help funnel funds their way.

However, top Republican leaders say they no longer trust the racing industry because of their ongoing efforts to reinstate illegal instant racing betting terminals. Instant horse racing allows bettors to place wages on prior horse races with no identifiable information.

Flooding is continuing to affect communities in southern and eastern Idaho as warm weather melts significant snowpack in lower elevations.

More than a third of Idaho's 44 counties have declared disaster areas, including Bingham and Caribou. Temperatures cooled on Friday and through the weekend, offering some respite from the runoff, but many communities are already dealing with significant flooding and ice jams.

Bear Lake County officials have also considered signing a disaster declaration due to some flooded basements and fields.

state seal, legislature
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Monday was a busy day at the Statehouse.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, the Idaho Legislature fielded a flurry of bills from committees. That’s by design.

The 36th calendar day of each legislative session is the last day that personal bills can be introduced in most committees. That was Monday, which resulted in a glut of bills popping up in committees.

Boise State University Political Science professor Gary Moncrief says after the deadline, it gets harder to get bills into the Legislature.

Utility, Inc. / Flickr

An Idaho House panel has introduced legislation on new video retention requirements for police body cameras.

In Idaho, individual police departments decide whether or not they want to implement body-worn cameras because there is no statewide policy on the practice. This has sparked debate over the best guidelines on retention, as well as how much police footage should be released to the public.

Teresa Baker, with the Idaho Association of Counties, says the costs of storing police video footage can be crippling for some local jurisdictions.

WBEZ / Flickr Creative Commons

Legislation designed to combat opioid addiction has been introduced in the Idaho Legislature.

Rep. John Gannon, a Democrat from Boise, said Monday his bill would slap a second-degree murder charge on anyone who sells heroin to a user who then directly or indirectly dies because of that sale.

The drastically increasing rates of painkiller and heroin abuse have alarmed public officials across the country, but lawmakers have repeatedly struggled to find the right solution as advocacy groups have pushed states to do more.

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