Associated Press

State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed state Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert to oversee the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Otter announced Friday that the 13-term Republican lawmaker will be the new director effective June 15.

Cameron is co-chair of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful legislative committees in the Idaho Statehouse. He also owns an insurance and securities investment company in Rupert.

The insurance position has been open since former Director Bill Deal left at the end of 2014.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Idaho's laws restricting abortions after 20 weeks and requiring all second-trimester abortions to take place in a hospital are unconstitutional.

The ruling Friday upholds a judgment made two years ago by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

The case arose after eastern Idaho resident Jennie McCormack was charged with having an illegal abortion. Prosecutors said she obtained an abortion-inducing drug on the Internet and used it to terminate her pregnancy.

James M. / Flickr Creative Commons

Nine states are stepping into a lawsuit over the Utah prairie dog in favor of a ruling that animal activists say threatens to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

The attorneys general asked an appeals court on Thursday to uphold a ruling striking down federal protections for the Utah prairie dog on private property. They argue states should manage animals that live only within their borders.

Idaho Black Bear Rehab/Idaho Statesman

 The black bear cub injured in a Washington wildfire last year is about to go home.

The Idaho Statesman reports the 2-year-old female black bear named Cinder will be released into the wild in June.

She was found under a horse trailer in Methow Valley following a wildfire in summer 2014. Cinder's paws were so severely burned that she wasn't even walking on them. Instead, she was pulling herself along by her elbows.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho taxpayers will pay nearly $400,000 to bring the state's recently renovated Capitol into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Spokesman-Review reports that state officials wrongly assumed the Capitol qualified for exemptions permitted for historic buildings while undergoing the $120 million renovation back in 2010.

A complaint filed to the U.S. Department of Justice sparked a full investigation of the building, which has resulted in 110 necessary changes.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has revealed plans to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government's biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species.

The proposal announced Thursday would affect energy development. The regulations include locating oil and gas wells and power lines to avoid disrupting habitat for the greater sage grouse.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

BASE jumpers just want to be free. This extreme form of skydiving stands for what people leap from: Buildings and antenna, spans such as bridges, and Earth, which usually means stunningly high cliffs.

In the United States, not very many places allow it. One go-to hub is Twin Falls, Idaho, where a bridge over the Snake River offers unfettered, year-round access. But the sport is under scrutiny after 73-year-old James E. Hickey died. He set his parachute on fire in a stunt this month, and his other chute didn't deploy.

Ada County Sheriff's Office

 The Ada County Republican Central Committee has selected its first and second choices to replace Sheriff Gary Raney, who will resign at the end of June.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the committee has chosen Randy Folwell as its first choice and Stephen Bartlett as its second. The committee could have selected up to three names to forward to Ada County commissioners, but nominated only two.

Folwell spent 28 years with the Ada County Sheriff's Office, retiring as a captain in 2011.

Five Democratic senators are asking colleagues to fund preservation efforts for the imperiled greater sage grouse and Gunnison sage grouse.

The senators on Tuesday urged the Appropriations Committee to fund programs that include cooperative efforts with landowners.

The greater sage grouse lives across the West. The Gunnison grouse is found in Colorado and Utah.

In November, federal officials designated the Gunnison grouse a threatened species, the less restrictive of two categories under the Endangered Species Act.

A one-year travel ban is expiring for five senior Taliban leaders held in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until they were released last year in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — raising the possibility that the five can move freely around the world as early as Monday.

Flickr Creative Commons, BLM/IFG

 Elko County's legal bills have exceeded $250,000 with no end in sight in a 16-year-old court battle with environmentalists and the U.S. government over control of a remote Forest Service road near the Nevada-Idaho state line.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen McQueary doesn't expect a judge to rule before the end of the year on conservationists' latest attempt to throw out a settlement agreement between the county and the Forest Service.

Eastern Idaho authorities on Monday searched for the body of a 38-year-old Utah man who was one of four people in a fishing boat that overturned in the Snake River.

Sgt. Jeff Edwards of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office says three of the four people made it to shore when the boat struck a partially submerged cottonwood tree at about 8 p.m. Sunday.

Edwards says Steve Ryan Woods of Ogden, Utah, was last seen as the boat overturned.

Search and rescue teams searched the river Sunday evening until it became too dark.

grizzly bear, yellowstone
Xinem / Flickr Creative Commons

Getting hurt at Yellowstone National Park isn't quite as glamorous as you might think.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that although the park is full of hazards like bears, bison, scalding water and canyons, visitors are most likely to be injured from mundane accidents like trips, slips and falls.

Bear attacks are dramatic but exceedingly rare. National Park Service statistics put the likelihood being injured by a bear during a visit to Yellowstone at 1 in 2.1 million.

USAF Airman Shane Phipps

Idaho health officials say ground squirrels south of Boise have tested positive for plague. They say humans and pets should avoid the area.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in a statement Friday says the bacterial disease can be spread by the bites of fleas or by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets.

“We have investigated reported mortalities of ground squirrels in the area southeast of Boise during May,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said.

Idaho's unemployment rate remained at a seven-year low of 3.8 percent in April.

The Idaho Department of Labor on Friday said the number of employed people in the state increased slightly by 4,000 to set a total employment record for the state of 761,000.

The agency says the number of working-age adults with jobs or looking for jobs rose to 63.7 percent.

Officials say that's the highest level since 2013 and a sign of increased optimism about job prospects.

Alan Krakauer / Flickr

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management as well as other federal and state agencies are starting a public information campaign intended to reduce human-caused fires in sagebrush steppe areas in Idaho.

The Idaho office of the BLM in a statement Thursday says efforts will include radio and television announcements, social media postings and a billboard on Interstate 84 between the Broadway and Gowen Field off-ramps in Boise.

The agency says fire helps invasive cheatgrass take over sagebrush steppe areas and eventually outcompetes native plants.

An Idaho city may have to redo its school board election after officials found problems with ballots in one district.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the Canyon County Elections Office announced Wednesday that there was a problem with five ballots in Tuesday's election. The incumbent was re-elected by only four votes.

Canyon County Clerk Chris Yamamoto says five ballots for Caldwell School District Zone 2 elections were incorrectly issued to Zone 1 voters, who did not have an election.

Former Idaho first lady Lola Evans died Tuesday in her Boise home. She was married to former Democratic Gov. John Evans for nearly 70 years.

The 88-year-old Evans died of natural causes. Her husband, who served as governor from 1977 to 1987, died nearly a year ago.

The two were high school sweethearts and married just before John deployed for World War II. They had five children.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to press criminal charges in connection with a contract fraud investigation at a private Idaho prison.

The FBI began investigating the Idaho Correctional Center last year. The facility had been run by Corrections Corporation of America and was known for being so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School."

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said Wednesday that the probe was complete, and the agency didn't find probable cause to file charges.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has selected former state Sen. Bob Geddes as the new director of the Department of Administration.

Otter announced the appointment on Wednesday.

Geddes is currently a registered lobbyist for Monsanto and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to that, he served one year as chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission and nine terms as a state Republican senator from eastern Idaho.

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