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Election 2014
12:40 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Idaho Records Its Lowest-Ever General Election Voter Turnout

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated Nov. 21, 2014 

Idaho's voter participation in this year's general election was the lowest ever.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa tells the Spokesman Review that nearly 37 percent of Idaho's voting-age population cast a ballot Nov. 4.

Ysursa described the results as "abysmal," and urged the need to turn the number around.

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Idaho News
11:43 am
Fri November 21, 2014

North Idaho Man Arrested For Carrying A Gun Into A Campus Dorm

A northern Idaho man who carried a concealed weapon into a dormitory at Lewis-Clark State College is facing charges.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that 19-year-old Wesley S. Bowler of Harpster is charged with carrying a concealed weapon without permit.

Bowler, who is not a student, was taken into custody at the dormitory on Wednesday and police seized a Kel-Tec P-11 pistol with a loaded magazine.

Bowler was taken to the Nez Perce County Jail and released after paying $300 of his bond amount.

Gay Marriage
3:25 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Gov. Otter Requests More Arguments In Idaho's Gay Marriage Case

Credit Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wants to file additional arguments in his attempt to have an 11-judge panel review the three-judge ruling that overturned Idaho's gay marriage ban.

Otter argued in a motion filed Wednesday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that another reply is needed because a separate federal court has since upheld same-sex marriage bans in other states.

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Gay Marriage
2:57 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana's Gay Marriage Ban

Credit MyTudut / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge in Montana has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Wednesday that Montana's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that Idaho and Nevada's bans are unconstitutional. Montana is part of the 9th Circuit, and Morris cited the Circuit Court's opinion in his ruling.

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Recreation
10:31 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Sun Valley Restricts Mountain Use As Ski Season Nears

Credit Christopher Koppes / Flickr Creative Commons

Sun Valley Co. is prohibiting recreational activity on Bald Mountain while workers prepare the ski area for the season.

The company has an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management that allows for the prohibition for safety reasons.

The company in December 2013 enacted a policy not allowing uphill foot traffic on the ski area from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the ski season.

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Politics
10:23 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Idaho Republican Party Hires Former Sen. Larry Craig

Credit Joe Jaszewski / The Idaho Statesman

The Idaho Republican Party has named former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig as its financial chair of its executive committee.

Party officials said Wednesday that Craig fills an empty volunteer fundraising position.

Craig was arrested in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting. He was accused of soliciting sex in a men's bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by an undercover officer. According to the officer, Craig tapped his foot under the stall and signaled that he wanted sex.

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Medicaid Expansion
3:17 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Idaho Governor's Work Group Recommends Hybrid Medicaid Expansion

An Idaho work group has tweaked its recommendations on expanding Medicaid eligibility in a last-minute effort to make their plan more politically palatable to lawmakers.

Work group facilitator Corey Surber says the 15-member group approved a hybrid model Friday. The group had finalized a proposal to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter back in August. However, lawmakers warned the proposal's blanketed support of Medicaid expansion would fail to even be considered when the Republican-controlled Legislature convenes in January.

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Health Care
11:58 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Idaho Health Exchange Reports High Traffic, Smooth User Experience

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho officials say the state-based health insurance marketplace had nearly 13,000 visitors just days after it opened for business.

Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly isn't immediately releasing how many Idahoans signed up for coverage on the state exchange's website. However, he told reporters Monday yourhealthidaho.org hasn't experienced any of the technical glitches that plagued the federal marketplace last year since it launched Saturday.

Last year, 76,000 Idaho residents enrolled within six months.

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Wildlife
1:59 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Second Lawsuit Filed Against Idaho Wolf Hunting Derby

Credit Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt a wolf- and coyote-hunting derby set for early January in east-central Idaho.

WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands and the Boulder-White Clouds Council filed the lawsuit late Thursday in federal court in Idaho against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

The groups contend the BLM violated environmental laws on Thursday by issuing Idaho for Wildlife a special use permit to hold the competitive derby on BLM land.

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Education
10:19 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Idaho Broadband Contract Legal Fees Nearing $1 Million

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's legal fees so far to defend the now-voided Idaho Education Network high school broadband service contract are about $870,000.

The Idaho Department of Administration tells The Spokesman Review in a story on Friday that it has paid about $600,000 in legal fees to date.

The Idaho Attorney General's Office says it has spent about $270,000.

A judge in Boise voided the $60 million statewide contract Tuesday after finding the Idaho Department of Administration violated the state's procurement law.

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Idaho News
4:13 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Idaho Youth Ranch Moving To Canyon County

The Idaho Youth Ranch is moving one of its residential care facilities from Rupert to Canyon County.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the Ranch Campus program, which provides residential care and therapy to Idaho kids who are in crisis, will be moving to a large property near the small town of Middleton in southwestern Idaho sometime in the next few years.

The Idaho Youth Ranch works with at-risk kids and their families to provide emergency shelter, substance abuse treatment, job training and counseling.

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Education
2:58 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Idaho Schools In Limbo Following Broadband Ruling

An Idaho school official says high school students relying on the Idaho Education Network to complete a state-required math course may not be able to graduate now that the broadband contract is void.

Earlier this week, a judge tossed out Idaho's $60 million school broadband contract. Fourth District Judge Patrick Owen ruled Tuesday that it wasn't legally struck.

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Health Insurance
1:40 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Idaho Health Exchange To Open Enrollment Saturday

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is on track to become the only Republican-dominated state to launch its own health insurance exchange when enrollment opens Nov. 15.

But the state exchange is facing pressure to function just as well as the federal exchange when it first opened for enrollment last year.

While the federal exchange's website experienced serious glitches when it first launched, it quickly outperformed other state exchanges in the following weeks. States like Oregon chose to rely on the federal government's site because it was too costly and time-consuming to fix their own.

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Mining
11:15 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Northern Idaho Mines Announce Merger

Two mines in northern Idaho have agreed to merge.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that U.S. Silver will merge with Scorpio Mining Corp. The companies announced the merger Friday.

U.S. Silver owns and operates the Galena Mine complex in the Silver Valley's Coeur d'Alene Mining District, which is just west of Wallace. Scorpio is a Toronto-based silver producer, which owns the Nuestro Senora Mine in Mexico.

Darren Blasutti will become the president and chief executive officer of the new management team.

Tourism
1:46 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Yellowstone Park Breaks October 2010 Visitation Record

Credit Jim Pasco / Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is reporting a record high number of visitors in October.

Just over 194,800 visited the park in October, surpassing the previous October record of over 189,000 set in 2010. 

There were over 3.4 million recreational visits to Yellowstone in the first 10 months of 2014, an increase of over 10 percent over the same period last year.

With two months left in the calendar year, 2014 is already the second-highest visitation year on record. The park's peak year was 2010, when there were over 3.6 million visitors.

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Business
2:07 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Brewer Of Beer Sold In Idaho Vows Business As Usual After Sale

Credit Rae Allen / Flickr

The founders of a Bend craft brewery that's being sold to Anheuser-Busch are promising "business as usual."

But the sale of 10 Barrel Brewing Co. is causing ripples in the lively Central Oregon craft beer trade.

The Bend Bulletin reports reaction among fellow brewers ranging from well-wishing to a lament that the deal felt like a family member had died.

10 Barrel co-founder Jeremy Cox says key managers will remain in place, including his brother, Chris, overseeing the brewery.

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Sage Grouse
1:32 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

While In Boise, Feds Eye Ways To Avoid Sage Grouse Listing

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management say a listing of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act can be avoided.

Dan Ashe of Fish and Wildlife and Neil Kornze of BLM made the comments Thursday in Boise as some of the nation's top federal land managers and rangeland scientists gathered at a conference to find ways to protect sage grouse habitat from massive wildfires.

In the last decade huge swaths of sage brush range the birds depend on have been destroyed by wildfires that often involve fire-prone invasive plants.

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Jobs
11:40 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Furniture Maker Kimball Moving Idaho Facility To Indiana

Office furniture maker Kimball International says it plans to sell a metal-fabrication facility in Idaho and move that work to existing company factories in southern Indiana.

The Jasper-based company says it will spend about $9.5 million to transfer the production to three Indiana factories over the next two years.

Kimball officials say they are actively trying to sell its Post Falls, Idaho, facility.

Banking
10:55 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Banner Bank Taking Over American West Bank

Credit Andy / Flickr

Banner Bank is taking over Spokane-based American West Bank in a $702 million deal that will expand the Walla Walla bank to 190 branches in five states, including Idaho.

Both banks cater to midsize businesses, farms and manufacturing companies. Banner president and CEO Mark Grescovich told The Spokesman-Review Wednesday that will continue.

He expects the deal to close next spring after a review by state and federal regulators and a shareholders' vote.

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Election 2014
10:32 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Idaho's Gov. Otter Wins A Rare Third Term

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, with First Lady Lori Otter, was elected to his third consecutive term as Idaho governor.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated on Nov. 5 at 10:45 a.m.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has won a rare third term leading the state.

Otter, now 72, has been a fixture of Idaho politics since he was first elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1973. Otter has been a legislator, a congressman and one of the state's longest-serving lieutenant governors. 

He was first elected governor of Idaho in 2006. This year, Otter faced a difficult race against his Democratic challenger, Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.

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