Associated Press

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.

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.

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.

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.

AP

An Idaho House panel has introduced legislation that would create a new state program designed to provide basic health care to Idaho adults who currently don't have health insurance.

The Spokesman-Review reports that House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, said Monday that his $10 million proposal would be funded by a state endowment fund.

Wood's plan would only offer primary care services on a first-come, first-served basis.

An Idaho Senate panel has introduced legislation that would allow two options for driver's licenses — one that complies with federal identification requirements and one that doesn't.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Republican Sen. Steve Vick, of Dalton Gardens, said Thursday that some people have concerns about privacy issues and older drivers not being able to provide all the necessary documents.

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

Testing is set to resume at a federally-managed nuclear waste treatment plant west of Idaho Falls.

Tests at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit will begin next week after a nine-month pause, The Post Register reported.

The first 10-day test will examine the effectiveness of a grinder that breaks down solid radioactive waste. The component clogged during previous tests.

Paul Moody / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho has so much snow that water is already being released from some reservoirs for flood control and Idaho Power has halted most of its cloud-seeding operations.

"It's just an amazing year," said Ron Abramovich, a water supply specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. "I don't think anybody is talking about shortages this year."

Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho House panel has approved new K-12 science standards, but only after striking key references to climate change caused by human behavior.

This is the third year the Idaho Legislature has struggled to agree on science standards for public schools. Previous efforts that included references to global warming and the origin of the universe have been rejected by Republicans unhappy that the language didn't offer alternative views.

Michael Kappel / Flickr

The ongoing battle over appropriate Indian gambling is once again coming to a head in the Idaho Legislature, with both sides preparing to rip open old wounds.

Rep. Tom Loertscher, a Republican from Iona, introduced legislation Wednesday that would ban lucrative video gambling terminals inside the tribes' casinos. The proposal was tepidly accepted by the House State Affairs Committee, with some lawmakers raising concerns about the ripple effects of the bill.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Five polling places in southwestern Idaho may need to be relocated if modifications can't be made to make them more accessible.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation conducted on Election Day questioned Canyon County's measures to bring the polling places into compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act.

roberto volterra / Flickr

State auditors say Idaho's child welfare system is overwhelmed, with too few foster parents, too heavy caseloads for social workers and not enough infrastructure to hold it all together.

The study from the Legislature's Office of Performance Evaluations found that the number of foster parents has decreased by 8 percent since 2014, while social workers are dealing with 28 to 38 percent more cases than they can reasonably handle.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he chose the wrong word in his recent remarks acknowledging his preference that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority.

Otter, speaking at an Idaho Press Club event Tuesday, said he believes in religious preference, not religious discrimination. When pressed on the difference between the two, Otter said the United States has an obligation to protect groups being targeted for discrimination.

 

AP

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler will continue serving as the commanding officer of the Idaho National Guard despite no longer being the state's federally recognized adjutant general.

Otter said in an interview last week that the federal government denied his request to extend Sayler's federally recognized status in January. However, Sayler will continue leading the Idaho National Guard until the end of the fiscal year in June. Otter said he is looking for a replacement for Sayler.

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