Associated Press

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — House and Senate education committees will hold a "listening hearing" on Feb. 1, an opportunity for the public to weigh at the Legislature just months after public schools chief Tom Luna's overhaul went down to defeat.

Leaders of the panels in both chambers announced the session on Monday.

It's due to run between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol's basement auditorium.

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt said he wants to invite everyone to share their thoughts on improving Idaho's public schools.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho could be the next western state to engage in a public lands fight with the federal government.

Last year, Utah and Arizona passed legislation demanding the federal government turn over control of millions of acres of public acreage in those states. Utah's governor signed the bill, while Arizona's was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

On Monday, the Utah legislator who led passage of that state's bill urged Idaho lawmakers take the same step toward managing public land in its borders.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Phone companies aim to lift Idaho's 13-year-old restriction forbidding them from cold-calling existing customers, arguing it's crippling their ability to market high-speed Internet.

But Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is already criticizing the push, arguing residents who joined Idaho's million-number "Do Not Call" list shouldn't have to fear erosions of their privacy.

Land-line companies Frontier Communications and Century Link are lobbying for the changes during the 2013 session.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is threatening to withhold $4.5 million it's promised to Idaho next year for a computer program to track student progress.

The foundation in Boise says the money now won't be paid unless Idaho restores taxpayer funding for teacher professional development — money put in jeopardy when voters rejected public schools chief Tom Luna's Students Come First overhaul Nov. 6.

The Albertson Foundation promised $21 million in 2011 for student-performance-monitoring software from SchoolNet Inc., a New York company.

Gun
Molly Messick / StateImpact

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho lawmakers are gearing up for the debate over gun legislation and school security.

This week, House Speaker Scott Bedke informally assigned Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale to be the point person on all legislation related to firearms and school security emerging from the chamber.

The Idaho Statesman reports Republican Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Eagle is leading a similar effort in the Senate.

Ron Mendive
Idaho Legislature

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lawmaker from northern Idaho drew audible gasps when he asked representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho if their pro-abortion rights stance also means that they support prostitution.

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene, made the comparison Wednesday morning during a legislative breakfast presentation held by the ACLU on criminal justice reform and other issues.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador say they are withholding judgment on a series of gun proposals issued by President Obama — at least for now.

The Idaho Republicans say they want to take some time to review the proposals, including 23 separate executive orders issued Wednesday.

Simpson says he doesn't see any momentum building in Congress for more gun control measures. And Labrador says he will continue to defend the 2nd Amendment and make sure Obama's proposals don't infringe on the right to bear arms.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Zoo Boise has raised nearly $220,000 to build a new exhibit for its patas monkeys in just five weeks after the City of Boise contributed $100,000 from its Parks and Recreation Department budget.

The Friends of Zoo Boise raised the remaining $119,000 from private donors.

Construction is expected to start this spring on a new 1,000-square-foot patas monkey exhibit to replace the previous primate exhibit, which was built in 1967. Officials hope to have the new building finished by fall.

Federal prosecutors are suing the Jerome County Sheriff's Office over allegations the law enforcement agency intentionally refused to rehire a member of the Idaho Army National Guard.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday on behalf of Mervin Jones.

The lawsuit accuses sheriff department administrators of terminating Jones while he was recovering from a knee injury suffered in 2004 while serving in Iraq and re-injuring in 2008 during weekend training exercises.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of driving while intoxicated and then apologized for his actions and asked forgiveness from his constituents.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is taking a wait-and-see approach on the impact to the state of federal funding cuts in the wake of any fiscal cliff deal.

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has asked the State Board of Education to shepherd a statewide discussion about improving education for students.

Otter said Thursday a broadly representative group of Idahoans yet to be selected will study options that could lead to changes without lawmakers creating new laws.

But he says if the group determines legislation is necessary, lawmakers could take up the ideas in 2014.

A divided Idaho Supreme Court has sided with the utility PacifiCorp in a tax fight the state has said could shift millions in assessments to others.

www.elkmtnranch.com

A state committee will move forward with inspecting two Salmon schools to determine whether a state fund can be tapped to repair or rebuild the schools. 

Salmon School District 291 is looking for new revenue after local voters have rejected seven separate bond levies since 2005.

The battle over the future of public education and ballot box rejection of the 2011 education laws has been chosen as the top story in Idaho for 2012 by The Associated Press.

It's the second straight year public debate over the future of schools has dominated state headlines.

The highlight of 2012 came in November when voters rejected laws limiting collective bargaining, a teacher merit pay plan and giving high school students laptop computers.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a plan by St. Luke's Health System to buy Saltzer Medical Group can move forward for now.

The Idaho Statesman reports that U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction by Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital.

The two entities filed a federal lawsuit in November seeking to halt the deal, contending it would allow St. Luke's to dominate the market in Nampa and block referrals to St. Alphonsus.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador's chief of staff is exiting the Idaho Republican's office.

John D. Goodwin, Jr., has worked for Labrador in Washington, D.C., for two years, but Thursday was his last day on the job.

Labrador's office didn't immediately say why Goodwin was leaving.

Goodwin had worked as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and worked for Republican representatives from Illinois and Connecticut.

He'd also worked for groups including the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government officials are rolling out a Native American land buyback program as part of a $3.4 billion settlement over mismanaged royalties.

The 10-year, $1.9 billion program is meant to purchase individual allotments from willing Indians and turn over the consolidated parcels to tribes.

Program manager John McClanahan said Tuesday it could be up to a year before the first land sales are completed.

The Idaho Supreme Court is considering whether Native America[n] retailers that sell cigarettes to other Native American retailers must obtain Idaho state tax stamps.

University of Idaho Photo Services

The University of Idaho has announced that Paul Petrino will be its new head football coach.

The university said Monday that Petrino has produced some of the most prolific offenses in the nation as an assistant coach at several other schools.

Petrino replaces interim coach Jason Gesser, who guided the Vandals during the final four games after Robb Akey was fired.

Petrino spoke Monday of recruiting young men of good character for the Vandals. “We're going to make sure that we go out and get the very best character we can,” he explained.

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