Associated Press

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.

Stack of Books
Albertogp123 / Flickr

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho just finished a bruising debate over reforming public education, with voters rejecting public schools chief Tom Luna's overhaul.

Come 2013, the Legislature is likely to discuss an education policy change not in that package but potentially as contentious: whether Idaho should offer tax credits to those who donate to scholarship programs meant to help students attend private or parochial schools.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zoo Boise has taken some additional security measures after a break-in that led to the beating death of a monkey.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department confirmed to KTVB-TV that Zoo Boise added razor wire to some parts of the fence around the attraction.

Roger Phillips / Idaho Statesman

Early-season snow just barely dusts the peaks above Idaho's capital, but a battle inside a federal courtroom down in the valley could have big impacts on who gets to ride where on the white stuff.

On Wednesday, backcountry skiers will ask a judge to tell the U.S. Forest Service to initiate planning efforts meant to limit where snowmobiles can drive on public land.

His decision could eventually affect national forests across the nation.

Since 2005, the Forest Service has been creating travel plans for motorized wheeled vehicles.

But snowmobiles were exempted.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Montana wildlife commissioners will weigh in for the first time Monday on a broad plan to protect against animal disease around Yellowstone by reducing the size of some elk herds, hazing them away from livestock and building elk-proof fences.

Those are some of the proposals to curb the spread of the disease brucellosis offered by a state-sponsored citizens working group.

If wildlife commissioners adopt the group's recommendations it would open the plan to public comment.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

All three of public schools chief Tom Luna's education overhaul initiatives were failing just before

midnight Tuesday.

About 40 percent of the precincts statewide were counted.

But if the numbers hold, it would be a clear disaster for Luna's plans to remake Idaho's schools.

By far, Luna's plan to spend $180 million on student laptops over eight years and require online courses to graduate was faring the worst, securing just a third of the vote.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador were on pace to beat their Democratic rivals and return to Congress.

In early results, Simpson tallied nearly 68 percent, to just 32 percent for his Democratic rival, Nicole LeFavour.

Labrador was trouncing ex-NFL player Jimmy Farris, 64 percent to 30 percent.

For Labrador, a win means his second term since sweeping into office in 2010 on a wave of tea party support.

Labrador says it was hard to take Farris seriously, given the Democrat voted for the first time in 2008.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio/ StateImpact Idaho

Gem State voters choose between Romney, Obama

Idaho voters are getting ready to pick the next U.S. President — and if history is any guide, Gem State voters will throw their support behind Republican Mitt Romney.

Idaho is among the nation's reddest states, and its four electoral votes haven't been awarded to a Democrat since 1964.

Romney is the clear favorite for several reasons.

His candidacy has been championed by some of the state's GOP stalwarts, including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who is Romney's state campaign chairman.

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.

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