Emilie Ritter Saunders

Digital Content Coordinator

Emilie is Boise State Public Radio's digital content coordinator. She helps shape what you see on this website, from original reporting and building data visuals to story planning and social media outreach.

From Sept. 2011-Aug 2013, Emilie was StateImpact Idaho's multimedia journalist. That two  year collaboration between Boise State Public Radio and NPR focused on in-depth reporting on Idaho's economy and state policy.

Emilie has earned local, regional and national awards for her work in radio, online, and television journalism. Her work has been heard on the BBC, CBC, National Native News, and on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her work has appeared in Reuters, The Idaho Statesman, and The Missoulian.

Emilie comes to Boise from Montana Public Radio where she was the Capitol Bureau Chief from 2008-2011. Emilie was a Senior Fellow with NPR's Economic Training Project from 2009 until 2010. She graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2007.

Ways To Connect

Transmission tower
TJ.Blackwell / Flickr Creative Commons

This post was updated at 10:28 a.m.

Idaho Power says power has been restored to all 30,000 customers who were affected by the early morning outage.

The power company said in a tweet it still doesn't know the cause of the outage.

The outage was first reported at 7:30 a.m.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's two representatives split their votes on a bill that was overwhelmingly supported in the U.S. House Thursday that reauthorizes timber payments to rural counties with a lot of federal land.

The Secure Rural Schools Act reauthorization was tucked inside a $214 billion bill that blocks cuts in doctors' Medicare payments.

Just 37 House members voted against the bill, while 392 supported it. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, was one of the 'no' votes.

Taliban Propaganda Video Screengrab

Former POW and Idaho native Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl tried to escape captivity 12 times in five years he says.

The New York Times news service reports Bergdahl first tried to escape a few hours after he was captured by a Taliban group in 2009.

Bergdahl’s lawyer provided a page-and-a-half narrative written by the 28-year-old soldier. It’s the first public glimpse into Bergdahl’s own experience as a prisoner of war.

Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have directed their staff to spend the next nine months studying the state’s contract with Optum Idaho, the company that manages outpatient behavioral health services for Medicaid patients.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The budget for Idaho’s behavioral health division includes funding for a second mental health crisis center.

The Spokesman-Review's Eye on Boise blog reports the Department of Health and Welfare’s budget plan includes $1.7 million for the 24-hour crisis center.

The crisis centers are meant to keep people out of jail or hospital emergency rooms, and instead connect them with appropriate mental health care services.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, two Idaho Republicans will tiptoe into a public preschool debate the state's Legislature hasn't been willing to confront. Idaho is one of 10 states without public preschool.

Reps. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, and Christy Perry, R-Nampa, are introducing a preschool pilot program they're calling "kindergarten preparedness."

Courtesy: Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce

Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday it's adding a direct flight from Boise to Spokane beginning in August.

Southwest Airlines already operates a Boise to Spokane flight.

Alaska's President and CEO Brad Tilden made the announcement during a Boise Chamber of Commerce event. Tilden says Alaska will add two direct flights each day from Boise to Spokane on a 76-seat Bombardier Q400 plane.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The share of uninsured Idahoans ticked up slightly in 2013, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Small Area Health Insurance Estimate from Census shows 18.8 percent of Idahoans under the age of  65 didn't have health insurance in 2013. That's the year before health insurance subsidies took effect through Idaho's insurance exchange.

Idaho ranked among the top 15 states with the most uninsured people, tying with Arkansas at 11. Census data show Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured people, while Texas had the highest.

According to the Census measure, Idaho's uninsured rate in 2012 was 18.5 percent.

Idaho is among five U.S. states losing the largest amount of federal timber payments aimed at rural counties and school districts.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Basin School District in Idaho City has something most districts in the state don’t, preschool.

On Wednesdays, 12 preschoolers leave their small house-turned-school and walk across the playground to the high school’s music room. The children sit cross-legged in a circle and the music teacher hands out two brightly-colored sticks to each student. Music class for these preschoolers is all about rhythm, following directions, and giggling.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Idaho counties will bear the brunt of this loss. Seventy percent of Secure Rural Schools money goes to counties for things like road maintenance. Thirty percent goes to school districts.

Data from the Idaho Association of Counties shows Idaho County will lose more money than any other county, nearly $7.3 million.

Curtesy City of Boise

Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan is now a state senator. Jordan was appointed to the body by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter after Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, resigned to join the Idaho Tax Commission.

Jordan will fill the District 17 seat. 

“I believe Maryanne has proven herself to be a dedicated public servant with a long track record of notable achievement and civic leadership,” said Gov. Otter in a press release. “I have every confidence that she will continue that laudable legacy as the newest member of the Idaho Legislature.”

The president of Idaho's largest business lobby offered to resign this week after a profane email targeting the chairman of the Senate Tax Committee was leaked.

Idaho Public Television reports Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry President Alex LaBeau will keep his job, despite the leaked email.

Kurt Wilson / Missoulian

Missoula, Mont.-based Neptune Aviation is considering launching a private charter service for direct flights to Boise, Seattle and Billings.

Neptune is known for its firefighting airplanes.

This week, Neptune’s CEO Ron Hooper outlined his idea to launch roundtrip flights from Missoula to Billings and Boise twice a week.

Allegiant Air

Low-cost airline Allegiant announced Tuesday morning it will offer a nonstop flight from Boise to Los Angeles beginning June 5.

Allegiant already operates direct flights from Boise to Las Vegas.

The airline's new Boise to LA flight will be offered twice each week, with one-way fares starting at $43.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The non-partisan Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy finds the governor's budget proposal isn't balanced, when taking into account wildfire fighting costs and ongoing expenses. 

The center's analysis shows Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's recommended budget doesn't include money to pay for last year's $27.7 million firefighting bill. The governor's office says it doesn't budget for wildfires because costs vary from year to year. Instead, lawmakers pay for fire costs the year after they're incurred.

"Depending on what the legislature chooses to do with spending and tax cuts, growth in the economy should cover the fire costs," Otter spokesman Jon Hanian says.

Reuters

U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by Reuters show which American counties have the largest share of same-sex households. Based on the 2010 Census, north Idaho's Benewah County has more same-sex households per 1,000 residents than any other Idaho county.

Benewah's 2010 population was 9,285. According to the 2014 Census estimate, total population has actually declined since then by 241 people.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that St. Luke's Health System violated antitrust laws when it acquired Nampa-based Saltzer Medical Group back in 2012.

Modern Healthcare reports the ruling is a win for the Federal Trade Commission, "in its first major case challenging a physician deal." 

Gallup

Idaho is the third-most Republican state in the nation, according to a new Gallup survey.

Gallup finds Idaho has a 25.2 percent Republican advantage, only Wyoming and Utah lean more toward the red.

Gallup came to its conclusion by interviewing more than 177,000 Americans during 2014. The results show the upper west-central part of the country is heavily Republican.

Lance McCord / Flickr Creative Commons

The Centers for Disease Control says a measles outbreak that spread from California's Disneyland has now reached 14 states and infected 102 people. No cases have been confirmed in Idaho, but many neighboring states are on the list including Utah, Washington and Oregon.

"We worry that it’s only a matter of time before we do see measles cases in Idaho," says Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's medical director for the division of public health.

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