Economy

Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons

The owners of Les Bois Park in Garden City say they'll close the facility permanently if the Idaho Legislature bans instant racing. A bill to do away with the betting terminals – which critics say too closely resemble slot machines – is making its way through the Legislature.

Eurupean Parliament / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend, a group of hackers and computer programmers will meet in Boise for the annual Code Camp. For the first time, the event will feature a discussion about women in technology. Panelists will include Marianna Budnikova of MetaGeek, Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, and Boise State professor Carrie Semmelroth.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Hyde Park Books, a staple in the North End of Boise for 30 years, is closing its doors.

Marti Martino bought the used bookstore in 2013. She says the store has had just three owners in its long history.

She says she’s heartbroken for her family and for the community. “It’s kind of still raw for me. It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time,” Martino says. “We haven’t made this decision lightly by any manner. I understand it’s been an icon in the community for quite some time. But unfortunately it’s not sustainable.”

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Five years ago, CBS and Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay the NCAA nearly $11 billion for the broadcast rights for the men’s basketball tournament over 14 years.  It's the deal that puts games on CBS, TBS and TNT. 

Denny Moeller is among those watching again this year.

“My wife says if we don’t have sports programming we wouldn’t have to have a TV,” Moeller says. “I agree with her 100 percent.”

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.

screen grab google.com/maps

This month, two different companies proposed building new hotels across the street from one another in downtown Boise. If built, they would also be across the street from the existing Hampton Inn and a block from the Grove Hotel.  

Hopeful in NJ / Flickr

In just the last few weeks, Treasure Valley gas prices have increased by nearly 75 cents. Low oil prices caused the cost of gas to drop to less than $1.80 per gallon late last year. Oil prices are still low, but now gas is at $2.53.

The region's recent stretch of warm weather means Northwest sweet cherries will likely be going early to market this year.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The legality over Idaho's contentious slot-like machines —known as instant horse racing terminals— sparked lengthy pleas on Wednesday from ranchers, horse breeders and jockeys arguing that removing the machines would cue the end to their industry.

The House State Affairs Committee listened to five hours of testimony regarding a bill that would repeal roughly 250 historical horse racing terminals currently installed in Idaho. The committee has not yet scheduled when they will vote on the bill.

The bill has already passed in the Senate.

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.

ProPublica / http://bit.ly/1Bkivmf

Investigative news outlet ProPublica partnered with NPR to compile a trove of data about workers compensation laws across the country. Their findings paint a vivid picture of how workers comp – established to ensure injured workers get the medical help they need after getting hurt on the job – has been significantly eroded by state legislatures, and how the scaling back of those benefits has impacted workers.

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.

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According to the financial website WalletHub, Idaho is the 9th worst state for women. Lists ranking states on various things come out almost daily and we don’t often report on them, and WalletHub in particular is a list juggernaut. But this one caught our eye.

Idaho was dead last for women’s preventative health care, but in the middle of the state rankings for women’s health care overall.

Devin Ferrell / Hackfort, Treefort Music Fest

The technology-centered offshoot of Treefort Music Fest, Hackfort, got about as high-profile an endorsement an event can ask for.

During his address at Boise State University in January, President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to the event about halfway through his speech.

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees: apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.

And then she bought her first chickens.

"A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal," says Creech, who lives in rural North Salem, Ind. "Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows. And then it just explodes from there."

screen grab builtinboise.com

A new online media project called Built in Boise launched last week. Its purpose is to tell the stories of local companies doing interesting things.

The website's first stories included a husband-and-wife team who sell gourmet donuts, a game designer, and a banker-turned-paddle-board mogul.

A panel in the Idaho Senate introduced a bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour -- a $2 per hour increase -- by next year. 

Uber app

Ridesharing company Uber has suspended operations in Boise.

The company in a three-page letter to city leaders on Thursday says it became clear at a city council work session on Tuesday that the city plans to impose unworkable and onerous regulations. Uber spokesperson Michael Amodeo says the company does vehicle inspections and background checks on drivers.

“We think additional background checks would just place an additional hurdle or barrier to entry for our drivers that would make it more difficult for them to earn a living with the Uber platform," says Amodeo.

A new measure backed by Idaho Power Co. would allow business owners to resell public utility electricity to electric car drivers.

The House State Affairs Committee voted Tuesday to introduce a bill permitting companies to buy the electricity from a public utility and then resell it to charge electric car batteries.

Rich Hahn from Idaho Power says that current state law prevents reselling electricity provided by a public utility. This means businesses are footing the bill for having electric car charging stations.

David G. Steadman / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study says the five tribes of Idaho play a major role in the state’s economy. The study was put together by University of Idaho research economist Steve Peterson. It says the five tribes have a $1.1 billion annual sales impact on the Gem State’s economy.

The five tribes collectively raise the gross state product by $653 million, or about 1 percent of the gross state product in 2013.

Steve Peterson says a big portion of the money comes from tribal casinos, which have also helped to foster partnerships with local businesses and governments.

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