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Lawmakers eye emergency water rights for cleaning up spills

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Emergency crews pulling contaminated water from rivers after such things as tanker trunk crashes is standard cleanup practice in Idaho. But removing that water could be violating the state's strict water-rights laws where water distribution is closely monitored. So lawmakers on Monday voted to hold a hearing on legislation granting an emergency water right when crews are trying to clean up spills in waterways. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director John Tippets says the agency will always work quickly to remove contaminated water. But he says the legislation is needed to prevent someone from coming in and saying their water right is being violated due to the emergency cleanup.


Idaho power struggle leads to big role for obscure employee

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A power struggle between the Idaho House and Senate has had ramifications for a relatively unknown state employee who's long toiled in an agency most people didn't know existed. Administrative rules coordinator Dennis Stevenson agreed to stay on past his July 2019 retirement date to help Republican Gov. Brad Little cut the state's administrative rules. Those rules touch on nearly every aspect of daily life, from consumer and environmental protections to hunting and fishing licenses. Little had sweeping authority to make those cuts after the House and Senate failed to pass a measure approving all the rules. Now, lawmakers want Stevenson to help them understand the cuts.


Snowmobiler dies in Eastern Oregon mountain avalanche

BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) — Officials say an eastern Oregon man died in an avalanche Saturday while he was snowmobiling in the Elkhorn Mountains. The East Oregonian reported Monday that 33-year-old Richard Stephens was snowmobiling with three others in the northeastern Oregon mountain range when his vehicle was struck and trapped by an avalanche. Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash says a search and rescue team went to the scene, but the North Powder resident died. None of the other riders were injured in the avalanche. According to the Wallowa Avalanche Center, an avalanche warning for the Elkhorns, the Blue Mountains and the Wallowas had been in place since Saturday, and has been extended into this week.


Popular Idaho drive-in theater destroyed by high winds

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) — The screen of a 65-year-old drive-in movie theater in Idaho has been destroyed by high winds and the owner says he hopes to rebuild. First, though, he needs to find someone who can do the specialized work. Chris Wagner, owner of the Sunset Auto Vue drive-in theater in Grangeville, told The Lewiston Tribune the screen has only been damaged by winds twice since it was built in 1955. The last time, in 2007, the manufacturer and repairman was 75 years old. Wagner says it's hard to find people with experience to do the work, because there are now so few drive-in theaters in the United States.


House panel OKs Arts Commission plan to engage in art therapy

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lawmakers on a House panel have approved changes to rules for the Idaho Commission on the Arts allowing the agency to participate in art therapy for wounded veterans, stroke victims and others. The House State Affairs Committee voted Monday to approve the change that deletes from the rules a prohibition on the commission participating in such activities. The substantial change is part of massive cuts to the state's administrative rules book undertaken by Republican Gov. Brad Little last year. Arts Commission Executive Director Michael Faison says art therapy has been proven to have substantial benefits. Faison says he's waiting for the Legislature to approve the rules before implementing a program for art therapy.


House panel nixes some security searches at Statehouse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A House panel has nixed some searches of personal belongings at the Statehouse and other state government buildings out of concern such searches could be unconstitutional. The House State Affairs Committee on Monday removed language from administrative rules put forward by the Department of Administration intended to keep the areas safe. Lawmakers say other rules will allow law enforcement officials to search suspicious suspects. Lawmakers rejected a change to the rules sought by Republican Rep. Christy Zito that would have restricted flu shots from being given to state workers at state workplaces. The Senate will also consider the administrative rules to decide if it wants to make changes.

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