Lawmakers eye plans to boost money for Idaho roads
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two methods to bring in millions of dollars to pay for maintaining Idaho's roads have gained traction with lawmakers. The House Transportation and Defense Committee on Tuesday voted to send to the full House a bill that would use money generated from investing about $275 million sitting in the state's rainy-day account. Republican Rep. Joe Palmer says the investment account would still serve as an emergency reserve should an economic slowdown occur. The same committee also voted to hold a hearing on another plan to double to 2% the amount of money dedicated to roads coming from the state's sales tax. That would bring in $36 million annually.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION-RULES
House panel rejects Idaho Human Rights Commission rules
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A panel of lawmakers has rejected a rules package that outlines how the state investigates discrimination complaints involving employment, housing, education and public accommodations. A majority of lawmakers on the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday voted not to approve the rules put forward by the Idaho Human Rights Commission. State agencies this year are seeking approval for their entire administrative rules after lawmakers last year failed to pass a bill approving them. Some lawmakers on the committee Tuesday said the rules appeared to give the Human Rights Commission too much leeway. The rules will also be considered by the Senate and could take effect with that chamber's approval.
Lawmakers eye change to closed Idaho presidential primaries
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — New legislation would require Idaho voters who want to participate in a closed presidential primary to affiliate with that party 90 days before the primary. The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday voted to hold a hearing on the legislation. Republicans close their primaries in Idaho while Democrats do not. Republicans are concerned some voters might affiliate with a party they don't support to throw a primary vote to a less popular candidate more likely to lose in the general election. Non-presidential primaries in Idaho already have a 60-day party affiliation deadline.
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.
POWER STRUGGLE-IDAHO EMPLOYEE
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 AVALANCHE DEATH
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.
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