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Eye On Boise

Archive for July 2, 2012

Rep. Hart tells court he’d pay $200 a month for 5 years to settle $600,000-plus debt

Outgoing Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart has filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan in federal court that proposes that he pay $200 a month for five years - a total of $12,000 - to get his entire debt of more than $600,000 discharged. The vast majority of that debt is back federal income taxes, penalties and interest owed to the Internal Revenue Service; it also includes more than $50,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest owed to the Idaho State Tax Commission, along with $22,000 in credit card debt.

“Debtor will pay to the trustee for a term, not exceeding 60 months, the sum of $200 monthly,” the plan says. No other payments are proposed, though Hart does report that he anticipates income tax refunds over the next five years, and agrees to turn those over as well.

A Spokane bankruptcy attorney with expertise in Chapter 13 cases said it's “unlikely” that such a plan would be approved. “Generally, you don't get to discharge your tax debts,” said David Gardner, an attorney with Winston and Cashatt. Gardner said the plan likely will draw objections from both the bankruptcy trustee and the creditors - including the IRS - when it comes up for a hearing in August. “For that amount of cash, I would expect the IRS to be very involved,” he said. You can read my full story here at

High mercury levels found in lower Boise River catfish spark consumption advisory

The Idaho Division of Public Health has issued a fish advisory, warning that catfish caught in the lower Boise River have been found to have high levels of mercury, and pregnant women or children age 15 and younger should limit their consumption. Catfish often absorb more mercury than other species because of their diet, the division reports; the fish still can be eaten, but only in limited amounts. Most other fish species caught and tested in the Boise River have not shown high levels of mercury, though there is an existing statewide fish consumption advisory for bass due to mercury. Click below for the division's full announcement.

Grocers petition governor to stagger monthly food stamp distributions

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: NAMPA, Idaho (AP) ― A petition supported by Idaho grocers seeks to stagger the distribution of food stamp benefits. Grocers have complained to state lawmakers that they've been swamped by food-stamp recipients on the first day of every month. However, legislation allowing state officials to stagger the distribution of these federal benefits stalled in the Idaho Legislature earlier this year. A petition now circulating with support from grocers and the group, Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger, calls on Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter for a fix. State officials estimate 234,000 Idahoans are now receiving food stamps. Grocers told lawmakers earlier this year that the long lines, sometimes in the wee morning hours, have caused some people to abandon their carts in the aisles, forcing $1 million in food to go to waste. Click below for the full AP report.

Idaho Democratic legislators call on guv, GOP lawmakers for exchange, either thru executive order or special session

Idaho Democratic lawmakers have issued a call for the governor and Republican legislators to return to planning for a state-run health insurance exchange, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the national health care reform law. “That will mean either an Executive Order or a Special Legislative Session. Failure to act will cost Idaho millions of dollars,” the Dems said in a statement. Said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewistion, “Our Republican colleagues cannot continue to hide behind political campaign slogans when action is needed. … The citizens and businesses of the state deserve better.” Click below for the full statement from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus.

Scholar: History belies suggestion founding fathers would have been appalled by ruling

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador reacted to Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on health care reform by saying the nation's founding fathers would be “appalled.” He wasn't the only one invoking the founding fathers in the wake of the controversial decision. But David Adler, constitutional scholar and director of the Andrus Center at Boise State University, said a look at history suggests a different conclusion.

“In the 1790s, the Congress on two different occasions passed statutes that imposed health insurance mandates,” Adler said. Congress at the time was “filled with people who wrote the Constitution.” You can read my full Sunday column here at

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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