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Eye On Boise Betsy Z. Russell

FRIDAY, JAN. 30, 2009

Volunteer firefighters from across Idaho are out in front of the Capitol Annex for two days of live fire training, using a training simulator trailer borrowed from Wendover, Nev. that simulates conditions during a house fire, and to bring their story to state lawmakers. They're backing legislation they hope will attract more Idahoans to volunteer as emergency responders, 1/30/09. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Where there's smoke...

Volunteer firefighters from throughout the state are out in front of the Capitol Annex today, for two days of live fire training (starting yesterday), using a fire simulator trailer borrowed from Wendover, Nev., and a chance to tell lawmakers their story. Greg Redden, executive director...

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THURSDAY, JAN. 29, 2009

The "Panic-Stricken Brainy Chickens," a robotics team consisting of eight fifth-graders from Post Falls, is at the Capitol Annex today as part of a presentation to lawmakers that stresses the value of math and science education. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Panic-Stricken Brainy Chickens'

Eight fifth-graders from Post Falls are taking the state Legislature by storm today, making presentations to the education committees in both houses, greeting state Supt. Tom Luna after his budget pitch, and generally livening up the Capitol Annex in their white lab coats and laboratory...

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28, 2009

The House Health & Welfare Committee, three hours into a second day of hearings, hears from people concerned about rule changes to implement budget cuts that reduce treatment hours for the disabled and mentally ill, 1/28/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

A somber and quiet hearing

Three hours into a second day of hearings, the House Health & Welfare Committee is still hearing difficult and wrenching stories about the impact on disabled kids and others when their treatment is reduced or cut off. This as the panel has before it rules...

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MONDAY, JAN. 12, 2009

Senators file in to join House members for the Idaho State of the State address at the BSU Special Events Center. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Senators file in

Senators have filed in to join the members of the House in the BSU Special Events Center, where Gov. Butch Otter will soon give his State of the State message to a joint session of the Legislature. While the state Capitol is being renovated, there's...

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THURSDAY, JAN. 8, 2009

Gov. Butch Otter speaks to reporters at AP Legislative Forum in Boise, 1/8/09.  (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Not the year to have a wish list' 

Gov. Butch Otter and legislative leaders say looming budget cuts will color the upcoming legislative session. "This is not the year to have a wish list," said House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star. Otter told reporters at the AP's legislative forum in Boise today that...

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7, 2009

 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Gloomy economic news for lawmakers

Here's an example of the gloomy economic news that the Legislature's joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee is receiving as it holds two days of hearings on the state's economic outlook: Jane Wittmeyer, vice president of Idaho affairs for the Intermountain Forest Association, said,...

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TUESDAY, JAN. 6, 2009

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, center, with wife Teresa, left, talk to political reporter Dan Popkey, right, after Little's appointment to the No. 2 state job, 1/6/08. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Little: 'Sure going to be a new adventure'

Brad Little, 54, Idaho's new lieutenant governor, is a five-term state senator from Emmett. He's a University of Idaho graduate, owner/manager of a cattle ranch and farm, has served on many boards including the Idaho Community Foundation and the Idaho Woolgrowers Association, and is a...

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MONDAY, DEC. 29, 2008

Idaho court backs parental rights

A district court went too far when it imposed a no-contact order on an offender that banned him from contacting any minor, including his own two young children, the Idaho Court of Appeals has ruled. No Idaho court had previously ruled on the issue, so...

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New Boise judge is Twin Falls lawyer

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has appointed Twin Falls attorney Richard D. Greenwood to be a 4th District judge, replacing Judge Kathryn A. Sticklen, who is retiring. Interestingly, Otter passed over Greenwood for a 5th District judgeship in May of 2007, instead appointing 5th District Magistrate...

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THURSDAY, DEC. 25, 2008

Economy bites, but winter invites

It's been a good week so far at Boise's local non-profit ski resort, Bogus Basin. All lifts were running as of Tuesday. On Wednesday, the "Closed" signs that had festooned runs ranging from Liberty and Tiger to Upper Paradise disappeared, replaced by well-warranted "Caution" signs....

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TUESDAY, DEC. 23, 2008

Bogus Basin ski area, Dec. 23, 2008 (Charlie Russell)

Bogus opens up Superior

Here's a final last-minute gift for Boise skiers: Bogus Basin has opened its Superior Chair No. 3, bringing the mountain to full operation. So far, Chair 3 is open for day skiing only, but there's night skiing on the front side of the mountain (except...

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FRIDAY, DEC. 19, 2008

New law called into action for big storm

A new law allowing Idaho to enforce mandatory chain-up requirements on commercial trucks on snowy North Idaho passes has made a big difference in the past week, officials say. Prior to this year, Idaho had no chain requirements at all, and snowy spots like Lookout...

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Bogus to open backside, night skiing

Here's a holiday gift for Boise-area skiers and snowboarders: Bogus Basin has announced it'll open at least part of its backside - Pinecreek Chair No. 6 and Bitterroot Chair No. 5 - plus night skiing, all this Saturday. The non-profit ski resort had a rather...

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Luna: Tech cut rumor not true

Idaho's state schools superintendent puts out a weekly e-mailed newsletter to school districts, and this week's edition adds a new feature: "Rumor has it." In it, "this week's rumor" is debunked - that millions in technology funding that school districts now receive through the Idaho...

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Biggest storm ever up north

By the end of the day yesterday, exhausted Idaho State Police folks in North Idaho had this report on their storm toll, headed, "Interesting happenings and thank-you's." It was a day when Coeur d'Alene recorded 25 inches of snow in 24 hours, shattering the previous...

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THURSDAY, DEC. 18, 2008

They'd decide differently today

The chairman of Idaho's Citizens Committee on Legislative Compensation says if the panel were to meet today, it'd likely reach a different decision, rather than recommending a 5 percent raise in state legislative salaries. "We made that decision last summer," Rich Jackson said today. "I...

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Weather whacks North Idaho during guv visit 

It's a mess up north, where 20 inches of snow has fallen at the Spokane Airport and as much as 30 inches at North Idaho locations like Athol. Most schools and government offices are closed, authorities are stretched to the max trying to deal with...

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What they make

When the Citizens Committee on Legislative Compensation made its recommendation in June for a 5 percent increase in Idaho legislative pay, it was the second two-year session in a row the panel had called for an increase. Before that, there were both no-increase recommendations and...

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How Idaho compares

Pay for legislators in Idaho actually is on the low end among the states, at $16,116 a year, though there are some quite a bit lower. That compares to $41,280 a year in Washington, and at the top end, $116,098 in California. Montana, on the...

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WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17, 2008

Dems: Don't raise legislative pay

Back in June, a citizens committee recommended that state legislators get a 5 percent raise this year, from $16,116 to $16,921, effective this month. The committee's recommendation takes effect unless lawmakers reject it by concurrent resolution prior to the 25th day of the upcoming legislative...

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Two warming cars stolen in a week

Meridian police say two cars that were parked and running, as their owners tried to warm them up on cold mornings, have been stolen so far this week. They've issued a theft warning, according to the AP, cautioning drivers to carry two sets of keys...

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Bursting the Airborne bubble

How said. The makers of "Airborne" dietary supplements have agreed to change the way they market their products, as a result of a settlement with Idaho, 31 other states and the District of Columbia, according to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. The sad part: This...

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Treasure Valley CPI drops

The overall consumer price index in the Treasure Valley dropped by 2.2 percent in November, according to Wells Fargo, which tracks it. That exceeded the national CPI drop for the month of 1.9 percent (or 1.7 percent seasonally adjusted). That national seasonally adjusted figure was...

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Land Board freezes cottage site rents 

Idaho's top elected officials have agreed to freeze the rents they charge cabin owners on state lands for the next year. The narrow, 3-2 vote brought sighs of relief from cabin owners who crowded into the old courtroom where the state Land Board meets, some...

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SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2008

Impossible not to be shaken

After nearly thirty years in the news business (yes, I really did start writing for my hometown newspaper at the age of just 16), I like to think of myself as calm and fairly tough in the face of news of all types. I covered...

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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