Advertise Here

Huckleberries Online

Posts tagged: idaho

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway

The state of Idaho has found a concrete way to recognize Vietnam War veterans in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

On Tuesday, the state officially declared Interstate 84 in Idaho as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

“It goes further than a thank you. This really is an act of appreciation,” said Capt. Henry Parker, commander of the Idaho Department of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Parker and his organization were leading advocates who persuaded Idaho state lawmakers to approve the designation earlier this year. Mike Prager, SR

Do you think this is a fitting way to honor Vietnam vets?

Idahoans, Iowans Tired Of Mix-Ups

Idaho and Iowa are, in fact, two different states, and entrepreneurs, writers and creative-types want the world to learn the difference. It turns out, people have been confusing Idaho and Iowa for quite some time. At least since the 1980s, when Idaho journalist and author Tim Woodward got a letter from a woman explaining her Idaho-Iowa mix-up. Woodward says he wrote about it, and letters from other readers started pouring in. “At one point, the file weighed five pounds of unused material,” he says. By the early 1990s Woodward had enough Idaho-Iowa fodder for a book. Woodward has documented national broadcasters making the mistake on live television. “In a golden moment from his reporting days, NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw ended a newscast with a panoramic sweep of the Boise front and the words 'this is Tom Brokaw, reporting from Boise, Iowa,'” Woodward reads from his book/Emilie Ritter Saunders, Boise Public Radio. More here. (Photo by Flickr Creative Commons:Both agricultural states, Idaho is known for potato production while Iowa is known for its corn)

Question: Do you know anyone who routinely gets “Idaho” and “Iowa” mixed up?

Trib: Idaho Wants New Roads, But …

Five years ago, Idaho Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter's fellow Republicans in the Legislature slaughtered his signature highway funding package. We've been looking over the corpse ever since. This week delivered yet another autopsy. The University of Idaho's McClure Center survey Otter requested says people understand the need to invest in the state's highways and bridges. Otter's own task force found the state was falling $262 million short of maintaining infrastructure annually and that was four years ago. But are they willing to pay for it? Not yet/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Are you willing to pay higher taxes for better roads and bridges?

Idaho’s public pension system helps fund 47 private pensioners

The Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) provides pensions for 47 employees of five private lobbying groups.

The Idaho Education Association (IEA), the state’s largest teacher union, is the largest private participant in the Idaho public pension system, according to documents obtained by The IEA has 25 workers taking part in the pension system.

The Idaho Association of Counties comes in second with nine workers, followed by the Idaho School Board Association with seven employees.The Association of Idaho Cities comes in fourth place with five workers.Also on the list is the Idaho Public Employees Association with one participant.

Idaho is one of only 20 states that allows private workers to participate in a public retirement program, which are primarily funded through tax dollars.

PERSI’s spokesman, Kelly Cross, couldn’t tell why the state allowed private groups into the system in the first place. He did note, though, that the arrangement has been in place for about 40 years. More here. IdahoReporter


Idaho relaxes software taxes

BOISE – Multimillion-dollar software installations by corporations will be tax-free in Idaho on July 1, while downloads of e-books or entertainment software will still be taxed under a new law that goes into effect that day.

The state stands to lose as much as $40 million a year in sales taxes in the future, much of that from large software system upgrades at big businesses.

It all stemmed from efforts by the Idaho Technology Council and businesses to get Idaho lawmakers to remove sales taxes from “cloud” services, where the software is accessed remotely and isn’t installed on a business’s own computers. Legislation in 2013 granted a sales tax exemption for the use of cloud-based software, after tech businesses told lawmakers that some likely would leave Idaho without such an exemption. More here. Betsy Russell, SR


Stay Halts Idaho Gay Weddings Today

Idaho residents planning to gather at courthouses across the state to celebrate same-sex marriages saw their plans put on hold Thursday by a federal appeals court. Idaho’s gay marriage ban was overturned Tuesday when U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled it unconstitutional. Dale said Idaho must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting this morning, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday issued a temporary stay to prevent same-sex marriages while the court determines if a longer delay is needed. Of the four lesbian couples who successfully sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage, two had hoped to get marriage licenses first thing this morning; the other two were looking forward to having their legal marriages from other states recognized in Idaho/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (AP file photo: Amber Beierle, left, and Rachael Robertson of Boise are one of four same-sex couples who challenged Idaho laws banning same-sex marriage)

Question: How do you think this situation will play out?

Exchange Attracts 76,061 Idahoans

The numbers are in from the YourHealthIdaho insurance exchange open enrollment period, and it turns out that 76,061 Idahoans signed up for health insurance plans through the exchange, nearly double the expected number. The federal government’s target for Idaho was 40,000 during the six-month open enrollment period. “We have significantly exceeded those estimated targets,” said Amy Dowd, executive director of the exchange. “It’s very exciting, very, very encouraging that we are on the right path. Idahoans are interested in getting insurance for themselves and their families.” The YourHealthIdaho board has voted to keep fees at 1.5 percent of plan costs through the end of calendar year 2015; that’s compared to the fee on federally operated insurance exchanges of 3.5 percent. Exchange officials are estimating that Idahoans are saving $4.4 million on their health insurance due to the lower fee for the state exchange/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: What does the average Idahoan know about the state health exchange that the average Idaho GOP legislator doesn't?

Idaho Punishes Telemedicine Doc

Telemedicine – doctors treating patients over the phone, online or by videoconferencing – is a growing subset of the health care system. But Idaho’s medical licensing board doesn’t approve and earlier this year punished a doctor for prescribing a common antibiotic over the phone. The sanctions against Dr. Ann DeJong are so severe that her board certification is threatened. State lawmakers are more welcoming, seeing telemedicine as an option to bring health care to sparsely populated rural areas and address a severe doctor shortage in the state. The Idaho Legislature passed a bill nearly unanimously this year calling for stakeholders to set state standards for the practice of telemedicine. In the meantime, the nation’s largest provider of telemedicine has pulled out of Idaho, citing regulatory issues/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you think Idaho is a bit behind the times here?

Idahoans Are Bad Tippers

Idahoans are the worst tippers in the Inland Northwest, averaging 11.44% in tips, according to Simple Insights. We Idahoans barely made it out of the Bottom 10 list, which is led by stingy Utah at 10.6%. In the Inland Northwest, Montana and Wyoming lead the nation in tipping at 16.8% and 16.15%, respectively. Oregonians and Washingtonians are good tippers, too, at 14.69% and 14.08%, respectively. Idahoans shouldn't feel too badly. Californians (11.47%) and New Yorkers (in the Bottom 5 at 11.3%) are lousy tippers, too. You can see the average for each state's tipping here. H/T: Brad Iverson-Long

Question: I generally tip between 17% and 20% (as a result of listening to my daughter's tales of customer response during her three years as a waitress for Tomato Street & Chili's). What do you tip?

Opinion on wolves: Idaho damages public image

On a crisp December morning at the edge of the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, a steady stream of cars flowed to a pullout that was filled with hopeful visitors braving frigid temperatures in the predawn light to catch a glimpse of a pair of wolves that had been feeding on a road-killed bison. We were among the fortunate ones who got a parking spot that morning and were rewarded with a view of the wolves trotting along the creek bank in the early morning light, making for a magical, wild sight.

We returned to our car and soon heard a short news report on the wolf and coyote derby to be held in Salmon. A few days later, while reading The New York Times, an editorial titled “wolf haters” negatively portrayed Idaho as it described the upcoming wolf derby, as well as Idaho Fish and Game's recent hiring of a professional wolf killer in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The wolf derby not only infuriates the conservation community, but also many hunters interested in promoting ethical, fair and respectful hunting. Idaho Statesman


Read more here:

Shot across the bow?

A berrypicker sends along this photo with the following thoughts:
The first salvo in the May Republican primary in Kootenai County has been fired with this new I-90 billboard at the westbound Pleasant View exit by Flying J. Senator John Goedde and Representatives Luke Malek, Ed Morse and Frank Henderson voted in the 2013 legislative session to enact the State Insurance Exchange. Looks like they're going to be the first targets of the group in the May elections.

6,000 Idahoans in insurance ‘no-man’s’ land

Six thousand people in 2,500 Idaho households were told they qualify for Medicaid when they went through Idaho’s health insurance exchange to attempt to buy insurance and access possible federal subsidies. But Idaho Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong said those eligibility determinations, which were done by the federal government, are suspect, and all are being reviewed. H&W has mailed all those people paper applications for Idaho Medicaid.

“We developed a small team of eligibility workers who will expedite these applications and determine eligibility within one to two days,” Armstrong told lawmakers. But in the meantime, those applicants are in “no man’s land,” not able to either get coverage under Medicaid, or purchase new insurance plans with federal subsidies. Betsy Russell, EOB


Idahoan’s fish-eating habits surveyed

Photo illustration: Daniel Jolibois, a fisheries technician, releases a cutthroat trout on Friday in Plummer, Idaho. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is working to restore cutthroat populations on its reservation.

BOISE – The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality plans to conduct a fish-consumption survey.

Agency spokesman Don Essig said the study will look at the general population and those who hold Idaho fishing licenses, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The agency hopes to find out the eating habits of Idaho residents when it comes to trout, bass and other fish.

Officials say fish-consumption rates are important to water quality regulators who use the information to calculate pollution standards intended to protect human health. More here.

How often do you eat fish?

Idaho Women On Outside Looking In

On the list of the Fortune 1000 you’ll find some of the greatest names in the world of business, but you’ll also find that only 46 of those companies on have a woman in the office of CEO. The reality in corporate America is pretty simple: The captains of industry are overwhelmingly male. Women are also dramatically underrepresented in the board rooms of the nation’s biggest businesses and, while there are 20 female members of the United States Senate, an all-time record and a far cry from the from the days when women typically made it to the Senate only when their senator-husbands died, those numbers are still disproportionally small compared to women in the electorate. By almost every measure, the rise of women in business, politics and the law has stalled. Idaho, for example, has no women on is highest court and hasn’t since 2007. And even though women have overtaken men in measures of educational advancement – more women than men graduate college – the big stall is in effect at every socioeconomic level/Marc Johnson, Idaho Business Review. More here.

Question: Who do you think is the most powerful woman in Idaho?

Idaho K-12 Cuts Among US Steepest

During the recession, Idaho’s public school budget cuts were among the deepest in the nation. And while Idaho’s 2013-14 public school budget included a $28.6 million increase, the added money merely kept pace with inflation and enrollment growth. These are two findings from a national study, released this month by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank. The center’s reports put Idaho’s K-12 cuts into national perspective; Idaho is among at least 34 states that are spending less per pupil than they did in 2008-09. And the report comes just as Idaho education stakeholders are making a concerted push to reverse K-12 budget cuts — with initial support from Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna/Kevin Richert, The EDge, IdahoED News. More here.


Idaho Lost More Than Megaload Case

Friday U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill put a hold on General Electric's second evaporator, which was supposed to leave the Port of Lewiston today bound for the tar sands of Alberta. Then he stripped Idaho of its control over that and future megaload shipments along U.S. Highway 12 - and handed it over to the U.S. Forest Service and the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. Take a minute. Let it sink in. The state of Idaho no longer controls its only highway linking Lewiston to Lolo, Mont. You don't see that every day/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.


Idaho Wins CoiNuts Lawsuit

The Idaho attorney general’s office has won a $742,826 judgment against a closed North Idaho coin shop that customers say swindled them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by failing to deliver gold and silver they paid for in advance. The default judgment entered Friday in 1st District Court may not lead to anyone getting their money back, however. CoiNuts Inc. was dissolved as an Idaho corporation after its owners shut down the Coeur d’Alene shop in summer 2012 and consumer fraud complaints started piling up. The attorney general’s office is pressing ahead with a lawsuit against former CoiNuts owner and president Kevin E. Mitchell, of Hayden Lake, and his stepdaughter, Sarah M. Mitchell, who helped run the store. They are accused of multiple violations of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act. A trial in that case is set for April 2014/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: So far, no one is getting his/her money back. Thoughts?

Idaho Congressman Wary Of Strike

Idaho lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were deeply skeptical of President Obama's plan for a strike against Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure. In responses this week, Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador all expressed wariness such a strike would enhance U.S. power or bring a swifter end to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Risch committed to opposing a strike. Obama says Assad's government was responsible for numerous gas attacks, including one Aug. 21 said to have killed 1,429 people/Associated Press via Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Would Idaho congressman have as much trouble with the president's request, if George W. Bush was in office rather than Barack Obama?

Idaho must rely on feds’ site

The Idaho Legislature will not get its wish for a health insurance exchange website built by and for Idahoans. Not in the first year, anyway.

The Legislature’s decision simply came too late.

Federal law requires creation of a marketplace for health insurance coverage by Oct. 1 for every state. If states don’t do it, the law says, the federal government will.

But it takes time to develop a website with the security features required to accept and verify the confidential information people must enter when signing up for federally subsidized health coverage. Social Security numbers, for instance. Adjusted gross income from the most recent tax return. Names and ages of family members. Account numbers to be used in paying for the insurance. John Webster, SR

On July 26, shortly after getting its board appointed and hiring a few staff members, Idaho’s brand-new exchange awarded a contract for the development of its website. The winning contractor? Public Consulting Group, based in Boston.

What's wrong with this picture?

Idaho’s poorest fare worst in health care reform

Obamacare is coming, even to Idaho. While other states including Washington have worked for years to implement it, and now are unveiling comprehensive health coverage options for the uninsured, Idaho’s Republican-controlled state government tried for years to fight it. The long fight left a legacy: Tens of thousands of the poorest of Idaho’s poor will still be without affordable care under the Affordable Care Act.

On Oct. 1 the 222,533 Idahoans who have no health insurance will be able to go to a website and seek more comprehensive, affordable coverage than was available in the past. Federal law requires it, and federal taxes will pay for it.

But adults with incomes between 26 percent and 100 percent of the poverty level will be out of luck; no assistance will be available. Read more. John Webster, SR


Get blog updates by email

About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

Find DFO on Facebook

DFO on Twitter

Betsy Russell on Twitter

HBO newsmakers Twitter list

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Huckleberries Online.

Take this week's news quiz ›
Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here