Legislature passes bill with mussels
The Idaho Senate has voted 34-1 in favor of legislation to require all boats launched in Idaho, motorized or not, to carry a $5, $10 or $20 sticker to help fund the fight against invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
The bill, HB 213, earlier passed the House; Tuesday’s Senate vote sends it to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk.
If he signs it into law, owners of boats registered in Idaho would pay $10 a year; those whose boats are registered elsewhere would pay $20; and non-motorized boats, which aren’t registered, would be charged $5 each. The only exception is for inflatables less than 10 feet long.
Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, has pushed for the legislation; he’s also backing legislation to allow the state to spend up to $5 million through emergency deficiency warrants next year if needed in the fight against the mussels.
The tiny, fast-spreading shellfish have clogged and destroyed pipes, pumps, and entire beaches and ecosystems; they haven’t turned up in Idaho yet, but have been spotted just miles to the south in Utah.
Panel OKs school-cuts bills
Idaho’s Senate Education Committee has passed two bills designed to allow unprecedented cuts in public schools, but sidelined a third Tuesday for amendments.
The panel called for amending HB 256, the bill to cut $4.1 million from state reimbursements to school districts for their student busing costs, to remove a clause that will cost the Boise School District $1.5 million. Other amendments are possible, too.
But the panel, on identical 5-4 votes, passed measures to allow school districts to make cuts when they face financial emergencies, and to trim $8.1 million from Idaho teachers’ pay by freezing experience-based movement on the salary schedule for a year, and phasing out an early retirement program.
Tearful teachers urged the panel to reject that measure, HB 262. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said his daughter is a teacher who’s struggling to raise two kids on her own. “This is a really tough decision for me because I see it first-hand every day,” Winder said. Nevertheless, he supported the bill, as did committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene. Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, opposed it.
All three bills are sponsored by House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene.
Park reservations getting upgrade
If you have hot plans for visiting an Idaho state park recreation area campground or facility, make reservations before Sunday.
The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation will suspend telephone and online reservation services from Sunday through April 21 as it rolls over to a new service provided by ReserveAmerica.
Beginning April 22, customers will be able to access the call center toll-free at (888) 922-6743 or online at www.reserveamerica.com.
One person killed in two-car crash
One person died in a two-car crash south of Freeman on Tuesday night.
The crash occurred on Highway 27 at milepost 74 and was reported about 8 p.m., according to Washington State Patrol.
The wreck blocked the road for several hours.
No other details were immediately available.
Social services head named
Gov. Chris Gregoire has named a Wisconsin executive to head Washington state’s largest state agency.
Gregoire announced Tuesday that Susan Dreyfus will be secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services. Dreyfus, 51, is executive vice president for strategy with Rogers Behavioral Health System Inc. in the Milwaukee area.
Gregoire said Dreyfus “has the knowledge, leadership experience and vision necessary to succeed in one of the most difficult jobs in state government.”
“The demands placed upon the agency are enormous and expectations are high, a situation that will deepen in this recession,” Gregoire said in a prepared statement.
Dreyfus previously worked as senior vice president and chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Children and Families and Families International, and served on the Wisconsin State Legislative Council on Adoptions. She also was administrator of the Division of Children and Family Services within the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services.
Dreyfus starts on May 18. She replaces Robin Arnold-Williams, who left in January to lead Gregoire’s executive policy office.
Journalists agree to wage reduction
Newsroom employees at The Spokesman-Review have agreed to a one-year labor contract that includes pay cuts of as much as 10 percent for some reporters, copy editors and photographers, the newspaper announced Tuesday.
Most of the 63 employees represented by the Spokane Editorial Society will lose 7 percent of their pay.
Workers who used to serve as newsroom managers and were allowed to keep their rate of pay when they returned to hourly positions will see a 10 percent cut in compensation.
The wage concessions follow a 5 percent cut for the majority of nonunion employees companywide that was imposed March 1.
and wire reports