In brief: Senate panel interviews Fish and Game nominee
BOISE – Senators grilled Gov. Butch Otter’s nominee to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Monday.
The Senate Resources Committee will vote Wednesday on whether to confirm Joan Hurlock’s appointment; the full Senate will have the final say.
Opponents ranged from one who objected that Hurlock and her husband failed to attend a barbecue at his home, to Doug Palmer of Twin Falls, who told the panel, “We need a true sportsman to represent sportsmen, not a trainee.”
Hurlock, who would be the second woman to serve on Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission, also drew supporters, including former Fish and Game Commissioner Gary Power, and selection committee chairman Dyke Nally, who said the panel was “totally impressed” with her qualifications.
Hurlock defended her qualifications, telling senators, “The Fish and Game code does not say you must have hunted and fished in Idaho your entire life. It does not say that. And in fact, just because you’ve hunted and fished every day of your life in Idaho, that does not mean you’d make a good commissioner. People eat every day of their lives, but that does not mean they are good cooks.”
S-R compiling listings of summer camps
The Spokesman-Review is accepting submissions for its annual Summer Camp section, which includes a print publication in April and an online listing.
If you would like your listing to be included for free in these sections, email information to summercamps@ spokesman.com, mail it to The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane WA 99210 attn: Summer Camps, or submit the info online at www.spokesman.com/ summercamps-form.
We’ll need the name and location of the camp, dates of operation, general theme, any costs, recommended ages, contact information and any other details our readers might want.
Listings received after 5 p.m. March 29 will be included in the online version but can’t be guaranteed for the print edition.
Mental health prison shelved over high costs
BOISE – The Idaho Department of Correction and Gov. Butch Otter are backing away from plans to build a mental health prison south of Boise, citing concerns over escalating operating costs.
Less than a month ago, Otter announced the $70 million, 579-bed facility in his State of the State speech. But on Monday, Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke withdrew the proposal, with Otter’s blessing.
Reinke said he’d been beset with questions from legislators, as well as members of the public, about the project’s projected $25 million annual costs – and whether the new facility really fits with Idaho’s priorities for helping address mental health and substance abuse issues. Instead, Reinke said he’ll work with the Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho’s courts system, the Criminal Justice Commission and other groups on alternatives.
Bill toughens rules for improvement districts
BOISE – State Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, introduced a bill Monday to make it more difficult to form local improvement districts in Idaho. The bill also would make it easier for property owners within the districts to object to their formation.
Morse’s bill is partly in response to a 2011 incident in which the East Side Highway District in North Idaho sought to form three LIDs to pay for more than half a million dollars worth of road-paving costs.
Some property owners opposed the move, and Kootenai County commissioners ended up invalidating the LIDs.
Morse also wants to require a cost-benefit analysis to guarantee that any LID will boost property values in the district by more than the owners will be charged.
Morse, who defeated four-term Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, in the GOP primary last May, won unanimous support to introduce his bill from the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday, clearing the way for a full hearing on HB 94.