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In brief: Bill covering marketing calls heads to Idaho governor

Thu., March 14, 2013

BOISE – Telephone, cable and other telecom companies would be able to make commercial solicitation calls to their existing Idaho customers even if they’re on the state’s “do not call” list, under legislation that passed the Idaho Senate 29-6 on Wednesday and headed to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk.

The bill, HB 55, proposed by two phone companies, adds those companies to the existing do-not-call exemption for businesses with an existing relationship with a customer. If one of those businesses calls and the customer tells them to stop calling, they can’t call again. Violations could mean a $500 fine.

North Idaho senators were split on the measure, with Sens. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, opposing the bill. Sens. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene; Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene; and Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, backed it. Sens. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, and Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, missed the vote.

Betsy Russell

U.S. senators support plan to boost hydropower output

WASHINGTON – A plan to ease regulations and encourage energy production at thousands of the nation’s nonproducing dams earned the full support of the Inland Northwest U.S. Senate delegation Wednesday.

A companion to legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers would ease licensing restrictions on small hydropower projects and encourage turbine retrofitting at existing dams. It was introduced with the backing of Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch. The bill could increase America’s hydropower output by 15 percent and create 700,000 jobs nationwide, according to Energy Department estimates.

American Rivers, a conservation group based in Washington, D.C., helped draft the bill.

Under the law, the Federal Regulatory Commission would conduct two-year pilot studies of hundreds of dams eligible for hydropower retrofitting, including 10 dams in Washington and two in Idaho. The bill would also double the maximum amount of energy a dam can produce before having to reapply for a license.

Kip Hill

Killer gets additional 50 years for gouging out inmate’s eyes

A judge gave convicted killer Michael L. West Jr. another 50 years in prison Wednesday for gouging out the eyes of a fellow prison inmate.

A jury convicted West of first-degree assault in the Oct. 10, 2010, attack at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen made the sentence consecutive to West’s existing sentence, meaning he won’t be eligible for parole until 2098, when he would be 121 years old. West previously was convicted of killing a fellow inmate in 2004.

Eitzen also ordered more than $70,000 in restitution to cover the medical bills of Chad E. Bolstad, who was permanently blinded in the attack.

Defense attorney Derek Reid unsuccessfully argued that West should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. He also previously said the latest trial was a waste of taxpayer money because West likely would not have been paroled after his previous convictions of murder and rape.

Thomas Clouse


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