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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Report: Citizen lawmakers’ occupations differ from state as a whole, affect policies

StateImpact Idaho took a look at the occupations of the 105 citizen legislators who make up the 2013 Idaho Legislature, and compared them to those of Idahoans as a whole. The conclusion: They don’t match up. For example, 21 percent of Idaho legislators work in agriculture; just 5.3 percent of Idahoans as a whole work in ag-related fields, including forestry, mining, fishing and hunting.

Most Idahoans work in educational services, health care, and social assistance, according to the U.S. Census. But StateImpact found that just one Idaho legislator works in education, although several are listed as retired educators; and nearly 26 percent work in business, including small retail owners, consultants, construction company owners, and entrepreneurs.

That could help explain the Legislature’s tendency to favor tax policies beneficial to business; you can read the full StateImpact Idaho report here.

Spokane area lands (again) on great places to retire list

Not widely seen as a source of economic development is the appeal this area has for folks 65-and-over.

A number of publications have recognized Spokane is considered is a good place to retire. At least if you don't mind winter (or can get away until April).

Another publication just agreed with that belief: Where to Retire magazine.

Editor Mary Lu Abbott in the latest issue wrote: "Spokane possesses qualities important to today’s retirees. Signs like rising home prices and falling inventory point to a rebounding housing market. Our eight locales, including Spokane, offer boomers excellent buys now, with the possibility for value appreciation in the future, as well as an active retirement lifestyle, ” Abbott said.

The other cities mentioned are Salem,  Reno, Palm Springs, Calif., Wilmington, N.C.; Marietta, Ga.; Hagerstown, Md. and Gainesville, Fla.

What's the business takeaway: Abbott summarizes it thus: Each year 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns to retire. Generally, relocating retirees are healthier, better educated and more affluent than those who choose to not relocate. They bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns. Nationally, two dozen states and hundreds of towns seek to attract retirees as a source of economic development.

Three things

1. Once upon a time, people saying grace before a meal did not imply with a 91 percent degree of certainty that they were social conservatives.

2. If you put enough onions in the potato salad, kids won't touch it. So that leaves more for you.

3. Will combining Spokane and Coeur d'Alene into one Metropolitan Statistical Area prompt some people to go out and buy more guns? 

UI study: Huge increase in Hispanic population benefits region

South-Central Idaho’s Hispanic population has grown by 85 percent since 2000, according to a new University of Idaho study, paralleling the dramatic increase in the dairy industry in the region, which employs a large Hispanic workforce. The two-year UI study, funded in part by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, examined impacts on communities of the demographic and economic changes driven by  the industry’s growth. The study, which was strictly economic and sociological and didn’t examine environmental issues, found largely positive economic and social changes.
“The dairy industry drove population and economic growth, but it’s going beyond agriculture now,” said UI Professor Priscilla Salant. “What it’s meant for communities here, is that communities like Jerome and Gooding which are farming-dependent, they are bucking a national trend. Three-quarters of those kinds of communities around the country are losing population. … That is not happening in the farming-dependent communities that rely on the dairy industry in the state.” Those communities have weathered the recession better than other parts of rural Idaho, the study found. It also found that while child poverty levels remain high in the Magic Valley, health care systems have not been overburdened by the increase in dairy workers; crime hasn’t increased; and schools have seen the biggest impacts. Click below to read more.