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Be careful out there…

I returned today from my furlough/vacation of a week and a half to the troubling news that a third experienced adult bicyclist has been struck and killed on Boise-area roads, this time in a bike lane just blocks from my home. That’s three in a month. Be careful out there.

Among the political news items I missed while I was gone: Gov. Butch Otter was elected vice chairman of the Western Governors Association at their meeting last weekend, to serve under Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer; Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo met with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and gave this account; state parks Director Bob Meinen stepped down from his post for health reasons; and Idaho House Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, announced that he’ll run next year for the 1st Congressional District seat now held by Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, making Roberts the second Republican to announce; Vaughn Ward already is in the race. Still no word from former one-term GOP Rep. Bill Sali, whom Minnick defeated, on whether he’ll try for a comeback.

Meanwhile, the University of Idaho launched an investigation after media reports that the head of the UI Caine Veterinary Teaching and Research Center in Caldwell testified both to the state Legislature and in federal court documents that there’s no evidence bighorn sheep catch diseases from domestic sheep, though research at the center as far back as 1994 showed such a link; the director, Marie Bulgin, is a past president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, and the issue was a hot political one this year as lawmakers passed a law that short-circuited a collaborative effort between sheep ranchers and bighorn advocates. Here’s the university’s official statement:

“The University of Idaho is aware of media reports about professor of veterinary medicine Marie Bulgin’s comments on big horn sheep research and takes seriously concerns raised by those reports. A complete understanding of the facts is imperative and the university is investigating the matter thoroughly. Our scholarly and creative activity, which includes research, seeks to generate knowledge to strengthen the scientific, economic, cultural, social and legal foundations of an open, diverse and democratic society. The people of Idaho count on us to be fair, diligent and candid, and we place the utmost importance on that responsibility. The university will take appropriate steps to ensure the integrity of its research.”

Crapo: Promising sign for Owyhee Initiative

A rare Sunday session of the U.S. Senate today brought promising news for the Owyhee Initiative, according to sponsor Sen. Mike Crapo, in the form of a strong 66-12 procedural vote on a larger bill containing the wilderness measure. The initiative is tucked into an omnibus bill containing more than 150 separate land management proposals, whose sponsors include nearly half the members of the Senate.  “This omnibus lands bill has broad support in every region of the country,” Crapo declared. New Idaho Sen. Jim Risch cast his first Senate vote in favor. Click below to read a report from Crapo’s office on what happened.