Among the news stories that happened during the week I’ve been gone:
The Idaho Fish & Game Department’s annual wolf report came out, documenting 108 wolf packs across the state with an estimated 786 wolves among them. Officials said the number of gray wolves in the state remains well above the threshold required to keep the animals off the endangered species list. There’s more info here; Fish & Game says the 2015 wolf numbers were similar to 2014, but below the peak years of 2008 and 2009.
Gov. Butch Otter has signed a slew of bills into law, from the ban on powdered alcohol to the free-ultrasound bill, and from the expansion of state stalking laws to cover those who aren’t already in a domestic or romantic relationship to repeal of an archaic law banning alcohol sales at movies that, while not pornographic, contained nudity or certain simulations of sexual acts. The Idaho Statesman’s Bill Dentzer has a full report here.
After being rebuffed by lawmakers on his $10 million higher-ed “tuition lock” proposal, Otter joined ISU President Arthur Vailas last week to announce a pilot project: Idaho State University will launch its own “tuition lock” program – aimed at keeping tuition rates level at the freshman-year rate for incoming freshmen who finish in four years – to try to show lawmakers it can work. The pilot project still needs state Board of Ed approval; it’s on the agenda for the April 13-14 meeting. Idaho Statesman reporter Bill Roberts has a full report here.
In a bizarre development, two Bonneville County GOP officials filed court papers charging that there’s a “secret society” within the Idaho GOP that’s intent on ousting them from their party positions. Bryan Smith and Doyle Beck charged that the alleged nefarious plot aimed to “change the balance of power in Idaho politics” and sought to depose an array of Bonneville GOP officials, including state GOP Chairman Steve Yates, who branded the effort inappropriate, counter to the party’s values and an outgrowth of conspiracy theories. Smith and Beck are represented by attorney Christ Troupis; you can read a full report here from the AP; and Idaho Falls Post Register reporter Bryan Clark has more here.