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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho schools chief switches up rural school pitch

Idaho’s top schools chief will no longer ask for money to create a rural schools network after lawmakers rejected the proposal nearly every year the Republican leader has been in office.

Scott Hutsell: Congress comes through for federal lands counties

In March, Congress passed omnibus funding legislation that will keep the federal government open until the end of September. Within this legislation were provisions to extend key federal public lands programs that provide important revenue to county governments around our state: Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Congress also reauthorized the SRS program for another two years in the omnibus. SRS was enacted in 2000 to compensate for steep reductions in revenues from timber harvests, which resulted from national policies that substantially diminished revenue-generating activities within federal forests. On May 8 the federal government announced that SRS payments would be released in short order.

Idaho House spikes rural schools network bill

A bill backed by Idaho's top schools chief to develop a new rural schools network has once again failed to clear the Legislature. For the third year in a row, the AP reports, state lawmakers on Wednesday blocked a proposal to form a three-year pilot project in which rural schools would collaborate and share resources. The pilot project...

Changes at agencies, new faces in campaigns…

From a new state Health & Welfare director to two new parole commissioners to an array of moves among the gubernatorial campaigns and lobbying groups, my Sunday column offers a roundup. Also, Sen. Crapo pushes to extend Secure Rural Schools funding, and 'dozens' turn out for Labrador-for-governor campaign stop in eastern Idaho...

Challenger faults Rep. Labrador’s 2014 vote against military budget

In my Sunday column, I examine Democratic challenger James Piotrowski's criticism of Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador for his 2014 vote against the military budget; Piotrowski's successful legal fight on behalf of disabled Idahoans whose Medicaid-funded services were cut; and the bipartisan push to extend rural schools funding.

UI to use grant to study online courses for rural teachers

Teachers in rural areas will be able to advance their math education through online courses and video coaching under a $2.8 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to the University of Idaho College of Education and the University of Rochester in New York.

Rural schools, roads funding passes House sans Labrador support

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador cast one of just 37 “no” votes in the House this week on a program that provides millions of dollars to rural, timber-dependent Idaho counties for schools and roads. The bill to fund reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program passed, 392-37. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson was among its backers.

Timber payments have local backing

U.S. senators from Washington and Idaho all say they support a plan to extend payments to counties and school districts that have significant amounts of federal land inside their boundaries. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Raul Labrador of Idaho, however, are looking at plans to increase timber sales and other money-making activities on those lands, and set it aside for the those timber counties and school districts.