Monthly Archives: February 2017

Idaho State Legislature– Week Seven

Tribal gaming, Article 5 constitutional convention, FY ’18 budgets– a little bit of everything during week seven of the 2017 Idaho State Legislature.


The Idaho House State Affairs Committee on February 21 opened a public hearing on H 127, on Tribal Gaming and Slot Machines. In this audio clip, the bill’s sponsor, District 32 Rep. Tom Loertscher, introduced the legislation. (1:54)

Shannon Wheeler of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee asked that lawmakers vote against the bill. (1:25)

Later in the week, committee voted 8-7 to hold H 127 in committee. District 5 State Rep. Paulette Jordan voted against the bill, and part of her statement is heard in this audio clip. (1:37)

The Idaho State Senate State Affairs Committee on February 24 voted 5-4 in favor of SCR 108, which asks Idaho to petition for an Article V constitutional convention on a balanced budget amendment. The vote sends SCR 108 to the full Senate for debate. The vote came after a public hearing in which 25 people testified against the legislation; several who spoke said they didn’t believe such a convention would stick to the balanced budget issue. In this audio clip, the bill’s sponsor, Meridian State Sen. Marv Hagedorn, says in his closing statement it is about a balanced budget. (1:00)

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, JFAC, started setting FY ’18 budgets this past week, including those for Idaho Fish and Game, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Labor. JFAC approved the Governor’s recommendation for Health Education, including WWAMI. On Monday, February 27, JFAC will get into budgets for public schools and the Department of Health and Welfare.

Elsewhere around the State Legislature: The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected S 1104, on assignments for magistrate judges; the Senate Education Committee took testimony on science standards and will return to the issue February 27; the Idaho House passed H 150, which says early voting starts during a certain time period before the election;  the Idaho Senate passed and sent to the House S 1099, to establish a new division head within the Idaho Department of Lands on oil and gas conservation matters; and the Idaho House Judiciary Committee passed a bill on codifying standards for sexual assault evidence, medical exams.

Week eight begins February 27.

Posted February 26, 2017


Practice and Feedback: Hampton Jazz Festival Workshops

Hampton Jazz Festival Helps Students Learn Through Workshops


Emily Runge

Vanessa Negrete

Idaho Public Radio

The University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary this week with student performances, workshops, special exhibits, and several world-renowned jazz artists.


(Jazz singer Julia Keefe held a workshop on February 25 called “Forget What’s On the Page: How to Make a Jazz Standard Your Own”)

Workshops of all kinds were held– on vocals, the history of jazz, playing instruments.


(Bijon Watson, lead trumpeter for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, held a February 25 workshop on the role of the lead trumpet player)

Rosana Eckert, an internationally recognized singer and song writer, performed a hands-on work shop Thursday, February 23, at the U-Idaho Commons.

“Well, this is a legendary festival, and so I am honored to be here,” Eckert said. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for students to get some good feedback and to meet other students from their community, and to get to know this wonderful school, and then to see some amazing headliners. I think it’s a wonderful occasion.”


(Rosana Eckert’s workshop)

Eckert’s workshop focused on the conversational aspect of jazz, and taught students how to build jazz vocabulary using the blues. Eckert played the piano and sang with the students throughout the entirety of the workshop, offering the opportunity for volunteers to come forward for practice and feedback.

This hands-on workshop helped vocalists and instrumentalists to enhance their knowledge of jazz and how to articulate words and phrases to add authenticity to the language. Through segments and exercises, Eckert helped the crowd learn the language of jazz.

Posted February 25, 2017






Idaho State Legislature– Week Six

Idaho lawmakers and legislative committees took a few moments this past week to acknowledge the work done by the first class of legislative pages. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee presented their outgoing pages with small gifts of appreciation, and welcomed in the next class.

The thank yous were also a reminder that the 2017 Idaho legislative session is at roughly the halfway point.


JFAC wrapped up its agency budget hearings this past week, and is moving on schedule toward setting the FY ’18 state budget.

The committee heard updates from Governor Otter’s budget director, Jani Revier, who updated JFAC Feb. 15 on changes to the Governor’s FY ’18 budget recommendation since it was presented at the start of the legislative session.

JFAC on Feb. 16 made statewide budget decisions prior to setting state agency budgets. Actions included: adopting general fund revenue growth projections for FY ’17 of 5.4% and 4.6% for FY ’18; agreeing to cover the employer portion of state employee health insurance increases; supporting 3% merit raises for state employees. FY’18 budget setting begins Feb. 21. This audio clip is on the FY ’18 general fund revenue projection.

Once the budget hearings were concluded, JFAC took a morning of testimony from legislative committee chairs. Dist. 24 Sen. Lee Heider, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, not only discussed public health issues such as suicide prevention and the contribution being made by the state’s new behavioral health centers, but he also made a pitch for funding for infrastructure. (1:35)

Heider’s testimony came as flooding from rain and snow-melt ravaged parts of the state. Governor Otter, Lt. Governor Brad Little, and House Speaker Scott Bedke toured parts of the Magic Valley and Mini-Cassia areas on Friday.

There was flooding in north Idaho, as well, Two examples: The Palouse River at Potlatch and Paradise Creek in Moscow both went above flood stage. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reported on flood relief work in Moscow:

Elsewhere in the legislature, lawmakers were reviewing the state’s faith-healing laws; a bill on increasing speed limits in passing lanes passed the House; a bill to repeal a surcharge on has-hybrid cars was sent to the Governor; and the education committees were told that 64% of Idaho teacher evaluations were in compliance with state law.

Lewiston State Senator Dan Johnson told his constituents he is concerned about the potential impacts of S 1104 on Lewis County. From his weekly newsletter:

Since the magistrate division of the district court began operation in 1971, there has been a requirement that there be at least one resident magistrate judge in each county. This legislation would remove that requirement and allow the Idaho Supreme Court to move a magistrate judge position from a county having less than 0.4% of the state’s population to a larger county in the same judicial district. Based on the 2010 census, nine counties would be impacted, including Lewis County in Legislative District 6. Currently, there are 91 magistrate judges statewide. Magistrate courts have jurisdiction over cases involving domestic violence, domestic relations, probate, juvenile cases, civil cases under $10,000; felony preliminary hearings, criminal misdemeanors, and infractions.

Johnson says he wants to find a workable solution.

Week seven begins Monday, February 20.

(Photos, audio via ‘Idaho in Session.’)

Posted February 19, 2017






Sandbags and Localized Flooding

Waters have receded in the Moscow area below action levels, according to the city today. There have been numerous reports of flooding, clogged culverts, and damaged roads around the Palouse and Inland Northwest this week, the result of rain and snow-melt. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley has this story on the rising and falling waters in Moscow. (:50)


It was a long stretch for city crews and volunteers as waters rose and fell in Moscow at Paradise Creek and the South Fork of the Palouse.  On Thursday night, Tyler Palmer of the Moscow Public Works Department was standing near the intersection of Bridge Street and Hillcrest after Paradise Creek flooded for a second time that day:

Tyler Palmer: “The interesting thing about the snow this year is that there was a lot of dry snow, and so as we’ve had the earlier rains over the last couple weeks, there’s a lot of latent ability for that snow to take on water. And so it’s taken on water, and with the warm temperatures and the prolonged rain this time, the creek’s really peaked up.”


Palmer said the recent warmer temperatures helped in one way in that there weren’t any ice jams on the creek.

Crews and volunteers put up sandbags to keep people safe and properties protected and were set up at several locations where there was potential for localized flooding.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Posted February 17, 2017



Idaho Legislature– Week Five

The high waters around the state, and the roads and bridges being hit by those floods, were invoked in a meeting of the Idaho House Transportation and Defense Committee on February 10.

Lawmakers debated whether to increase the gas tax five cents to fund transportation related projects around the state. The panel eventually decided to introduce measures to transfer general fund dollars to transportation needs and to shift gas tax funds that are currently used by the Idaho State Police.


Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden told the state’s budget writing committee on February 10 that he understands that members of the Idaho State Legislature “sometimes have concerns about the way that certain issues are litigated or services are delivered and resolved by my office.

“And there are reasons why I do what I do,” Wasden said. “And this is not the forum to answer all of those questions, and sometimes the angst and I will say anger which is sometimes levied at me directly and at my office.”


(Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden photo via ‘Idaho in Session’)

Wasden told JFAC that his door is “open, always, to answer those questions, not only about my budget, but about what we do and why we do it.” He encouraged and invited those discussions with lawmakers.

Wasden told the committee that his responsibility was to “provide accurate, objective legal advice,” even if it is advice that some don’t want to hear.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter has recommended a 2 percent increase in state general funds for the Attorney General’s office in FY ’18.

Idaho’s court system is facing challenges in terms of needed upgrades at facilities across the state, including compliance with the American with Disabilities Act and courtroom technology providing language access.

Idaho Administrative District Judge Bradly Ford spoke to the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee on February 8 and is heard in this audio clip.

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee has introduced a bill that would ban tribal slot machines. In this audio from February 8, committee chair, Rep. Thomas Loertscher, presents the bill. (1:16)

A bill on the licensing of sign language interpreters has passed the Idaho House and is in the Senate. Dist. 5 Rep. Caroline Troy’s bill on ABLE accounts for disability expenses passed full Idaho House Friday.

Lewiston State Senator Dan Johnson says the Region II Behavioral Health Board is working on a program to make behavioral health services available in the region’s five counties. He said he would support funding the program.

On Friday, JFAC announcements included: CEC committee on Feb 13; set JFAC adjusted on Feb 15; supplementals on Feb 20; schedule to set FY ’18 budget is coming.


It’s on to the sixth week of the 2017 Idaho State Legislature starting Monday, February 13.

Posted February 12, 2017.


“You Feel Proud”– Working in the Foreign Service

The former U.S. Ambassador Patricia Butenis says being an American diplomat means navigating a lot of shifting circumstances. She spoke February 8 at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Idaho Public’s Glenn Mosley reports. (:50)


Ambassador Butenis says being part of the Foreign Service today means navigating not only the cultures and interests of other countries, but those of the United States, as well, as many parts of the world still look to America:

Patricia Butenis: “You feel proud, that people still look to us for certain standards of behavior. Sometimes it’s not something we can always support with a lot of assistance.”

In an interview with Idaho Public Radio, Butenis discussed how being in the Foreign Service means dealing with shifting times in the media, White House and Congressional views on U.S. foreign policy, American values, and serving in war torn areas.

Before she retired in 2014, Butenis’ career took her to Sri Lanka,  Bangladesh, Poland, and India, among other stops. She was at the UI  through the Martin Institute.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Posted February 11, 2017



“World Builders” at U-Idaho’s IRIC

With the opening of the new Integrated Research and Innovation Center, or IRIC, on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, researchers like John Anderson now have space to work on large scale research projects. Idaho Public Radio’s Brandon Mahoney reports.



John Anderson is an associate professor for Virtual Technology and Design and he is currently working with students to research virtual architecture to merge technology with the science of art and design. They call themselves “world-builders.”

John Anderson: “Our program has grown to a point now 15 years later to where we teach a new design thinking to use virtual reality skills to create virtual products.”

With the rise of technology and resurgence of virtual reality, Anderson said there’s no doubt that this technology will significantly impact commerce and the way we live.

I’m Brandon Mahoney reporting.

Reporters Kara Billington, Alec Sullivan, and Marisa Casella also contributed to this story.

Photo: Alec Sullivan

Posted February 10, 2017