Monthly Archives: December 2018

Wasden Issues Warning about Imposter Scams

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says there’s been a surge in imposter scams targeting Idaho residents. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley has more on that. (1:02)

Listen:

Wasden says his office’s Consumer Protection Division has seen a significant increase in the number of Idaho residents targeted by these imposter scams– in which a scammer pretends to be someone they’re not in order to get money.

Here’s a piece of audio from an actual scam call:

Audio :16

The Attorney General released audio samples of the scam calls to try to raise awareness. Common scams in Idaho have included a caller posing as a grandchild in trouble, a caller posing as the IRS, and a caller claiming a warrant has been issued for the target’s arrest.

Wasden’s office says that if you are contacted by these scammers, treat each call from an unknown number with skepticism, and let unknown calls go to voicemail and hang up on suspicious callers right away.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Posted December 14, 2018

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Idaho’s Proposed School Funding Formula: “Definitely a Concern”

Moscow Superintendent of Schools Greg Bailey says the new funding formula being proposed for Idaho public schools is “definitely a concern.”

“The funding formula that’s being talked about down at Boise is definitely a concern that every superintendent in the state has, because it’s got winners and losers in that process,” Bailey said at a ‘Legislative Send Off’ hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce on December 11.

The event was held as a preview of the upcoming legislative session, which convenes January 7.

“When you’re at rock bottom, it’s tough to lose any more,’ Bailey told District 5 lawmakers, including Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, Rep. Bill Goesling, and Sen. David Nelson.

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A legislative panel worked for almost three years on revising the current formula, which is based on attendance. The proposed formula adopted by the panel in late November would base funding on enrollment.

As we reported on November 26, Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke made the motion to approve the new proposal. “What we have here is a very powerful tool,”  Bedke said. “Anyone that’s been engaged here can see how adaptive this is, and I think that it has enough dials available to germane committees to adapt this, to morph our policy over time, to get into this new brave new world of funding by the student and not by the support unit.”

Sen. Chuck Winder, co-chair of the interim committee, said the committee’s work had been in “trying to figure out a way to modernize our school funding formula.”

Lawmakers on the panel made certain to note that the interim panel was only making recommendations. The final decision will be made by the full legislature, starting with the House and Senate Education Committees.

Newly elected District 5 State Rep. Bill Goesling will serve on the House Education Committee. His previous experience includes time on the Idaho State Board of Education, the Moscow School Board, and the Idaho State Charter School Commission.

In an interview with Idaho Public Radio, Bailey said, “We understand why they want to do the new funding formula. We support them on that. We’re just saying, you need to re-look at this, because it’s going to harm a lot of schools, which then puts more burden on our local taxpayers.”

Bailey said Moscow, Lewiston, and Orofino are among the school districts that will take a budget hit under the proposal. He said the school district will meet with legislators to express concerns, and school and education associations will be talking with lawmakers, as well.

Also at the Moscow Chamber of Commerce event, Bailey told lawmakers he’s concerned with facilities in the state. “We have a bond requirement of a 2/3 vote, as well as very minimal support from the state– if we do pass a bond, no matching funds, which causes our local taxpayers to really have to struggle to build a new facility.”

Bailey said Moscow High School is 79 years old, Russell Elementary School in Moscow is 90 years old, and the newest school building in Moscow is 50 years old.

“We’re just wanting you to maybe consider looking at either reducing the supermajority, or supporting our local communities by matching dollars,” Bailey told lawmakers.

Posted December 13, 2018

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Moscow Chamber Releases 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey

The Moscow Chamber of Commerce has released its 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey.

The survey asked chamber members about the issues they see as important to the local area. 53 members responded.

“Overriding themes– education, a lot of interest in developing a career technical education strategy for Moscow and Latah County, lots of priority around transportation,” Paul Kimmell of Avista Utilities and the Palouse Basin Water Summit, said at a “Legislative Send Off” event on December 11. “As well as airport support, aquaculture support…local option got a lot of support, as well.”

Chamber

(Photo: A ‘Legislative Send Off’ event was held December 11, 2018.)

Survey highlights:

  • On environmental priorities, members listed protecting the Palouse Basin Aquifer System as a high priority.
  • Transportation on roads and bridges was seen as a high priority, as well as increasing funding for roads and bridges.
  • Career and Technical Education was seen as a high priority.
  • State funding for school facilities was a high priority for members.

Kimmell urged everyone to take some time to go through the survey. “We really appreciated the responses. We really think it has a lot of value and we’ll share that with our legislators and really shape a lot of our priorities around what we heard from our chamber members.”

“I’m excited to see what the survey has to say,”  Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy said at the chamber event. “It really informs me, the surveys you have done in the past.”

Kimmel said conference calls will be held with local legislators every other week during the upcoming session. District 5 and District 6 lawmakers will be included.

The Idaho Chamber Alliance’s legislative days event is tentatively scheduled for February 4-5 at the Idaho State Capitol. A legislative tour for Moscow representatives will be included, and meetings with state agencies and the governor’s office will be held.

The Idaho State Legislature convenes January 7.

You can see the 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L1tiKA2AHR6WZVnzIcqd-YVADseR1KeO/view

Posted December 12, 2018

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Legislative Send Off

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

Medicaid expansion, the state budget, and broadband were among the topics as Idaho District 5 state lawmakers spoke about the upcoming legislative session during a ‘Legislative Send Off’ hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce on December 11.

Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R), who will serve on JFAC, the budget writing committee, says there’s concern about tax collections. “They’re estimating there’s between 30,000 and 40,000 residents of Idaho who are under-reporting on their taxes, and instead of getting a tax rebate, they’re going to get a tax bill,” she said. “A lot of folks spend money at Christmas and make it up with their tax returns, and I’m really concerned about those folks.”

(The Idaho Tax Commission says recent tax laws have changed the amount of income taxes withheld from paychecks. Those who did not make a withholding adjustment “could have an unexpected tax bill” when filing the 2018 income tax return.)

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(Photo: District 5 State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, December 11, 2018)

(The Idaho Division of Financial Management says the current fiscal year shortfall in state tax revenues versus what was forecast is $62.9 million, 4.3% lower than the forecast.)

Troy said one of the ways legislative leaders are talking about funding the Medicaid expansion approved by voters is to capture all of the funding from the Millennium Fund. “Which is unfortunate,” she said, “because that’s really been helpful keeping some of these recovery centers going across the state.

“I think they’re going to look to the counties. They feel very clearly that in the Idaho Constitution the counties have a constitutional responsibility for indigent care, and so they’re going to look to the counties for the money that the counties have been spending for those folks that are in the gap or indigent care and try to capture that,” Troy said.

(The Idaho State Treasurer says the Idaho Millennium Fund “was established as an endowment fund to receive, invest, and disburse funds that the State of Idaho is receiving as a result of the master settlement agreement reached with tobacco companies.”)

Rep. Troy will also serve as vice-chair of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee and on the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.

District 5 has two new legislators in the Idaho State Legislature, Rep. Bill Goesling (R) and Sen. David Nelson (D).

“I’m very excited to be your senator,” Nelson said.

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(Photo: District 5 State Sen. David Nelson, December 11, 2018)

Nelson noted that all three lawmakers will serve on agriculture committees, and said “Rural Latah ought to benefit.”

Nelson will also serve on the Senate Transportation Committee. “I have to say I heard more about transportation during my election when I was talking to folks out in Moscow than I heard about any other issue,” he said. “I’m awfully glad that Highway 95 south is in progress.”

Nelson, who will also serve on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said his biggest priority is Proposition 2, Medicaid expansion, saying he will “work hard to make sure we don’t put any extensive bureaucratic hurdles into doing it.”

Rep. Bill Goesling told the gathering that the recent North Idaho Legislative Tour was “fantastic,”  but added that “What really surprised me the most was the lack of knowledge by some of our people from down south.” He said the tour really helps to open eyes and that in two years it will be in Lewiston.

“I was also very much impressed with the cooperation between the University of Idaho, LCSC, and North Idaho College,” Goesling said, referring to programs being offered in the Coeur d’Alene area. “Phenomenal facilities we have up there and it’s really working well.”

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(Photo: District 5 State Rep. Bill Goesling, December 11, 2018)

Goesling said that when he attended the recent orientation in Boise for new legislators, he was “totally blown away by the quality of the individuals” who work for the state. “You could walk into research and say ‘I would like a bill on this subject’ and they take off and they go on it.”

Goesling will serve on the House committees on education, agriculture, and judiciary, rules and administration.

On implementing the new Medicaid law, Goesling spoke about reaching across the aisle, saying, “I’m a firm believer that a healthy workforce is a healthy economy.”

Goesling also discussed improving broadband services. “The one thing that I really would like to work on is broadband,” he said. “We really need to look at our broadband services across the state.”

The lawmakers, local officials and local business leaders committed to staying in regular contact throughout the legislative session, which convenes January 7 with the State of the State Address by new Governor Brad Little. JFAC gets started on January 8.

 

Posted December 12, 2018

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Could biodegradable plastic mulch help the environment and increase yield?

Current research shows that U.S. agriculture uses about a billion pounds of plastic every
year, and much of it ends up in landfills, rivers, oceans, our food, beverages and bodies.
 
A multi-university partnership is studying whether the use of biodegradable plastic
mulches can increase the sustainability of specialty crop production.
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(Photo: Researchers lay mulch at Boxx Berry Farm in Ferndale, where WSU researchers are studying biodegradable mulches. Photo courtesy WSU.)
WSU Associate Professor Jessica Goldberger leads the Technology Adoption Working
Group, one of seven teams collaborating in a USDA National Institute of Food and
Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative project.
 
Biodegradable plastic mulches offer the potential to control weeds, retain moisture, and
boost farm yields, but many farmers are hesitant to adopt them because of concerns over
uncertainty, risk and aesthetics.
 
Part of the group’s work focuses on understanding farmers’ attitudes and acceptance of
biodegradable mulches.
 
Ongoing research includes looking at standards, best practices, ways to better attract
organic farmers, and the presence of microplastics in agricultural ecosystems.
 
As past president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, Goldberger
delivered an address to that Society this past June. “So what can we do about agricultural
plastic pollution?
 
“A recent World Bank publication describes five mitigation strategies: recycling, waste-to-
energy, biodegradable plastics, product and process innovation, and improved collection
and waste management,” she said in the address, according to the published remarks.
 
Goldberger said, “Lastly, all of us—as human beings living in the Plastic Age—should take
stock of the role of plastics in our day-to-day lives and consider changes to our
relationship with plastics.”
 
More on the work being done by the USDA project:
Posted December 10, 2018
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