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Myths abound on both sides of wolf issue in Idaho
The wolf and coyote derby scheduled in Salmon Dec. 28-29 allowed both sides on the debate over wolves in Idaho to show their true colors, with ranchers tying their hatred of the predators to livestock deaths, despite the small fraction of deaths due to wolves, and environmental groups decrying the blood lust of the sport, denying the long tradition of hunting in the West.
Twin Falls Times-News 12/30/2013

Wyoming governor takes the right path on wildfire costs
At the Western Governors' Association's winter meeting, federal officials were taken by surprise by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and others offering to help shoulder more of the responsibility for wildfire prevention efforts, a good move given new federal budget constraints.
Casper Star-Tribune 12/19/2013

Decision on future of Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds should be transparent
With Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act apparently fatally stalled in Congress, there is now a growing discussion about designating the area a national monument, a discussion that should include all stakeholders.
Idaho Statesman 12/16/2013

Idaho needs regulations for homes in wildland-urban interface
Enough wildland firefighters have died trying to save homes from wildfires, and it's time that Idaho legislators and planners get the political will to put regulations in place that make homeowners in the wildland-urban interface responsible for creating defensible space around those homes.
Twin Falls Times-News 12/16/2013

House hearing on bullying by federal agencies a reach-back for facts
On Tuesday, Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop chaired a hearing of the House Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation entitled "Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies." Unfortunately for Bishop, the incidents discussed in the hearing were largely reported on in the 1990s. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman 11/2/2013

Federal public lands belong to all U.S. residents, not just neighbors
The federal government shutdown increased the call for states to assume control of federal public lands, with Arizona and Utah - with a little assistance from the American Legislative Exchange Council - crafting proposals for the states to take over national parks within their borders, but national parks are owned by all Americans, not just those who happen to live in the vicinity of the parks, and they should remain so.
Idaho Mountain Express 10/25/2013

Food industry should mull if labeling fight is worth it
Given that 23 states have considered, or will consider, legislation requiring labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients, and that the food industry itself has considered taking its opposition to such labeling to Congress, you'd think the industry would put pen to paper and figure out the cost-benefit, factor in the public's increasing demands to know more about food consumed, and decide just to go ahead and label the food.
Twin Falls Times-News 10/22/2013

Healthy Forests bill could mean less money for Idaho schools
The Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act passed by the U.S. House was sold on the premise that higher timber harvests in national forests would send more money flowing into the coffers of counties in Idaho and other states where those forests grow. But given the volatility of lumber prices and the financial inability of the U.S. Forest Service to actually move on approved timber harvests, those rural counties could actually get less money under the House-approved forest bill. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman 9/29/2013

Idaho to blame for being sidelined by megaload decision
During the first decade of this century, 95 oversized megaloads made their way along Highway 12 in Idaho with nary a word about the process, but then ExxonMobil announced it would move 200 such shipments, a decision Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter welcomed. Then came the protests and the state declined to get involved, which is now why the state does not control what happens on 100 miles of Highway 12.
Idaho Statesman 9/24/2013

Republican Party's internal battle shows itself in Idaho U.S. House race
The internal battle for control of the Republican Party has come to Idaho, with the rollout of campaign ads for Bryan Smith, the tea-party aligned challenger of Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson for the party's nomination in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District. The ads are patently false, in that they inaccurately state Simpson's votes on the Affordable Care Act.
Twin Falls Times News 9/13/2013

Idaho must return to using property taxes to fund education
Idaho's ill-advised plan to use a 1 percent sales tax to fund education rather than property taxes has proven to be a failure, and it's time to put property taxes back into the funding mix.
Twin Falls Times-News 8/28/2013

Idaho U.S. Rep. Simpson takes wiser course on budget showdown
While Idaho's U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador are firmly behind the Republican promise to shut the federal government down before they'll vote to fund the Affordable Care Act, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is acknowledging the real-life effects the GOP's "take-no-prisoners" stance will cause and has wisely stayed above the political fray.
Idaho Statesman 8/21/2013

Pilot program to serve Chobani yogurt in Idaho schools a win-win situation for state
Idaho U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo deserves kudos for working across the aisle with New York Sen. Charles Schumer to get Chobani Greek yogurt on the menu in several Idaho school districts, a pilot program that could spread through Idaho and other states, giving students a healthy option that may help combat a growing obesity problem.
Idaho Statesman 8/19/2013

Idaho's quest to manage federal lands laughable
State legislators will gather today in Boise to discuss ways to get control over federal lands and the natural resources on those lands, a quest that is a total waste of taxpayer money given that the state can't even foot the bill for handling its own lands and certainly would not be able to assume responsibility for firefighting costs on federal lands, and Idaho residents should tell their legislators to abandon this ill-advised effort. A column by Pete Zimowsky of the Idaho Statesman.
Idaho Statesman 8/9/2013

Idaho mustn't let Luna's heavy-handed approach scuttle Wi-Fi contract
The contract Tom Luna signed to provide Idaho high schools with a Wi-Fi network is a screaming deal for the state, as you can tell from the political rhetoric about the multiyear contract -- which focuses primarily on Luna's decision to forge ahead without getting consensus.
Idaho Statesman 8/2/2013

Idaho could craft a way to manage federal public lands
Next month, a legislative committee will begin meetings on Idaho taking over management of federal lands. Legislators should look at how such legislation in Arizona and Utah tried and failed to do so and start small, perhaps with a couple of parcels managed to federal standards. A column by Randy Stapilus, a former Idaho newspaper reporter and editor, author of The Idaho Political Field Guide, who blogs at blogs at
Twin Falls Times-News 7/20/2013

It may be a national monument or nothing for Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds
Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo have been working for years to protect the Boulder-White Clouds area as wilderness, but Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the state's other federal lawmakers do not support Simpson's Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, so protection of the area may depend entirely on its designation as a national monument. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman 7/15/2013

Designating Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds a national monument worth exploring
The Boulder-White Clouds area of central Idaho is a pretty special place and worthy of long-term protection, which U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has long fought for, but given congressional deadlock, it could be that President Barack Obama use of the Antiquities Act to designate the area a national monument may be the best route to take.
Idaho Statesman 7/15/2013

Idaho hardly the only state where wildlife commissions colored by politics
Earlier this year, the Idaho Senate declined to confirm Joan Hurlock, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's appointee to the state Fish and Game Commission, due in part to her lack of hatred toward wolves, and earlier this month, a Washington Senate committee apparently used that litmus test to torpedo Fish and Wildlife Commissioner David Jennings' confirmation. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman 6/24/2013

GOP proposal on vetting candidates will boost Idaho Democrats
At its meeting this weekend, the Idaho Republicans Central Committee must vote to jettison Rod Beck's proposal, which would require GOP candidates get party approval before entering races.
Idaho Statesman 6/14/2013

Idaho lawmaker's questioning of scholars highlight ESA divide
An exchange during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the federal Endangered Species Act between Idaho U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Reed Noss, who works on programs to protect habitat before listing, and Pat Parenteau, formerly director of Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center, provide a good example of the divide between those who believe in the need for federal protection of species and those who believe such protection is an overreach. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman 6/7/2013

Locals need to involve themselves in Idaho national monument debate
The clock is ticking on President Obama's term and his ability to designate a roadless area in the Boulder and White Clouds mountains in Idaho a national monument, and local officials from Sun Valley communities and Blaine County must not wait for an invitation to participate in the planning, but should instead seat themselves at the table to ensure local voices are heard in the debate.
Idaho Mountain Express 6/5/2013

Bedke finds silver lining in repeal of 'Luna laws'
House Speaker Scott Bedke says he's determined not to "repeat any of the mistakes of the past" in dealing with public education stakeholders. Teachers would be wise to heed his promise of a consensus approach to reform.
Idaho Statesman 4/10/2013

Say hello to smoke-filled rooms, sans smoke
Idaho Republicans are cooking on a scheme to have a state convention of party activists, rather than voters in primary elections, choose their candidates for elected office.
Lewiston Tribune 4/10/2013

Otter's on the rebound
Governor Otter came away from the 2013 legislative session with a genuinely robust list of accomplishments, but he hasn't forgotten the sting of his embarrassing defeats in 2008 and 2009, when he failed to convince fellow Republicans to invest in roads and bridges.
Idaho Statesman 4/9/2013

Another verse, same as the first
Despite outward signs of change - an unusually large number of freshman and a new House speaker who took office after ousting an incumbent - this year's lawmakers were very much the same kind of legislators, with very much the same outlook on the world, as have been there for two decades.
Idaho Statesman 4/8/2013

Legislature labored at length, but not for you
Idaho's lawmakers concluded 88 days of labor and closed down for the year. Unfortunately, they didn't accomplish much for the majority of Idaho's ordinary citizens and taxpayers, e.g., those whose children attend public schools, those who own homes and pay property taxes, those who own small businesses and pay sales taxes.
Lewiston Tribune 4/8/2013

Annual Report Card for Idaho Legislature
Yes, there were some silly, headline-grabbing proposals put forth by Gem State lawmakers this year, but when it came to things that will actually matter in Idahoans' daily lives, the state's legislative body did a fairly commendable job this year.
Idaho Press-Tribune 4/7/2013

Divisiveness takes toll during legislative session
Ideological differences among GOP lawmakers made for one of the most divisive sessions in memory, and with primary elections on the horizon, the 2014 session may be worse.
Idaho Statesman 4/7/2013

Idaho Legislature's resolution on federal lands won’t have impact
The legislature has passed a resolution urging the federal government to cede title of federally controlled lands in Idaho to state control. While the state does have a legitimate beef, the more effective route to local control would be Congressional action.
Idaho Press-Tribune 4/5/2013

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