Governmental and political activity kicked into high gear last week in Boise and in Washington. The Idaho Legislature started its annual session, and members of Congress got busy on several fronts.
On January 9 the Idaho Legislature convened for its 2017 session and began work on budget and revenue matters and on review of state regulations. The session was started, for the 11th time, by a state of the state address by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Representative Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, was removed by action of the House from the three committees to which she had been assigned, after word spread of comments she had made to another legislator.
In a joint letter led by Senator Jim Risch, the Idaho congressional delegation thanked the Department of Energy for diligently reopening the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico, which was closed for nearly three years following a radiation incident in 2014. The delegation urged Secretary Moniz to prioritize waste coming from Idaho’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant as DOE establishes a shipment schedule for waste going to WIPP.
The Bureau of Land Management Pocatello Field Office and U.S. Forest Service Caribou-Targhee National Forest on January 13 issued their separate records of decision for the Rasmussen Valley Mine Project to approve an open pit phosphate mine in Caribou County, Idaho. The selected alternative will preserve 1,700 jobs supported by the project and generate approximately $85 million per year for the local economy in Caribou County.
Representative Raúl Labrador on January 12 moved to relieve Idaho’s overloaded federal courts by introducing a bill authorizing a third U.S. District judge. Since 2015, Idaho has had just one full-time district court judge and the Judicial Conference of the United States has declared a judicial emergency. To fill the gap, 17 judges from other states have presided over Idaho cases in the last four years.
Idaho National Laboratory released the “INL Fiscal Year 2016 Economic Impact Summary,” which evaluates the total economic impact that INL operations have on Idaho’s economy. The report demonstrates that INL contributes a positive value of $1.9 billion to Idaho’s total economic output – an increase of 20.4 percent or nearly $324 million between 2015 and 2016.
PHOTO Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter delivers his 2017 state of the state address. Here, e recognizes Barbara Morgan, Idaho’s first medal of achievement recipient. (photo/Governor Otter)