IDAHO EDUCATION NETWORK
Legislators grill Luna on IEN funding fracas
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The worst-case-scenario for Idaho's embattled school broadband program could involve the Idaho Education Network going dark and leaving the state on the hook for more than $13 million, lawmakers learned Monday.
Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna said a federal agency providing three-fourths of the network funding is still determining if the department's contract is illegal.
The federal government has withheld funding since March 2013 as a lawsuit pends, and could refuse to fund another Idaho program even if the contract is rebid.
The Department of Administration opted to renew provider Education Networks of America 's contract last year - a year early - without informing lawmakers.
Luna says Idaho could be eligible to get a waiver for the owed money, because the funds weren't lost through fraud or abuse.
Lawmaker panel passes sobriety testing bill
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A bill that would allow Idaho judges to require alcohol breath testing twice a day for some probationers is headed to the full Senate.
The bill sponsored by Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Luke Malek gives counties the option to take part in the program by placing special alcohol breath testing units in central locations like sheriff's departments or county courthouses. Judges would then have the option to require people who were convicted of drug or alcohol related crimes to prove sobriety by undergoing twice-daily testing while on probation.
Proponents say the program allows for swift intervention and gives judges greater flexibility. For instance, someone convicted of drunken driving could be allowed to keep their license while on probation as long as the twice-daily tests show they are staying sober.
PAY DAY LOAN
Bill to help payday loan borrowers passes Senate
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A plan to give people who use payday loans more leeway in settling their debt passed the Idaho Senate.
The bill, which passed 21-13 Monday, would let borrowers set up a payment plan to return the money if they get behind.
It also blocks lenders from piling fees and interest onto the remaining balance if borrowers opt for the payment plan.
The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Sen. Lee Heider, says it can provide an out for someone "caught in a lending cycle."
But Nampa Republican Sen. Todd Lakey said he didn't think the government should be tasked with protecting people from their own decisions.
Other opponents argued it could unfairly target small lenders with less ability to stretch their loans.
The bill now heads to the House.
2 injured when pipe bomb explodes outside house
BONNERS FERRY, Idaho (AP) - A pipe bomb exploded outside the front door of a Bonners Ferry residence over the weekend, injuring two men.
Police Chief Bob Boone says 19-year-old Allen Avery was arrested on suspicion of possession of an explosive device.
Police received a call at 1:18 a.m. Sunday about the explosion. The two injured men said they opened the door, saw the pipe bomb and closed the door as it exploded. The two men were treated and released from the hospital.
Boone says an investigation by local, state and federal officials led to Avery's arrest.
NAMPA PEDESTRIAN DEATH
Nampa man struck, killed by van
NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - A Nampa man was struck and killed by a van while crossing the street.
Police say the 37-year-old man was crossing the street just before 8 p.m. Sunday when he was struck by a passenger van. He died at the scene.
Officers don't believe alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, which is still under investigation.
The victim's name was being withheld until family members could be notified.
No charges have been filed.
Number of oil trains likely to increase
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - The number of oil trains moving through north Idaho is expected to increase in coming years, raising fears of a catastrophic accident.
BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas says they move an average of 1.5 loaded oil trains through north Idaho each day. The trains roll through Sandpoint, Athol, Rathdrum and Hauser from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and Montana to coastal refineries.
The Coeur d'Alene Press reported that an oil train typically has about 100 rail cars and each car holds about 29,000 gallons.
Union Pacific, the other railroad that transports commodities through the Idaho Panhandle, carries crude that is interspersed with other products. That's according to spokesman Aaron Hunt.
Melonas said the volume of oil trains coming through North Idaho is expected to increase.
Idaho utility: Oregon line not likely until 2020
ONTARIO, Ore. (AP) - Idaho Power Co. says a proposed line to carry electricity from the Columbia River region across Eastern Oregon to western Idaho is not expected to be in service until 2020 or later.
The Ontario Argus Observer reports the utility company published its estimate in a newsletter.
Idaho Power's preliminary state application in Oregon said the high-voltage line would be 305 miles long: 281 miles in Oregon, beginning at Boardman, and 24 in Idaho, ending at Melba.
The company says it doesn't have enough transmission capacity to buy more power during peak use on the western side of its system.
The state siting agency is reviewing the application. Some farmers and ranchers have objected to putting the line on land zoned exclusively for farms.
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