Idaho moves to intervene in sage grouse lawsuit. Gov. Brad Little, the State of Idaho, and Idaho Legislature have intervened in a federal lawsuit to defend the federal Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recently-adopted sage grouse plan amendments.

The BLM plan amendments are based on the Idaho plan developed with a thorough process involving a broad variety of stakeholder groups including the state, land users, and conservation groups.

Four environmental litigation groups, including three out-of-state groups and Hailey-based Western Watersheds Project, asked for an injunction last week to block Idaho's sage grouse plan.

“A diverse set of stakeholders and experts worked tirelessly to develop a state plan that meets the needs of sage grouse in Idaho,” Little said. “I am confident the court will recognize that our plan strikes the appropriate balance between conservation and multiple use.”

The State of Idaho devoted significant time and resources working with federal agencies to develop a locally-tailored plan that protects and enhances sage grouse habitat in Idaho, while also maintaining predictable levels of land use.

“Preservation of state-managed species is best accomplished collaboratively and with the support of those stakeholders impacted. Idaho’s plan exemplifies that philosophy,” Little added. “Challenging Idaho’s collaborative plan for sage grouse recovery is short-sighted and discourages states and stakeholders from working together to develop these types of plans in the future.”

Idaho and Oregon sign Hells Canyon Complex agreement. The States of Idaho and Oregon have signed a settlement agreement for the Hells Canyon Complex, representing a monumental step toward Idaho Power’s reauthorization to operate three Snake River dams.

The agreement represents the culmination of decades-long negotiations between Idaho, Oregon, and Idaho Power. The parties have been working since 2005 to resolve disagreements on water quality and fish passage along the portion of the Snake River that is shared by Idaho and Oregon.

In 2016, it appeared the parties were at an impasse, but both states and the company agreed to one-last effort to resolve the outstanding issues.

“This long-awaited agreement supplies clean, affordable energy for Idahoans, improves water quality, and provides additional fish for recreational and tribal ceremonial purposes,” Gov. Brad Little said.

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Idaho Power will implement significant investments in water quality projects, resulting in cleaner, colder water flowing downstream. In addition, the company will increase production at its Rapid River Hatchery, enabling 800,000 additional chinook salmon to bolster state and tribal fishing opportunities in the future. In return, Oregon will not require fish passage as a condition of its water quality certification for the operation of the Hells Canyon Dams.

Canyon County announces series of educational jail bond town halls. A series of public town halls have been scheduled throughout the next month, leading up to election day on May 21 when Canyon County voters will cast their ballots on a proposed jail bond to accommodate the County’s growing need for additional jail space. 

The six educational town halls will take place throughout the County, providing an opportunity for all residents to get their questions answered before they cast their ballot on the third Tuesday in May.

Town Halls include:

May 6              Middleton at 7:00pm

Trolley Station

310 Cornell St.

May 8              Parma and Notus at 7:00pm

                                    Parma Rural Fire Protection District

29200 US-95

May 9              Melba at 7:00pm

                                    Tower Theatre Friend’s Center

321 Carrie Rex Ave

May 13            Nampa at 6:00pm

Nampa Public Library

215 12th Ave S.

May 14            Wilder and Greenleaf at 7:00pm

                                    Wilder Rural Fire Protection District

601 Patriot Way

May 15            Caldwell at 7:00pm

                                    Canyon County Administration Building, 1st floor

111 N. 11th Ave.

Little outlines process to keep administrative rules in effect. Gov. Brad Little has started laying out his plan to ensure existing administrative rules remain in effect following the Idaho Legislature’s decision not to reauthorize the rules during the 2019 legislative session.

“The efficient operation of state government is a priority of mine, and the people of Idaho expect it,” Little said. “I have directed my administration to exercise necessary executive authority to minimize the impact on state agencies – and the public most importantly – as we work to address this unique circumstance.”

The Idaho Administrative Code has the full force of law. At the beginning of the year, it included 736 chapters and 8,278 pages of regulations and at least 72,000 total restrictions. The Idaho Legislature in the past has reauthorized all existing rules at the end of the legislative session but did not do so this year. As a result, Little must use executive administrative action to ensure rules remain in effect after July 1, 2019.

The majority of existing rules will be reauthorized before July 1. Agencies will re-publish the rules as “temporary and proposed rules” concurrently in a special edition of the Idaho Administrative Bulletin in June 2019. Agencies will accept written comments in accordance with state law. All rules reauthorized through this process are subject to legislative review during the 2020 legislative session.

Little’s administration will use the unique opportunity to allow some chapters of Idaho Administrative Code that are clearly outdated and irrelevant to expire on July 1, 2019. An agency must notify the Division of Financial Management (DFM) if it identifies a rule that could be eliminated. DFM will solicit public comment on any proposed rule elimination. Little ultimately will make the decision before July 1 whether to let a rule expire.

“I did not ask for this and did not want this,” Little said. “However, I will use all authority I have to ensure our state government continues to operate smoothly and the administrative rules remain in effect without interruption.”

Gov. Little’s calendar this week

MONDAY, April 29, 2019

Governor Little will provide opening remarks at the Idaho Statewide Cybersecurity Interdependencies Summit at the Riverside Hotel at 8:30 a.m.

Governor Little will speak at the Boise Metro Chamber’s 2019 Leadership Conference at the Sun Valley Resort at 12:15 p.m.

TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 

Governor Little will speak at the Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership’s Shared Stewardship: Building a Common Vision for Idaho workshop at the Idaho Water Center, 322 E Front Street, Boise, Idaho, at 9 a.m.

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2019

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Lincoln Auditorium at 12 p.m.

THURSDAY, May 2, 2019

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for a National Day of Prayer on the Capitol Steps at 12 p.m.