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Latest Idaho news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MST

TELEHEALTH-IDAHO

Bill to help with rural Idaho healthcare heads to Senate

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation to make it easier for Idaho residents in rural areas to get healthcare using email and other methods is headed to the Senate. The House voted Wednesday to approve the measure that deletes a requirement that two-way audio and visual be used. Backers say the legislation will allow residents in rural areas with poor cellphone and internet service to more easily communicate with doctors. Those opposed say the new system does not create enough of a patient-doctor relationship to provide good medical care.

WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUITS-IDAHO

Bill sets $370,000 limit on Idaho whistleblower lawsuits

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Whistleblower lawsuits against Idaho would be limited to $370,000 in non-economic damages under proposed legislation. The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee on Wednesday voted to clear the way for a hearing on the measure brought forward by Republican Rep. Greg Chaney. There would be no limit for economic damages. The measure follows a federal whistleblower lawsuit that Idaho settled out of court in 2019 for $545,000. In that case, a former Idaho Department of Labor purchasing agent said the department retaliated against him and fired him for his efforts to stop employees from skirting purchasing rules.

TROUT FARM COMPANIES MERGE

2 Idaho-based trout farms combine in acquisition deal

FILER, Idaho (AP) — Idaho trout farm Riverence Holdings has announced the acquisition of its larger competitor Clear Springs Foods and now controls the majority of the market share in the state. Riverence founder and television writer David Kelley made the announcement Saturday. Officials say Riverence grows steelhead and rainbow trout eggs in Washington state and raises fish in land-based facilities in Idaho. Company officials say Clear Springs Foods has been producing rainbow trout along the Snake River in southern Idaho for more than 50 years. Company officials say the details of the purchase are not being publicized.

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES-IDAHO

Idaho presidential primary legislation heads to Senate

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation requiring voters to choose a political party three months before a presidential primary is headed to the Senate. The House voted 66-3 on Wednesday to approve the measure that would change current law that allows voters to switch parties right up to the day of the presidential primary. Democrats allow Democrats and unaffiliated voters to participate in their presidential primary. Republicans only allow Republicans to take part. The legislation replaced a previous version that would have retroactively put in place the 90-day requirement and potentially prevented thousands of voters from participating. The new legislation, if it becomes law, won’t take effect until this summer. 

WINE WAREHOUSES-IDAHO

Idaho wineries could get OK to store extra wine in state

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s wine industry won’t have to store extra wine in neighboring states under proposed legislation heading to the governor for his signature. The Senate on Wednesday voted 32-3 to approve the measure the state’s wine industry says would save it tens of thousands of dollars. Idaho has some 60 wineries. Idaho law doesn’t allow extra wine they produce they don’t have room for to be stored in Idaho. The legislation would allow the use of third-party bonded warehouses in Idaho that could store the wine. Backers say it would save Idaho wineries money while also creating new business in Idaho.

EDUCATION STANDARDS

House panel rejects Idaho math, science, English standards

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A House panel has rejected math, science and English standards used to make sure Idaho’s 300,000 students are meeting specific criteria. The House Education Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to reject the standards put forward by the Idaho State Board of Education. Opponents say the standards make kids lose interest in learning and made it nearly impossible for parents to help them with homework. Those in favor of retaining the standards said they’re needed to keep Idaho students competitive. The arcane administrative rules process involves both the House and Senate. The standards would remain in effect unless the Senate also removes them.  

The Associated Press