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Local News 11/20/23

The leader of Idaho’s Senate has stripped another legislator of his committee leadership role in response to his conduct. Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder sent a letter to Sen. Brian Lenney of Nampa, notifying him that he would be removed as vice chair of the Commerce and Human Resources Committee because, Winder alleged, Lenney had “aggressively attacked, disparaged, and degraded fellow members of the Senate, members of Senate leadership, and members of the general public.”

Winter weather advisories were issued Sunday afternoon for much of East Idaho as a rainstorm that entered the region Saturday night intensified to include powerful winds and snow. Multiple wrecks, some involving injuries, were reported in the Bannock County area late Sunday afternoon as the rain shifted to snow and began accumulating on local roads.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.2% in October from 3.1% in September. The state’s labor force increased by 1,900 people to 971,208.

Customers' bills from Idaho Power could rise but not as much as initially expected. In June Idaho Power filed for an overall increase of $111 million, or 8.61%. If approved, this would have raised the average residential customer's rate, who uses 950 kilowatt hours a month, by $11.61 monthly – or about $140 per year. Now, the PUC is considering a settlement that would allow the utility an overall increase of $54.7 million. For the average residential customer, this would come out to a monthly increase of $4.44.

Leaders of education in the state are considering the pro’s and con’s of accepting federal money for schools. Currently that adds up to nearly $525.2 million. Opting out could buy a state some autonomy in areas such as testing. Idaho already struggling with a $66 million special education budget gap.

The University of Idaho-University of Phoenix megadeal cleared one regulatory hurdle this month. Phoenix’s accreditors have signed off on the deal, which would turn the giant for-profit online university into a nonprofit operating under the U of I’s umbrella. The U of I still needs the go-ahead from its own accreditors, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The case between the AG’s office and the Board of education is expected to go to trial within 3 months.

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