Thursday morning The Associated Press is hosting a legislative preview event in advance of the session that starts January 9th. We’ll be there liveblogging and you’ll be able to join the conversation at our homepage.
Here’s the agenda:
9:00 a.m. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter
10:00 a.m. Senate President Brent Hill, (R-Rexburg); House Speaker Lawerence Denney, (R-Midvale); House Minority Leader John Rusche, (D-Lewiston) and Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepaei (D-Pocatello) will discuss the upcoming session, with the budget likely to dominate the conversation. Moderated by AP Statehouse reporter John Miller.
11:00 a.m. To Exchange or Not to Exchange. The debate over Idaho’s acceptance of federal money to develop a state health insurance exchange is nothing new. Lawmakers debated for hours last year on a small federal grant to fund preliminary work on developing an exchange, a central component of the federal health care overhaul. Since then, Idaho has been awarded $30 million for development, and Gov. Otter has agreed to accept it, but Republican lawmakers have other ideas. Panelists include Rep. Vito Barbieri, (R-Dalton Gardens); Bill Deal, director of the Idaho Department of Insurance; and Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Moderated by AP Statehouse reporter John Miller.
Bogus Basin ski hill, when it had snow
The lack of snow is hurting Boise’s local ski hill. The Idaho Business Review reports Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area cut all year-round workers’ pay by 10 percent as it heads for the latest opening in the resort’s history. IBR.com reports the ski area will also eliminate hours and positions.
Bogus is usually covered in snow and in full operation at this time of year. But with almost no snowfall, and very limited snowmaking, the resort is closed and has lost an estimated $2 million so far in ticket sales.
In a board meeting with all of the resort’s year-round employees Jan. 2, General Manager Mike Shirley and Chief Financial Officer Alan Moore announced they’ll both work without pay “for an extended period.”
About a half-dozen other positions among the 35 year-round jobs at Bogus will also be eliminated, Shirley said Jan. 4. Cutting back on pay and staffing and deferring other payments will save the resort $600,000 or $700,000 this year, Shirley said.
The latest opening in Bogus history is Jan. 6. That happened in 1989. It appears likely Bogus will open later than that this year, as the National Weather Service 10-day forecast on Jan. 4 called for mostly cloudy skies but a low chance of precipitation. – Idaho Business Review
Other states that rely on the ski season to boost winter tourism are finding ways to lure skiers from snow-less states. Big Sky Resort near Bozeman, Montana posted this on its website, offering Epic Season Pass holders in Colorado the chance to ski free at Big Sky (which boasts 3,050 acres of snow covered ski hill) during the month of January.
Boise Metro Chamber / Flickr
The front steps of the Idaho State Capitol
During the 2011 Legislative session 423 lobbyists registered with the Idaho Secretary of State. Those lobbyists represent 569 different organizations ranging from the senior citizens lobby AARP to Idaho potato growers.
Most lobbyists and the organizations they represent are required to register with the Secretary of State and file monthly expense reports detailing how much they spent on lawmakers for things like entertainment, food, advertizing and travel expenses. Lobbyists aren’t required to report their salaries, personal expenses or any other expenses that are reimbursed by their employer.
Here’s a list of the 30 top spenders from the 2011 session, January through May. (Annual numbers will be released at the end of the month)