Business leaders back plan to create private health exchange
An Idaho health-insurance exchange, intended to be a one-stop shop for people seeking insurance under the Affordable Care Act, could become private instead of state-funded under a plan backed by some Idaho business leaders.
Idaho has run out of time to create a state-funded exchange, a consultant told a state task force. A private exchange, which could be a nonprofit organization, could be a free-market solution paid for by user fees or other private funds.
Animal-rights group documents harsh treatment of cows in dairy
Three former employees of Bettencourt Dairies face animal cruelty charges after undercover video showed workers beating and stomping cows at the state’s largest dairy in Murtaugh. Each worker faces a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail.
Owners Luis and Sharon Bettencourt said they were “appalled” at the video and fired five employees shown in the footage. The dairy works with cheese producers that work with fast-food restaurants. Wendy’s and Burger King have suspended relationships with the dairy.
Bruce Willis donates ski area
The Hollywood actor and his ex-wife, Demi Moore, bought Soldier Mountain Ski Area in the late 1990s. Now Willis is donating it to a newly formed nonprofit in Fairfield, 11 miles south of the ski area in Camas County.“I couldn’t be more pleased with the organization that will be responsible for the management of the Soldier Mountain Ski Area,” Willis said in a statement. “The community came together, established the SMSA organization, and now assures its continued success. It was exciting to see that the very people who ski at Soldier care so much about its future. I wish them the very best.”
Loan repayment plans aim to help young lawyers in public service
Rising student debt loads have pushed law-school graduates away from public-defender and prosecutor jobs that pay less than many private-sector ones. Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower says he’s lost some lawyers.
The problem is nationwide. Two federal programs have been set up in recent years. One caps repayments at 15 percent of income. The other forgives balances still outstanding after 10 years of payments made while the lawyer was in public service.
But the recession has worked in the public sector’s favor, since some lawyers are happy to get even relatively low-paying jobs, says Cassia County Prosecutor Al Barrus.
Tamarack suitor’s lawyer wants out of federal fraud case
Eagle lawyer Dennis Charney, told a federal court in Boise that he has had communication problems with his client, Matthew Hutcheson, also of Eagle. Hutcheson was charged this year with diverting $5 million from retirement accounts he oversaw to help pay for his failed bid to buy Tamarack Resort in Valley County.
Sheep die after grazing at closedIdaho phosphate open-pit mine
Ninety-five sheep were reported dead after eating plants at Monsanto’s Henry Mine near Soda Springs. Monsanto uses phosphate it obtains in Idaho in the production of Roundup herbicide. The animals likely died by eating western aster, which accumulates selenium from contaminated soil.
NNU receives Micron grant for new engineering program
The Micron Foundation gave Northwest Nazarene University $20,000 in start-up funds for the new bachelor of science program. Money will be used to help attract faculty, said David Alexander, NNU president.
Settlements boost state income
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office has recovered $23.7 million from 17 settlements of drug price-manipulation cases. The office has recovered another $23.7 million in 13 settlements of lawsuits alleging illegal marketing. And it has recovered $1.2 million in drug-industry antitrust settlements.
“We didn’t just file a 200-page complaint naming everybody and their dog with cameras rolling on the Statehouse steps,” Wasden said. “We said, ‘Come sit down and talk to us.’” Some companies did, resulting in out-of-court settlements. Some didn’t, resulting in lawsuits.