Albertsons returns to Idaho
The national chain of supermarkets started in Idaho by Joe Albertson is once again based in Boise, though it's controlled by a New York private equity firm.
Cerberus Capital Management and four minority partners acquired 887 Albertsons and other stores from Minnesota-based Supervalu in a $3.3 billion deal. Seven years earlier, Supervalu bought part of the Albertsons chain - including the Idaho stores - and several other banners owned by Boise's now-defunct Albertsons Inc. The Cerberus group bought the rest, closed most of them and ran the survivors - all in the South - from Albertson's LLC in Boise. Supervalu closed some stores, too, but couldn't make its Albertsons profitable.
A spokeswoman for the newly reunified chain says no changes are planned at local stores. Seven Boise employees have been laid off as part of an early restructuring.
Trader Joe's to open next year
Shoppers, get your baskets ready for some Two Buck Chuck and wacky snacks.
After months of no comments, Trader Joe's confirmed to the Statesman that it will open a market in Downtown Boise at Front Street and Capitol Boulevard. Spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki says the store will open sometime in 2014. The 13,000-square-foot store will anchor a development with three smaller stores, including a 2,500-square-foot drive-through business.
Hospital prices ignite hospital clash with national insurer group
A study by the insurance trade group America's Health Insurance Plans placed Idaho and the Treasure Valley in the Top 10 nationally for rises in hospital-inpatient prices.
AHIP said Treasure Valley prices had spiked more than 11 percent between 2008 and 2010. But the Idaho Hospital Association and St. Luke's Health System challenged the study. They said that when adjusted for the severity of procedures done in hospitals, the Treasure Valley had a 6.4 percent increase, in line with the national average. St. Luke's officials attribute some of the increase to recent changes in pricing that are intended to better reflect the higher costs of hospitalization and lower costs of outpatient care.
Micron loses $286 million, but shows improved performance
Micron Technology Inc. reported its seventh straight quarterly loss.
But behind the numbers are some bright spots.
The company lost $23 million in operating income, down from $204 million a year ago. Sales were up in two of its biggest memory-chip lines.
In the near future, the company will increase its production capacity by 90 percent without seeing the semiconductor market grow any larger, which could be good for the company if prices improve, an analyst says.
Amalgamated, Crapo aim to safeguard federal sugar supports
Languishing sugar prices have some in Congress aiming to rethink or reduce a decades-old federal program that allows producers to "forfeit" their crop to the government rather than repay federal loans when sugar prices drop below certain levels.
Boise-based Amalgamated Sugar has some federal loans outstanding, CEO Vic Jaro told the Idaho Statesman. He declined to say how much money those loans represent and wouldn't comment on the possibility of selling sugar to the government.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, "will oppose any bill or amendment to a bill that would phase out or do away with the program," says his press secretary, Judd Deere.
Health exchange passes Legislature
A politically charged debate over the federal health law did not stop Idaho lawmakers from approving a state-based nonprofit health exchange. It passed through the Senate and is headed to Gov. Butch Otter, who supports it. Business interests across Idaho also backed the bill. They say it will keep more control over the one-stop shop for health insurance in the hands of Idahoans than a federal exchange would have.
Tanning bill dies
A bill to put restrictions on the use of tanning beds by children younger than 16 years old was defeated in the House. It was the second year the Legislature refused to makes rules for tanning beds used by young people.
Make way for big trucks
A bill to put big trucks on more Idaho roads passed the House 49-18. It has already passed the Senate. The bill is backed by the timber industry. It allows trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on more Idaho roads. Opponents say the proposal could cause safety problems.
House narrowly OKs private school tax credit
Backers say the bill, which could grant up to $10 million annually in tax credits, provides for more school choice. Businesses and individuals who donate to religious and private schools could reduce their tax liability by half. The vote was 35-33. Two lawmakers were absent: Republican Reps. Fred Wood of Burley and Frank Henderson of Post Falls.
Committee limits garnishments
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously approved a bill that would limit garnishments from the Idaho Tax Commission to 25 percent of a worker's pay. There is no limit now. Lawmakers accused the agency of being too aggressive. Tax Commission policy manager Mike Chakarun says the agency could live with the limit.
Medicaid expansion goes on hold
Lawmakers won't get to a proposal to expand Medicaid this session, says House Speaker Scott Bedke. Lawmakers don't have enough time left in the session to tackle the issue. Expanding Medicaid could mean a $478 million reduction in county property taxes for Idaho residents through 2024, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.