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ski season webNo impact seen on ski season from furloughs

A group representing the nation’s ski industry said it expects no major impact on this year’s ski season because of federal furloughs, even though about a third of the more than 350 resorts are located on federal land regulated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Michael Berry, spokesman for the National Ski Areas Association, said Oct. 7 that most expansion projects and construction that require federal approval have been completed as opening days approach in the $6 billion a year industry. Delays could occur as a result of other projects in the pipeline, he said.

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area near Boise uses private land and leases federal land in the Boise National Forest, and Sun Valley Resort also operates on private and leased land.

Berry said he talked with Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell to clarify how the shutdown would affect the 121 ski areas operating on federal land and was assured resort leases are not immediately affected.

“The fact of the matter is, this will have no impact on ski area operations. Having said that, there are certain things in progress, and Forest Service furloughs may slow things like that down,” he said.

The Associated Press

Idaho rep questions legality of same-sex tax rules

A state lawmaker contends Idaho’s tax collectors risk violating the U.S. Constitution by requiring same-sex couples who are legally married elsewhere to do extra work when filing state income taxes.

Boise Democratic Rep. John Gannon, a lawyer, says litigation in Ohio suggests Idaho’s new rules requiring married gay couples to recalculate state taxes as singles after filing joint federal returns could be vulnerable.

Recently, an Ohio federal judge ordered the state to recognize a gay couple’s marriage in New York despite Ohio’s constitutional ban.

The judge’s rationale was Ohio recognizes opposite-sex marriages contracted elsewhere but otherwise illegal in Ohio.

Idaho follows a similar policy, Gannon says, making it potentially discriminatory now to single out gay couples on their taxes returns.

The Idaho Tax Commission contends its new rules are legal.

The Associated Press

Ancient microscopic animals thrive in Idaho lakes

The jellyfish-like blobs that have turned up in Hayden Lake and other northern Idaho waters this year might be a little disconcerting, but they aren’t anything to worry about.

That’s what Idaho Department of Agricultural officials have to say about the gelatinous colonies of microscopic animals that group together like coral — and which appear to be proliferating in the region this year.

The Spokesman-Review reports that residents of Hayden Lake sometimes see these bryozoans (bri-a-zoh-ans) free-floating in the water, where they take on the appearance some say is akin to alien life forms.

Really, though, they’re just part of the varied chain of life that teems below the surface of the water.

Far from harmful, these blobs suck up algae and decaying organic material.

That benefits water quality.

The Associated Press

Idaho’s Museum of Clean also green, DEQ says

An Idaho cleaning entrepreneur’s museum celebrating his industry’s not-so-spotless history is also green.

The Idaho Division of Environmental Quality gave the Museum of Clean in Pocatello its “2013 Pollution Prevention Champion Award.”

Don Aslett, the owner of Varsity Cleaners and founder of the museum, says he remodeled the 1915 building that houses his ode to cleaning through the years with the environment in mind, using special non-reflective windows and energy-saving LED lighting.

The Idaho State Journal reports Aslett reduced his environmental footprint by capturing rainwater and using it for irrigation and flushing the toilets.

The museum opened in 2011 and includes old toilets, vintage vacuums and descriptions of the consequences of poor urban hygiene: vermin-infested 18th-century cities where disease-plagued residents huddled together in dirt and squalor.

The Associated Press

Idaho revenue in September jumps ahead of forecast

Idaho saw a jump in tax revenue in September, a month when collectors raked in $16 million more than forecasts and put the state’s finances ahead of schedule amid a steadily recovering economy.

Total monthly receipts were $263 million, or 6.4 million more than forecasts.

The Division of Financial Management reported Oct. 8 that Idaho’s tally three months into fiscal year 2014 is just more than $700 million, or about 1.6 percent more than forecasts.

Nearly every revenue category exceeded expectations, led by individual income taxes that came in at $111 million for the month.

Collections from individual income taxes have exceeded predictions in all three months of the year.

Additionally, September sales tax collections of $104.5 million also bested forecasts, a sign shoppers were out in force at stores across Idaho.

The Associated Press

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