Dec. 04--BOISE -- Need a whopper of a gift idea for the outdoors enthusiast on your list? Idaho Fish and Game has one: A lifetime of Idaho hunting or fishing -- or both.
Fish and Game has been offering lifetime license certificates since the late 1980s, and since 1995, they've sold 7,895 of them. The lifetime certificates can be purchased only at Fish & Game regional offices or their state headquarters; they vary in price depending on age. "Occasionally people will come in and buy a lifetime license certificate for a child," said spokesman Niels Nokkentved. "It's a pretty good deal if you're a young person, not so good perhaps if you're a senior citizen."
The prices: For kids up to 1 year old, $276.75 for hunting only, $601.75 for fishing only, $795.50 for combination. That jumps up to $386.75 for hunting only for ages 2 to 50 years, $841.75 for fishing only or $1,113 combo; or, for ages 51 and older, $221.75 for hunting only, $481.75 for fishing only, or $636.75 for combo. Lifetime license holders who move out of state can keep their licenses, but must pay the nonresident tag and permit fees; tag and permit fees aren't included with the license certificates.
The agency has sold 296 lifetime certificates so far this year, up from 294 last year but down from 2009's 343. The times when they've been most popular: Just after the announcement -- but before the effective date -- of a fee increase. Gift certificates also are available for annual hunting and fishing licenses, if you're not that big a spender.
Idaho AARP now says it'll push to establish a state consumer utility advocate during the legislative session that starts in January, after the idea was passed over in revisions to the Idaho Energy Plan recently approved by a joint legislative committee.
"It's clear whose voice was heard and whose wasn't," said Jim Wordelman, state director for AARP in Idaho. "Idaho utility companies were really the only ones opposed to creating a stronger voice and presence for consumers by establishing an office to advocate on their behalf."
The senior citizens group wants the new office to advocate for consumers in rate cases before the Public Utilities Commission and the courts. Idaho is the only western state that doesn't have one. A motion in the Energy, Environment and Technology Interim Committee to explore the concept as part of the state's energy plan revisions failed on an 8-4 vote.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is proposing to phase out the state's end-stage renal disease program, a fully state-funded program that serves 169 participants, has 39 people on its waiting list and has a $527,700 budget.
A new Office of Performance Evaluations report on the program supports that move, finding that the program created in 1970 now duplicates other programs and no longer matches the mission of the agency under which it exists, the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
It was created when dialysis treatment and kidney transplants were relatively new procedures and weren't covered by insurance; now, end-stage renal disease is covered by Medicare, though the state program covers uncovered expenses such as medications, travel expenses for treatment, insurance premiums and limited transplant services.
Otter is recommending phasing out the program by June 30, 2013, to allow participants time to make other arrangements.
Jim Hawkins, the North Idaho businessman who was Idaho's groundbreaking commerce director from 1987 to 1996 and who was appointed to senior positions by three different Idaho governors, is back as a volunteer consultant to new Idaho Department of Commerce chief Jeff Sayer. "Jim's playing a key role," Sayer said. "He's been a mentor to me."
The Boise City Council last week enacted a far-reaching anti-smoking ordinance, banning smoking in all bars in the city, at most outdoor patio dining areas, near bus stops or lineups, in public parks and within 20 feet of the city's Greenbelt path. Idaho already bans smoking statewide in restaurants and most workplaces, but neighboring states Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah go further, banning smoking statewide in bars as well.
According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, which tracks smoke-free laws, as of Oct. 7, there were 479 U.S. municipalities that banned smoking in all restaurants, bars and non-hospitality workplaces; Boise now joins that list. Prior to the council's action, Idaho was one of just 12 states whose capital city still permitted smoking in bars.
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