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Cows stand in a field in 2012 at a dairy farm in Westville, N.Y. Dairy farmers continue to face financial stress as prices paid to them continues to fall well below their cost of production. Following the suicide of a member farmer in January 2018, some Northeast dairy farmers received a list of mental health services and a suicide prevention hotline from their dairy cooperative, along with their milk checks.

Humane societies push new legislation for Idaho pets

BOISE — Legislators are eyeing several new bills to make life better for man’s best friend.

Two of the bills are expected to pass by the end of this session; a third bill is expected to be introduced next year.

Senate Bill 1244(aa), sponsored by Sen. Mark Nye, a Pocatello Democrat, is affectionately called the “hot dog” bill by senators. It would provide immunity from civil liability and criminal prosecution for people giving certain kinds of aid to a pet in distress. The bill applies to all pets, but usually pertains to dogs.

Dogs will go into heat stroke when their internal temperatures reach 107.5 degrees, said Lisa Kauffman, senior state director with The Humane Society of the United States. Temperatures in cars can easily rise to 120 to 130 degrees.

“If you see a dog in a car in a parking lot — even if the window is cracked open — and the dog is foaming at the mouth, listless or panting, (the bill) gives you permission to remove the animal from the vehicle to save it,” Kauffman said.

The rescuer must believe that the dog is in imminent danger of suffering death or serious bodily harm, must call law enforcement, and must do the least amount of damage possible to get the pet out of the vehicle.

“Pets suffer horrible deaths in hot cars,” she said. “I know people don’t mean to do it, but they lose track of time. With no airflow in cars, dogs’ internal temperatures rise and they end up cooking from the inside out.”

When writing the bill, senators realized Idaho has no similar protection for rescuing children from hot cars, Kauffman said, so Nye is also sponsoring Senate bill 1245, with nearly identical wording, while swapping “child” for “pet.”

Pet-friendly license plate

The U.S. humane society and the Idaho Humane Society are working jointly to create the “pet friendly” specialty license plate to fund spay and neuter services to rural areas or low income families.

House Bill 540, sponsored by Boise Democrats Rep. Hy Kloc and Rep. Melissa Wintrow, would provide a needed community service, said Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, CEO of the Idaho Humane Society.

Rosenthal has been with the Idaho Humane Society for 18 years. The Idaho group has eight full-time veterinarians on staff.

“The U.S. and Idaho humane societies are two entirely separate entities, that sometimes work together,” Rosenthal said.

“Both (organizations) have had an interest of getting this in place. It’s an idea that has been floated for years.”

The past roadblock was deciding how to distribute the money, he said, but that has been overcome.

“The Idaho Humane Society agreed to hold the funds in a restricted account and not charge any administration fees,” he said. “As the largest animal welfare organization in the state, we have the financial infrastructure to keep that account secure.”

A portion of the funds from each pet-friendly plate will go into the account, and an independent board of directors will decide how the money is doled out, Rosenthal said.

“Some of the shelters in Idaho have spay and neuter programs for either low income families or feral cats,” Kauffman said. “But the rural areas have little to nothing.”

The Idaho Humane Society also agreed to pay the set up fee to the Idaho Department of Transportation, which runs about $5,000, Rosenthal said.

Once the bill is approved, the Idaho Transportation Department will finalize the design.

Specialty license plates are an effective way of funding special projects, Kauffman said. For example, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has three plate designs that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for specific research or management funds.

Next year

The U.S. humane society is also supporting a bill that would prohibit dogs from being held outdoors in freezing or sweltering conditions without protection from the elements. The bill has had some push back from agricultural producers, Kauffman said.

The Idaho Legislature is now waiting for Utah this session to pass a similar bill that defines “shelter” in terms of outdoor pets, she said.

“We want them to realize we’re not going after agriculture,” she said, “that’s why we need to have a definition of shelter (in the law).”

Kauffman expects the bill will be introduced in the 2019 Idaho Legislature.

White House: No exemptions from steel, aluminum tariffs

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s administration appears unbowed by broad domestic and international criticism of his planned import tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Sunday that the president is not planning on exempting any countries from the stiff duties.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: “At this point in time there’s no country exclusions.”

Trump’s announcement Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets, rankled allies and raised prospects for a trade war. While his rhetoric has been focused on China, the duties also will cover significant imports from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and the European Union.

The Pentagon had recommended that Trump only pursue targeted tariffs, so as not to upset American partners abroad. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Sunday that was not the direction the president would take.

“He’s talking about a fairly broad brush,” Ross said on ABC’s “This Week.” He rejected threats of retaliation from American allies as “pretty trivial.”

Few issues could blur the lines of partisanship in Trump-era Washington. Trade is one of them.

Labor unions and liberal Democrats are in the unusual position of applauding Trump’s approach, while Republicans and an array of business groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes ahead with the tariffs.

Trade politics often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines, as politicians reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers. But rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party — leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.

“Good, finally,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and progressive as he cheered Trump’s move. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who has called for Trump to resign, agreed.

“I urge the administration to follow through and to take aggressive measures to ensure our workers can compete on a level playing field,” Casey tweeted.

This moment of unusual alliance was long expected. As a candidate, Trump made his populist and protectionist positions on trade quite clear, at times hitting the same themes as one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class,” Trump told voters in the hard-hit steel town of Monessen, Pennsylvania, during one of his campaign stops. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Trump’s criticism of trade agreements and China’s trade policies found support with white working-class Americans whose wages had stagnated over the years. Victories in big steel-producing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana demonstrated that his tough trade talk had a receptive audience.

Both candidates in a March 13 House election in Pennsylvania have embraced the president’s plans for tariffs. They addressed the topic Saturday in a debate that aired on WTAE in Pittsburgh.

“For too long, China has been making cheap steel and they’ve been flooding the market with it. It’s not fair and it’s not right. So I actually think this is long overdue,” said Democratic candidate Conor Lamb.

“Unfortunately, many of our competitors around the world have slanted the playing field, and their thumb has been on the scale, and I think President Trump is trying to even that scale back out,” said Republican candidate Rick Saccone.

But Trump’s GOP allies on Capitol Hill have little use for the tariff approach. They argue that other industries that rely on steel and aluminum products will suffer. The cost of new appliances, cars and buildings will rise if the president follows through, they warn, and other nations could retaliate. The end result could erode the president’s base of support with rural America and even the blue-collar workers the president says he trying to help.

“There is always retaliation, and typically a lot of these countries single out agriculture when they do that. So, we’re very concerned,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., asked the administration to reconsider its stance. He said American companies could move their operations abroad and not face retaliatory tariffs.

“This scenario would lead to the exact opposite outcome of the administration’s stated objective, which is to protect American jobs,” Walker said.

The Business Roundtable’s Josh Bolten, a chief of staff for President George W. Bush, called on Trump to have “the courage” to step back from his campaign rhetoric on trade.

“Sometimes a president needs to, you need to stick to your principles but you also need to recognize in cases where stuff you said in the campaign isn’t right and ought to be drawn back,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” ‘’The president needs to have the courage to do that.”

Tim Phillips, president of the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, noted that Trump narrowly won in Iowa and Wisconsin, two heavily rural states that could suffer if countries impose retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural goods.

“It hurts the administration politically because trade wars, protectionism, they lead to higher prices for individual Americans,” Phillips said. “It’s basically a tax increase.”

The president wasn’t backing down, at least on Twitter, where he posted this message: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: Toddler Time activities will be held at 10:30 a.m. and a children’s singalong will start at 4 p.m. at the Twin Falls Public Library, 201 Fourth Ave. E. Free.

Twin Falls City Council will hear several options for recycling program on Monday

TWIN FALLS — The City Council will once again weigh the increasing costs of recycling against the impact to customer bills to either continue or discontinue the program.

On Monday, the City Council will hear from its utility billing department and waste services contractor, PSI Environmental Services Inc. Both will present on options ranging from canceling the city’s recycling program to raising rates for customers in order to continue it.

The city has encouraged residents to come to the meeting and provide their input. The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday in Twin Falls City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E.

“I never thought I would be having this discussion when I took this job,” Twin Falls Utility Billing Supervisor Bill Baxter told the Times-News.

But in response to high contamination in recycling, China stopped importing recyclables from the U.S. this year. Recycling costs have risen steadily and in February were up to $136 per ton — compared with $30 per ton a year before. PSI Environmental paid more than $109,000 for recycling in 2017, and can no longer sustain the program without some form of cost-sharing from the city.

The sanitation fund, however, relies on customer fees to keep it going. Anything the city pays for recycling would have to get passed down to customers, some of whom don’t even use the program.

One option to be presented Monday would be to discontinue the recycling program, at least temporarily. PSI estimates this would decrease residential bills by 80 cents per month — but that will be offset in part by the costs of sending extra tonnage to the landfill.

The volume, in tons, Twin Falls residents have recycled each month since January 2017.

“This is not a cost-free resolution,” Baxter noted. “Eventually, somebody is going to pay the cost of our consumption.”

Not only that, but he fears stopping the program would undo 12 years of progress the city has made in getting people to recycle.

On the other hand, the city could decide to increase fees to pay for recycling. The problem is that costs have fluctuated much over the past year, so the city would have to aim high on how much it estimates it would need to collect to keep the program going. It would likely require a public hearing.

At last year’s costs, a rate increase would equate to about $7.44 per year per customer. Baxter recognizes that people on fixed incomes may not be able to afford that change, even if they are supportive of recycling.

The third option the City Council could consider would be to determine a maximum cost-per-ton at which the city would agree to recycle. When costs rose above that, recycling would be collected and sent to the landfill instead, at a cost of $37.50 per ton.

“Our residents have told us through several citizen surveys and community planning sessions that recycling is important to the community,” City Manager Travis Rothweiler said in a statement. “But it’s our understanding that if current conditions persist, sorting facilities will stop accepting some recyclable materials and may be forced to discard it in another landfill.”

PSI’s contract with the city allows them to look at cost sharing “as the market requires.” If the city continued to have PSI to pay the entire cost of recycling, the company could decide to renegotiate its contract and stop providing recycling services altogether.

“This decision is going to affect life in the whole area,” Baxter said.

Also during the meeting, the Council will be asked to consider a contract with Pivot North Architecture for a recreation center feasibility study. The cost of the contract would not exceed $98,272.

The city has not budgeted any money for the study this year, so it would be paid for using cash reserves.

The Council will also consider a resolution declaring the city’s intent to dispose of real property. The building at 203 Main Ave. E. previously housed the city’s engineering and planning staff before the new City Hall was built.

The city has received interest in the property and would like to sell it through an auction. The building was last appraised in 2006 at $230,000.

If the City Council approves, the city will have a public hearing on the exchange at 6 p.m. March 26 in Council Chambers, 203 Main Ave. E.

Also on the agenda:

  • A request to confirm the appointment of Cindy Bond to fill the seat vacated by Brad Wills on the Urban Renewal Agency Board, and to confirm the appointment of Andy Hohwieler and Doug Vollmer to the Urban Renewal Agency board beginning in July.
  • A presentation by Twin Falls School District Superintendent Brady Dickinson on the upcoming renewal of the district’s plant facilities levy.
  • A presentation of the city’s 2017 audited financial statements, presented by Scott Hunsaker of Mahlke Hunsaker & Co. PLLC.

Putin: Russia will 'never' extradite citizens accused by US

WASHINGTON — Russia will “never” extradite any of the 13 Russians indicted by the United States for election meddling, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, even as he insisted they didn’t act on behalf of his government.

Putin’s comments in an NBC News interview that aired Sunday illustrated the long odds that the Russian operatives ever will appear in U.S. court to answer charges of running a massive, secret social media trolling and targeted messaging operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The United States has no extradition treaty with Moscow and can’t compel it to hand over citizens, and a provision in Russia’s constitution prohibits extraditing its citizens to foreign countries.

“Never. Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone,” Putin said.

Even if the Russians never face justice in the United States, the sweeping indictment served the added purpose of increasing the public’s awareness about the elaborate foreign campaign to meddle in American democracy, legal experts have said. For years, the Justice Department has supported indicting foreigners in absentia as a way to shame them and make it harder for them to travel abroad.

The detailed, 37-page indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller last month alleges Russian operatives working for the Internet Research Agency used fake social media accounts and on-the-ground political organizing to exacerbate divisive political issues in the U.S. Posing as American activists, the operatives tried to conceal the effort’s Russian roots by purchasing space on U.S. computer servers and using U.S. email providers.

Yet Putin argued his government has little to answer for until the U.S. provides “some materials, specifics and data.” He said Russia would be “prepared to look at them and talk about it,” while repeating his government’s insistence that it had no role in directing the operatives to act against the United States.

“I know that they do not represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities,” Putin said. “What they did specifically, I have no idea.”