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Courtesy TSA 

Firearm found at Boise Airport.


Local
Twin Falls airport reports fuller planes, more pounds of freight

TWIN FALLS — There are more people coming and going at the Joslin Field — Magic Valley Regional Airport these days.

The airport has increased its passenger activity by 54.9 percent since 2014. In 2018, SkyWest reported more than 85,000 people boarding or getting off planes in Twin Falls. That’s a 5.1 percent increase over 2017.

“We’re starting to see more of that capacity utilized,” Airport Manager Bill Carberry told the Times-News.

It means planes are getting a lot fuller than they were three years ago, when SkyWest Airlines increased capacity from 90 seats to 150 seats per day. Carberry believes this is partially reflective of the economy and the current market.

SkyWest Airlines had begun offering a fourth departing flight last spring for a limited time, with the goal of helping passengers make more connecting flights in Salt Lake City.

“We may see it come back at some point,” Carberry said.

According to an annual report Carberry presented this week to the airport advisory board, Joslin Field — Magic Valley Regional Airport has also received more revenue from car rentals over the past five years. The airport collected total fees of $219,510 in 2018.

The Twin Falls airport charges a 10 percent fee on gross revenues made by AVIS, Enterprise, Hertz and Budget.

Hertz and Enterprise had the greatest share of gross revenues, each receiving about 30 percent of the total.

Here are some other highlights from the report:

  • Airport fuel fee revenues rose to $92,648 in 2018 — a 7.7 percent increase over 2017. Carberry estimates some of that may have to do with firefighting aircraft, which seem to be getting larger over time.
  • About 1,144,794 gallons of fuel flowed through the airport in 2018.
  • In 2018, the Magic Valley Regional Airport received and shipped out 2,321,288 pounds of freight for UPS and FedEx. That surpassed the five-year average of 2.1 million pounds of freight.
  • The airport collected $159,225 in landing fees in 2018.

Govt-and-politics
Legislature week in review
Legislature week in review: Legal hemp, Marsy's Law, Prop 2 upheld

BOISE — The fifth week of the legislative session ended on a busy note, as lawmakers saw a flurry of bills Friday.

Here are a few highlights of the week:

  • The Senate State Affairs Committee voted to send SJR 101, otherwise known as “Marsy’s Law,” to the Senate floor. The controversial resolution would amend Idaho’s constitution to strengthen rights for crime victims.
  • Twin Falls city officials asked the House Resources & Conservation Committee to consider working with Magic Valley stakeholders to better understand the quality of water in the Snake River.
  • The House Agricultural Affairs Committee voted to introduce a bill that would legalize hemp in Idaho.
  • Three Democrats walked out of a House State Affairs Committee after Republicans on the committee voted to send legislation that would give the GOP a majority on the state’s Redistricting Commission to the House floor.
  • A Caldwell lawmaker introduced a bill that would ban handheld cellphone use while driving throughout the entire state. A handful of cities, including Ketchum and Hailey, already have local bans in place.
  • The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in the state after a legal challenge from the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.


DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS 

Murtaugh head coach Todd Jensen watches his team play against Carey during 1A Division II championship game Wednesday night, Feb. 6, 2019, at Shoshone High School.


National
AP
Virginia lieutenant governor wants accusations investigated

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s embattled lieutenant governor on Saturday called for authorities, including the FBI, to investigate sexual assault allegations made against him while defying widespread calls for his resignation with a plea for “space in this moment for due process.”

Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax issued a statement repeating his strong denials that he had ever sexually assaulted anyone and made clear he does not intend to immediately resign, despite having lost almost his entire base of support.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam pledged to work at healing the state’s racial divide and made his first official appearance a week after a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced and he acknowledged wearing blackface in the 1980s. Northam has also defied calls from practically his entire party to step down.

Saturday capped an astonishing week in Virginia politics that saw all three of the state’s top elected officials embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals, and the state Democratic Party on the verge of collapse.

Two women have accused Fairfax of sexual assault. After the second allegation was made Friday, Fairfax — the second African-American to ever win statewide office — was barraged with demands to step down from top Democrats, including a number of presidential hopefuls and most of Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Northam — now a year into his four-year term — has told his top staff he’s staying in office and said he wants to focus the rest of his term as governor on taking concrete steps toward increasing racial equality.

In his first interview since the scandal erupted, a chastened Northam told The Washington Post on Saturday that the uproar has pushed him to confront the state’s deep and lingering divisions over race, as well as his own insensitivity. But he said that reflection has convinced him that, by remaining in office, he can work to resolve them.

“It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do,” Northam said in the interview, conducted at the Executive Mansion. “There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity.”

Northam said he planned to focus on addressing issues stemming from inequality, including improving access to health care, housing, and transportation. He also repeated his contention that he is not pictured in the photo on his yearbook page that shows someone in blackface standing alongside someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. But he could not explain how the photo wound up there, or why he initially had taken responsibility for it.

“I overreacted,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I would step back and take a deep breath.”

On Saturday, Northam made his first official public appearance since he denied being in the photo, attending the funeral for a state trooper killed in a shootout. But he made no public comments upon arriving in Chilhowie, four hours west of the tumult in Richmond.

The lieutenant governor did not make any public appearances Saturday and released his statement late in the day, after Republican state House Speaker Kirk Cox and the Democratic Party of Virginia joined a chorus of other calls for Fairfax to resign.

Two women have made allegations against Fairfax. A lawyer for Meredith Watson, 39, said in a statement that Fairfax raped Watson 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University.

Vanessa Tyson, a California college professor, said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him at a Boston hotel in 2004.

Fairfax has denied both allegations and on Saturday asked that “no one rush to judgment.”

“Our American values don’t just work when it’s convenient — they must be applied at the most difficult of times,” he said.

Since the two allegations were made, many top Democrats running for president in 2020 have called for Fairfax’s resignation.

Virginia’s Democratic congressional delegation was split.

Party elders Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Bobby Scott said Fairfax should resign if the allegations against him were true.

The Virginia Black Legislative Caucus joined calls for Fairfax’s departure. And a Democratic member of the state House, Del. Patrick Hope, said he intends to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax on Monday if Fairfax hasn’t left by then.

There’s little sign there’s a broad appetite for impeachment with lawmakers set to finish this year’s legislative session by the end of the month.

An attorney for Watson released a statement Saturday, saying her client would be willing to testify at an impeachment hearing.

If Fairfax were to leave, it’s unclear who could replace him. Northam may try to appoint a Democrat, while Republicans could mount a legal challenge with the goal of having Sen. Steve Newman, the Senate’s pro tem, serve as both a voting senator and temporary lieutenant governor.

Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing blackface at a college party in 1980. Herring — who would become governor if both Northam and Fairfax resign — had previously called on Northam to resign and came forward after rumors about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol.