Latest Idaho news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT

COLD CASE CONVICTION-SET FREE

Idaho man who didn’t match murder DNA freed after 20 years

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – An Idaho man who experts say was coerced into a false murder confession is now free after spending half of his life behind bars.

An eastern Idaho judge released Christopher Tapp on Wednesday morning after vacating his rape conviction and resentencing him to time served for the 1996 murder of Angie Dodd.

The release came after years of work by advocates including Judges for Justice, the Idaho Innocence Project and the victim’s mother, Carol Dodge.

Angie Dodge was 18 and living in an Idaho Falls apartment on June 13, 1996, when she was sexually assaulted and murdered at her home.

Tapp was a 20-year-old high school dropout at the time, and was interrogated for hours and subjected to multiple lie detector tests by police. He eventually confessed, but DNA evidence taken from the scene didn’t match Tapp or any of the other suspects in the case.

XGR-PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUDGET

Idaho public schools budget headed to governor’s desk

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Idaho lawmakers have signed off on the state’ public schools funding proposal for fiscal year 2018 – which makes up the largest share of the state’s budget.

Senate lawmakers unanimously signed off on the budget plan on Wednesday. It’s now up to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to approve or veto the budget.

State budget writers agreed earlier this year to boost public school funding by 6.3 percent, totaling roughly $1.7 billion. The funding plan includes a boost to discretionary funding for Idaho classrooms to help cover health insurance costs rather than adding a new $15 million line item as requested Otter. It’s unclear if Otter will exercise a veto because the Legislature did not follow through with his recommendation.

The K-12 budget plan also includes $62 million to fund teacher pay increases, $5 million more for classroom technology and a $4.25 million increase for professional development.

XGR-GROCERY TAX REPEAL

Bill repealing sales tax on groceries clears Idaho Senate

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – The Idaho Senate has approved legislation repealing the state’s taxation on groceries despite receiving strong opposition from both Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and legislative leaders.

Earlier this month, the Senate rewrote a tax cut proposal after a growing majority of lawmakers agreed they wanted to repeal the grocery tax rather than cut the state’s top income and corporate tax rates. Doing so would slash the state’s general fund by nearly $80 million.

Republican Sen. Cliff Bayer from Meridian, the bill’s sponsor, says repealing the grocery tax will offer the biggest tax relief to the most people. Bayer’s amendment also removes the grocery tax credit, which was implemented to help offset the burden of paying taxes on food.

The Senate voted 25-10 on Wednesday to send the proposal to the House.

Otter hasn’t said he’ll veto the bill. However, if Otter vetoes the bill after the Legislature adjourns, lawmakers cannot come back to Boise to attempt to reverse that decision without permission from the governor.

KOOTENAI RIVER-MISSING MAN

Body of missing Idaho man found in Kootenai River

LIBBY, Mont. (AP) – The body of an Idaho man who slipped into the Kootenai River near Troy in December has been recovered.

Lincoln County authorities say Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees spotted the body in the water and called dispatchers. The body of 41-year-old Trevor Applegate of Bonners Ferry was recovered around noon on Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office said Applegate went missing at about 5:20 p.m. on Dec. 6 after he slipped on icy rocks just below Kootenai Falls. Someone reported seeing him being swept downstream.

Cold temperatures and icy conditions hampered the initial search.

XGR-TRANSPORTATION FUNDING DIES

Idaho Senate spikes transportation funding plan

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – The Idaho Senate has killed a roughly $320 million transportation funding plan, effectively squashing hope of passing any significant funding proposal to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges before the end of the session.

Senate members have been considering various transportation proposals for the past few weeks with varying degrees of support. Ultimately, lawmakers on Wednesday said they not back a plan that primarily used bonds to pay for new road projects and repay it with future federal highway payments.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill says the Senate’s 15-20 vote signaled that lawmakers will likely only allocate a small amount of new transportation funding before adjourning for the year.

Idaho uses fuels taxes, registration fees and other sources to pay for its state and local roads and bridges. However, that system has left the state with an annual $262 million transportation

SPRING CHINOOK-DEAD

Electrical problem kills 600,000 salmon in N. Idaho hatchery

(Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com)

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) – About 600,000 young spring chinook salmon have died at a northern Idaho fish hatchery after an electrical problem stopped water from circulating.

The Nez Perce Tribe tells the Lewiston Tribune that the fish died at the Kooskia National Fish Hatchery on Friday when an electrical circuit breaker tripped and a warning system to alert hatchery workers failed.

The salmon were a few weeks old and scheduled to be released next spring and return as adults in 2020.

The hatchery on the Clearwater River is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but operated by the Nez Perce Tribe.

The tribe says it’s working with other nearby hatcheries to replace the lost fish.

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