Jessica Robinson

Inland Northwest Correspondent

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network team, Jessica was the news director of Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon, where she produced a newsmagazine on Northern California and Southern Oregon. In 2010, she spent a year in central Mexico and reported for an English-language newspaper in San Miguel de Allende. Jessica's investigative and feature stories have earned awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Idaho Press Club, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc. A Northwest native, Jessica grew up in an off-the-grid log cabin in the Columbia River Gorge.

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's attorney released details of his captivity in Afghanistan after the Army charged him Wednesday with desertion.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held for nearly five years as a prisoner of the Taliban, is facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

An Idaho House committee introduced a revised plan for increasing teacher pay Wednesday.

A bill that would establish an expectation for Idaho schools to intervene when a kid is bullied is headed to the Idaho House floor.

Elected officials in Idaho do not need permits to carry concealed weapons.

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

 

An Idaho lawmaker and farmer said the state should press the federal government to establish a national labeling system for genetically engineered foods before states create their own.

Alliance Defending Freedom

 

 

A judge in Benton County, Washington has ruled that a flower shop in the Tri-Cities broke the law when it refused to serve a gay couple planning a wedding two years ago.

The judge said Barronelle Stutzman broke state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. In 2013, she told Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed she couldn't do the flower arrangements for their wedding because of her religious convictions against same-sex marriage.

SubPop

 

Sleater-Kinney, a band that helped define the Northwest's indie rock scene begins a much-anticipated tour this weekend, starting in Spokane on Sunday, then moving on to Boise on Monday.

The band is officially ending a nearly decade-long hiatus.

static416 / Flickr

 

A new bill under consideration in the Idaho legislature would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons in the state without a permit.

Greg Pruett told a House panel that lawmakers don’t have to have a permit for their concealed weapons. He wants the same right extended to all citizens.

I5design / Flickr

Idaho lawmakers are considering a proposal to make more room for Idaho students in a University of Washington med school program.

Idaho doesn’t have its own medical school, so the state instead works through a UW partnership known as WWAMI. It stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — the five states that participate in the program.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Thirty-one wolves were killed in the first six months of Idaho’s new Wolf Depredation Control Board.

Board members Tuesday asked the legislature for another influx of money to go after problem packs in Idaho.

Jessica Robinson

Starting salary for Idaho teachers is lower than in Washington, Oregon and three other surrounding states. Superintendents in Idaho border towns say that has left them with shortages.

The salary for a first-year teacher in Idaho is around $31,000. It doesn’t help that St. Maries, a school district in north Idaho, is only 30 miles from Washington, where the teacher starting salary is 15 percent higher and teachers move up the pay scale much faster.

Jessica Robinson

 

A committee in the Idaho House Thursday rejected a gay rights measure known as the “Add the Words bill” on a 13-4 party line vote.

Several hundred people packed an auditorium in the Idaho Capitol this morning for a hearing on a measure known as the Add the Words bill.

Adam Cotterell

 

Legalizing marijuana in Idaho has been a complete no-go, even as its neighbors have started licensing pot dispensaries and retail shops.

But now Republican leaders in Idaho say they're willing to consider a very narrow version of a medical marijuana law.

Jessica Robinson

 

Some cities and counties around the Northwest are tightening up local rules on businesses that sell e-cigarettes. And shop owners in Washington state are bracing for a tax fight at the legislature in 2015.

David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

 

According to researchers at Washington State University, shoppers may be more likely to accept bad customer service from a company if they know that company supports causes they agree with.

WSU social psychologist Jeff Joireman said tales of bad customer service spread fast these days — on Yelp, on YouTube, on Twitter.

AP Photo

 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is due to be briefed on a report detailing the disappearance of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Alliance Defending Freedom

 

A closely-watched court case dealing with whether religious business-owners must provide services to gay couples is headed to oral arguments Friday in Kennewick, Washington.

Barronelle Stutzman said she was following her religious convictions in 2013 when she declined to do the flower arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding.

The state of Washington said she was violating state consumer protection laws.

U.S. Census Bureau

 

A new Census Bureau report released Wednesday indicates the economic recovery is lifting children out of poverty unevenly around the Northwest.

Idaho Potato Commission

 

Northwest potato farmers are cheering a small provision tucked into the newly passed federal spending package.

The Women, Infants and Children or WIC program provides modest monthly vouchers for a variety of foods. They’ll cover any vegetable except “white potatoes.”

Jessica Robinson

 A hospital in north Idaho is marketing itself to Canadian tourists — medical tourists, that is.

Most of the patients who come into Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls, Idaho are from the local area, plus a few from Washington and Montana.

But hospital CEO Rick Rasmussen is thinking big — Canada big. A little Canadian flag was recently added in the upper right of the hospital’s website.

Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago U.S. Air National Guard

The search is on to find an alternative to salting the roads in winter. Salt helps melt the ice, but it also builds up in streambeds and drinking water.

Some cities like Portland have already moved away from salt and are opting for chemicals like calcium magnesium acetate. De-icing researcher Xianming Shi says at one point that was thought of as the silver bullet.

Courtesy of Emilie Jackson-Edney

 

Over the weekend, the story of a transgender woman in Idaho whose family had buried as a man lit up social media.

LGBT legal advocates say there continues to be a gap in how end-of-life issues are handled, even for people who have legally changed their gender.

Wikimedia

A new study out of Canada reveals a surprising side-effect that hunting may have on wolves.

Researchers wanted to compare the hormone levels in wolves that often deal with hunters’ fire, versus wolves that are hunted very little. They were able to measure levels of progesterone, testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol by looking at samples of wolf hair from different parts of northern Canada.

Tender Young Pony of Insomnia / Flickr

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets. Exporters say the delays could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.

Lightning Creek

The Native American Music Awards recognize indigenous musicians from the U.S., Canada and Latin America. It is considered to be the Grammys of Native American music.

Jessica Robinson

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing out a new technique for keeping heavily-used river banks from eroding into the water.

The EPA wants to see if these living retainer walls can contain lead pollution at a Superfund site in north Idaho.

To make these “soil burritos,” a construction crew pours a layer of dirt into what looks like a car-sized piece of burlap. Then they put down willow branches. If all goes according to plan, those willows will start taking root in the dirt next spring.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Republican capture of the U.S. Senate was the big national news on election night. But in the Northwest, the toughest fights weren’t over Senate seats but ballot initiatives — on guns, pot and genetically-engineered foods.

Here's what you need to know, in 60 seconds: 

U.S. Department of Transportation

Washington’s rail safety regulator says there are about 3,000 rail crossings in the state that inspectors have never looked at because they sit on private land.

Experts say these could be problem areas as more trains carry crude oil through the state. They plan to ask the legislature for more authority.

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