Year in review: Our top Idaho web stories of 2022
2022 brought in a variety of news stories, ranging from potatoes, to forever chemicals, to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. The year brought moments of joy and cheerfulness, but they don't always trend as high as the ones featuring issues like healthcare, book banning and Idaho politics.
Our top 10 most-viewed web posts are important and impactful, but they also feature moments of levity in the community.
#10: Wait a minute. A potato shortage? In Idaho? Here’s why.
In August, Idaho experienced a potato shortage due to the weather a year ago. A previous year's potato crop cycle is supposed to last through the following August, so when this August rolled around people were facing the shortage from last year's crop. With Idaho potatoes being a multi-billion-dollar industry, Jamey Higham, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, had to explain to more than a few people lately why last year’s crop was considerably lower than expectations, and the fact that the remains from the crop are trickling to stores in Idaho and beyond.
#9: Here are the key primary election results in Idaho
Idaho's Primary Election in May went as expected. Gov. Brad Little won the Republican nomination and went on to get re-elected in November. Debbie Critchfield pulled ahead of incumbent Sherri Ybarra and is now the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect after the November election.
#8: With Roe v. Wade overturned, Idaho's abortion ban is imminent
Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June . Adopted in 2020, Idaho's trigger law will only allow abortions in cases of rape, incest and if the mother's life is at risk. Since then, the law has been challenged multiple times and the Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments in the Planned Parenthood v. State of Idaho case in October. They have not yet released a decision.
#7: Solving the mystery of the oldest barn in Ada County
Idaho Matters spoke with Frank Eld, also known as "The Barn Whisperer" in June about the oldest barn in Ada County. The Schick Barn is located in the Foothills north of Boise, just 15 minutes from downtown. The historic Schick-Ostolasa Farmstead was built in the 1860s and is the longest continuously inhabited home in Idaho. The Farmstead is on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to the Dry Creek Historical Society, which works to protect and restore the site and share Idaho’s history through the farm's story.
#6: Activists, students raise concerns over reproductive health access following University of Idaho memo
The University of Idaho said in September it will stop distributing certain kinds of contraceptives because it’s worried about violating an Idaho law forbidding state employees from promoting abortion. The statute is raising concerns amongst activists and students on what this means for reproductive health access.
#5: Idaho librarians could face jail time for lending 'harmful' books
House lawmakers considered whether prosecutors could criminally charge librarians for allowing minors to check out sexually explicit materials. Giving explicit material to kids has been a crime in Idaho since at least 1972, but public libraries, including those at colleges and universities, are exempt from that law. The bill did not pass the Senate.
#4: Greater Idaho ballot measures pass in two more Oregon counties
From our partners at OPB, two more rural Oregon counties are in line to approve ballot measures showing their support for becoming a part of Idaho. Greater Idaho members are now turning their attention to Salem and Boise, where they hope each legislature will pass a resolution to start discussions on moving the border. That seems exceedingly unlikely in Oregon, where Democrats still control both chambers.
#3: Aaron von Ehlinger had a long list of previous convictions; the State of Idaho pardoned them all
Former state lawmaker Aaron von Ehlinger was found guilty of raping a legislative intern this year, but before that, the State of Idaho had pardoned him on a list of previous convictions including drunk driving, dispensing alcohol to minors and drug possession. In his 2019 request for pardon, von Ehlinger wrote that he hit "rock bottom" in the late 2000s and was "in and out of trouble." In June 2020, Aaron von Ehlinger was appointed by Governor Brad Little to fill an open seat in the Idaho House, and that November, he would win an uncontested general election to hold the seat.
#2: Ski wax industry giving 'forever chemicals' the boot
Mountain West News Bureau reporter Madelyn Beck talked to people at Bogus Basin Ski Resort about PFAS, a class of chemicals that are often referred to as "forever chemicals", and the ski industry. Eric Straubhar manages the rental shop at Bogus Basin and said it had been a few years since heard that PFAS was a problem in high-end ski wax. These chemicals have been used in everything from Teflon to Gore-Tex to dental floss. But the ski wax industry is hoping to leave it behind.
#1: Budget crunch may mean McGeachin has to work for free
And in our most-viewed story of the year, James Dawson reported on how Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin may have to work for free through the end of the fiscal year due to a projected budget shortfall brought on by her private legal fees. The fiscal year ended on June 30, 2022, and as of March 2022, McGeachin's salary and benefits totaled $18,642. The budget crunch stemmed from McGeachin’s decision to hire a private attorney to fight a lawsuit brought by the Idaho Press Club last year.