BOISE, Idaho — Government leaders couldn't pay their mortgages, lawmakers cut school funding again as tax revenue slipped and the number of jobless statewide edged back over the 70,000 mark.
For the second year, the moribund state economy is Idaho's top story, with the impact of lagging growth, high unemployment and falling home prices seeping into the lives of residents — and their pocketbooks — in ways both profound and mundane.
Homeless shelters in Idaho's capital reported overnight stays had doubled since 2007, the year the state's housing bubble began to burst. In November, more than 219,300 residents, many of them children, used the federal food stamps program to buy groceries.
Here are the other top stories chosen by The Associated Press:
Environmentalists cheered and wolf foes howled when U.S. District Judge Donald Malloy in August ruled the federal government erred by delisting wolves in Idaho and neighboring Montana.
The decision spelled doom for a second season of legal wolf hunting, particularly galling for Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers who insisted they'd proven they could responsibly manage the predators.
Church group held
An Idaho businesswoman armed with a group of Christian volunteers rushed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti to rescue orphans from the wreckage. But Laura Silsby and the other Americans were jailed after trying to bring more than 30 children into the Dominican Republic.
The Americans found themselves in the crosshairs of a Haitian crackdown on unauthorized adoptions to prevent child trafficking in the chaos following the earthquake.
An AP investigation later revealed all of the 33 children had at least one living parent, who had turned their children over to the Christian group in hopes of securing better lives for them.
The Republican tide that swept the nation also crashed hard into Idaho, leaving the minority party in tatters and dethroning a Democratic congressman with deep pockets and a lead in most polls before Election Day.
U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick touted his votes against the federal bailouts and health care overhaul, but still couldn't fend off a challenge from tea party favorite Raul Labrador in western Idaho.
A lawmaker who doesn't think he should pay income tax and once took trees from state land for his home without paying for them survived an ethics investigation in the Idaho House only to face another complaint, this time, from a fellow Republican. Idaho Rep. Phil Hart was a hero to tea party activists and his struggles were likened to those of Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela by his attorney.
Oil refinery fight
A mundane road permit application ignited into an uproar, pitting two of the nation's largest oil companies against a handful of residents who live along a winding highway in a forested region of northern Idaho.
The Idaho Transportation Department defended its decision to sign off on permits allowing ConocoPhillips to ship massive truckloads of refinery equipment along the narrow ribbon of mountain road to its Montana refinery.
But opponents of the plan disagreed, and accuse the agency of ignoring its own rules for permitting oversized loads and essentially giving ConocoPhillips pre-approval for the shipments.
Boise State loses
It all started so well.
After winning the Fiesta Bowl last January, the Boise State Bronco football team announced its big move to the higher-profile Mountain West Athletic Conference come 2011. And to kick off the 2010 season, the gridiron underdogs from potato land toppled mighty Virginia Tech at a Washington, D.C.-area stadium.
The whispers grew louder: Should the boys from the blue (turf) be national champions? School president Bob Kustra waded in, dismissing criticism of BSU's schedule with this unforgettable line: "We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor."
But the dream ended in Reno, Nev., when senior field goal kicker Kyle Brotzman missed two field goals — one at the end of regulation time, another in overtime — before the University of Nevada Reno handed BSU its first loss in two years.
In March, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter became the nation's first chief executive to sign into a law a measure requiring the state to sue the federal government over provisions in President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul to eventually require residents to buy insurance. Idaho then joined a dozen other states — the number has risen to 20 — to challenge the disputed federal law.
Problems at the privately run Idaho Correctional Center came under the national spotlight again and again in 2010. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Idaho prison officials and Corrections Corporation of America for more than $155 million over high levels of inmate violence.
Then, the state ordered the Tennessee-based company to pay thousands of dollars and fix problems with drug and alcohol treatment and medical care.
The public learned how inmates had a name for the company's facility: Gladiator School.
Teen gets jail term
A teenager stood in an Idaho courtroom, shackled at the hands and feet, and apologized for shooting and killing his father with a high-powered hunting rifle.
Neagle was 14 at the time of the May 2009 slaying, and told the courtroom that he wished he had thought of alternatives for dealing with his father.
While the teen testified that his 32-year-old father, Jason Neagle, had abused him, prosecutors questioned why Neagle had not reported the sexual abuse allegations earlier in the case.