312Back Into Session
- Jan 12, 2008From The Adams County Record, Thursday, January 10, 2008, Page 1 and
Back Into Session
by Cody Cahill
It's that time of year again. Lawmakers from Idaho convened
in Boise this week to kick off the 2008 legislative session. In
preparation for this year's full slate of bills, budgets and debate,
District 9 lawmakers made the rounds last week for a series of public
meetings designed to prep constituents on the issues the lawmakers
expect to hash out over the next few months.
Approximately 40 to 50 Adams County residents came out to
hear the district's three elected officials speak last Thursday
between two meetings in New Meadows and Council. State Senator Monte
Pierce (R. New Plymouth), Representative Lawrence Denney (R. Midvale)
and the new kid on the block, Representative Diana Thomas (R. Weiser)
appeared at the senior center in New Meadows and the County courtroom
in Council in order to provide information to, and solicit opinion
from, the residents they represent.
HIGHWAYS / TRANSPORTATION
Discussion keyed on the 1.6 billion dollars in GARVEE bonds
that the 2005 legislature planned for highway construction, which
included the infamous Indian Valley highway as well as a dozen other
highway proposals. The Idaho Department of Transportation has come
under fire for its alleged mismanagement of those funds.
Pearce was pleased to inform the crowd that the Indian Valley
highway plan had been turned back and was now a "dead fish" unless
there is another movement to have it built sometime in the future.
Nevertheless, Pearce indicated that the entire Transportation Plan,
including many of the plans earmarked in 2005, still appeared to be a
complicated mess but expressed hope that Governor Otter, who
inherited the chaos from his predecessor, was accurate in his
assessment that he had "fixed the situation".
"We'll see." Pearce quipped.
Another aspect of the state's transportation ordeal is
funding. There isn't enough money to pay for the necessary
maintenance and improvements, so the Governor and the legislature is
looking into a couple of alternatives to pad the budget. One of them
is an increase in the gas tax, which Pearce said is fair in some
respects, because it taxes road users based on how much impact they
have on the state's roads. The Governor, however, Pearce noted, is
more focused on increasing, perhaps more than doubling, the current
vehicle registration in Idaho. This would bring in a significant
chunk of change, but is not as equitable as a gas tax because it
socks it to the "little old lady who only drives once a week" the
same as a person who uses the highways constantly.