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312Back Into Session

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  • grfranklin53
    Jan 12, 2008
      From 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.


      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.