After a debate that ran well into the lunch hour, the Idaho Senate defeated SCR 102, the bill to remodel the old Ada County Courthouse, on a 16-18 vote. Sen. Hal Bunderson, R-Meridian, led the opposition, arguing that a remodeled version of the historic structure will cost more in the long run than just tearing down the old courthouse and building something new. Official cost estimates for the two plans are close to even.
Now, the Senate State Affairs Committee may have to reconsider an alternative plan, SCR 101, that it defeated earlier. That measure calls for a tear-down and new building.
Three years ago, both options died in the full Senate, leaving Idaho with no plans for the building across from the state Capitol that now belongs to the state. Officials hope to locate new, larger legislative hearing rooms and office space there. But for the last three years, it’s just sat vacant while lawmakers bickered over which plan to choose.