Gov. Butch Otter met with House and Senate majority leadership today on the standoff over the capitol renovation project. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, said, “We had a frank discussion about our differences, and how the renovation and expansion of the capitol ought to proceed, and of course it centered around the legislative proposals for wings vs. the governor’s concern about the need for those wings. We aired our positions frankly, and agreed to meet later this week to broaden those discussions.”
House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, said, “I think we’ve got a lot more discussion to do, and I think in the next couple of weeks we will come to some resolution.”
Mark Warbis, the governor’s communications manager, said the governor is also talking with legislators in everything from “casual meetings in the corridors” to telephone calls. “It’s truly a discussion, not a negotiation or a series of meetings. It’s a discussion.”
Meanwhile, concerns are beginning to mount about what penalties, fees and damages the state could face as a result of Otter’s stop-work order on Friday on the renovation project, which cut off work by three contractors who were hard at work on the capitol grounds. Otter supports the renovation of the state capitol, but opposes the addition of underground “wings,” which lawmakers approved last year to add more meeting and office space to the historic but often crowded capitol. The state already has sold $130 million in bonds to finance the project, which includes both the renovation and the wings.