More than 100 years ago, an elaborate vault was built in the state capitol for the state treasurer to keep the state’s treasury – the money. “All state moneys in the custody of the state treasurer not otherwise deposited or invested … shall be kept in the vault and safe as provided for that purpose in the capitol building and in no other place,” Idaho state law says. The vault’s still there in the state treasurer’s office. Small, carved black lion heads snarl over its doorway, and it’s still in use – what money the treasurer’s office has on hand, which these days isn’t so much as most of the state’s assets are deposited or invested, is still kept in the safe inside the vault.
So now that it’s time for all state offices to move out of the capitol this spring for a three-year renovation project, it actually takes a change in state law to allow the state treasurer’s office to keep its cash on hand somewhere else while it operates in temporary quarters. The Senate State Affairs Committee, by a unanimous vote, agreed this morning to introduce a bill making just such a change. The measure also allows the original furniture of the capitol to be moved out for the renovation – the law requires it to stay – and allows legislative sessions to take place outside of the capitol building during the renovation.
Incidentally, if the law weren’t changed and state Treasurer Ron Crane moved the state’s money out of the capitol safe this spring, he’d face possible penalties of one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.