Legislation to turn the legal clock back to 1953 to try to guarantee some Lake Coeur d’Alene property owners the right to put in a boat dock – though their property is now separated from the lake by a public road - died in a Senate committee this afternoon by one vote. Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, the bill’s lead sponsor, said he was “greatly disappointed.” “I knew it would be close,” he said. “I’m greatly disappointed that five of those senators don’t support personal property rights – they support big government over personal property rights. That’s very disappointing to me.”
Senators on the Senate Transportation Committee all said they had great sympathy for the lakefront owners, but several said it’d be best to let a pending ruling come out in a court case over the issue before changing laws. “I’d like to have a little more time, have a year and see what the litigation does,” said Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, who noted that the bill, HB 565, as written would apply not only around Lake Coeur d’Alene, but anywhere in the state where waterfront property on a river or lake has a public road across it. During earlier House debate on the bill, Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, an attorney, said the bill was unconstitutional for “about three reasons.” The bill had narrowly squeaked through the House, on a 37-32 vote.
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, spoke out in favor of the bill. “What we see is that people have had waterfront property, and by the efforts of the transportation department, have had that property converted from waterfront property to a secondary view lot without any compensation,” he said. Those voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Hammond, Geddes, Keough and McGee. Those voting against were Sens. Sagness, Langhorst, Heinrich, Corder and Little.