The House Transportation Committee took two and a half hours of testimony this afternoon on three different bills to raise vehicle registration fees in Idaho to fund road work - one, a phased-in five-year plan from Gov. Butch Otter, and the other two both single-year proposals, one from House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood and the other from Rep. Leon Smith. An array of lobbyists, including those representing the trucking industry, loggers, cities and counties, chambers of commerce and more, spoke out in favor of the governor’s bill. The American Automobile Association said trucks aren’t paying their fare share to maintain Idaho’s roads. In the end, there were no votes; none were planned. Instead, some kind of compromise legislation is in the works, though no one knows yet exactly where that’s heading.
House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, a committee member, said the recent extensive audit of the Idaho Transportation Department showed that Idaho really needs to spend more to maintain its roads. “No one’s disputing the findings of the audit, so we have to assume there’s a gap” in funding, he said. “It’s our responsibility to maintain that road system and we need to do it.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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