The House has begun debating HB 246, the governor's bill to increase Idaho's gas tax by 7 cents over the next three years, to raise money for road maintenance. The tax is now 25 cents per gallon. "This is a bill that you've all been waiting for," House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told the House. "I don't present this bill lightly." Before the measure was taken up, House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, asked unanimous consent to return HB 247, the governor's earlier vehicle registration fee increase bill, to the transportation committee, "due to an error in the bill." No one objected.
Bedke told the House, "In Idaho we have got a little problem." There are only 29.8 people per mile of road, he said, vs. 58 in Utah and more than 60 in Oregon. That makes it challenging for Idaho to fund adequate road maintenance. "We have fewer people per mile than most every other state."