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Eye On Boise

Senate passes pro-megaloads bill to make lawsuits tougher

The Senate has voted 27-8 in favor of HB 193a, the amended version of Rep. Dick Harwood's pro-megaloads bill to require a big cash bond before anyone can sue to block one of the loads. The bill originally required a cash bond equal to 5 percent of the insured value of the load; the amended version allows a judge to require a bond of up to 10 percent of that value. Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said, “Idaho has a good permitting process, but one in this case that was manipulated and in my opinion unnecessarily delayed.”

He said he thought the process of permitting megaloads already allows “plenty of public input,” and said, “By taking the 5 percent floor and turning it into a 10 percent cap … the average person can actually participate in the process much more easily.” McGee said, “The problem we have is that people's jobs were being held up by these lawsuits. … Passage of this bill sends a message that Idaho is not going to let its economy be held hostage by activist groups using lawsuits as delay tactics.”

When the bill had its Senate committee hearing, Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning testified that ITD has only ever faced one lawsuit over a load - the one over the Highway 12 megaloads, which was unsuccessful. The bill passed the Senate on a 27-8 vote; it now goes back to the House for concurrence in the amendments.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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