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Senators question Harwood on bill seeking to block megaload lawsuits

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, is presenting his pro-megaloads bill, HB 193a, to the Senate Transportation Committee, and he's getting lots of questions; the bill would require a huge cash bond before anyone could file a lawsuit to block a transportation project on Idaho highways. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, noted that Harwood spoke repeatedly of "frivolous lawsuits" and talked about the lawsuit that was filed in north-central Idaho against the proposed megaloads on Highway 12, but noted, "It's not my impression that the lawsuit that was brought in the megaloads case was considered to be frivolous by either the hearing officer or the judge." Harwood responded, "I just used that term because sometimes that's how I feel they are."

When Werk asked Harwood about his contention that people can find judges who'll rule any way they want, Harwood said, "Certain judges do lean in different directions. A lot of times maybe their ... personal opinon, and I know in my case often my own personal opinion overrides the right thing to do."

When Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, asked how much a typical 5 percent bond against the insured value of a load would be, as envisioned in the bill, Harwood said to haul an excavator requires $750,000 in liability insurance. Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, who owns a trucking company, questioned that. "That's what I understood," Harwood said. "I might say that that's what my friend Jack Buell told me, so I'm going with what he told me." Corder responded, "You might need to get a new friend. We haul them all the time, because we own them. ... We don't have $750,000 on anything. So that's probably another piece of information that isn't quite correct."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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