Legislation creating the new Idaho State Parks Passport program is on its way to the governor's desk; HB 446 has passed the Senate on a unanimous vote. The legislation will give Idahoans a chance to buy either a $10 annual pass or $20 two-year-pass to all Idaho state parks when they renew their vehicle registration. That's far less than the $40 annual passes have cost in the past (daily entry is $5), but the hope is that by widely offering the passes to all motorists at the lower price, more will sign up; the state parks system estimates that if just 20 percent of motorists buy the pass, it'll make $1.9 million a year in net revenue.
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said it's “a creative bill that will allow a steady funding source for the department.” Idaho's Department of Parks & Recreation has seen massive budget cuts, said Cameron, the Senate Finance chairman. If Gov. Butch Otter signs the bill into law, the new passes would be available Jan. 1, 2013.
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, said her constituents have been enthusiastic about the idea. “I think there'll be a huge outpouring of Idahoans who want to participate in this wonderful opportunity,” she said.