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Divided House panel backs Clow’s bill to crack down on fast-lane slowpokes

Rep. Lance Clow
Rep. Lance Clow

A divided House Transportation Committee has agreed to advance Rep. Lance Clow’s proposed legislation to make it illegal for anyone driving in the left lane of a controlled-access freeway to impede other traffic that’s traveling at the speed limit; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Under questioning from committee members, Clow, R-Twin Falls, said, “I think a lot of this is somewhat subjective. It’s kind of like the rules of the road kind of thing, and courtesy, and reminding people that they need to be aware.” He said, “I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of tickets issued as a result of this, but it will remind people what is appropriate behavior in their passing.”

Asked by Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, how it would affect trucks, which have a 70 mph speed limit on Idaho freeways where cars have an 80 mph limit, Clow said, “We have that challenge of the dual speed limits. If the truck moves into that left lane, we’re hoping they’re going to be more sensitive about how they do that. Most of the challenges I’ve seen when that happens is when they’re getting near a hill. I’m thinking: Decide sooner.”

Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, noted that she’s been traveling Idaho’s highways in an RV this year, as she campaigns for lieutenant governor, and she’s encountered plenty of times when she was going as fast as she could, but as she started up a hill, it took a while to pass and get back over. “I think that’s going to happen for people that have recreational vehicles,” she said. “I’m sorry – they just don’t go as fast as cars.” She asked if she’d be socked with a $90 ticket in those situations.

Clow responded, “It will be a judgment call, if you’re impeding traffic. … Hopefully it’s a message to vehicles to make sure they’re aware of what’s around them, and I’m sure you’d do the best you can.”

When Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, asked Clow about why his bill didn't match regulations on two-lane roads regarding passing when holding up three or more vehicles, Clow tweaked him by responding, "Rep. Syme, the science guy," then added amid laughter, "I had to do that." Syme and Clow are among members of the House Education Committee who objected to sections of proposed school science standards this year, leading to a controversial vote in the committee to strip out portions of the standards; a Senate committee has yet to act on that. Clow said he followed advice from state agencies in crafting the passing bill.

Four committee members voted against advancing the bill, HB 471, to the full House, Reps. Gannon, Syme, Packer and Wintrow; but they were outvoted.



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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