An advisory vote on how to fix U.S. Highway 95 is still alive after squeaking by a House panel Monday.
In a 7-5 vote, the House Transportation Committee passed the bill that would put upgrades to Highway 95 and several other state roads in the hands of voters this November. Then, the 1999 Legislature could make the final decision on how to repair the roads.
Sen. Jack Riggs, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he was surprised the bill survived the committee. But there is still a possibility the bill will die on the House floor this week.
Instead of debating the advisory vote, lawmakers argued over how the state should fund the repair projects.
Riggs’ bill suggests increasing car registration fees to pay for the projects, but leaves the final decision up to the Legislature. The proposed advisory vote would help lawmakers make this decision, Riggs said.
“Let the people make the decision,” Rep. Hilde Kellogg, R-Post Falls, said. “It’s a new concept.”
Several lawmakers from Ada County said Boise-area residents already pay higher car registration fees.
Other legislators said they would rather support a fuel tax increase.
Rep. Don Pischner, R-Coeur d’Alene, reminded committee members that the bill would ask voters to decide those issues.
“All we’re doing is sending this out to the polls,” Pischner said.
“The problem isn’t the bill, the problem is with the Legislature and their reluctance to vote up or down on the project and these specific proposals. It’s a matter of safety.”