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Idaho House votes to shut off Capitol parking meters

Thu., Feb. 23, 2012, 10:46 a.m.

BOISE - The Idaho House has voted 41-27 to shut off the parking meters around the state Capitol during legislative sessions, over the objections of the city of Boise and an array of Boise legislators.

House Transportation Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, said he’s “had my share” of parking tickets, but that’s not why he brought the bill; it’s because a constituent complained to him after sitting for four hours in a legislative hearing only to not get to testify, then ended up with a parking ticket too at an expired two-hour parking meter.

“We’ve had frustrated people here this year across the street telling us that they don’t have access to us and they want to know how they can get better access to us,” Palmer said. “There is that problem of parking which I hear over and over.”

But Boise lawmakers warned the move wouldn’t increase anyone’s access. “I don’t think there is a prayer, if these parking meters are hooded during the time we are in the session, that anyone who doesn’t arrive in downtown Boise by 7 a.m. is going to get a parking spot around the Capitol building,” said Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise.

Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, whose district includes the state Capitol, said, “There are tens of thousands of people that come downtown every day to work, and parking … is at a premium. What will happen inevitably is that people will show up, people who work in offices downtown, and they will get here very early, and they will park in those spots … and that’s where their cars will remain for the entire day.”

Palmer, a new committee chairman this year who’s pushing his first major legislative proposal, told the House, “This is not a perfect bill. There is reasons to be against this bill. But I think it is a starting point.” He said if the law is enacted and it doesn’t work out, “It’s easy to repeal this” in a subsequent legislative session.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it likely will be assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.

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