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Idaho House backs new garage vs. meter shutdown

Tue., March 13, 2012, 11:51 a.m.

Parking meters limit parking around the Idaho state Capitol to two hours. (Betsy Russell)
Parking meters limit parking around the Idaho state Capitol to two hours. (Betsy Russell)

BOISE - The Idaho House has voted 61-3 to build a new state parking garage within the Capitol Mall, using savings from refinancing existing state bonds, and expand parking options for members of the public visiting the Statehouse during the legislative session.

“We’ve gone round and round on parking issues this year, on this floor and in the committees,” said House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. “This is a permanent fix to the problem.”

Earlier, the House passed legislation to shut down parking meters around the Capitol during legislative sessions, despite opposition from the city of Boise, which warned all-day parkers would then monopolize those public spaces; after the vote, news emerged that the son of the bill’s sponsor, House Transportation Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, had numerous unpaid parking tickets in the area and had his car towed for unpaid tickets on the first day of this year’s legislative session. Palmer is a co-sponsor of the parking garage bill, HCR 47.

Bedke told the House, “When we built the new wings on this building and we did the remodel on the Capitol, it was all to the goal of increasing public access to the Capitol and to come to hearings etc., and we’ve got a parking problem.”

Bedke said favorable interest rates now mean the bond refinance will yield more than enough to build and operate a $7 million multi-level parking garage.

The three “no” votes came from GOP Reps. Mike Moyle, R-Star; Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene; and Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. Moyle said later, “I just don’t like bonding.” The concurrent resolution now moves to the Senate side.

After passing the House, the parking meter bill was assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee, but hasn’t had a hearing there. Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said earlier that he was awaiting input from the city of Boise, and didn’t want to do anything to worsen visitor parking around the Capitol.

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