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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Harwood bill would target anti-megaload lawsuits

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, has introduced legislation requiring anyone who files a lawsuit against a transportation project on state highways to post a bond equal to 5 percent of the value of the items being hauled, and if the plaintiffs lose the lawsuit, the whole bond would go to the Idaho Transportation Department. Plus, the bill would authorize the court to award damages to the hauler in the amount of its loss for delays related to the lawsuit.

Harwood said, "This has been brought because of the megaloads. Any time an individual group can stop our commerce from flowing, it's not a good thing, and that's what happened." Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, an attorney, raised questions about the bill, saying, "It looks like they're paying twice." Harwood said, "It's the transportation department that most likely will be sued, that's what happened." Luker said if the bond is excessive, the petitioner should get amounts back beyond the department's costs associated with the project, but said, "the bill doesn't say that."

Rep. Max Black, R-Boise, said, "I think that that's totally justifiable because they really did put the Department of Transportation into a lot of extra hearings, and transportation costs, going to North Idaho for the hearings and whatever else. Ultimately, they won, but without this, there was no reimbursement for their extra expenses." The House State Affairs Committee voted to introduce the bill today, though Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, objected; Harwood said he expects the bill to be assigned to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Harwood compared his proposal to bonds required for lawsuits over state timber sales, and said those bond requirements "pretty much ended any lawsuits on the Department of Lands."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.