Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, told the Senate that her proposed amendment to HB 312 “would free up $10 million to be used to advance mobility and transit considerations throughout the state of Idaho.” She said, “As part of a 21st Century transportation vision, Idaho needs solutions to address congestion in urban communities and mobility issues in rural communities.”
Senate Transportation Chairman Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said, “All fuel tax and registration fees must be spent on roads and highways. Assuming that is correct, public transportation does not fit into that category, does it?” Buckner-Webb responded, “I understood that it could be used for GARVEE debt because it had some highway-building value, that it would be paying off highway debt.”
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said, “I think that passage of this amendment might put in jeopardy some of the bonding that we’ve got in place. ... Absent having firm answers on the potential for impacting those bonding agreements, I think that we should defeat this amendment.”
That closed debate on the first amendment, but the Senate won’t vote on any of them until it’s discussed all of them. However, at that point, Sen. Lori DenHartog, R-Meridian, rose, and said, “I would like to ask unanimous consent that we withdraw the A5 amendment.”
No one objected, so that “radiator cap” amendment is now off the table. “That will make our task this afternoon on this a whole lot simpler,” said Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise.
Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, then introduced his amendment. “The surcharge on electrics and hybrids will disincentivize their use. We need more of them, not less.” Burgoyne said fees for those vehicles can be addressed much later, when there are more of them, enough to actually impact roads.
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, countered, “I think in the tradition of Idaho’s user pay system, if it’s got wheels and runs on the road, it needs to pay the fee. ... They’re running wheels down the highway and they’re not paying in a commensurate way.”