The conference committee has now gone at ease for 10 minutes; it’s set aside the areas on which it doesn’t agree: Gas tax, treatment of taxes on gaseous fuels, and a 60-40 split of new road funds raised.
There was some debate over a section of legislative intent requiring reports on how the new road money raised by HB 312a is used. “I agree this is good legislative intent … but is there any teeth in requiring the report?” asked Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa. He suggested cutting off the funds if the reports aren’t turned in by local or state agencies. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, responded, “We are the legislative branch, not the executive branch.” Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane noted that the Legislature has subpoena power, and Rep. Joe Palmer said he agreed with Cameron’s comments. “We don’t need to always be kicking somebody,” he said. After some discussion, Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said, “This is a good, clear message, I believe.”
Another section of legislative intent that the Senate added to HB 312, to increase enforcement of violations of dyed diesel laws, also drew some discussion. Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, questioned the cost and whether it would pay off. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said he didn’t want to see “harassment of farmers or other folks trying to eke out a living.” Brackett said, “I come from the ag community. … I’m very supportive of keeping the honest folks honest.” Vander Woude said, “I guess it would depend on what kind of ideas that state police come up with that make it acceptable, short of being harassment. The intent is good. I don’t know quite how you put wheels under it to make it work.” Brackett said the problem goes beyond ag. “I’ve got reports of U-Haul trucks being returned with dyed diesel,” he said. “Are we all right with it?” When no one responded, he said, “I’ll erase the hold, then.”