That was a weird one: House GOP members of the conference committee proposed a change to a section of legislative intent in HB 312a, to alter it so that it would require all funds that got to the Idaho Transportation Department under state law to only be used for roads and highways. There were lots of questions about why that was being proposed and what it meant.
Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, said, “This was handed out to us by our leadership earlier, and they said that they had talked to someone, maybe at the department, who said that would make it easier and more clear for them … to make it more clear what the money was for.” Mollie McCarty of ITD was asked to respond; she said she hadn’t seen the language and was unsure if it was talking about the strategic project fund or not.
Eric Milstead, legislative services director, said, “By changing it to ffunds under Idaho law,’ it’s much broader than this act. It’s any revenue that is provided to the Transportation Department. So I don’t know what the fiscal impact of that is and exactly what funds or revenues are implicated under that change, but it is broader than the original language that you considered.” It sounds like the language would have eliminated all ITD functions that don’t relate to maintenance or construction of roads – everything from bike path or trail programs to landscaping to public transit.
Then, Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, pointed out that the Idaho Code section that was cited isn’t even the highway distribution formula – it’s the sales tax distribution to Idaho cities. Legislative staffers verified that.
“If that’s the intention we are a lot further apart than we started this,” said Cameron. “Might I suggest that we set this aside and not muddy the waters with this new language.” At that point, Palmer and Vander Woude agreed. Sen. Bert Brackett called for a straw poll; it was unanimous. “I think that’s a milestone,” Brackett said.