Legislation to block any government entity in Idaho from using the power of eminent domain to create hiking trails, bike paths or greenways passed the Senate yesterday on a 20-13 vote, after much debate, and now moves to the House side, though opponents warned that it could cripple cities’ ability to create greenways like the popular Boise River Greenbelt, or even to create safe walking routes to school for kids. Backers said the measure, SB 1044, would prevent the use of condemnation for amenities, rather than for things that are really needed.
Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, the bill’s sponsor, said eminent domain gives cities too much power. He compared it to his sister once being robbed at gunpoint at the family’s grocery store. "Even though he didn't fire the gun, there's no question in my mind that he used it," Guthrie said. "How fair is it, when at the beginning of the negotiation process the other party has something in their tool bag, as the cities put it, that you don't?"
Sen. Jim Patrick R-Twin Falls, questioned claims that people use bicycles for transportation, saying he’s never done so. “I guess some say that you can ride your bicycle for transportation,” Patrick told the Senate. “I never had that pleasure because I had to get places a little quicker than that, and I had to carry stuff with me. So I guess maybe that’s beyond my understanding.” The bill bans the use of condemnation “for trails, paths, greenways or other ways for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use, unless adjacent to a highway, road or street.” The Idaho Falls Post-Register, via the Associated Press, has a full report here.