I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone, but farmers from Rexburg, Donnelly, and Rigby today helped deny the right of a half-million Treasure Valley citizens to decide for ourselves whether we want a decent public transit system.
On a 11-7 vote, the House Rev & Tax Committee killed House Bill 246. The vote was mostly along party lines, with only Rep. Leon Smith - a Twin Falls Republican - joining the panel's five Democrats in an effort to defeat Rep. Ken Roberts' motion to hold the bill in committee.
After more than two hours of testimony yesterday and today that overwhelmingly favored the bill, Smith - a mediator and attorney by profession - moved it be sent to the full House. Failure to do so, he added, would "destroy the work of so many people over several years" to give Treasure Valley residents a shot at passing a local option tax to fund transit.
As galling as it is that rural legislators can decide urban issues, the panel's western Treasure Valley contingent didn't help matters. Reps. Mike Moyle of Star and Gary Collins and Robert Schaefer of Nampa all voted to kill the bill, and all sat mostly silent during the hearings. The panel also was stone-faced on bill sponsor Roy Eiguren's challenge, offered yesterday and repeated today: If a local option tax isn't the answer to the Treasure Valley's pressing transit needs, what is?
Update 11:45: I just got an email from House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, a panel member, who said committee chair Dennis Lake, also voted to send the bill to the House.