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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Committee torpedoes transit chances

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.


Josh said...

It's absolutely fantastic that we can't even be graced with opportunity to vote one way or another on this. Score one for democracy.

Julie in Boise said...

Yeah, these legislators are all about local control, except when they aren't.

Just another example of the cognitive dissonance of the Idaho Legislature.

ddy said...

Julie uses the term "cognitive" in her posting. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "cognitive" as: "of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (as thinking, reasoning, or remembering)". I'd propose that the committee, in particular the rural rubes who voted against it, define the opposite of that term.

Bikeboy said...

How DARE you impugn our elected public servants?!! THEY know what's best for us, and will take care of us. So just shut up and pay your taxes.

(I lost a LOT of confidence when they overrode the voters who wanted to term-limit them back into a "citizen legislature." They're much more comfortable knowing they can feed at the public trough for life.)

Bikeboy said...

According to a brief article on the Canyon County newspaper website, "Rep. Bob Schaefer said, 'People can only handle so much taxes,' ... adding that he thought any new sales tax would hurt the economy more than than the inconvenience of congested roads."

How does Schaefer get to the Statehouse from his Nampa digs? And at what time? (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe he rides in the back of a limo with tinted windows.)

Can we only have new taxes when they are imposed upon us by our "public servants"?

yossarian_22 said...

I guess this just goes to show that democracy = "whatever IACI and ranchers want" and screw everyone else. Corporate welfare is good and public services are bad.

Lenore Barrett said we don't need transit. She said if you don't like traffic congestion, don't drive. And for those who are tired of polluted air, don't worry, the "peer reviewed" psuedo science I heard about at the hearings informs us that the air is magically getting cleaner due to "cleaner cars."

I just saw a movie called "Idiocracy." I feel I'm seeing it unfold in front of my very eyes.

MountainGoat said...

My brother is a civil engineer with UDOT; the light rail around SLC has flourished and really improved the congestion problems there. They love it.

I really thought something similar would be just as successful here...if legislators would just give it a chance.

utahtramsit said...

I think a nice streetcar system cruising around the metro-Boise area would be a great addition.