I've been holding my breath for today. The 2008 Idaho Legislature has left town. On one hand, lawmakers refused to give local option authority to Idaho communities. On the other hand, the Senate managed to kill the poison pill House Joint Resolution 4, which would have made it almost impossible to fund an effective regional transit system in the next few years.
So now what do we do? Many observers say that nothing will change next year, because the Republican House Leadership will still be in power, as will Gov. Butch Otter. Some have suggested that a ballot initiative may be one way to get local-option authority, but initiatives are expensive.
Simply put, if we are going to have change, it must start at the ballot box. There are dozens of reasons to defeat this man in November; transit may be at the top of the list. Although no Republican had the guts to take him on, three Democrats (Gilda Bothwell, Michelle Waddell, and Ed Wardwell want to try. Here's hoping the best of them wins in May, and that transit advocates will flock to the race to help boost that candidate's chances in the fall. (An aside: Who can tell me anything about these three candidates? Do they have transit cred?) Other Treasure Valley candidates have the opportunity to make this issue their own as well. The need - for better leadership and better transit - is especially acute in western Ada and Canyon counties.
A few months ago, no one was talking about writing local-option authority into the constitution. A statewide coalition had put forth a bill that was tough but fair. No matter what the composition of the legislature next year, let's hope lawmakers return to the Moving Idaho Forward concept and get this job done in 2009.