Idaho’s urban renewal districts have fallen under scrutiny and criticism in recent years. And if one state representative has his way, the districts will have less power.

“Currently, urban renewal districts have the power to enter into any private home or business to make an inspection,” Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the House Local Government Commitee. “This bill strikes the language behind those powers.”

Malek said to, “Urban renewal districts don’t need this kind of power.” Thus, his proposed legislation that seeks to reduce the broad powers that the districts currently possess.

The committee voted unanimously to send the bill forward for further committee analysis. “As it stands, urban renewal districts have the authority to enter any private home or business within its territory,” Malek told after the committee hearing. “It is policing power, and it is unnecessary, and we intend to do something about that.”
One thing Malek is not proposing to reduce, however, is the power of a district to use eminent domain.

During questioning among the committee members, Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, asked Malek if urban renewal districts currently have eminent domain powers in Idaho, to which Malek answered in the affirmative.

“I think far too many people have the power of eminent domain, and I wanted to make that clear,” noted Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, chair of the committee. “We undermine private property rights with all of this.”

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