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Committee approves bill to shutter Capitol parking meters during legislative sessions

Committee approves bill to shutter Capitol parking meters during legislative sessions

Dustin Hurst
February 16, 2012
Dustin Hurst
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February 16, 2012

On a 9-5 vote Thursday, the House Transportation Committee approved a measure to shutter parking meters around the Idaho Capitol and adjoining state properties during legislative sessions.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, chair of the committee. Palmer says his bill is designed to ease access to the Capitol for people wishing to testify at legislative hearings.

Palmer said his bill isn’t perfect, but would be a step forward in finding a solution to parking problems while lawmakers are in Boise. He added that if the idea doesn’t work, “I would be the first person in line to carry a bill to repeal this legislation.”

The city of Boise, which runs the parking meters, sent Ross Borden, its governmental affairs chief, to the hearing to testify against the idea. Borden said that parking meters, while inconvenient, maintain effective access to the Capitol. “It (the bill) will not accomplish the goal of helping the public testify,” Borden said.

Because shuttering the meters would also mean the end to parking time limits around the Capitol, Borden warned Palmer’s bill would likely mean less parking. “It would actually make parking more difficult to find,” he said. “Without time limits, there would be little access.”

Though the bill cleared the committee, there was some bipartisan opposition. Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, said he agreed with Borden’s warning. “I would be afraid people would abuse this,” Hart said. “I would support maybe another idea.”

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, said there is a parking problem, but wouldn’t support Palmer’s plan. “I don’t have a lot of hope this is going to help,” Ringo said. “I’d like to see us do some work on the concept and come up with something that would more specifically address the problem we are trying to solve.”

Rep. Bob Nonini,R-PostFalls, who motioned to pass the bill, called it a “starting point.”

The measure now moves to the House floor for a vote.

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