Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, says his bill to shutter parking meters around the Idaho Capitol and adjacent state buildings during legislative sessions isn’t perfect, but would be a “starting point” for improving citizen access to hearings.
House members from Boise disagreed, arguing the bill would only complicate downtown parking.
The measure passed 41-27 and now heads to the Idaho Senate.
Palmer told the House floor Thursday that his measure is designed as a way to cut down on frustration for residents who come to testify before committee hearings. “It’s not for us,” Palmer said. “This is for the people who need access to us.”
There is a fear, Palmer said, that frequent Capitol patrons, like staffers, lobbyists or reporters, would park in the spots early in the morning and stay all day. “You’re probably right,” Palmer said. “We have ways of managing that.”
Palmer said the state would likely have to educate lobbyists and other who might be tempted to use the spots against the practice.
Some members of Boise’s legislative delegation stepped up to oppose the bill. Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, who used to have a downtown office, said parking meters are there for a purpose and that they keep parking traffic flowing. “This is well-intentioned, but there’s no way this could possibly work,” Cronin said.
Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, suggested the state find a way to issue stickers to those who wish to testify at the Capitol to exempt them from parking meter time limits. She also said the city might also look at changing the meters from two to four hours. “This is not the right bill,” King said.
Palmer said the measure is the beginning of the parking discussion and could lead to more legislation. “This is not a perfect bill. I think it’s a starting point,” he said. “Parking is definitely an issue. It’s easy to repeal if this doesn’t work.”
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