The Idaho State Senate Wednesday passed Senate Bill 1117 on a 22-13 vote. The bill would allow local authorities to permit the use of additional routes and roadways by heavier commercial trucks, some of which weigh as much as 129,000 pounds.
One of those speaking in favor of the legislation was Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell. "It is not our job here in the Senate to second-guess every local highway district in the state," he said. "When local authorities don't want to make a decision, they scream at us. When they want to make a decision themselves, they scream ‘local control' at us. Well, this is local control. So let's give it to them."
Another supporter of giving the discretion to local government on load limits was Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene. "As the scales are balanced between government and industry, my scales tip towards industry," he said. Nonini also noted that because the bill would allow for the use of additional roads and highways by large industrial trucks, businesses would likely experience a cost savings by being able to ship larger loads with fewer vehicles.
"It's difficult for me to vote against something that could benefit the economy," Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, told his fellow senators. However, Lacey believes that there are public safety issues at stake by allowing additional roads and highways to be used by operators of large-sized cargo vehicles. So, he cast a "no" vote.
One legislator joined Lacey in worrying about the safety of heavier loads. Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, said "I think this ends up taking trucks off the interstate and puts them on other roads and creates a safety hazard. For that reason, I am voting 'no.'"
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration
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