Parking is a major topic of discussion in the 2012 Legislature and a couple of lawmakers want to ease the problem caused by the lack of it around the Capitol.
Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, pitched a bill on the House floor Tuesday that would allow the state to build a new parking garage using money saved through refinancing other government buildings. The garage is expected to cost up to $8 million, but could come in as low as $6 million.
The measure, passed on a 61-3 vote in the House, now heads to the Idaho Senate.
Bedke said that while the state employs 2,300 in the Capitol Mall complex, there are only around 1,200 spaces for workers’ cars. That usually leads to vehicles lining the streets where free parking is available in the area, though it is scarce. Each legislative session only adds to the problem, as lawmakers vie for the state-owned spaces and press, lobbyists and Capitol visitors try to snag parking spaces.
The legislation doesn’t mandate that a garage be built within a certain time, but it gives the Idaho Department of Administration the authority to make the moves necessary to finance and build the structure.
Bedke said many sites are being eyed for the new garage, but an early frontrunner is an existing state-owned parking lot immediately adjacent to the Capitol Mall.
The bill is sponsored by Bedke, House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, and Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise.
Palmer is pushing a bill to shutter parking meters around the Capitol during legislative sessions as a way to provide more access to the Statehouse, but though it passed the House, it has yet to receive a committee hearing in the Idaho Senate.
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