March 2, 2012

Every year the legislature begins slowly and builds as weeks pass and considerations from constituents and other groups in Idaho become research projects, turning into drafted and then actual legislation. As this process picks-up at the legislature, my colleagues and I work non-stop to presenting and promoting legislation which we have committed ourselves and our time to.

Every year, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has brought to the attention of the Senate and House Transportation Committees concerns that Idaho’s bridges need funding in order for ITD to maintain these bridges and their safe use. I co-sponsored S 1317aa to address this issue by expanding the limits of GARVEE bonding to allowing funding to be spent on reconstruction of critical bridges. S1317aa does not authorize new funds, but authorizes ITD to consider funding bridges as a use for remaining GARVEE bonding funds.
The Meridian Interchange Bridge is 5th on the list of high priority bridges for replacement in the State and I am hopeful that this bridge, which receives an extremely high volume of traffic, will, along with other high priority bridges, will be replaced as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, the Senate heard S 1305, a bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Siddoway, a livestock owner who has seen first hand the devastation that wolves can bring to a flock of sheep and the dogs protecting those flocks. S 1305 would have allowed Idahoans whose livestock is attacked by a wolf or a pack of wolves to use live bait to bait wolves and to use any motorized vehicle including a motorized parachute, helicopter or fixed-wing airplane to shoot and kill wolves after obtaining a permit from fish and game. Senator Jeff Siddoway gave an emotional and heartfelt testimony of seeing his own guard dogs and sheep torn to pieces by packs of wolves. Although he conceded that this bill is controversial, he heeded sound advice that this bill could jeopardize the wolf’s endangered species status and asked for unanimous consent to send the bill back to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, effectually killing the bill. There was no objection. Despite the fact the S 1305 will not make it out of Committee again, Senator Siddoway made clear his point that wolves are having a horrific impact on wildlife, livestock and domestic animals across the entire state of Idaho.

I would like to congratulate fellow Ada County Senator Russ Fulcher from Meridian for being elected by the Senate Majority Caucus to fill the vacant leadership role of Majority Caucus Chairman. Senator Fulcher has served well in this position in previous years and I have every confidence in Senator Fulcher to do an excellent job fulfilling this role throughout the remainder of this legislative session. I know that he will do what he can to help our caucus members with both the primary and general elections coming up this year.

I am pleased to announce that I have filed this week to run for another term in the State Senate. I will seek re-election to State Senate in District 20. My new District encompasses most of the city of Meridian, especially the downtown area, along with a portion of my old district in northern Meridian and West Boise.

As former Director of the Idaho Transportation Board, one of my priorities will be bringing my experience on transportation issues to bear on meeting the challenges faced by Meridian residents and businesses. This is shown in my recent support of using existing GARVEE authority for bridge construction, like the Meridian Interchange. We’ve made progress, but the growth and vitality of Meridian demand that we continue to devote resources to improving the road system in Western Ada County.

When I made my announcement early last month, I was pleased that Senator Shirley McKague, representing the current District 20, had endorsed my running for re-election. I appreciate her support as I go forward, and I will continue her fight for smaller government, respect for life and freedom.
As the session continues into March, my colleagues and I continue to review legislation which we have worked on all session, and in some cases all year, to see enacted into law. Please continue to send me your concerns and ideas regarding proposed legislation. Hearing from you helps me serve you and I appreciate your input. Contact me by phone at 332-1307, by e-mail at<>, at my website<>, or on facebook.

Senator Chuck Winder,
Assistant Majority Leader