March 4, 2013
In Senate Transportation last week we heard sever presentations from the Community Planning Association as well as the Community Transportation Association of Idaho and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council. Tuesday we heard
* S 1082 to create a "Volunteer EMS Specialty License Plate"

* H 66 to remove the Department of Agriculture from monitoring the state’s railroads, and maintains ITD’s role of providing state railroad information to the interagency working group. Thursday’s meeting was extended to 5pm. We met for three hours to discuss two bills relating to the 129,000 pound pilot project:
* S 1064 to statutorily remove the sunset clause on the 129,000 pound trucks pilot project and provides that those trucks can continue to operate on the 35 specific routes of the pilot project. This bill allows trucks to run permanently where they have been running as part of a pilot project. The pilot project demonstrated positive results.
* S 1117 to provide to that the authority having jurisdiction over its roads may designate routes for loads up to 129,000 pounds by using criteria based on integrity engineering standards and public safety established by ITD. This bill expands the programs statewide, giving the local highway district jurisdiction over routes where loads up to 129,000 pounds would be allowed to run. We discussed these bills for several hours, hearing from many different people with interests in this project. S 1064 passed with relative ease and agreement from stakeholders. There was controversy and lengthy debate, however in the discussion of S1117. Arguments in favor of the S 1117 stated that this bill would result in more efficient trucking, would mean fewer overall loads and save companies money. Several stakeholders testified against the legislation, voicing concerns that infrastructure such as some of Idaho’s bridges are already stressed and longer loads may pose a safety risk in Northern Idaho where narrow, windy road can create unsafe conditions for other motorists. Concerns for funding, geological (soil), and climate (heavy rain) were also issues raised in testimony against S 1117. With 5-4 split, the Committee voted to send S1117 to the Senate Floor with a do-pass recommendation. I was among the 4 on the Committee who voted against this. I was uncomfortable with the disunity among stakeholders.
In Senate State Affairs last week we printed several bills and heard bills including:
* H 42 relating to counties to revise the boundary descriptions of Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka Counties.
* HCR 5, a Concurrent Resolution to commemorate the Idaho Territorial Sesquicentennial by providing that the Legislative Auditorium be name the Abraham Lincoln Auditorium.
* S 1118 relating to financial interest to codify the independence between the three-tier system to ensure that none of the tiers are unduly influenced by the others in the marketing of beer products.
* S 1108 relating to Initiative and Referendum Elections to address the balance between urban and rural voters in qualifying initiatives or referendums for the ballot.
* S 1079 relating to Internet Crimes Against Children to create an Internet Crimes Against Children Unit in the Office of the Attorney General to aid in the investigation and prosecution of offenders.
On Tuesday the Senate debated Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 112 and Senate Joint Memorial (SJM) 101 having to do with marijuana. SCR 112, resolving that the Idaho State legislature does not support the legalization of marijuana in Idaho for any purpose passed the Senate and is now in the House State Affairs Committee. SJM 101, requesting that the federal government uphold all federal drug-free policy in all states, however, did not pass the Senate.
Those who voted against the SJM shared in their debate that they were uncomfortable voting for a piece of legislation requesting that the federal government meddle in the state affairs of other states while Idaho endeavors to seek that the federal government respect Idaho’s state sovereignty and withdraw from her state affairs. On the other hand, I voted for SJM 101 with the belief that there is a proper role for the federal government to regulate the activities of interstate trafficking of illegal drugs. For example, the evidence clearly shows that that there is a significant increase in drug trafficking now that Oregon and Washington have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, respectively. The debate for SJM 101 made for yet another interesting discussion in the theme of state sovereignty which seems to be woven throughout this 2013 Legislative Session.
I know I say this in every weekly E-Newsletter, but I continue to be grateful for your continued input on legislation being reviewed by the Legislature during this session. As I stated last week, I view constituent input as a vital part of the legislative process and give due attention to that input. Please continue to contact me by e-mailing me at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..>, calling me at 208-332-1307, by visiting my website at WWW.ChuckWinder.Com<WWW.ChuckWinder.Com> and by finding me on Facebook.
Senator Chuck Winder
Assistant Majority Leader
Idaho State Senate