Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Idaho Legislature Marathon Grinds On

Putnam photo

House of Representatives To Go Home on Wednesday

Boise--On day 108 at the Idaho Legislature the House of Representatives is standing firm on plans to pack up and go home on Wednesday. That decision was reached after a closed door meeting with Gov. Butch Otter in which he made a last pitch for $80-million dollars to fix Idaho’s roads and bridges this session.

But House Leadership didn’t bite on the bait and instead came up with a plan to remove the tax exemption on ethanol and raise fees at the DMV that would raise a paltry $25-million…far short of Otters proposal.

Rep. Ken Roberts told reporters "We're making plans to adjourn by Wednesday night and go home." According to law they can go home if they complete their legislative agenda but the big catch lies with the State Constitution that declares that the House cannot adjourn for more than three days unless the Senate agrees. So if the Senate is still working next Monday, by law they’ll have to come back.

The Senate has shown luke-warm support of the governor by approving a legislative package with gas-tax increases up to $75 million for roads….but still $10-million less than Otter’s budget.

Meanwhile Governor Otter’s now famous 'Monday letter' is still buzzing in the halls of the Statehouse Annex, in which he thanked lawmakers for their hard work. "For all this and for your civic virtue, your friendship and our shared commitment to limited government and unlimited opportunity, you have my deep and sincere thanks."

Lawmakers say the letter is open to interpretation, with some saying the Governor is throwing in the towel while others see a peace offering. Nonetheless both bodies are working today in a swirl of mixed and uncertain times. Is this the end of the session, or the beginning of the end of the 60th Legislative Session, stay tuned.

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