This legislative update is meant to focus on the issues that concern the mission of Idaho Walk Bike Alliance.
Five weeks into the legislative session finds those in Idaho’s capitol building working at a fever pitch. Legislators, government staff, advocates, and citizens are navigating the winding staircases and marbled halls as swiftly as the 170 bills that are currently making their way through the legislative process. Some pending legislation concerns the mission of Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, and we want to keep you informed.
Electric Bike Legislation
In our last Legislative Update we referenced proposed Electric Bike (E-bike) draft legislation sponsored by Rep. Phyllis King (D), Boise. After assembling a comprehensive panel of stakeholders, including Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, to solicit opinions regarding the technicalities of crafting statewide legislation, Rep. King focused instead on the first step--the definition of an E-bike. There are a wide range of factors to consider, including how a bike is powered and the weight of the rider, among others. Idaho Walk Bike Alliancedid some research, since we’re working closely with Rep. King on this issue. Contact us if you have questions!
Safe Routes to School - Healthy Kids Campaign
The Safe Routes to School – Healthy Kids Campaign, led by Idaho Walk Bike Alliance and the American Heart Association, had an enthusiastic display of force at Youth Lobby Day held Friday, February 3 at the Idaho Capitol. Dozens of impressive, smart, and articulate high school students prepared for months for the opportunity to advocate directly to legislators.
Since our legislation is still in draft form and not ready to present, the student lobbyists led meetings about the benefits of the Safe Routes to School program and asked for dedicated state funding. These young advocates were energetic and fearless! Check out more photos.
We’re all familiar with the function of student and adult crosswalk guards, but some of us may wonder what authority they have. Senate Bill 1019 repeals outdated language and adds to existing law, prohibiting motor vehicles users from disregarding instructions from a school safety board member. It also allows for the reporting of violations. Sen. Steven Thayne (R), Emmett, sponsored this bill, which passed easily through the Senate and is ready to be voted on by the House.
Two years ago the Idaho Legislature approved increased registration fees for gas hybrid and electric cars, the argument being that those vehicle owners were not paying into the gas tax system, which helps fund roads. The $75 surcharge on gas hybrid vehicles, like the popular Toyota Prius, was very unpopular with constituents. Rep. Joe Palmer (R), Meridian, tried to repeal it last year, but it failed to make it out of the Senate. This year’s legislation, House Bill 20, sponsored by Rep. Steven Harris (R), Meridian, eliminates the increased fees to gas hybrid cars, but the $140 surcharge for fully electric cars remains in place. This legislation passed the House unanimously and is poised for a Senate vote.
Bicyclists on Rural Roads
Last month we told you about a proposal in Montana that quickly caught the attention of bike and pedestrian safety advocates. First-time Representative Barry Usher (R), District 40,presented draft legislationthat prohibits bicyclists and pedestrians from using two-lane highways outside of municipalities when no paved shoulder is provided. This includes those in wheelchairs and on mopeds, as well as “a person on a skateboard, scooter, or other similar nonmotorized vehicle." Bike Walk Montana and other advocates approached Rep. Usher to craft better language to ensure access, as well as safety, on Montana’s rural roads. The current draft is “on hold” right now, so we will let you know if that changes.
Idaho Walk Bike Alliance will closely follow developments on these issues and any other legislation pertaining to walking and bicycling safety and keep our members informed.
If you know of other policy proposals that would affect our core mission, or if you have questions or comments regarding this legislative update, please contact us right away!
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