Just a week ago Idaho’s Capitol bubbled with activity, as the Legislature fulfilled its commitment to adjourn before the end of the week. Today that frenzied vigor is absent from the two-block-long hallways, curving staircases and marbled open rotunda. An echoing stillness is left behind, occasionally interrupted by the relatively few remaining staff who work year-round or various groups touring the Capitol building.
During the 80-day legislative session, Idaho Walk Bike Alliance followed political activity that affects our core mission, and we conveyed back to you what we learned. Now that the session is over, we can let you know what worked out and what will return for the 2018 session.
Safe Routes to School - Healthy Kids Campaign
In addition to following bills and committee hearings, Idaho Walk Bike Alliance was a daily presence at the Capitol for our own legislation. 2017 marks a significant milestone in our history—for the first time, we sponsored a bill in the Idaho Legislature. The Safe Routes to School – Healthy Kids campaign, co-sponsored by the American Heart Association, presented legislation to support the national Safe Routes to School program with state dollars. A brief history:
Days later the full Senate endorsed S1121 with a 27-8 vote, adding more momentum and crucial support for this important program.
Members of the House were prepared to vote enthusiastically for this bill, which would benefit all communities in Idaho, especially the rural and remote towns. Unfortunately, the House Transportation & Defense Committee declined to hear S1121 before the end of the session, precluding those representatives from having the opportunity to voice their support.
With just a few days left in the session, we concluded it would end anticlimactically and began strategizing for the new and improved bill we’d present in 2018.
Then an astounding thing happened.
Rep. Janet Trujillo, (R), Idaho Falls, presenting H334
before the Senate Transportation Committee on March 29, 2017.
Rep. Trujillo began her presentation by recounting the story of her grandson being hit by a truck while he bicycled to school. She impressed upon the members the importance of Safe Routes to School and inspired the body to vote overwhelmingly in favor of it. Within 24 hours, H334 passed through both the House and the Senate easily, with collective votes totaling 92-11.
It still awaits the governor’s signature!
TWO IMPORTANT CALLS TO ACTION:
The governor has yet to sign this legislation for it to become law, and he has just a few days left to do so. Please call or email Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and urge him to sign H334 because of the Safe Routes to School language. Use this link for messaging tips for contacting the governor. It’s easy!
Rep. Mat Erpelding worked tirelessly this session to make sure the Legislature fulfilled its commitment from two years ago to fund Safe Routes to School. We are extremely grateful for his diligence. Rep. Janet Trujillo was integral to presenting this legislation, and without their combined efforts, this session would have ended much differently. Please take a moment to thank them:
We spent countless hours with legislators and received unwavering (and sometimes unexpected) support from so many of them. The session offered enormous insight into many Idahoans’ concerns, what their needs are, and how Safe Routes to School can contribute in great and small ways. The thoughtful questions posed by these legislators made the campaign stronger and positions us to develop an enhanced version of the Safe Routes to School – Healthy Kids legislation for the 2018 session!
Our primary objective is to harness our success from 2017 and parlay that into dedicated state funds during the 2018 session. Our strategy is to go local, and we’ll need your help to engage your legislators and show them the value of Safe Routes to School and how this program can improve the health, safety, and economic vitality of your town.
Events like Walk to School Day are excellent opportunities in which to invite your state leaders, so they can walk with school children. As the spring warms up, more of these occasions will be available, and we encourage you to let Idaho Walk Bike Alliance help coordinate your efforts and get the media to show up!
We are developing workshops designed to train individuals who want to be more effective locally. Details are pending, but if this is something that interests you, feel free to contact us!
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
Identify projects in your area that were funded by Safe Routes to School or the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
Have they improved safety?
Does your community have unmet need for this program?
We want to know! Share your stories and photos with us, so we can build a statewide case that is both urban and rural. When we return for the next session, we want every Idaho legislator to have a personal connection to Safe Routes to School.
The January 27, February 9 and February 27 legislative updates and an Idaho Statesman article from February 24 offer the earlier details regarding a proposed Electric bicycles (E-Bikes) bill introduced by Rep. Phylis King (D), of Boise. As E-bikes become more popular, they also introduce confusion about what role they play in the transportation framework. Should they be allowed in the foothills? In bike lanes? On the Greenbelt? Rep. King hoped to answer many of these questions with her bill, but it ultimately failed to get out of committee. Idaho Walk Bike Alliance is in front of this growing concern, along with many other stakeholders, from advocates to land managers, and we know this process could take years. We will work closely with Rep. King to resolve these conflicting issues in a way that works for everyone. Contact us if you have questions!
Downtown Boise, 2016 (Photo: Ceci Thunes)
Read the previous legislative update to learn more about this obnoxious cultural phenomenon known as coal rolling and the efforts of Sen. Michelle Stennett (D), Ketchum, to address it. SB 1130, co-sponsored by Sen. Bert Brackett (R), Rogerson, defined coal-rolling as when a “person…purposely cause[s] a vehicle to releasesignificant quantities of soot, smoke or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways, other vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians or others.”
Some think it's a harmless prank, but it is actually dangerous, inhumane, and frankly, outrageous that it's not illegal to purposefully enshroud someone in a toxic cloud of exhaust:
click image to watch video
Unfortunately, Sen. Stennett's bill failed to make it out of the Senate, but she says she will re-introduce improved legislation next year to address this issue. Considering how much coal rollers like to brag about their exploits, this trend likely won't go away.
The February 9 and February 27 updates trace the steps of Senate Bill 1019, sponsored by Sen. Steven Thayne (R), Emmett. Outdated language regarding crosswalk guards, both adults and students, required modification to existing law to define their authority. It prohibits motor vehicle users from disregarding instructions from a school safety patrol member and allows for the reporting of violations. As advocates for safe and reliable active transportation, we supported SB 1019, and are pleased that it passed easily through the Legislature and was signed by the governor March 16. The law goes into effect July 1, 2017.
Personal Delivery Vehicles
Starship Technologies has tested personal delivery drones
in Washington, D.C., Redwood City, CA, and some European cities.
Expect to see "fleets of small, safe, practical, free from CO2 emissions,...earthbound, delivery robots" on Idaho's sidewalks soon, thanks to House Bill 204, which amends existing law to “authorize personal delivery devices to operate on sidewalks of the state.” Read more about these cooler-sized delivery vehicles in this NPR story or in the February 27 legislative update. H204 zipped right through the Legislature, was signed by the governor on March 24, and is effective July 1, 2017.
Passing Speed Law
Rep. Lance Clow (R), Twin Falls, before the
Senate Transportation Committee February 23, 2017.
If you're one to stick close to the speed limit and occasionally drop below it, prepare yourself for vehicles passing at a much more aggressive rate starting this summer. Rep. Lance Clow (R), Twin Falls, introduced House Bill 132, which allows driversto pass slow-moving vehicles up to 15 mph above the posted speed limit. This applies to 55 mph and faster two-lane highways, sanctioning a driver traveling up to 70 mph to pass in a 55 mph zone, and 80 mph in a 65 mph zone! The Legislature passed this bill with just a few dissenting votes, the governor signed it, and it goes into effect July 1, 2017.
Bicyclists on Rural Roads
Legislation in neighboring states gives an indication of what may cross the border in future Idaho sessions. In the January 27, February 9 and February 27 legislative updates we tracked the trajectory of House Bill 543 in Montana, which would have prohibited bicyclists and pedestrians on two-lane highways outside of municipalities, when no paved shoulder is provided. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates thwarted the proposed legislation, and it morphed into one that would create a bike and pedestrian advisory group. Unfortunately, that bill couldn’t get out of committee, so the advisory group stalled out, too.
Some legislators really don’t like bicyclists, however, and vow to return next session to address this issue. Montana State Senator Scott Sales pledged to present a bill in 2018 that will not only ban bicyclists from two-lane highways with less than a three-foot shoulder, but would also require cyclists to use reflectors on both their bicycles and their bodies and force them to pay a tax to use the road on a bicycle. He even amended an invasive species bill to add “bicyclists” as one of those “species” and would require a $25 on each cyclist entering the state. Read this Bicycling.com article for more details. Democrats opposed that bill, because of that language, but it was approved regardless. It remains in play within the Montana legislature.
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