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Idaho Walk Bike Alliance
Walking. Biking. Going Places.
Legislative Update

March 14, 2017

This legislative update focuses on the issues that impact the mission of Idaho Walk Bike Alliance.

Inside the third-floor lobby to the Senate chambers, taped to a desk staffed by Senate Doorkeeper Al Henderson, is a list of over 100 names. Henderson manages that list and the Sine Die Competition, an annual event he started six years ago. Anyone can participate, including Idaho legislators, lobbyists, attaches, state employees, and even tourists, by submitting their best guess on the date and time the session will end. Worry not, there is no gambling occurring at the Statehouse, as there is no ante nor cash pot. There is still a prize for the winner, though--a handmade clock crafted by former Rep. Max C. Black, made from the wood of a red oak tree planted by President Benjamin Harrison on the Capitol grounds in 1891.

Earliest estimates set adjournment day on March 24, but many placed their bets on dates well into April. There are almost 200 bills that have passed from one chamber and are awaiting a hearing in the next, so those who gambled on the session ending early may lose, well...nothing, really.  Most of those bills have a chance to become law, and a few affect the mission of Idaho Walk Bike Alliance:

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, achieved many milestones over the last few weeks. The first of these was getting our policy bill printed. SB 1121, the Safe Routes to School – Healthy Kids legislation benefited from the experience of Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Bert Brackett (R), Rogerson, the bill’s sponsor. He and other key allies in the Senate and their staff were crucial in bringing SB 1121 for a hearing on March 2.

Dozens of supporters packed the committee hearing room, and many of them spoke in support of the bill. The transportation committee voted unanimously with a Do Pass recommendation and sent it to the Senate. (Check out photos and videos from the hearing on our Facebook album and Facebook video library.) On March 7, by a vote of 27-8, the Senate voted for SB 1121! Please thank your senators for their support.
We are waiting for a House Transportation and Defense Committee hearing date and are hoping it will be scheduled for this Thursday, March 16!

Use this link for contact information and messaging guidance.

Snow Removal

A common sight this winter: impassable sidewalks forced people into streets.

Remember that time earlier this year, when the worst winter in decades crippled the ability of pedestrians, bicyclists, the elderly, children, drivers, truck drivers, and even dogs to get...anywhere? For those living in Ada County, they may recall Boise Mayor David Bieter, in a letter co-signed by most city council members, criticizing Ada County Highway District's snow removal performance. Mayor Bieter also called for the dissolution of ACHD, which was created by the Legislature in 1972. This public fight resulted in an icy exchange between Boise City and ACHD--which was also fending off the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. In January, the attorney general informed ACHD that Idaho Statute dictates that all single-county highway districts, like ACHD, are responsible for snow removal on sidewalks as well.

The days are longer and (thankfully) warmer now, the snow and ice a distant memory we'll exaggerate about in the future. However, tensions have not cooled between Boise City and ACHD. The larger fight over street ownership will continue well beyond this legislative session, but the highway districts are addressing sidewalk responsibility through HB 251. Sponsored by the Idaho Association of Highway Districts, this bill intends to re-define “maintenance” in Idaho law to exclude responsibility for clearing sidewalks of snow. However, the proposed bill caused quite a storm, because it eliminated snow removal duties from the streets as well. The legislation made it through the House Transportation and Defense Committee, with the recommendation to provide clearer language regarding snow removal from the streets.

No part of the current law, however, allows highway districts to render sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs and bike lanes impassable, which was the case this winter. HB 251 will be heard by House members very soon, so if you want to contact your legislator, there is still time. Use these links to find your representative and learn how to advocate.

Rolling Coal
Downtown Boise, 2016 (Photo: Ceci Thunes)
Say you’re walking along a sidewalk and a large diesel truck pulls up next to you, 
and someone asks, “Do you smoke?”
You’re about to get coal-rolled.

Don’t know about this? Up until a few weeks ago, the concept was unfamiliar to many until Sen. Michelle Stennett (D), Ketchum, introduced SB 1130. Co-sponsored by Sen. Bert Brackett (R), Rogerson, this bill defines coal-rolling as when a “person…purposely cause[s] a vehicle to release significant quantities of soot, smoke or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways, other vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians or others.”

How would someone do this? By modifying a diesel engine to emit noxious, black, blinding, stifling, acrid, and petulant fumes. A simple switch installed in the console triggers it. Similar results can also be achieved by removing a particulate filter. To be clear, none of this is legal and actually violates the Clean Air Act, but enforcement on local levels has been lacking.

More importantly, why would someone do this? Although it’s a common practice at truck pulls, over the last several years complaints about intentional coal rolling on public right-of-ways forced state legislatures and law enforcement to recognize a dangerous trend. Interestingly, advocates of coal rolling suggest it’s a harmless prank, despite the undeniable bullying aspect and toxic side effects.

Spend any amount of time online searching “rolling coal,” and it’s apparent that there’s nothing cute, safe or humane about this practice. There is also no clear motivation behind it. People become victims whether they walk, ride, stop at lights, wait for a bus, are cops, ducks, drive a Prius, or were part of any "liberal" protest movement. Rollers roll each other, and sometimes put their own faces into the exhaust. It makes no sense.

Unfortunately, SB 1130 failed to make it out of the Senate, with a 16-18 vote. Members of the Senate expressed doubt for the need for more legislation, and. Sen. Dan Foreman (R), Moscow, a former police officer, indicated that he has issued tickets for this in the past. Given the propensity for coal rollers to delight in the violation of others' basic rights and brag about it, this issue likely won't go up in a puff of smoke.


click image to watch video
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!

Previous Legislative Updates

February 27, 2017

February 9, 2017

January 27, 2017

YOU Can Help!
We need your support so we can continue to do critical work in Boise for Idahoans all over the state. Donate here today.

Thank You to Our Supporters!


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