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Effort to control Capitol streets stalled for now

The Idaho Capitol building at dawn
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

State senators are pushing pause on a bill that would turn over the authority of the streets surrounding the Idaho Capitol building to another commission.

Under the proposal, the sections of Jefferson, State, 6th and 8th streets that border the capitol building in Boise would come under state control.

Rep. Joe Palmer (R-Meridian), the bill's chief sponsor, said it would enhance security around the statehouse.

Any project or event lasting longer than seven days on these roads would need approval from the Idaho Capitol Commission under the proposal.

Currently, those roads are controlled by the Ada County Highway District, which opposes the measure.

Clay Carley, a prominent Boise developer, blasted the idea during a hearing Wednesday morning.

“Idaho has always been proud and independent. Federal overreach has always been resented and opposed in favor of Idaho having local control,” said Carley. “Adding layers of governmental oversight has never been the Idaho way.

Opponents also said it was a thinly-veiled attempt to derail efforts to change the flow of traffic on 6th Street from one way to two ways – something Palmer denies.

“This is not a covert operation to close down one project. If you have a project, you need to sell it,” Palmer said.

Checking another box to get a project approved, he said, isn’t a big deal.

“All it’s saying is to go to the commission so that the state is well representing in this, so, I don’t see any problems in it. To me, they’re red herrings.”

Palmer also rejects claims that the bill would be unconstitutional.

According to the Idaho Constitution, the state legislature cannot pass special laws “authorizing the laying out, opening, altering, maintaining, working on, or vacating roads, highways, streets, alleys, town plats, parks, cemeteries, or any public grounds not owned by the state.”

Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Boise) moved to hold the proposal until an attorney general’s opinion could be written – something Palmer said Raúl Labrador’s office is not doing as a new policy.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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