Idaho Lawmakers Advance Bill That Could Put Boise's Sports Complex, Library To A Vote

Mar 6, 2019

Supporters of a bill to give voters the chance to weigh in on how urban renewal money is spent flooded an Idaho House Committee Wednesday morning.

The bill would force URDs to put projects up for a vote – even if it’s only spending a dollar of public money – if it involves building or renovating a municipal building. Infrastructure upgrades, like utility lines or improving sidewalks would be exempt from the proposal.

That could include a new library or sports stadium – both of which are being considered in Boise. It’d need to pass by 55 percent.

Right now, URDs need only put a project to a public vote if more than 51 percent of the funding comes from tax payers and it needs to meet a 60 percent threshold.

Former Boise Democratic lawmaker Branden Durst joined many others testifying in support of the measure.

“This bill is not anti-Boise. This bill is not anti-urban renewal, this bill is not anti-sports stadiums, it’s not anti-libraries. What it is is pro-taxpayers,” Durst says.

Groups like the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Library Association and some banks involved in public financing oppose the measure.

They say it could have a chilling effect for anyone wanting to kickstart one of these projects, since even repainting a city building with public money could trigger an election.

House Minority Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) and Rep. Rob Mason (D-Boise) were the only two members of the House Revenue and Tax Committee to vote against the measure.

The entire House will debate the bill next. If it’s approved by both chambers and signed by the governor, it’d immediately become law.

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