March 9, 2014
March 6, 2014
Concrete Placing Company, of Boise, is the apparent low bidder for the I-84, Meridian Interchange reconstruction project. in bids opened yesterday (Tuesday, March 4), the low bid was $50.8 million. Construction will begin in mid-April and is expected to be completed by late 2015.
ITD will replace the interchange with a Single-Point Urban Interchange similar to the one at Ten Mile Road. Meridian Road will be widened to three through lanes in both directions between Central Drive and Overland Road. The roadway will include dual-left turn lanes for each I-84 ramp, plus curb, gutter sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
The project also includes widening Interstate 84 to four lanes in both directions under the interchange, and replacing pavement on I-84 between Meridian Road and Five Mile Road.
March 3, 2014
We’ve been staying pretty busy, along with morning and afternoon committee meetings, we are now in session on the floor by 10am every day and at 4:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Committee hearings are scheduled before and after our floor sessions. If you don’t have time to join us in person, we hope you might take the time to go online and watch us work for you. Please check out www.idahoptv.org/insession/leg.cfm, this page will allow you to watch the sessions as well as committee hearings.
The Senate voted unanimously in favor of HB 378, to establish a new”Idaho Day” holiday each year on March 4. It would not be a paid holiday and government offices would not be closed, but it would be a day to highlight Idaho’s history and heritage. On March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional act creating Idaho Territory. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for his decision.
The following Senate bills are now headed to the House for consideration:
The Senate voted 30-4 in favor of legislation to let the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) increase the top speed limit on some rural stretches of interstate to 80 mph. S1284 would also allow the increase of top speeds on some sections of state highways to 70 mph only after ITD would do engineering and traffic studies justifying safety and other concerns. Their request to increase those speeds would have to have the final approval of its board before top speeds were raised on any section of road.
The Senate voted unanimously in favor of S1357 the justice reinvestment bill which is intended to slow the growth of the prison population, reduce Idaho’s high recidivism rate, promote public safety and save $288 million over the next few years. We need to focus on better re-education and transitioning out of the corrections system bettering the chances of success in the private sector. This bill has the support of law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts.
In a 27-8 decision, the Senate passed S1351 which would make it a felony for patients to attack health care professionals while being treated. The maximum penalty would be a 3 year sentence if convicted.
It was a 28-6 Senate vote to approve S1352 which would establish three behavioral health community crisis centers around the state. Supporters say it will provide a better option than jails or hospital emergency rooms for people suffering from a mental health crisis and have not committed a crime. This 24 hour center would then direct those in crisis to local, private or non-profit resources for follow-on help and care.
This week the Senate unanimously passed S1270 which would allow the parents of service members killed in action to live in one of three Idaho State Veterans Homes. Spouses of veterans killed in action are already allowed into the veterans homes.
Child Advocacy Centers provide child forensic interviews when there is suspicion of child abuse. S1221 defines and recognizes them in state code, which may allow the centers to receive more federal funds. This bill passed the Senate 33-1.
The Idaho Giant Salamander is one step closer to becoming the state amphibian. The Senate approved S1271 by a vote of 33-2. Seventh grader Ilah Hickman proposed the bill she has been working on for four years.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) is into the heavy lifting of the session. Here are some of the decisions the committee has made this week:
–JFAC approved a 5.8% increase in funds for the Idaho State Police (ISP). The budget includes 13 new positions, including six patrol officers and two detectives, and $3.1 million for replacement items including ballistic vests and vehicles
–JFAC unanimously adopted the recommendations of the joint Millennium Fund Committee. The tobacco settlement proceeds will fund a variety of health and anti-substance program again for next year.
–JFAC also approved $6.6 million to keep Idaho Education Network broadband network running while waiting for federal funds to come in. The federal government hasn’t paid its portion since March 2013.
–The legislative budget writers also unanimously approved a boost in the budget for the Agriculture Research & Extension Service. The 8.2 percent funding increase adds back 4.5 positions, and brings back several functions at the 12 research and extension centers across the state. Also included is $82,500 to restore funding for a full-time Future Farmers of America (FFA) coordinator.
–JFAC also transferred $1 million from the general fund to the Constitutional Defense Fund. The Constitutional Defense Fund, by law, can be spent”to examine and challenge, by legal action or legislation, federal mandates, court rulings, and authority of the federal government, or any activity that threatens the sovereignty and authority of the state and the well-being of its citizens.”
Again, thank you for allowing me to represent your vote in our Idaho Senate… ~3 weeks remain to Sine Die.
March 1, 2014
Interviewing with local TV regarding how protesters shut down operations at the Senate this afternoon
February 27, 2014