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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

AIC-Opposed Annexation Bill Killed in House Local Govt. Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The House Local Government Committee voted this afternoon to kill an AIC-opposed bill that would restrict cities’ ability to annex. 

House Bill 127 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star and Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian.  The bill would have required consent from a majority of the land area and a majority of the landowners in order for a Category B annexation to occur. 

“Annexation is a good thing—it’s how cities grow and how services are provided,” Rep. Harris said.  “But let’s do it with landowner consent.  The rights of cities shouldn’t trump private property rights.”

Outstanding testimony in opposition to House Bill 127 was provided by AIC Counsel Jerry Mason and Emmett Planner Brad Clark representing the Idaho Chapter of the American Planning Association. 

“Modern communities don’t just happen by chance,” said Mason.  “They happen because they are planned.  Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act requires cities to plan for future development and extending services and infrastructure.  We have billions of dollars of investment in physical infrastructure that serves over 1.1 million Idahoans who live in cities.”

Mason likened Idaho’s local government structure to a “three legged stool,” with cities, counties and school districts each playing an important role at the local level.  “The beauty of this system is that it is most cost efficient for taxpayers.  Counties provide a basic level of local services: roads, law enforcement, landfills, property tax assessment, courts and jails.  Schools educate children.  And cities provide the services necessary for urban communities.  In this scheme of things, county taxpayers don’t have to pay for urban services.” 

“If those who object to annexation are able to freeze a city’s boundaries at where they are today,” Mason noted, "we have to understand that growth won’t stop.  As the area continues to grow, you’re now calling upon counties―who are already stretched to provide services with limited revenues—to provide an urban level of services and infrastructure.” 

Committee members had many questions about potential manipulation of the number of landowners, how consent would be provided by partnerships and other joint ownership situations, and the potential ability of a few property owners to frustrate a neighbor developing their property. 

Brad Clark noted that annexation has become a potent symbol in the minds of some, but urged committee members to look deeper into the rationale behind Idaho’s annexation policy.  “Cities use annexation authority responsibly and judiciously,” Clark said.

Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa, who was involved in an annexation task force in the early 2000s that developed the current law, said he has “been a critic of annexation and the procedures.  I still feel there are some things that could be corrected.  But I have a number of questions about this legislation.  I personally do not feel that it would be a step forward.”  Collins’ motion to hold the bill in committee was approved on an 11-1 vote, with Rep. Kathleen Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene the only “no” vote.

We extend our appreciation to all the city officials who communicated with legislators on House Bill 127.  Your grassroots engagement is a key part of AIC’s legislative success.

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SB 1093 Defeated in Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee voted to kill Senate Bill 1093, which would have  restricted annexations in cities under 8,000 population.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, asked the committee to send the bill to the amending order for changes, but committee members said that the bill was too flawed to proceed. 

AIC Counsel Jerry Mason provided very compelling testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 1093.  He described the historical foundation of local government in Idaho as a “three-legged stool,” with counties, school districts and cities each carrying out a vital mission at the local level.

“Counties provide a basic level of rural services and state-mandated functions.  School districts fulfill the educational mission.  Cities provide services and infrastructure for urban areas.  The point of all this is to avoid duplication of effort and duplication of taxation.”

“Modern communities don’t just happen by chance, they are the result of choices by local elected officials and landowners,” Mason said.  “Idaho law has for decades required cities to plan for future growth.  Another key part of that process is municipal annexation.”

Mason explained that the 2002 annexation law was the result of considerable input from stakeholders, including realtors, builders, and chambers of commerce from around the state.   The legislation made significant improvements to the annexation process, including: strengthening requirements for notice to those affected by a proposed annexation; requiring cities to prepare annexation plans outlining how services and infrastructure will be extended to the annexed area; and providing disclosure to property buyers that land is in an area of city impact or subject to a recorded consent to annexation. 

“If urbanization can happen without annexation, we’re breaking down the fabric of the system that has been in place for over 100 years,” Mason said.  “Annexation is what keeps county taxpayers from paying the costs of urban services.”

We appreciate the efforts of city officials who called or sent letters to the committee in opposition to SB 1093.

AIC submitted the attached letter to members of the committee expressing our position on the legislation.  To view the letter, click "Download File (PDF)" below. 

 

Download File (PDF)

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Greenbelt Condemnation Bill Passes Senate

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 23, 2015

Today the Idaho Senate passed Senate Bill 1044 sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, that would prohibit local governments from using eminent domain for greenbelts, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  The vote was 20-13-1 (see below).  If time permits, I will have a more extensive report soon.  We extend our appreciation to all the city officials who contacted their legislators on this important issue.  The bill now heads to the House.

PASSED - 20-13-1

AYES -- Bair, Bayer, Brackett, Davis, Den Hartog, Guthrie, Hagedorn, Keough, Lee, Lodge, Martin, Mortimer, Nonini, Nuxoll, Patrick, Siddoway, Souza, Thayn, Tippets, Vick

NAYS -- Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Cameron, Heider, Hill, Johnson, Lacey, Lakey, McKenzie, Schmidt, Stennett, Ward-Engelking, Winder
Absent and excused -- Rice 

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Hearing on Guthrie Condemnation Bill This Afternoon

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The hearing on the Guthrie condemnation bill will be at 3:00 p.m. today in the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee in Room WW53 in the Garden Level (basement) of the capitol.  We appreciate those who are able to attend the hearing in person or offer testimony in opposition to the bill.  

You can listen to the committee meeting live online at the Legislature Live website.  Scroll down to Committees/Locations.

Under choose a committee or venue select "Committees."

Under choose a committee type select "Senate."

Under choose a committee select "Local Government and Taxation,"

Finally, click "Launch a media player."

AIC submitted the attached letter to members of the committee expressing our position on the legislation.  To view the letter, click "Download File (PDF)" below.

Download File (PDF)

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Hearing on Guthrie Condemnation Bill will be on Tuesday

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 13, 2015

I talked with the Secretary of the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee this morning and confirmed that Senate Bill 1044 will be up for hearing at the committee's meeting on Tuesday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. in Room WW53 in the basement (Garden Level) of the capitol.

We encourage city officials to attend and testify if possible.  Senate Bill 1044 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, and would prohibit local governments from condemning property for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, except associated with road projects.  AIC opposes the legislation.

There's still time to get in a letter to the committee in opposition to SB 1044.  See the previous AIC Blog Post for more information.

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AIC-Opposed Legislation Banning Condemnation for Pedestrian, Bicycle Facilities Introduced

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 6, 2015

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee will consider legislation to prohibit cities and other local governments from condemning property for greenbelts and other pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Senate Bill 1044 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon.  Similar legislation was narrowly defeated in the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee in 2013, but the makeup of the committee has changed as Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, is no longer on the committee.

The legislation is in response to concerns over Bannock County residents who support the use of eminent domain to join disconnected segments of the Portneuf Greenway.  The City of Pocatello has been clear and consistent in refusing to pursue eminent domain and continues to work toward negotiated agreements with the property owners.

In the 2013 hearing on the bill, Sen. Guthrie characterized bicycle and pedestrian facilities as nice recreational amenities that are not in the same category of essential transportation infrastructure as roads.

City officials are normally reluctant to use eminent domain, and have rarely condemned property for pedestrian and bicycle facilities. 

Boise used condemnation once in the early stages of developing the Boise River Greenbelt, which proved essential in bringing that tremendous community asset to fruition. 

The only other example that AIC can find involves Garden City, where a homeowner’s association requested the city to condemn property needed for a greenbelt bridge across the Boise River as a way of avoiding restrictive covenants placed on disposal of commonly owned property. 

The City of Eagle filed a condemnation action in April 2014 over a path next to the Laguna Point subdivision, but settled with the property owners and the action never went to court. 

Many city officials who are working to build multi-modal transportation networks would dispute the characterization of pedestrian and bicycle facilities as nice, but not as essential as streets.  These are the routes that children take to school, that allow people to access jobs and shopping, and provide recreational opportunities and access to rivers for many Idahoans.   

The Boise Greenbelt is conservatively estimated to carry 65,000 trips per year.  Greenbelts are key to Idaho’s economic vitality, and are amenities that help attract businesses, visitors and new residents to our communities.  Given the rarity with which condemnation has been used for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, we should trust local officials who are elected and accountable to their constituents to act in the best interests of their communities.

We urge city officials to contact members of the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee to respectfully express your opposition to SB 1044.  The members of the committee are listed below.

Chair: Sen. Jeff Siddoway, Terreton  --  jsiddoway@senate.idaho.gov

Vice Chair: Sen. Dan Johnson, Lewiston  --  djohnson@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Curt McKenzie, Nampa  --  cmckenzie@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Jim Rice, Caldwell  --  jrice@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Steve Vick, Dalton Gardens  --  sjvick@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Clifford Bayer, Boise  --  cbayer@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Jim Guthrie, McCammon  --  jguthrie@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Elliot Werk, Boise  --  ewerk@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Grant Burgoyne, Boise  --  gburgoyne@senate.idaho.gov

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Legislative Activity Picks Up in Anticipation of February Deadlines

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, February 5, 2015

The first few weeks of the legislative session are relatively quiet and relaxed as committees focus on reviewing administrative rules and few bills are introduced.  Starting in early February as the Legislature approaches deadlines for bill drafting requests (February 9) and introduction of bills by non-privileged committees (February 16) the pace of legislative activity quickens and committees start introducing lots of bills.    

New bills are being added every day to the AIC Bill Tracker and we urge city officials to check it out.  If you have questions or comments on any bill, please email jruen@idahocities.org

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Thanks for Making City Officials’ Day at the Capitol a Success!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 2, 2015

Nearly 180 Idaho city officials participated in the 2015 City Officials’ Day at the Capitol last Thursday (list of attendees).  Almost all of the 105 members of the Idaho Legislature were in attendance, as well as all of Idaho’s constitutional officers and several state agency representatives.

The highlight of the morning legislative briefing was a legislative leadership panel moderated by Dr. Jim Weatherby, which included Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, House Minority Leader John Rusche and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett.  The panelists provided great insight on several issues, including transportation funding, local option taxation, and the Rangen water call.  At lunch city officials had an excellent opportunity to discuss issues with their legislators.

Thanks again for making this year’s City Officials’ Day at the Capitol a success! 

Tags:  City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

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See You at City Officials’ Day at the Capitol!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, January 26, 2015

We look forward to seeing everyone at Thursday’s City Officials’ Day at the Capitol in Boise.  You still have time to register here at the AIC website.

The event will kick off with a legislative briefing at 9:00 a.m. in the Summit Auditorium of the Boise Centre.  The briefing will feature a panel moderated by Dr. James Weatherby that will include Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, House Minority Leader John Rusche and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett. 

You will also hear about a variety of policy hot topics, including transportation funding, annexation, public defense reform, public records, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, municipal water rights, local option taxation, and urban renewal.

The meeting will break at 11:30 a.m. to allow city officials to walk or catch a shuttle bus to the capitol, meet their legislators and escort them to the legislative luncheon at Noon in the Boise Centre Eagles Room. 

After lunch city officials can attend legislative committee hearings, check out the capitol, or schedule meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

Tags:  City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

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