This years Idaho legislative session seemed like a
sprint compared to the previous year when lawmakers labored
with budget shortfalls and a sales tax increase.
four legislative bills proposed by the Idaho Transportation
Department were part of that smooth ride that required less
than three months to complete.
Two of the new bills (see below) relate to the Division of
Motor Vehicles; they cover special license endorsements and
clarify or amend existing requirements. Another legislative
proposal completed the permanent transfer of four audit unit
employees and appropriation for related operating expenses
to the Idaho Tax Commission.
The fourth proposal allows ITD to use the existing administrative
hearings process to resolve bid disputes. Currently the only
remedy is civil, and while this change still allows for the
use of the court system, it offers a quicker and potentially
less expensive solution to resolve disputes. (See details
Julie Pipal, ITDs manager of Budget, Policy and Intergovernmental
Relations, called the session low-key and no-nonsense.
It was a short session, the atmosphere was congenial
and legislators were committed to getting the work done and
Legislators were well prepared and determined
to take care of business. They generally accepted the governors
budget, which was very austere. JFAC (the Joint Finance Appropriations
Committee) and the governor were very close on their budget
ITD and state workers who endured two fiscal years without
increased salaries, will benefit from a slight improvement
in the economy and salary package approved by legislators.
There was little debate over a recommendation by the Change
in Employee Compensation committee to appropriate a 2 percent
increase in funding for employee compensation.
State agencies are given discretion in how to apply the merit-based
salary increases, Pipal said. Two percent, across-the-board
increases are not guaranteed.
The salary package also includes an additional one-time 1
percent merit increase if state revenue exceeds projections
by more than $5 million.
ITDs four bills were passed by the Legislature and
were signed into law by the governor:
1) Transfer of Motor Carrier Services audit unit
ITD and the Idaho Tax Commission entered into a memorandum
of understanding in 2003 that would transfer the Motor Carrier
Services commercial truck audit function to the latters
Operation of the unit, including four full time auditors,
a half-time clerical position and associated operating funds,
was transferred from ITD to the commission this year under
the memorandum. A change in Idaho law was required to make
the transfer permanent.
2) Driver Services cleanup
Several minor driver-related statutes needed to be modified
and updated to align their language with current procedures.
The first addresses requirements, suspensions, disqualifications
Another section requires that written notification of sex-offender
registration requirements be presented to individuals applying
for identification cards and driver licenses.
Finally, the new legislation authorizes licensed physicians
assistants and licensed advanced-practice nurses to certify
permanent disability for driver license purposes.
3) Administrative remedy for bid disputes
The third legislative proposal creates a new option for bidders
on ITD projects who wish to challenge the departments
Under previous procedures, the only avenue bidders had to
challenge the departments decision is to file a motion
in District Court. Many state highway projects are time sensitive,
and it is in the best interest of the contractors and the
department to obtain a prompt, impartial decision when a dispute
surfaces over which bidder submitted the lowest and best bid.
To expedite the appeal process, the new legislation allows
the department to use the Administrative Procedures Act to
resolve disputes through the use of hearing officers.
Challenges must be filed within five calendar days of the
bid opening and be presented to the departments chief
engineer for the appointment of a hearing officer. The chief
engineer has the authority to allow the contract award based
on the hearing officers determination if such award
is in the best interest of the state.
The Division of Purchasing and the Department of Administration
already use similar procedures to address bid disputes involving
the acquisition of personal services and property.
4) USA PATRIOT Act requirements for commercial driver
Adopted to ensure the safety and security of Americans following
terrorist attacks, the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept
and Obstruct Terrorism) Act introduces new requirements for
commercial truck drivers to obtain endorsements to transport
The legislation prohibits the issuing, renewing, transferring
or upgrading of a commercial driver license with a hazmat
materials endorsement unless the U.S. Department of Justice
has conducted a background records check. The Transportation
Security Administration also must determine that an applicant
does not pose a security risk that warrants denial of the
An applicant must be a U.S. Citizen or be an alien classified
as a lawful permanent resident of the United States with valid
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) alien
The Division of Motor Vehicles anticipates the new background-check
procedure will create an additional cost of $50 for applicants
seeking a hazmat endorsement.
Other issues related to transportation in Idaho: