Friday, March 25, 2011


PLEASE take a few minutes to email Idaho Senate Transportation Committee members about the Harwood bill, see article and "help" below for more information:

Committee contact forms:
Sen. Hammond
Sen. Brackett
Sen. Keough
Sen. McGee
Sen. Corder
Sen. Winder
Sen. Bair
Sen. Werk
Sen. Bilyeu

ARTICLE:Senators to amend Rep. Harwood's pro-megaloads bill, by Betsy Russell, Spokesman-Review 3/24/11BOISE - Senators had sharp questions for Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, over his bill aimed at blocking lawsuits over highway megaloads, and after much debate, voted Thursday to substantially amend the bill.

Harwood urged against that, saying amendments proposed by the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and others, including saying a judge “may” require a bond rather than “shall,” “virtually guts this bill.”...

Senators and others said Harwood’s bill was confusing and poorly worded.

Barbara Jorden, lobbyist for the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, told the Senate Transportation Committee, ... the bill appears to confuse bonds with fees, and urged extensive amendments if lawmakers weren’t willing to just kill the bill outright....

Idaho lawmakers are hoping to wrap up their session by next week or the week after - bills sent to the Senate’s 14th Order for amendments often end up dying there without further action.

Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, said the bill targets lawsuits against the Idaho Transportation Department, but also seems to envision the business proposing the haul as a co-defendant in the lawsuit....

Hannah Brass, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, noted a similar concern... when the lawsuit is over ITD’s issuance of a permit. “... [the businesses are] not the ones who issue the permits to themselves,”.....

Harwood told the committee he wanted to end “frivolous lawsuits,” ...

But Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, noted that the lawsuit against the Highway 12 megaloads was never held to be “frivolous,” by either the courts or a state hearing officer. Harwood responded, “I just used that term because sometimes that’s how I feel they are.”

When Werk asked Harwood about his contention that people can find judges who’ll rule any way they want, Harwood said, “Certain judges do lean in different directions. A lot of times maybe their … personal opinion, and I know in my case often my own personal opinion overrides the right thing to do.”

A motion to kill the bill outright failed on a 3-6 vote, and the motion to amend it then passed, 6-3. ...

Read full article and please post a comment.

HELP:To help with your emails and comments, below are examples of misinformation that Rep. Harwood used in his argument before the Idaho House that convinced representatives to pass his bill. And from the above article, we learn that the bill itself was also misinformed. How can senators vote for a bill for which so much misinformation has been given? How can they vote on or spend time amending a bill so confusingly written? How can the Idaho legislature even consider a bill that attempts to deny citizens access to the judicial system? Isn't doing so an affront to democracy? And doesn't such a bill invite a legal challenge to its constitutionality?

Harwood said the oil companies will post a $250 million bond. Actually, it's $10 million.

He said the companies had the electric lines buried. Actually, they were raised to 30 feet.

He said the megaloads traveled from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Actually, they travel 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

He said the companies have done a lot .. now we have "blacktop road and lots of turnouts." Actually, the road has been blacktop since 1962, and Exxon only paid for some reinforcements of 9 turnouts.

He said stopping the megaloads would be stopping commerce. Actually, it is the megaloads that stop commerce.

-- During the ConocoPhillips' second shipment, the shipper (Emmert Int'l.) asked 7 regular commercial trucking companies to avoid using U.S.12 when the megaload was on the highway, and they did.

-- Also, during CP's first shipment, while the megaload delayed traffic for 59 minutes (Mileposts 61-65), eight logging trucks, which start their runs around 2 a.m., sat in a traffic delay line in Kamiah waiting.

-- Further, the megaload convoys include 10+ vehicles, most of which have swirling yellow strobe lights on their roofs, and the megaload itself which has rows of large bright white lights running down the full length of the trailer, and all of these vehicles have, of course, headlights, and all make noise, including the locomotive-loud honking of the two super-size semis that pull and push the load. Thousands of people in homes, motels, and campgrounds within 20-200 feet of the highway (if not even further) will be affected by the lights and noise -- tourists will be negatively affected. In terms of "commerce," I know you're aware that tourism is Idaho's 3rd largest industry and is, of course, major in the economic picture of north central Idaho where 4600 jobs depend upon tourism.

--Additionally, the shipments are almost entirely foreign enterprises -- Canadian, Dutch, Korean, Japanese companies, and have little or nothing to do with "commerce" in Idaho. The oil companies simply want to use Idaho roads, not engage in commerce here.

--ITD officials note that the permits do not cover all of ITD’s administrative, technical, and legal costs associated with the movement of each megaload on Idaho’s roads. Idaho taxpayers will be subsidizing the planet's richest corporations. That fact runs counter to the concept of real, citizen-involved, "commerce."

Thank you, all.

1 comment:

    On Monday, March 28th, Rep. Harwood stood up on the floor of the Idaho House and apologized for all the inaccurate information he provided when he presented his anti-lawsuit, megaload-related bill last week. He had gotten roasted via your emails to Senate Transportation Committee members and very publicly and deservedly roasted in the press. Thanks to a watchful citizenry -- YOU -- and thanks to a watchful press, the junk drawer of falsities lying within his presentation was exposed. The bill remains in the hands of the committee, awaiting either amendment or a quiet death as the legislature runs out of time. They expect to end the session one day next week.