- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The latest version of a massive transportation proposal almost died before even being introduced in the Idaho Legislature after the bill’s sponsor didn’t show up on time to a committee hearing on Wednesday.

Republican state Sen. Bert Brackett, of Rogerson, was supposed to present a new $530 million funding proposal designed to funnel more money to the state’s aging roads and bridges. It was a tweak from a similar proposal introduced last week. The proposal still suggests allowing the state to issue $300 million in bonds to borrow money for road projects and repay it with future federal highway payments, but now includes new items, like allowing cities and counties to impose a one percent sales-tax option for transportation projects.

Yet the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee was forced to adjourn after Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis made a motion to recess even though Bracket wasn’t in the room.

Brackett showed up minutes after the committee had left, explaining he had a scheduling conflict preventing him from attending the meeting on time.

Republican Sen. Patti Ann Lodge, chairwoman of the panel, then worked with Bracket to use a rare legislative procedure known as a “buck-slip,” which allows the bill to be moved to a legislative hearing if every committee member signs off on the request slip.

“This is important, this is especially important to my county,” said Lodge, who lives in Canyon County, which is home to one of the most congested traffic corridors due to an increasing population. “It takes me 90 minutes to go 33 miles, we can’t have that.”

Brackett’s proposal is expected to go before a full legislative hearing on Thursday. However, even if the proposal passed the Senate, it’s unlikely to survive the House without facing significant edits.

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