Idaho Rep. Ned Burns, D-Bellevue, lauded his District 26 Republican colleague, Rep. Jack Nelsen of Jerome, who last week introduced a resolution intended to empower the governor and attorney general to take legal actions to encourage the Bureau of Land Management to select a “no-build option” on the proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project.
Nelsen recently told the House Resources and Conservation Committee that there is almost unanimous opposition to the project by local governments, highway districts, counties and constituents, citing short-term economic impacts and long-term agricultural and wildlife impacts.
“Jack introduced a concurrent resolution on Thursday that would empower the Idaho governor and attorney general to prevent Lava Ridge from coming to fruition,” Burns said. “I believe that this should be on the forefront for all Southern Idahoans and especially the Magic Valley. You have to hunt so hard to have to find someone who is in favor of this thing, and I honestly don’t know anyone that is. It’s universally reviled.”
Nelsen said he views the resolution as a means of expressing the concern of the constituency of the Magic Valley in opposition to the Lava Ridge turbine project and hopes his fellow legislators in the area will rally against the project.
“I’m anticipating that all Magic Valley legislators will co-sponsor this bill. I think that this has more impact if the Magic Valley delegation supports it, as this is where this would be built,” Nelsen said. “This joint resolution was not influenced to sway public opinion. This joint resolution is driven by my community, the highway district, the county commissioners and the people on the street. I’m not out in front as a politician to say what they ought to think, and to me, I represent them and 100% of people are against it. I wanted to make it sure and clear to everyone that all kinds of groups oppose this in all different directions.”
Nelsen hopes that providing the Gov. Brad Little—who has openly voiced concerns about the project—and attorney general with legal power to challenge the project will be a definitive way to prevent the project from coming to fruition.
Nelsen guides first bill through House
In addition, Nelsen last week also saw his first bill pass unanimously through the House. The bill, House Bill 57, is intended to streamline the process for disabled veterans who receive a disabled veteran’s license plate to receive a placard for a second motor vehicle.
Currently, veterans must go through the process a second time to get the additional placard. If the bill is enacted, veterans would only have to go through the registration process once.
“That was a good bill and I applaud Jack for the work that he did on getting that done,” Burns said. “I think he deserves some accolades on getting his first bill across.”
“It’s pretty exciting and really neat that I got to do this,” Nelsen said.
‘Idaho Launch’ gains foothold in Senate
According to Idaho Sen. Ron Taylor, D-Hailey, the Idaho Launch Program—which aims to provide high school graduates with a grant of $8,500 to be redeemed at an Idaho technical program, community college or college of their choice, and narrowly passed through the House last week—has found a committee in the Senate to move the bill forward.
The bill was assigned to the Senate Commerce Committee, but Taylor said that the bill found several objections from some senators.
“The bill is on its way to the Commerce Committee, where we hope it will survive to make it to the Senate floor,” Taylor said. “Initially, there was an objection that this bill should be assigned to the Education Committee, then another objection came up to object to the original objection and at that point the majority leader called the Senate at ease and the majority went to caucus. However, I believe if it were to go to the Education Committee, it would not have survived due to the make-up of that committee.”
The District 26 legislators are unanimous in their support for the Idaho Launch Program, as Reps. Burns and Nelsen both voted in favor of the bill last week. ￼
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