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Gov. Little interview: State, cities, counties should work better together

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During a wide-ranging interview with BoiseDev on growth and issues affecting the Treasure Valley, Gov. Brad Little said under his administration he hopes to see less friction between different levels of government.

“I’m not a fan of different levels of government arguing,” Little said. “It makes us look petty.”

He said he thinks most citizens look at government as one big block – worrying less about the distinction between a city, a highway district, a county or the state.

“Ordinary people just classify us as quote ‘government,’ and that’s why we’ve got to work together to get things done.”

The full audio of the 30-minute interview is available in podcast form for members of BoiseDev FIRST as an exclusive benefit of membership. Listen now or sign up for access. Hear his full thoughts on growth, transportation, climate change, urban renewal and more.

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In recent years, there has been increasing tension between state legislators and the city where the legislators work. The legislature acted quickly to take authority over short term rentals and ride sharing services away from municipalities after vendors like Airbnb and Uber ran into challenges in Boise.

Legislation in the house during the current session would strip the authority of local cities to prohibit using hands-free devices while driving. According to KBOI-TV, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Hailey have laws on the books that would be voided if the legislation passes.

“Many times, what the legislature does is react to something that happened somewhere,” Little said. “The legislature can’t write special legislation and – I’m not a big fan of this- but somebody somewhere does something and then the whole state has to live with it.”

But Little said sometimes the legislature can go to far in trying to preempt municipal control.

A clogged waiting line at the Boise Airport last fall. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

“I know that there’s a problem with the Uber bill in the fact that the Uber drivers are plugging up the wait lane at the airport because Senator Jordan was telling me about it,” he said, referring to former Boise City Council member and current legislator Maryanne Jordan. The Idaho Statesman reported on city frustration with a clogged cellphone wait line at the airport and said part of the challenge was Uber and Lyft drivers. The City of Boise said it can’t try to mitigate the issue because the state has full authority

“That was an unintended consequence of what was the legislature saying ‘yeah let these Uber guys try and do something,” Little said.

Little says he does talk to mayors around the state, including Tammy de Weerd and Dave Bieter.

“If you have a city’s meeting or county’s meeting they never talk about what the state just did for them,” Little said. “It is basically pointing fingers at another branch or another level of government, and saying how, you know, we’re all great.”

But, he says, finger pointing goes in many directions in state and local politics.

“I don’t take the friction between the city of Boise and the legislature is any different than the friction between them and ACHD,” Little said. “They’ve got to remember with their fingers pointed somebody they’ve got a couple of fingers pointing back at themselves.”

Gov. Brad Little on Idaho’s growth

This story is part of a special six-part series, outlining how Idaho’s new governor looks at issues related to growth. BoiseDev FIRST members get access to a special podcast containing the full interview with the governor.

Love our stories? Get them delivered straight to your inbox each afternoon. Plus, support BoiseDev's independent journalism.

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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