by Andrew Crisp
This morning, House Bill 404, the measure that would end the encampment at Occupy Boise, was considered by Idaho's House of Representatives.
"This is no different than a playground bully who will sit on your chest and slap your face until you give in," said Republican Rep. Reed Demordaunt of Eagle.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Scott Bedke of Oakley, said he was "offended" at the way the bill's opponents had depicted his actions in supporting the bill.
"We learned that this encampment is equal to a soap box, and because of that, it was worthy of freedom of speech under the First Amendment," said Bedke. "As I heard how this bill trampled those rights, I was quite frankly offended, Mr. Speaker."
Bedke couched the bill as "neutral" law that would beef up legislation which already bans camping on Capitol Mall property. Currently, the lawn of the Old Ada County Courthouse—soon to become the University of Idaho's law library—exists in a loophole to those rules.
"We are not truly in an emergency situation," said Democratic Rep. Grant Burgoyne of Boise, referring to the emergency clause of the bill, which could result in the Occupiers' ouster within days of being signed into law. "The issue is not about whether we like Occupy Boise or not. That's the point of rights; we can't just legislate them away."
In the hour of debate, Republican Rep. Ken Roberts of Donnelly read the First Amendment and Democratic Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise questioned the necessity of increased Capitol security and its relation to the Occupy bill.
Republican House Speaker Lawerence Denney recorded a vote of 54 to 16 in favor of the bill. It now moves to the Senate.