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Don't Spam Us

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After barrages of e-mails from citizens about various hot-button issues, legislative leaders decided to remove the option of sending an e-mail to all members of a committee at once.

"That's bad," said religious activist Brandi Swindell, shaking her head. But Swindell--and her ally Bryan Fischer, from the Idaho Values Alliance--have only themselves to blame. Anti-abortion activists generated about 1,400 e-mails to members of the Senate State Affairs Committee when that body was discussing an abortion bill. Shortly after that, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, an Idaho Falls Republican, polled his fellow lawmakers, who agreed that it was time to remove the "e-mail to all" option.

Davis, who spent four hours one weekend wading through thousands of mass-generated e-mails looking for local constituents, says it won't stop people from writing to lawmakers.

"Every senator can still receive e-mails from every person in the world," Davis said.

The shutdown of the "spam option" came just days before House Speaker Lawerence Denney, a Midvale Republican, told House members to be careful how they use instant-messaging. After Denney picked up on news reports about younger lawmakers using instant messaging, which is a quicker form of e-mail, he sent a (paper) memo to lawmakers warning them that "instant messaging should not be used by a quorum of committee members to reach a decision on an issue." Doing so, he said, might be a violation of Idaho's open meetings law.