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Give 'em a Wrap

Which bills will live before sine die?

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Depending on who you're talking to at the Idaho Statehouse, legislators either can't hit the bricks soon enough or they shouldn't dare think about leaving until they consider some critical legislation still left in their in box.

As an example, Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna wants lawmakers to leave her a sine die present in the form of greater authority on who does what on the Capitol Mall--immediately impacting Occupy Boise, the protest encampment entering its fifth month on Capitol Mall property in front of the Old Ada County Courthouse.

As expected, Occupiers and their supporters pushed back against the bill being considered by the Idaho State Affairs Committee.

"Many of you have become an embarrassment to the citizens of Idaho," said Occupier Kay Marquardt.

But Iona Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher, the committee chairman, gaveled Marquardt quiet.

A number of her colleagues referred to the measure as a "Luna law." Coincidentally, Teresa Luna's brother, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, had a similar distinction of having a package of education reform bills tagged as "Luna laws."

"A number of people keep referring to this as a Luna law," said Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Erik Simpson. "But that's crossing the line."

Loertscher, Simpson and all of their GOP colleagues on the committee passed the anti-Occupy measure by a 55-14 vote. The full House approved the bill on March 27.

But before their exit from the committee room, Occupiers expressed their displeasure saying "an eviction notice to the corrupt members of this legislative body" would be issued.

Sure enough, a giant eviction notice surfaced one hour later on the steps of the Capitol, as part of a demonstration by United Action for Idaho.

The UAI protest also featured a stack of moving boxes labeled with the names of a select group of lawmakers. Organizers said it was time to "pack 'em up and move 'em out."

One of the moving boxes was earmarked for Republican. Sen. Chuck Winder, author of a controversial measure that would require Idaho women to obtain ultrasounds before having an abortion, with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Winder's bill was the subject of two very different Statehouse rallies, later the same day.

Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Janice McGeachin, a co-sponsor of the bill, told a rally of approximately 200, sponsored by Right to Life Idaho, that mounting criticism of Winder was "very un-Christian-like behavior."

As day became evening, yet another rally claimed the Capitol steps--this time sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Greater Northwest.

Scores of opponents to Winder's bill showed up at twilight. Their numbers quickly grew to more than 100 by sundown and eventually swelled into hundreds of individuals, who eventually circled the Statehouse in the darkness.

"I'm here for my three children," said Sarah Brown, mother to 8-, 11- and 13-year-olds. Further down the parade of protesters were Sara and Laurie Adkins, mother and daughter who found a common bond in opposing the ultrasound measure. Sitting by herself on the Capitol steps was Karen Johnson, who was spending her 56th birthday at the protest.

"I'm a bit older. This bill probably won't impact my life," said Johnson. "But I'm here on behalf of all the women whose lives would be impacted."

On March 27 Loertscher told his House colleagues that there was not adequate support to hold a hearing on the ultrasound measure but they will definitely revisit the issue in 2013.