- Kelsey Hawes
The Idaho House overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 1373 Tuesday afternoon, extending Idaho's anti-stalking law. The measure allows victims to file protection orders regardless of whether they are related to or romantically involved with their alleged stalker.
"I look at this bill a bit like looking at the blind Lady Justice and her scales. All these victims want is the opportunity to step on the scale and get some justice," said Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls).
Clow told fellow House members that he became involved with the legislation when one of his Magic Valley constituents contacted him after she couldn't get a protection order against a stalker because she hadn't had a prior relationship with the perpetrator.
"I was incredulous," said Clow. "I said: 'Tell me that again.' I immediately got involved on this issue and that's when I realized that a senator on the other side of the rotunda was working on the same thing."
Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) was already hard at work correcting Idaho law in the wake of a September 2015 shooting of a Boise hairdresser, who had been repeatedly stalked yet couldn't get a protection order.
Prosecutors said Christopher Wirfs, 36, of Boise, repeatedly sent threatening texts and voicemails to the hairdresser and, on Sept. 12, 2015, he was waiting for her at her North Boise home. The woman was shot in the left hip. She recovered and Wirf eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, first-degree stalking and use of a deadly weapon.
It turns out Idaho is one of only five U.S. states that allow the stalking loophole, something that Clow told the House needed to be fixed as soon as possible.
Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) pushed back against SB 1373, asking, "If somebody goes into a grocery store and somebody else in that store thinks the guy is creepy, can they simply get a no-stalking order against someone who hasn't yet had due process?"
Clow assured Nate that a judge would review "a preponderance of evidence that would need to be presented" before a protection order was placed.
Nate was the lone member of the Idaho House who voted against SB 1373, which passed 69-1. Having already passed through the Senate, the measure now heads to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for his signature.