Idaho ‘Add the Words’ campaign to get heard, but no bill and no vote

In deference to a request from Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, the Senate and House State Affairs committees will meet Wednesday at 8 a.m. to hear an informational presentation on the effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, announced the presentation during his committee meeting Monday. Last year, McKenzie’s committee held a hearing on introducing the “Add the Words” provision, but declined to print the bill. The resulting public outcry was painful for some committee members, who felt badly for rejecting the request from then-Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello, who retired from the Senate last year.

McKenzie said the committee’s view hasn’t changed, however, on adding civil rights protections that apply based on race, gender, religion and national origin.

McKenzie said out of respect for Buckner-Webb he agreed to a 45 minute to one-hour presentation. But no bill will be considered for introduction. Formal public testimony won’t be taken and opponents won’t be asked to speak. Buckner-Webb is organizing the event, he said.

“I don’t like putting the committee through a vote on this issue where it’s unlikely to get through the process,” McKenzie said. “It’s not going to be a hearing. It’s just a presentation.”

The joint meeting will take place in the Lincoln Auditorium on the Capitol’s garden level.

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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