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.