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Eye On Boise

Wed., Feb. 1, 2012, 7:20 a.m.

Hammond: ‘Nobody has the right to seize our common property for their own use’

Sen. Jim Hammond presents the anti-Occupy Boise bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Jim Hammond presents the anti-Occupy Boise bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday (Betsy Russell)

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, presented HB 404 to the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning. He invited committee members to imagine that anyone who wanted to could camp indefinitely at state parks. "By regulating when how and where you can camp, all citizens are assured that they have equal access to our parks," he said. Then, he invited the senators to imagine if people decided to camp indefinitely on the senators' own front lawns. "You probably wouldn't want that to happen, not on your front property, your front yard," he said. "I would submit to you, committee, that Idaho's Capitol Mall is your front yard. It's my front yard and it's your front yard. And we probably don't want anybody to take that property and use it for their own for any given time, regardless of what issue they are trying to express. They don't have the right, nobody has the right to seize our common property for their own use, particularly for an unknown period of time, particularly month after month."

Sen. Michele Stennett, D-Ketchum, questioned Hammond as to whether the bill would apply to universities and other state property as well, and he said it would. "Let's say we have a big game at BSU and people want to set up their camping stuff and roast their hot dogs ... they would not be allowed to do that under this bill, is that correct?" she asked.

Hammond replied, "It is my understanding that this does not limit them because that is really not considered camping, No. 1, and No. 2, there is still discretion for the state to allow camping."

Stennett said, "I had a lot of emails from military people about their concerns over this bill, in that they felt it was stepping on freedom of assembly and free speech." She noted that decorated members of the military famously camped out across from the U.S. Capitol after World War I as part of the "Bonus Army," seeking to get veterans' grievances addressed, and asked Hammond if he'd be comfortable evicting such military members under the emergency provisions of HB 404; he said he would.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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