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Eye On Boise

Tue., Feb. 7, 2012, 11:30 a.m.

Latest on the lockdown…

On Jan. 19, House Speaker Lawerence Denney ordered the doors to House members' basement office areas locked down and open by card access only. "Anyone without a House State ID badge will not be allowed into those spaces until the security guard has cleared it with the Representative or staff member they wish to see," Denney directed in an email. The lockdown continues today; asked about it, Denney said, "They are going to remain locked at least until we're done with the Occupy bill, and then we will go to caucus and see if our caucus wants to reopen that. There are some, I'm sure, that like that locked down."

Denney said some House members like the extra security for their cubicle areas, but acknowledged that it makes access to lawmakers harder for members of the public. "It is an inconvenience," Denney said. "I think they have got access; it just may have taken time."

Denney said he ordered the lockdown after a House member's security badge went missing after a tour. "Perhaps I overreacted," he said. "I thought it was appropriate to lock it down at least for a while."

Meanwhile, there's buzz around the Statehouse today about members of Occupy Boise who were in the Senate gallery, awaiting possible action on legislation to evict their vigil from state property, being called in to the minority caucus room by Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill and Majority Leader Bart Davis, and asked to remove what appeared to be paper American flags they were wearing strung around their necks with string. Hill said, "We've got a sign up in the gallery - no advocacy signs, posters in the gallery. ... It's not specifically for them." When the Occupy members entered the gallery with what Hill saw as signs, the Senate went at ease so Hill and Davis could visit with the group. "We said we felt like it was distracting," Hill said. "We've had that policy for many years." The two Senate leaders also informed the group the Senate wouldn't be taking up the amendments to HB 404, the anti-Occupy bill, today, and the group left. "There was no confrontation - they were polite, we were polite," Hill said. "We just asked them as a favor and they complied. ... They weren't showing any disrespect."

He said Senate minority leaders also visited with the group after he and Davis did; interestingly, it was Hill and Davis who led the move to amend the bill to soften some of its provisions. As-is, HB 404 would immediately evict the months-long protest encampment by banning overnight camping on state property, and declaring any property left there to be litter.

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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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