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Senate debate on Occupy bill: ‘When we quiet what we don’t want to hear…’

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, opening debate on HB 404a, the anti-Occupy bill, told the Senate,  "Our goal is to maintain the highest esthetic standards for the Capitol Mall and have consistent public use guidelines." He said, "Good senators, in my view the Capitol Mall is kind of like our front yard for the state of Idaho," and he said people don't allow others to camp indefinitely in their front yards. "The Supreme Court has ruled that you can place time, place and manner restrictions on speech, and this bill clearly falls within those guidelines," Vick said. "I think this is a necessary piece of legislation."

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, spoke against the bill. She said, "We see the world not as it is, but as we are." Stennett noted that people in her area have very differing perceptions of the annual Trailing of the Sheep, as everything from a disruptive nuisance to a tourist attraction. "If the members of a church had decided to have a vigil for a few days to pray for us and our decision-making in this building, would we remove them?" she asked. "Or would it depend on their religion?" Said Stennett, "Tread lightly here. When we quiet what we don't want to hear, we open a space to be quieted when we want to be heard."

Substitute Sen. Patrick Malloy, who is filling in for Sen. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, spoke against the bill, saying he thought other laws already on the books adequately addressed the issue. "I just don't feel that this bill is necessary," he said.

Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, said, "What this is about actually is the fact that some people are offended that we have an encampment on state property, they don't like it, it's dirty. And they don't want to listen, they don't want to see it."

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.