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Eye On Boise

Fri., Jan. 20, 2012, 9:45 a.m.

Testimony: ‘An example of democracy in action’

BSU student K.C. Hunt testifies Friday against legislation to evict the Occupy Boise encampment from state property across from the Capitol. (Betsy Russell)
BSU student K.C. Hunt testifies Friday against legislation to evict the Occupy Boise encampment from state property across from the Capitol. (Betsy Russell)

House State Affairs Chairman told Idaho ACLU head Monica Hopkins that if she testifies today, she won't be allowed to testify on Monday, so she went ahead today. Several others have said they can be here Monday, so they won't testify today. K.C. Hunt, a Boise State University student, said he'd speak today out of concern that by Monday, lawmakers will already have made up their minds.

"Occupy Boise has gone to great lengths to work with the community and the authorities," Hunt told the committee. "They aren't breaking any law, and I think that to create one as a reaction to Occupy Boise is an abuse of power. ... To create a new law in reaction to a peaceful assembly just comes across as hostile to the people of your state and your neighbors." He urged the committee to reject the bill. "I think we can show the rest of the country that Idaho is a place where freedom still can exist."

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, asked Hunt what would have to happen to get the Occupy folks to want to pack up their tents and go home. Hunt said it would take a lot, from decreasing the influence of money in politics to prosecuting abuses on Wall Street.

Shavone Hasse read her modified version of a Langston Hughes poem with a new line saying, "Shut up, says Scott Bedke!" was gaveled down by the chairman. "You're not going to use a personal assault on anyone," Loertscher told her. "That is not a personal assault, it's a poem," Hasse responded, as a state trooper escorted her out, adding, "That's why we're here."

Cay Marquart of Boise listed an array of grievances. "The vast majority of the people in Idaho want financial disclosure, a citizen ethics panel, a ban on texting while driving, the cigarette tax increased, Medicaid restored. We want fairness," she said. "We want legislator Hart to pay his taxes." At that, Chairman Loertscher stopped her, saying he won't allow attacks on "any member of the body."

Greg Olson, a small business owner, told the lawmakers he's struggling in the current economy. "I've talked to you guys, I've called you on the phone, I've come to meetings," he said. "I don't know how to get this fixed."

Barbara Kemp said, "I have been proud to bring my boys down to this vigil site as a beautiful testament to the courage of people wiling to disrupt their lives, endure discomfort ... to confer for the common good." She called the encampment "an example of democracy in action."

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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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