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Eye On Boise

House State Affairs members have questions about proposed Capitol grounds use rules

So far this morning, House State Affairs members have had a series of questions about the new rules. Among them: Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, asked how lay people will understand the complicated and lengthy new rules. Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna said the rules are available to the public, and said, “Our first effort is always to inform the citizen of which rule or guideline that they’re breaking and inform them to stop. … Eventually we would have to call in the ISP and they would be ticketed, and I think it’s an infraction.”

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, noted that the rules permit people to walk through the grounds on the way somewhere and permit recreational use, but said, “I don’t see anything in there that would allow just a normal protest carrying a sign … nothing in terms of speech. … Am I prohibited from walking through the grounds with a placard?”

Luna responded, “The short answer is no,” then referred questions to the department’s attorney, who said it would depend on the hour – walking through the grounds carrying a placard after 6 p.m., depending on the time of year, would be prohibited. That applies to state office buildings in Lewiston, Idaho Falls and elsewhere, as well as the Capitol Mall. Luker said the definition of “exhibit” is extremely broad. “That’s what I’m struggling with,” he said.

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, asked, “If someone wants to protest or have a gathering at 6:30, why are we shutting them off at 6 o’clock?” Luna responded that there’s no lighting in areas around many state buildings. “It’s a security and a safety issue for us,” she said.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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