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Eye On Boise

House endorses parks corporate sponsorship bill, despite warnings of ‘Viagra Falls’

The House has voted 52-17 in favor of SB 1098a, the bill to allow Idaho’s state parks to seek corporate sponsorships; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. “The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has a goal of seeking partnerships with businesses, foundations, non-profits or other entities,” said Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, the bill’s House’ sponsor. She said under other rules and guidelines, the bill wouldn’t affect the names of parks. “The agency will only seek out and/or consider partnerships with entities deemed appropriate by Idaho Code and board policy,” Smith said. “All moneys shall be subject to appropriations by the Idaho Legislature. The department will undertake rule-making and bring the details of this program back to the Legislature next year.”

Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, spoke out against the bill. “I take exception to allowing that kind of access to our public state parks and lands,” he said. “I don’t want to be bombarded by advertising when I take my kids out to the lake. I get enough of that. … I don’t want corporate sponsorship and advertising in the very places that some of us go to get away from everything in our everyday lives.”

Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, said, “We know they’re going to bring this back, we’re going to have to look at the rules. We’re not going to have the golden arches. … We can limit this down to small little design advertising that nobody has to look at if they’re offended by it.” He said, “We ask over and over and over for people to save money in our departments, figure out a better way of doing things. ... But then when we get a chance … we all start backing up. … Let’s give them an opportunity to bring those rules to us. If we don’t like ‘em when they get here … we can send ‘em back to the drawing board and have ‘em start over.”

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said, “I just think we’re in a really sad state, that the Department of Parks and Rec had to come to us with this. This is a core government function. This is what the people of Idaho want. They expect us to provide things like roads and parks and schools. I just think it’s a shame that we’ve cut them to the point that they have to go groveling for corporate sponsorships.” To laughter, she asked, “Who needs Niagra Falls when Idaho has Viagra Falls? I don’t know that we want to go there. But beyond that, I think we should be looking at the core problem here. We should be funding this core government function.”

Acting Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, the former representative who is temporarily filling in for Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise, said, “Funding of the Parks and Rec has been radically reduced. … I think we have superb parks up and down the state. The people that have been charged with keeping those parks operating and properly maintained and available to the public have done their very best to keep them that way. Now they’re asking us to allow them to try something perhaps a little novel.” Killen said it may work. “We’ll never know unless we give ‘em a chance. If it turns out we don’t like it, we can always change it.”

“This bill is not going to result in Craters of the Moon being sponsored by Clearasil,” said Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise. “There are good backstops in place.”

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said, “I think there are tasteful ways to do this.” The bill was amended in the House to remove reference to “rights” and “licensing,” so it now goes back to the Senate for concurrence in the amendments.



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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