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Eye On Boise

Senate kills anti-motorcycle profiling bill, 13-22

The anti-motorcycling bill, which had earlier passed the House unanimously, has been defeated in the Senate on a 13-22 vote. “This bill is consistent with good police practices, which relies on conduct for making a stop,” said Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, R-Nampa, the bill’s Senate sponsor.

But Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, a former police officer, spoke out forcefully against the bill. “We don’t need this bill – I think that’s a fact,” he said. “We already have laws on the books that tell police officers they cannot do what we’re saying they are doing. We cannot pull someone over for no reason other than the fact that they’re wearing a leather jacket or riding a Harley-Davidson – that’s against the law.”

Several senators said they’d spoken with their local sheriffs or other law enforcement, and learned either that there had been no complaints of motorcycle profiling, or that law enforcement opposed the bill, HB 123. “I’m concerned about the need for this legislation when there are no complaints filed in Idaho that I can find,” said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston.

Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, said his local sheriff told him, “A person who is stopped for probable cause who is a motorcycle gang member wearing colors is going to take us to court. … We already have a hard enough time. … This piece of legislation will give those gang members plausible defense.”

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, told a story about being pulled over, many years ago, and questioned about whether he had been drinking, because he had Idaho Senate plates and another senator had been cited for driving under the influence that year. Davis said he complained the next day and the officer apologized. “It still troubles me a little bit that just because I was a senator … I got pulled over,” he said. “That still just troubles me to no end.” But Davis said he also contacted his local sheriff. “He tells me, ‘Bart, don’t take all of the arrows from my quiver,’ and that the wording here isn’t the right wording.”

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, moved to send the bill to the Senate’s amending order to change it to ban profiling of everyone, not just motorcyclists. But that motion died on a lopsided vote. “To me, this is special rights legislation,” Burgoyne said. “Why just motorcyclists? The standard that’s set out in the legislation to protect motorcyclists should apply to everyone.”

The bill bans motorcycle profiling by state or local law enforcement, which it defines as “the arbitrary use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related paraphernalia as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest or search a person or vehicle.”

Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, who voted in favor of the bill, said she’d be right back supporting its repeal if it were used to justify criminal actions by gang members.

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, spoke several times, and told the Senate, “It would tend to remind that profiling, for First Amendment things, for what someone is wearing, for what someone is driving, all of which are legal activities, is not appropriate.” But Rice voted against the bill.

Here’s how the vote broke down:

Voting in favor: Sens. Agenbroad, Anthon, Bayer, Brackett, Buckner-Webb, Crabtree, DenHartog, Guthrie, Hagedorn, Heider, Lee, Martin, and Nonini.

Voting against: Sens. Bair, Burgoyne, Davis, Foreman, Harris, Hill, Johnson, Jordan, Keough, Lakey, Lodge, Mortimer, Nye, Patrick, Rice, Siddoway, Souza, Stennett, Thayn, Vick, Ward-Engelking, and Winder.

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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