One day after a feisty hearing on the topic, the Idaho House of Representatives voted 55-14 in support of legislation that would give the Department of Administration authority to write rules governing the grounds of the Capitol Mall.
The legislation is a response to the tent city that has remained on the lawn on the old Ada County Courthouse and the fact that a bill passed previously and signed into law is being contested in federal court.
Rep. Scott Bedke, a Republican from Oakley, said the measure works in tandem with other legislation regulating the Statehouse grounds. “We already have pages of regulation covering the Capitol steps. It is only logical that that same process, if it were followed on the Capitol Mall, peoples’ rights would be preserved,” Bedke said. “The problem, it looks to me like, is that tents equals monuments equals protected speech.”
Without some regulation on the management of the Capitol Mall, Bedke said, free speech would revert to “the law of the jungle.”
“The creative protestor could bring wrecked cars and bring them to the Capitol Mall and use them as a monument to their free speech,” Bedke said.
Boise Democrat Rep. Phylis King said state statute already gives the Department of Administration authority to write regulations regarding the use of the state properties. Her debate was the only one against the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
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