The anti-Occupy bill that would ban camping on the land where Occupy Boise protesters have been camping out for months is one step closer to becoming law. The bill passed 54-16 in the state house today, mostly along partisan lines, although a few Republicans joined Democrats in opposing it. It all looks pretty dim for the Occupy Boise movement, who has been camping out at the old Ada County Courthouse, since an existing Boise law doesn’t allow camping on city property.
Despite the overwhelming support, opponents of the bill had some strong words to say at today’s vote. Boise Democratic lawmaker Rep. Grant Burgoyne said that although the camp might be an eyesore to some, it’s important to keep the principal of freedom of speech alive. From Idaho Reporter:
“It may be distasteful to some for have Occupy across the street,” Burgoyne said. “But sometimes those who are weakest, those who are most ill-equipped to be heard in society, deserve to be heard.”
House Republicans have argued that the movement is a nuisance that has cost the city money and taken advantage of, and even “trampled” free speech rights. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Scott Bedke, of Oakley, however called the bill a “neutral” law that would simply beef up existing laws that ban camping on Capitol Mall property.
The bill will now move to the Senate, where it will more than likely be approved and signed into law by Gov. Otter. Supporters of the bill have already vowed to take action as soon as it is approved, posting signs at the courthouse that inform Occupiers of their impending eviction.