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Two Idaho legislative committees meet jointly to hear a "Greater Idaho" presentation on Monday, April 12, 2021.

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Two Idaho legislative committees met jointly in the Lincoln Auditorium this afternoon to hear a presentation from Oregon proponents of the “Greater Idaho” proposal, which calls for big chunks of eastern Oregon to join Idaho. “Idaho’s population would increase by 50% with not one person moving physically into the state of Idaho,” said Mike McCarter, president of Citizens for a Greater Idaho. “Idaho would be the third-largest state in the nation.” He said the move would counteract “the influx of insanity from California as well as Portland and Seattle.” Post Register reporter Sally Krutzig covered the meeting; you can read her full story here online or pick up Tuesday's print edition of the Idaho Press.

Former Oregon House Speaker Mark Simmons joined McCarter for the presentation. “This is a long shot in many ways,” he told the House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee and the Senate Resources & Environment Committee. “When the 13 colonies got together, it was a long shot,” he added.

Simmons noted that the move, currently being proposed to voters in some eastern Idaho counties, would require not only assent from both states, but a constitutional amendment in Idaho and approval from Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, asked how the proposal would handle things like Idaho’s much lower minimum wage, and the fact that Idaho’s fixed in its Constitution that the state will have a maximum of 35 legislative districts, which would become huge if the annexation were to happen. McCarter said, “We have a lot of smart people that can work out these details, because I acknowledge there are significant details.”

“This is like a first-date dance,” he said. “We’re just getting to know each other. And to work out some of these details, it’s going to take some serious consideration.”

Simmons thanked the Idaho committees for scheduling the meeting. “It does lend credibility to the effort,” he said.

House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee Chair Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, who spearheaded the joint meeting, said, “It’s an intriguing conversation, and for me, the resources Oregon offers is intriguing to me.”

McCarter said, “Never in the history of the United States has something like this been proposed, a change this large between two states.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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