PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Senate Joint Memorial 2, also known as the Greater Idaho bill, was introduced on the floor of the Oregon legislature by Republican state Senator Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls on Jan. 10.
The bill requests “discussion between Oregon and Idaho governments regarding relocation of Oregon and Idaho border,” according to the bill text.
Voters in 11 eastern Oregon counties have already approved ballot measures indicating their support for joining the State of Idaho.
“Eastern Oregon is culturally, politically, economically much more similar to Idaho than it is to western Oregon,” said Matt McCaw, a Greater Idaho Movement spokesperson. “Our movement is about self-determination and matching people to government that they want and that matches their values. In Oregon, we’ve had this urban-rural divide for a very long time.”
McCaw said the divide has caused political tension because the west side of the state “dominates state government and it dictates policy.”
“Our proposal is to take that border between Oregon and Idaho, which was set almost 200 years ago in a very different time when there was only 50,000 people in the state of Oregon…it made sense then, it doesn’t make sense now to have that border there because that’s not where the cultural divide is,” McCaw stated.
The movement proposes moving the Oregon-Idaho border west to the Cascade Mountain range “so that eastern Oregonians can get state-level governance from Idaho,” he said.
McCaw stated that Greater Idaho would take up 63% of Oregon’s landmass – proposing to move 15 counties.
“The policy and the government that works for western Oregon, that western Oregonians want, does not work in eastern Oregon and it’s not what eastern Oregonians want,” McCaw said.
As far as garnering support for the bill, McCaw said “we absolutely believe this is possible.” He added, “we can move that border to a place that makes far more sense, get people on both sides of the state government that they want and reduce the political tension in our state.”
McCaw said to move the border, Oregon and Idaho would need to make an “interstate compact” agreeing to border placement before being signed off by Congress.
“So, where we’re at now, we’ve been spending the last two years going to eastern Oregon counties and asking voters directly: Do you want your elected leaders to look into this? And what we’re seeing is when we actually asked voters ‘do you want to look into moving the border? Do you want to look into changing state-level governance?’ voters are saying yes. They’re saying yes pretty overwhelmingly,” McCaw said.
McCaw says the movement is asking Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner to move the bill forward as “the people in eastern Oregon are asking our elected leaders to look at what it would mean to change the border and change their state governance.”
Meanwhile, Wagner told KOIN 6 News on Friday that he does not believe the bill will move forward in the 2023 legislative session.
McCaw furthered “we have been to the legislature in Idaho, we have a lot of support in legislature in Idaho for this idea. They see the benefit of bringing 400,000 like-minded people into their state. It makes Idaho stronger; it gives people the government they want and it’s a win-win for everybody involved.”