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Idaho lawmakers propose talking with Oregon about 'Greater Idaho'

caption: The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise.
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The Idaho State Capitol building in Boise.
Colleen Benelli / Flickr

An Idaho House committee will take testimony Monday on a bill aimed at eventually allowing Idaho to annex a big chunk of eastern Oregon.

The effort to create a so-called "Greater Idaho" has been in the works for a long time, but has largely resulted in a lot of talk. Talking is exactly what the current proposal is all about. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Idaho Republican state Representatives Judy Boyle and Barbara Ehardt, would authorize state officials to reach out to their counterparts in Salem to discuss moving the state border.

Boyle is from Midvale, about 40 miles east of the border. She said, since Oregon legalized marijuana, her town of about 200 has been inundated with drugs.

“The cities there and the sheriff, they’re having a terrible time, to say the least, trying to get a handle on all this," Boyle said. "So by moving that border way back over on the other side, at least the drugs will be that far away.”

Other benefits, Boyle said, would include an extra Congressional seat for Idaho and the tax money that would come from annexing nearly 400,000 Oregonians.

A few legislators in Oregon have filed a similar resolution. Any moving of borders would require approval from both legislatures and then Congress. Democrats have a slight majority in Oregon's Legislature.

The Greater Idaho movement has been brewing for a few years and includes supporters from neighboring states. In 2021, a group of Oregon residents traveled to Idaho to speak with lawmakers in Boise. They promoted the idea of expanding Idaho's borders into eastern Oregon. Northwest News Network's Tom Banse previously reported that a similar effort has emerged in eastern Washington.

"We very much appreciate your coming," Ehardt told the group of eastern Oregonians in 2021. "It's an intriguing conversation. For me, the resources and what Oregon offers is intriguing to me."

KUOW's Dyer Oxley contributed to this report.

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