A drive to essentially separate rural eastern Oregon from the blue state and join more conservative Idaho is reportedly gathering more and more traction, with politicians from both states expressing support for shifting the boundary between them.
Former Oregon House Speaker Mark Simmons wrote an op-ed in the Idaho Statesman, a daily newspaper, over the weekend explaining why he supports the so-called Greater Idaho movement, which seeks to incorporate approximately 13 Oregon counties, or 63% of the state’s landmass and 9% of its population, within Idaho’s borders.
Simmons discussed how Oregon retailers are selling drugs near Idaho villages, lowering the quality of life in the area, and how relocating the state border will drive drug shops away from the majority of Idaho’s population while benefiting eastern Oregonians.
Simmons’ op-ed comes after the Idaho House of Representatives earlier this month passed a resolution calling for official negotiations between the states’ legislatures regarding shifting the Idaho-Oregon border.
It’s uncertain whether the bill will pass the Idaho Senate, although Republicans control the chamber.
Changing the Idaho-Oregon boundary would require permission from both state legislatures and the United States Congress.
Despite Idaho members’ backing, the concept may meet more opposition in the Democrat-controlled Oregon legislature.
Republican state Sen. Dennis Linthicum of Oregon has submitted a similar legislation to start discussions with Idaho, but it is unlikely to get it out of committee.
Greater Idaho would be twice the size of Montana and double the population, with the added area boosting the state’s population by around 21%.