BOISE, Idaho – A bill to make illegal demonstrating at a person’s residence headed to the full House on Friday, after a series of demonstrations at the homes of officials and police officers spurred by frustration with restrictions on gatherings or mask-wearing mandates to slow infections and deaths because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee voted 11-4 to approve the bill backers say is needed to prevent mobs from trying to intimidate and even terrorize families in their homes.
Backers say allowing the demonstrations will tear the social fabric by causing people to avoid public service or join police agencies.
“When we turn the volume up this high on political discourse, we crowd out anybody not willing to be equally as confrontational, angry, loud or violent,” Republican Rep. Greg Chaney said. He is a co-sponsor of the legislation with Rep. Brooke Green, a Democrat from Boise.
In the last year, “a new playbook has been written, and several groups of individuals across the spectrum used it to terrify families in their homes,” Green said.
The public hearing drew so many people wanting to testify that comments were taken Wednesday and Friday. After Wednesday's raucous hearing, torch- and pitchfork-wielding protesters gathered outside Chaney's house that evening.
Law enforcement agencies support the bill.
“There’s a lot of turmoil over this last year, 2020 especially,” Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said. “But that agitation should not be taken to people's individual homes.”