Greater Idaho movement scales back plan for Oregon annexation
Following a setback in the May 17 primary election, proponents of the plan for Idaho to annex parts of Oregon are reducing their scope to focus on just the state’s eastern half.
Leaders of the movement seeking to cede a large swath of Oregon to the state of Idaho issued a new map Monday that would dial back the proposed annexation.
The new map excludes the Southern Oregon and coastal counties of Douglas, Coos, Curry, Josephine and Jackson. It includes everything east of the Deschutes River with some exceptions such as the City of Bend. The proposal would split Wasco, Jefferson and Deschutes counties. The line also cuts through the western edge of Klamath County, ceding the bulk of it to the new state of Greater Idaho.
The movement to redraw state lines faced a noticeable setback in the May 17 primary election when voters in Douglas and Josephine county said “No” to an advisory question on the ballot. Klamath County voters supported the proposal to pursue joining Idaho, making it the ninth Oregon county to approve the advisory question.
Morrow and Wallowa counties in the state’s northeast corner will likely vote on the issue in November.
The May 17 losses caused leaders to issue the “less ambitious” map as part of what they called “phase 1″ of their project. The reduced scope includes only 14 counties representing around 386,000 Oregonians, a little more than a third of the original map’s 900,000 in population. According to backers, the area outlines 64% of Oregon’s landmass but just 9% of its population.
“If southern Oregon changes its mind, it’s welcome to join phase 1 or phase 2 of our proposal, but we want to make progress now in state legislatures with eastern Oregon,” Mike McCarter, a La Pine resident and president of the nonprofit backing the movement, said in a statement.
“Eastern Oregon has consistently voted in favor, and so we want eastern Oregon’s request to join Idaho to be heard,” he said. “There’s only a few counties left in eastern Oregon that haven’t gotten a chance to vote on Greater Idaho yet.”
Several counties that have already approved the advisory question — which includes Sherman, Jefferson, Grant, Union, Baker, Klamath, Umatilla, Lake, Harney and Malheur — are beginning lobbying efforts to the Oregon Legislature, where they hope a committee will look at the logistical and legal implications of transferring the large landmass of the state to Idaho’s jurisdiction.
Despite support in some counties, Greater Idaho still faces a largely uphill battle in getting a hearing in the Oregon Legislature.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Oregon have been largely silent on the issue. House Speaker Dan Rayfield, who helps lead the Democrats’ agenda in the lower chamber, as recently as last week declined to comment on the issue.
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