Fact-Check of Fox News article and Idaho House Floor Debate

Update: on March 5, FoxNews.com quoted Rep. Burns spreading more misinformation about the process. The process for moving state boundaries is not mysterious. It’s been done dozens of times in US history, in small amounts, and it never required “a concurrent resolution passed by two-thirds of each body.” It requires that both legislatures approve an interstate compact. Interstate compacts are treaties, not resolutions, and only require 50% of each chamber’s vote.

On Wednesday, February 15, the Idaho House voted to pass HJM 1, the “Greater Idaho” bill. This was preceded by a short debate.

Several representatives claimed that the state line will never be moved. But it is not a waste of time because there are strong reasons that western Oregon Democrat state leaders should want to cede these counties. And polling of Portland-area voters is promising: 68% want Oregon government to look into this.

A member of the Idaho House Democratic caucus claimed that relocating the state line can only happen after the Idaho Constitution is amended. According to the Idaho AG’s office, that’s false. If the federal government approves an interstate compact between two states, it becomes the law of the land and supersedes even state constitutions, because of the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Cf. page 3 of a letter from the that office to Rep. Judy Boyle dated March 7, 2022, signed by Darrell G. Early, deputy AG. 

He also referred to Oregon Constitution’s article XVI, implying that it is some impediment to relocating a state line. But actually, it clearly acknowledges the Oregon Legislature’s authority to relocate its state line.

He also claimed that the Trafalgar Group poll only polled Republicans. The Group’s own website clearly shows that is false. Trafalgar Group has staked their reputation and their business on their claim that they polled 1112 Idaho voters evenly balanced to reflect the likely general election electorate, as shown on their website. When the poll was conducted (October 2021), this famous pollster was one of the top 5 pollsters in the US for accuracy according to the most famous ranker of pollsters, fivethirtyeight.com (Nate Silver). When we challenged this representative to present evidence for his claim, the member of the Democratic caucus tweeted “from your own website.” He may be referring to our discussion of the crosstabs of the poll.

Another Democrat criticized eastern Oregonians for using Medicaid more than Idahoans do and said this would cost Idahoans too much. This does not prove that eastern Oregonians need more help than Idahoans do; the reason we use Medicaid more than Idahoans is because Oregon’s Medicaid is much more generous than Idaho’s is. Under Idaho law, some eastern Oregonians will go back to private insurance just like Idahoans. The only significant economic analysis of the Greater Idaho proposal was conducted for the Claremont Institute and published recently. It shows that rural Oregon would be a net benefit to Idaho’s state budget.

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