ONTARIO — There have been various proposals over the past several decades to carve up Oregon, aligning eastern Oregon with Idaho and, in some cases, combining southwest Oregon with northern California.
Sometimes even eastern Washington has been added into the mix of proposals to merge parts of eastern Oregon and Idaho.
However, there is now a proposal to add two western Oregon counties, stretching the Oregon/Idaho border west of the Cascades.
The movement is called, “Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho.”
The issue may be on the ballot in one of the counties, Josephine County, as a ballot title was awarded by the Josephine County District Attorney in January. It was expected to be cleared for collecting signatures by the end of the month, according to a release from Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners.
A similar petition has been accepted by the Douglas County Clerk.
State borders are normally related by agreement between two legislatures, as approved by Congress. However, the Josephine County initiative makes it a county policy to cooperate with any state effort to move the Oregon/Idaho border.
The Douglas County petition adds Idaho officials to a list of officials who may be lobbied by Douglas County Commissioners. The ballot questions is, “Shall the County Court be authorized to advocate for Idaho legislation, such as making this county a county of Idaho?”
“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gunfights and our values,” McCarter said in a statement.
“We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored.”
Maps drawn up by the “Greater Idaho” group show a relocated Oregon/Idaho border that leaves Oregon with 14 counties, mainly in the Willamette Valley, giving Idaho coastline in Douglas, Coos and Curry counties, as well as a county in California.
In Josephine County, 2,429 valid signatures are needed to get the issue on the ballot; in Douglas County 2,955 valid signatures are needed by Aug. 5 to get the issue on the November ballot.
In addition, the group plans to file petitions in 17 other counties, McCarter said.
Asked to comment, state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, who is currently attending the short legislative session, issued the following statement from Salem.
“Clearly the residents of this state who are advocating for this move are frustrated. They do not feel that the State of Oregon hears them or has their best interest at heart,” he said. “A very large majority of these folks feel that history with [other legislative proposals, such as] Gross Receipts Tax, Drivers Licenses for undocumented residents and potential Cap and Trade policies — just to name a few.”