BOISE -- An issue that's gained much attention this year at the Capitol, isn't even a piece of formal legislation recognized by lawmakers.
Members of the Add theWords movement want the words gender identity and sexual orientation added to Idaho's Human Rights Act.
Dozens of protesters have been arrested as they've petitioned lawmakers to hold a hearing on the bill that would add protections for gay and transgender people under the Idaho Human Rights Act.
However, critics say all those protesters are doing is adding cost to taxpayers. They cite figures calculated by Idaho State Police, who have largely dealt with the demonstrations. But, protesters say the cost of discrimination in Idaho is much greater.
The focus of the Idaho State Police is traffic safety for the state's highways. The Capitol is also the jurisdiction of ISP, and they normally have a few officers down there, but not nearly enough to make mass arrests, and still patrol the Statehouse.
On four occasions this year, they've had to call down an extra 15 officers to arrest dozens of protesters, who expected to be arrested over the issue.
ISPestimate the labor cost, and extra taxpayer expense, at $3,000 to $6,600 per arrest, for a total of $19,600. They say that doesn't include court costs, time spent meeting, and writing reports.
They also say that total doesn't include the extra cost for other agencies who have helped with these arrests.
Captain Bill Gardiner with ISP says they're not picking sides, but they are concerned about the cost and the fact that they're pulling officers away from their other duties.
When we take officers off the road and put them down at the Capitol, we are dramatically impacting the motoring public, said Gardiner. If somebody's involved in a crash or is a stranded motorist, who we help daily, that means that that citizen is now out there waiting for service from another agency, who hadn't planned to do that that day.
Add the 4 Words protesters were back at the Capitol Thursday, this time, not looking to get arrested.
KTVB asked one of the organizers, Ty Carson, about the cost of their protests. He said it's a slight cost when compared to the toll that discrimination takes on Idahoans, and the cost of the state defending against lawsuits challenging Idaho's gay marriage ban.
Maybe we ask the Governor why he wants $1 million to defend the gay and lesbian couples that have a suit against Idaho right now, said Carson. We have said all along that the Governor and the Legislature need to stop the silence, and that will continue to be our request. We have support from across the state and across the country.
Organizers say the protests will continue until they get that hearing. But, our analysts say, it's unlikely they'll get it, at least, this session.