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Idaho House passes drag show, abortion trafficking bills

Crane said it wouldn’t prevent drag shows or other sexually explicit performances from occurring but would bar minors from attending. He refused to answer questions.

BOISE, Idaho — This story first appeared in the Idaho Press.

The Idaho House of Representatives on Tuesday passed drag show and abortion trafficking bills, moving the legislation ahead of several budget bills on the calendar.

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, sponsored the “drag show bill,” HB 265, which requires reasonable steps to prevent minors from attending sexually explicit performances and creates a civil penalty. The House voted 48-21 to pass the legislation.

Crane said it wouldn’t prevent drag shows or other sexually explicit performances from occurring but would bar minors from attending. He refused to answer questions during debate on the bill, because “this is such an obvious issue.”

“If you agree with me, and you believe that our children should not be exposed to sexually explicit drag shows, I’d ask for your green light,” Crane said to close debate.

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said the bill’s language is too broad and will prohibit constitutionally protected activities and create a chilling effect for most types of performances.

“This bill spells death to our performing arts industry, and they are terrified,” Rubel said.

She noted that obscenity is already prohibited in Idaho, and said that the bill’s definition of “sexual exhibition” would be up to a jury to decide — she argued it could be interpreted to include cheerleading performances or high school dance teams.

The civil penalty would be for up to $10,000 as well as damages for all psychological, emotional, economic and physical harm suffered. A minor or parent of a minor exposed to a performance could sue within four years of the incident.

The bill would create a criminal penalty for any public facility used for sexual exhibitions, which may stop performances that including anything that “constitutes a hip wiggle,” Rubel said.”Because they’re looking at five years in prison if they guess wrong.”

“This is going so far beyond whatever stated desire to protect children from bad things,” she said. “This is crippling to culture in Idaho.”

Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, said that he has prosecuted an obscenity case and he believes that the legislation would pass constitutional muster.

“Really, this is simply a protect-the-children-from-perverts bill,” Skaug said.

Rep. Dan Garner, R-Clifton, was the only Republican to debate against the bill. He said during his time serving on a school board, the parents would complain about the cheerleaders’ routines or dance team.

“It’s painting everything with such a broad brush,” Garner said.

The bill was authored and presented in committee by Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaize Conzatti, the Idaho Press previously reported.

Conzatti had said in a press release that the legislation was in response to drag performances during Pride festivals in Coeur d’Alene and Boise.

Abortion trafficking

The House on Tuesday also voted 57-12 to pass a bill that would criminalize transporting a minor out of state for an abortion with an intent to conceal it from the parent.

Reps. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, and Kevin Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, co-sponsored HB 242.

“We are only looking to continue to protect our children and our parental rights,” Ehardt said.

Assistant House Minority Leader Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, noted that while the bill was about abortion trafficking, much of it was changing the existing civil penalties for providers who perform an abortion.

The changes include requiring those who provide an abortion in the state to pay for damages in a lawsuit out of their pocket rather than through an insurance policy. It also adds language that says civil action may not be brought by someone who impregnated the woman seeking an abortion through rape or incest and adds situations that may not be used as defenses under the existing civil enforcement against abortions.

“Our providers are already really struggling with the criminal provisions that we have in place around abortion and this just makes it that much worse, and that much harder for them to make decisions that can even just keep a pregnant person healthy and protect their future fertility,” Necochea said. 

She also said it could create problems for young people who may not feel safe telling their parents about a pregnancy or abortion, and it limits what adults can do to help those young people.

Necochea argued it would limit parental rights, because there wasn’t a true exception for parental permission but only an affirmative defense. She argued the Legislature should stop passing bills with the affirmative defense mechanism rather than exemptions — such as the Texas-style abortion ban that includes affirmative defenses for rape and incest if there is a police report.

“They create fear and can lead to needless prosecution,” Necochea said of the mechanism.

Only Necochea and Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, debated the bill; no one debated in favor.

Both bills had been on the second reading calendar, which means they were scheduled to be read on the floor before being placed on the third reading calendar for a vote. House Majority Leader Megan Blanksma moved them to the top of the schedule, with unanimous consent of the chamber, moving them ahead of third reading calendar items such as a bill to change the absentee voter process and several budget bills.

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