There’s a growing movement in Eastern Oregon for 12+ counties in the Beaver State to become part of Idaho.

It’s called the ‘Greater Idaho movement.’

Although the movement initially gained little traction, the momentum has increased the past few years.

On Thursday, two Idaho lawmakers met with state and local officials in Oregon to discuss the movement to redraw the Idaho-Oregon state line.

“Reps. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, and Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, met in Baker City, Oregon, with an Oregon House member and Malheur County commissioner,” the Idaho Statesman reports.

“While the attendees had little to say about what was discussed, the Thursday meeting was the first time lawmakers from each state met to talk about the long-shot proposal that would shift Oregon’s border westward,” the outlet added.

Idaho Statesman reports:

Since around 2018, a growing number of conservative eastern Oregonians have advocated for seceding from the Democrat-controlled state and joining heavily Republican Idaho.

In recent years, a more formalized group, Greater Idaho, has organized ballot initiatives in eastern Oregon counties. The group has targeted 17 eastern Oregon counties that could wholly or partially join Idaho, according to a map that divides roughly along the Cascade Range.

Both state legislatures and Congress would have to sign off on the move. Voters in 12 Oregon counties in recent years have approved ballot questions that direct county commissioners to discuss moving the border.

“They’d like us to talk about it,” said Oregon Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville. “And this is the first conversation in that step between the two states.”

Boyle and Ehardt this year sponsored a resolution to formalize talks with the Oregon Legislature to move the border. The Idaho House passed the joint resolution, but the Senate did not vote on it. A similar resolution stalled in Oregon.

The Oregon Democratic Party, which makes up the majority of the Legislature, “has not been willing to move our bill forward into committee, give us a hearing,” said Matt McCaw, spokesman for the Greater Idaho movement.

Greater Idaho shared this map indicating which Oregon counties approved a ballot initiative about joining Idaho.

Phase 1 of the Greater Idaho proposal, with election results as of May 2023

Oregon & Idaho legislators meet on the Greater Idaho movement

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Baker City – To discuss potential next steps for the Greater Idaho movement, a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, Vikki Breese-Iverson met today with her Idaho counterparts, Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Washington County) and Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) in Baker City, Oregon.

Malheur county commissioner Ron Jacobs was in attendance, along with leaders of the Greater Idaho movement. Rep. Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) recently chose to step down from being the leader of the Republican caucus of the Oregon House.

“The Idaho House has already stated that we are ready to have discussions with the Oregon Legislature on how to advance Freedom for eastern Oregonians,” Rep. Judy Boyle said. Indeed, in February, the Idaho House of Representatives passed a resolution stating as much. The meeting in Baker City today is the first meeting pursuant to that invitation.

Mike McCarter, the leader of the movement, said “we thank Rep. Breese-Iverson for participating in the conversation!”

“Over the last three years, the Greater Idaho movement has won in twelve of the twelve eastern Oregon counties that have voted on this issue. As a state representative, I have a duty and responsibility to have conversations that could potentially better my constituents,” said Rep. Iverson. “It is clear: people in central and eastern Oregon do not align with all the values of those in Portland and Eugene. Is Greater Idaho the answer? I am not sure but I am willing to turn over all the rocks possible, for the land and people I love.”

The ultimate goal of the Greater Idaho movement is to relocate the Oregon/Idaho state line to allow conservative, rural eastern Oregon to become a part of Idaho. Currently, the movement is asking state legislatures to have formal discussions that could later lead to an actual timeline and bill to send to Congress for ratification.

The Greater Idaho movement believes that western Oregon leaders should want to let eastern Oregon join Idaho because it would benefit Oregon’s state budget, and because eastern Oregon’s state senators came close to blocking votes in the Oregon Senate permanently, as greateridaho.org, their website, explains.

The leader of the movement, Mike McCarter, wrote that moving the state line would be good for the income taxes of both states: “Portland metro incomes are so high that any middle-income county that departs the Oregon state budget increases the average income of both Oregon and Idaho.”

Watch the full length press conference on Greater Idaho, following the first meeting between Oregon & Idaho legislators:

Greater Idaho writes on its website:

Counties can become a part of Idaho. State lines have been relocated many times in American history because it just takes an interstate compact between two state legislatures and approval of Congress.

If the United States were governed as a single state, we wouldn’t have the opportunity for state governance to vary according to the culture of a local area. The purpose of having state lines is to allow this variance. The Oregon/Idaho line was established 163 years ago and is now outdated. It makes no sense in its current location because it doesn’t match the location of the cultural divide in Oregon. The Oregon/Washington line was updated in 1958. It’s time to move other state lines.

This proposal is different from creating a new state because it does not affect the balance of power in the US Senate. This means that it’s more likely to be approved by the Oregon Legislature.

CBS Sunday Morning aired this report on the movement last month:

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