Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, and former Lt. Gov. and Attorney General David Leroy, propose naming the nearly 400-seat auditorium for Lincoln to mark the 150th anniversary of Idaho Territory.
Lincoln's signature established the territory in 1863.
"This is an occasion for celebration," Bateman told the House State Affairs Committee Thursday. "We need to talk about this event and not just let it slide by."
Leroy, an amateur Lincoln scholar and nationally known collector of Lincoln memorabilia, said the former president's ties to Idaho are stronger than that of Illinois, Kentucky or Indiana. Leroy cites his creation of the territory and his friendship with territorial representatives William Wallace and Fred DuBois. Had Lincoln lived, Leroy said he believes he would have visited the state on his way to California on the transcontinental railroad he helped build.
Lincoln invited Wallace to Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865, the night he was assassinated. Wallace declined because his wife was ill. "He regretted it all his life, wondering if he'd only been there might he have save the president," Bateman said.
The committee complimented Bateman for his 15-minute talk, far longer than most measures get upon introduction. Bateman recited poetry, retold Lincoln jokes and urged the lawmakers to study the martyred leader.
Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, is a freshman lawmaker whose Capitol cubicle is near Bateman's. Bateman displays a Lincoln life mask, bust and the last portrait taken before his death. "I have never met someone more dedicated to the memory of Abraham Lincoln than Rep. Bateman," she said, urging introduction of the measure.
Bateman said a plaque would be affixed outside the "Abraham Lincoln Auditorium." "We have the opportunity right here to inspire future unborn generations," Bateman said.
The committee not only voted to introduce the measure, but to send it to the full House for debate without the customary public hearing.