As the clock runs down on the five days Gov. Little has to sign or veto the odious SB 1110 (creates 35-district signature requirement for initiatives), voices from all across the state are sounding off to urge his veto.
Call on Little to veto ill-conceived initiative bill
This bill and its sponsors are not even trying to hide this as a pure power grab away from the citizens of the state, or the fact it is being driven by large corporations and donors who want to make sure they can buy the votes of the legislature to get what they want and not allow the people any realistic means to bring forth any grass roots initiatives.
This Bill and is an insult to democracy. Those who sponsored it and those who support it appear to want all power vested in them and them alone. They know that the only way an initiative petition could ever get on the ballot by getting 6% of all 35 districts in Idaho would be by a well funded corporate entity, who apparently already own the sponsors and supporters of this bill.
This Bill is exactly the reason the average person distrusts politicians and government processes. So often they espouse platitudes about “We the People” and “freedoms” and wrap themselves in our flag, but in the end they pass bills like SB1110 that eliminates the ability of the people to exercise those freedoms and steal the power of the people for themselves. Our representatives who support this should be ashamed of themselves and need to admit that they are little more than petty thieves of our democracy.
Senate Bill 1110 will strip rural voters of their initiative rights
Idaho voters wrote the initiative and referendum into the Idaho Constitution in 1912 precisely to get around an unresponsive state Legislature. The move was prompted by experience in other states where legislatures were bought and paid for by railroads, oil companies and other powerful monopolies that were victimizing farmers. The farmers were not able to overcome the legions of lobbyists that the big money interests deployed in those legislatures, but the initiative and referendum gave them an avenue of relief — a legislative lifeline around legislatures controlled by special interests.
The supporters of the initiative-killing bill cannot point to any initiative or referendum that has ever discriminated against rural Idaho. After the Legislature stubbornly refused for years to accept millions of federal dollars to expand the state Medicaid program, people from Bonner County stepped forward with an initiative to get the job done.
While legislators claim the strict signature requirements will protect the rural population from citified people, the bill will give city dwellers a veto over any ballot measure that rural residents want. For example, the Legislature has refused for years to make the school funding formula fair for rural school districts. SB 1110 would make it impossible for country voters to cure the inequity with an initiative. In fact, any measure that would benefit rural Idaho could be kept off of the ballot by any one of a number of urban legislative districts under SB 1110.
Idaho voters must not reward their own suppression
Why would they do this? GOP politicians hold every statewide office in Idaho, control the entire federal delegation and 82% of the Legislature. If these GOP legislators truly represent a majority of Idahoans, why are they so afraid of your voice? If they are in fundamental agreement with voters, why work relentlessly to end the only mechanism whereby voters can directly pass a law?
The answer is: the GOP-dominated legislature does NOT represent the majority of Idahoans — not even close. The agenda of the GOP politicians running the state may mirror certain lobbyists’ wish lists, but it looks nothing like the agenda of most Idahoans, Democrat or Republican:
- 77% of Idahoans support funding early childhood education. After blocking a vote on Pre-K for 8 years, 60% of House GOP members rejected a $6 million federal grant to develop early childhood education programs.
- 61% of Idahoans wanted Medicaid expansion, but GOP legislators blocked a vote for seven years, and most House GOP members voted this session to defund it.
- 72% of Idahoans support medical cannabis for seriously ill Idahoans, but 86% of Senate GOP members voted to constitutionally ban cannabis for any purpose.
- 74.5% of Idahoans say their top priority is education. But GOP legislators have put us last in America in education funding, while instead doling out massive tax cuts to the wealthy.
No wonder GOP legislators want to end ballot initiatives, which uncomfortably expose the chasm between what Idahoans want and what they get from their special-interest-driven Legislature. Initiatives provide a path for the people to prevail over politicians, heaven forbid.
Rep. Ilana Rubel
The Idaho Secretary of State’s website reflects 20,850 registered voters in Idaho’s Legislative District 27. SB1110 requires 6% of the registered voters in each of Idaho’s 35 Legislative Districts to sign a petition in favor of any proposed citizen’s initiative in order for that initiative to be put to a statewide vote. 6% of District 27’s voters equal 1,251 voters. If only 5% of District 27’s voters signed the petition (1,042 voters), that citizen’s initiative would fail across all 35 rural and urban districts. The 209 voters short of the required 6% in District 27 who chose not to involve themselves in the petition, no matter the subject of the petition, would result in all 1,056,796 of Idaho’s rural and urban voters not having any vote on the citizen’s initiative. SB1110, being marketed as protecting our rural population’s right to be heard, is nothing more than a sham by Idaho’s Legislature to virtually kill our constitutional right to a citizens initiative. SB1110 represents our authoritarian legislature’s continual efforts to deny Idaho’s citizen’s rights.
ACLU encourages Little veto
The American Civil Liberties Union is encouraging Governor Brad Little to veto SB 1110, new legislation that would restrict Idaho’s voter ballot initiative and referendum process.
The law would require petitioners to obtain 6% of eligible voters from each of the state’s 35 legislative districts.
“Idahoans have a constitutional right to initiate legislation independent from the legislature,” said Lauren Bramwell, ACLU of Idaho Policy Strategist. “This bill undermines that right, and will result in costly litigation.”
Former Justice Jim Jones speaks at Legislature, drops off 16,000 petitions to Gov. Little
In response to the Idaho House passage of SB1110, the bill that will place a severe restriction on Idaho’s ballot initiative process, former Justice Jim Jones held a short press conference this afternoon in front of the Office of the Governor and delivered 16,000 petition signatures asking the Governor to veto the bill.
Idaho’s ballot initiative is an important constitutional right that should be protected – not hindered. The ballot initiative process gives Idahoans the right to vote directly on issues they care about. SB1110 is a dangerous attack on this constitutional right, and raising the requirement will allow only wealthy, special interest groups in securing enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot.
Voters can use the ballot initiative process as a safeguard against laws that oppress Idahoans, a legislature in the pocket of powerful interests, or politicians who refuse to act on behalf of the people. Undermining Idahoans’ ability to participate in this process undermines our ability to fight against special interests and corrupt politicians. Governor Brad Little has an obligation to defend and protect Idahoans’ constitutional rights.