Idaho Dispatch

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Bill to Change Ballot Initiative Requirements Clears Senate, Heads to House

By • March 1, 2021

SB 1110 would change ballot initiative requirements so that signatures had to be gathered from all 35 legislative districts instead of the current number of 18.

Last week, Idaho Dispatch released “Dueling Op-eds” from the bill sponsor, Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) and Reclaim Idaho Co-Founder Luke Mayville. You can see those Op-Eds which debate the bill here and here.

After a lengthy debate on the Senate Floor today, SB 1110 passed the Senate on a vote of 26-9.

Vick opened debate on the floor and said in part,

In my mind, this provides equity to all legislative districts in the state of Idaho in their participation in the signature gathering in initiative petitions. And I also think that it helps protect us from out of state interest groups. What does it not do? It doe not increase the number of signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot.

Vick argued that each district would have the ability to have a say on whether an initiative made it to the ballot.

However, not all Senators supported the idea of changing the ballot initiative process. Several Democrats stood up and opposed the measure.

Sen. Stennett (D-Ketchum) opposed the measure saying in part on the Senate floor,

It’s interesting that we don’t think that this is going to be more difficult. I represent a very rural area and I know many of you representat a giant geographical rural area, and I would argue that I put about 30-40,000 miles a year trying to make sure that I get to see all my constituents, and that is not without a lot of effort. This does double the amount of districts before it can go to ballot, all 35. Idaho is already the most restrictive initiative process in the nation for those who are participating in an initiative referendum system. If 34 districts gather enough signatures, but one doesn’t, this bill gives a veto power to the one district, the one district and no voice to the rest.

A number of other senators spoke against the bill saying that the initiative process was rarely used and the legislation was unnecessary. Senators opposed to the bill said the initiative process was already too restrictive and this wouldn’t only make it worse.

Senators who spoke in favor of the bill said it was necessary to protect rural Idahoans’ voices and that only 6% of registered voters have to be gathered in each district which amounts to just over 1,800 voters per district.

The bill now heads to the Idaho House State Affairs Committee.

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Tags: Ballot Initiatives, Luke Mayville, Michelle Stennett, Reclaim Idaho, SB 1110, Steve Vick

One thought on “Bill to Change Ballot Initiative Requirements Clears Senate, Heads to House

  1. Let’s get this passed. Yes, it’s necessary to protect rural areas. It is also crucial and necessary to protect the people in urban areas as well so that there are No Portland, No Seattle, etc. nonsense fiascos forming in Idaho!

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