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Op-Ed: Let’s Make Sure Idaho’s Initiative Process Is Inclusive and Doesn’t Favor Special Interests

By • February 27, 2021

The following Op-Ed was submitted by Idaho State Senator Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) as part of a “Dueling Op-Ed” regarding ballot initiatives. You can see the other Op-Ed submitted by Reclaim Idaho’s co-Founder Luke Mayville here.

Vick’s submission is below:

Idaho is now the fastest-growing state in the nation. As more people move here – many to escape the failed policies of other states – both native-born and brand-new Idahoans are concerned about keeping Idaho great and protecting what makes our state special.

The last thing we want is for Idaho to turn into another California, Oregon or Washington, where a few populous liberal cities effectively dictate policy to the rest of the state – and one thing we can do to protect ourselves is to make sure our ballot initiative process includes all Idahoans and prevents out-of-state special interests from hijacking our system.

I’ve introduced a bill to change the process for getting initiatives on the ballot so that signatures must be gathered from every legislative district in the state – all 35 of them. Currently, the law only requires signatures to be gathered from at least 18 districts. That requirement may have sufficed when there was more of a balance in population between Idaho’s rural and urban/suburban areas, but with so many people moving here the population is bound to concentrate more in certain cities and suburbs. This means deep-pocketed special interests can dump money into certain major media markets, focus on the most heavily populated areas, and neglect the rest of the state.

Good state policy should be inclusive of all Idahoans in all parts of the state. We must take into account every part of Idaho, not just the areas that happen to be more populated. Otherwise we’ll have a system where many Idahoans are left out of the process and their interests ignored.

Here are some of the important points about this bill, S1110:

  • Not a single additional signature is required under S1110 – the same total amount is required as currently.
  • On average, this is only 1,850 signatures per legislative district.
  • S1110 ensures a minimum amount of support for ballot initiatives across the entire state since signatures will now be spread out over 35 districts, rather than a minimum of 18 as is currently required.
  • S1110 will help to ensure measures that qualify for the ballot are good for all Idaho citizens, rather than just a small subset.
  • The concept in S1110 has already been litigated in both the Ninth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals and has been upheld.

Of course, some opponents – many of whom, like Luke Mayville of Reclaim Idaho, have benefited from millions of out-of-state special interest dollars to fund their own initiative campaigns – are making false claims about this bill in order to try to stop it. So, to be clear, here’s what the bill would not do:

  • S1110 does not provide “veto” power to one legislative district.  The standard is only 6% of registered voters in each district based on the last General Election, or about 1,850 signatures.
  • The Ninth Circuit has already squarely addressed this point and found that it is not unconstitutional to require signatures from all districts.
  • S1110 does not reduce the amount of time to gather signatures.
  • S1110 does not increase the amount of signatures necessary to qualify.
  • S1110 does not restrain political speech – in fact the courts have found that it likely increases the total amount of political speech and therefore it does not implicate the First Amendment.

As Idaho changes, we all want to make sure we hold on to Idaho’s values. Including every part of the state in the initiative process, and making sure every Idaho district has a say, will go a long way toward ensuring fairness in the system.

You hear a lot these days from Democrats and other liberal groups about “equity.” It’s odd, then, that so many Democrats and liberal groups like Luke Mayville’s Reclaim Idaho are fighting our attempts to bring more equity and inclusion to the way initiatives get on the ballot. Perhaps it’s because Reclaim Idaho benefited so much from out-of-state funding from a corrupt California union and other questionable out-of-state sources in its last initiative campaign. But that’s not the way most Idahoans want our political system to go.

Our great state is at a crossroads, and I hope you’ll join me in this effort to protect our democratic process and include all Idahoans in decisions about our future.

-Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, is the Assistant Majority Leader in the Idaho State Senate.

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Tags: Ballot Initiatives, Dalton Gardens, Luke Mayville, Reclaim Idaho, SB 1110, Steve Vick

7 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Let’s Make Sure Idaho’s Initiative Process Is Inclusive and Doesn’t Favor Special Interests

  1. Thank you Send Vick, we’ve needed a bill like this to level the playing field for quite some time.

  2. Thank you Senator Vick for protecting Idaho from the liberals n out of state interference.
    Please continue to fight for our freedom n constitution.

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