A new bill has been introduced in the Idaho Legislature to change the ballot initiative process to require signatures from all 35 legislative districts.
Senate Bill 1110 was introduced Friday morning by Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
The bill’s official Statement of Purpose is as follows:
The purpose of this legislation is to increase voter involvement and inclusivity in the voter initiative/referendum process. This will be accomplished by ensuring signatures are gathered from each of the 35 legislative districts, so every part of Idaho is included in this process.
Vick, the bill sponsor, said during the introductory hearing that the bill would require signatures to be gathered for a ballot initiative from all 35 legislative districts. The total amount of signatures needed to be gathered would not change but they would have to be disbursed amongst all the districts instead of the current number which is 18 legislative districts.
The threshold would still be 6% in each legislative district.
Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), who sits on the committee where the bill was introduced, said this about SB 1110 and asked Vick,
We already have one of the most restrictive processes for the initiative and referendum signature gathering. Why did you feel there was an urgency to further, make it much more difficult?
Vick responded to Stennett by saying,
I grew up in a rural area in Montana and it seems clear to me that as the population of Idaho continues to grow and concentrate in the urban areas that those areas are gonna end up making many decisions and I think that the wisdom of having a broad support for an initiative is worthwhile and that we don’t forget those people who don’t live in the population centers.
Vick also said that currently, 18 legislative districts fit into four Idaho counties. Idaho has a total of 44 counties.
There was no further discussion after Stennett’s question and Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise) made a motion to introduce the bill. The motion passed on a voice vote.
A public hearing for the bill has not yet been set.
Tags: Ballot Initiative, Chuck Winder, Michelle Stennett, Senate State Affairs, Steve Vick