This Bill Would Make It Harder For Initiatives To Get On The Ballot In Idaho

Mar 4, 2019

A new bill introduced Monday would make it exponentially harder to put an initiative on the ballot in Idaho.

The proposal from Sen. Scott Grow (R-Eagle) would significantly raise the threshold needed for anyone to put a question to Idaho voters.

Right now, you have to get signatures from 6 percent of registered voters across more than half of the state’s legislative districts.

Grow’s bill would boost that to 10 percent – and campaigns would have to gather those signatures from 32 of Idaho’s 35 districts. It would also slash the amount of time a group would have to collect signatures from 18 months to 180 days.

"The effort here is to allow the rural districts to also be involved in the process and not just have the cities dictate to the [rural areas] what’s happening in the state," Grow says.

Neither Idaho’s Medicaid expansion nor an initiative to legalize historic horse racing would have qualified for the ballot last year if this bill would’ve been in place.

The last time state lawmakers tightened their grip on the initiative process was 2013, just a few months after voters rejected three controversial education laws. It was the first time since 1936 that voters overturned laws passed by the state legislature through a referendum vote, according to the Spokesman Review.

The measure now needs a public hearing before it can reach the full Senate.

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