Idaho House To Debate Initiative Restrictions Bill

Mar 26, 2019

An Idaho House panel passed a controversial voter initiative bill Tuesday afternoon in the face of significant opposition.

Another multi-hour hearing with the vast majority of testimony against the bill seemingly did little to stop the House State Affairs committee from moving it forward to the full House on a 10-5 vote.

One man even told state lawmakers there would be a "reckoning" should they send it to the floor, promising to find primary opponents for each of them before he was gaveled out of order.

The multi-faceted bill would give groups a third of the time they have now to collect nearly twice as many signatures to get an initiative on the ballot.

Former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck testified that would only increase the likelihood that outside groups with deep pockets would be able to qualify an initiative.

"They’ll spend a couple of million dollars and they’ll get something on the ballot – and it won’t be citizens. It’ll be hired signature gatherers," Beck says.

But supporters say these changes are needed to avoid urban residents from muscling out the needs of rural voters. Many of them, like Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa), also cite their support for making groups show how any initiative might be funded.

"It’s going to provide certainty, it’s going to provide predictability, fiscal responsibility, and most importantly, it’s going to ensure that rural voters’ voices are heard and not vetoed in the initiative process," Crane says.

The House will take up the bill next. If it passes there, it goes to Gov. Brad Little for his signature to become law.

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