Saturday, February 27, 2021

Bill amounts to attempt to revoke constitutional rights

| February 18, 2021 1:00 AM

In 2018, the Medicaid expansion initiative campaign began in Bonner County and was the only Idaho initiative to be enacted in the past 18 years. It received signatures from all 44 counties and won on Election Day with a majority of voters in 35 of Idaho's 44 counties.

After this initiative passed, the Idaho Legislature passed SB 1159, which sought to increase hurdles for voter initiatives by requiring signatures from 10% of voters in 32 of the 35 legislative districts and cutting the signature gathering-time period from 18 months to six months. The bill passed both houses narrowly, 40-30 in the House and 18-17 in the Senate, but drew widespread, bipartisan condemnation across the state, including from former top state officials, retired judges, professors, business leaders, health advocates and everyday citizens. Gov. Brad Little ultimately vetoed it.

Senator Steve Vick has now proposed another bill with the intention of making grassroots initiatives virtually impossible in Idaho.

The ballot initiative is a right that was enshrined in Idaho's constitution over a century ago to give ordinary citizens a voice in their government. Senator Vick's bill amounts to an attempt to revoke one of our most cherished constitutional rights.

The Senate State Affairs Committee should vote to kill this unnecessary bill that would restrict the rights of Idaho citizens to propose ballot initiatives and participate fully in their own governance.