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Idaho Initiative Bill Held In Committee For Now

State of Idaho

An Idaho Senate committee has voted to hold a bill that would make it more difficult to put a citizen initiative on a statewide ballot.

The Senate State Affairs Committee took testimony from more than 50 people this morning [Friday] in a continuation of a hearing that began on Monday. Nearly all expressed opposition to the legislation. Many were volunteers on the campaign that put the successful Medicaid expansion initiative on the ballot last November. That measure was approved by more than 60% of voters.

They included Mary McLaughlin of Boise.

“This bill does not step on liberal toes, it stomps on the feet of all Idahoans," McLaughlin said. "The suggestion that future citizen initiative requirements should be doubled while the time given cut into third to complete is an assault upon the bipartisan ability of  all of our citizens to assess and initiate issues independently while our legislators refuse to act upon our intentions. We did not elect you to become your audience.”

Current law requires initiative sponsors to submit signatures from at least 6% of the number of eligible voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. The proposal would require at least 10% of voter signatures in 32 of the 35 districts. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Scott Grow, says the goal is to increase voter involvement in initiatives.

Opponents call the bill the Revenge on Voters Act.

The committee chose not to vote on the bill today, though the committee chairwoman, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, has the authority to revise the bill and bring it to a vote. She told the Idaho Press she plans to do that next week.