By a 40-30 vote, the Idaho House of Representatives passed legislation Friday afternoon that will make it far tougher to qualify statewide ballot initiatives.
The Senate voted 18-17 to approve the bill, SB 1159, the week prior. All three of District 26’s legislators—Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum; Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum; and Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding—voted no.
The bill now moves to Gov. Brad Little for a decision on whether to sign it.
The legislation increases the requirements for ballot-measure campaigns. The standard has been for campaigns to collect signatures of 6 percent of registered voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. The new requirement is signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of 35 legislative districts. Campaigns would have six months to collect signatures instead of the 18 months they’re given now.
The House also passed HB 296, which would require signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in two-thirds of the legislative districts, with nine months to complete that task.
HB 296 went to the Senate today, Monday, April 1. The bill was introduced without a public hearing on Thursday; the House Ways and Means Committee convened a last-minute meeting in which they introduced and passed the bill by a 4-1 vote.
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, opposed the legislation.
“This is a classic case of abuse of power, as far as I am concerned,” Erpelding said in a news release. “A small group of Republicans met, debated the bill in secret, and are now running a new Revenge on Voters bill. Committee members were sent a new initiative bill a few minutes before the meeting, leaving us virtually no time for us to review it.”
Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, said Friday that the legislation will strengthen the initiative process to include more rural voices, according to the Idaho Falls Post Register.
“All the bill is intended to do is make sure there is broad support across the state of Idaho for the initiative process,” Crane said, according to the Post Register. “That’s what we’re intending to do.”