The far-reaching election consolidation bill, HB 201, has passed the House on a 52-17 vote. “The greatest issue … is the greater voter turnout we will get,” Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, told the House. But opponents said the measure will cost school districts money at a time they can’t afford it. The bill takes effect in 2011. “We’ve been told … 2011 is the edge of a cliff,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene. Increased turnout, he said, is “a laudable and worthy goal,” but Sayler said, “I fear the other effect - making it more difficult for our already strapped school districts to provide the funding that they need.” The bill requires all elections to be on two dates in May and November, but school districts could hold bond and levy votes in March and August if they pay the full cost. Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, the bill’s lead sponsor, said, “I can only say one thing - it’s their choice how much it costs them. They can run the bonds or the levies on the May or November dates, and it doesn’t cost them a dime.” The bill now moves to the Senate.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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