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Eye On Boise

Senate panel again delays vote on controversial changes to initiative, referendum law

For those who are wondering, the Senate State Affairs Committee didn’t vote this morning on SB 1108, the bill from the Idaho Farm Bureau to make it tougher to qualify initiatives or referendum measures for the Idaho ballot, in an attempt to increase the voice of rural residents in the process. For a second time the committee took testimony on the controversial bill, which would require signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts, instead of just 6 percent statewide, to make the ballot. But it ran out of time. Now, the vote has been pushed back to Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said, “There are those who had come from out of town to testify on SB 1108 on Friday (and) … shown up again today,” so he called on two citizens who had signed up to testify on the bill. Leroy Smith told the committee, “I’m opposed to the bill mostly because it’s taking more rights away.” He said, “When … you make it harder for us to get things so that the regular people can vote on it, that’s not right. … Let the people vote on it. You just saw it in the Luna laws, on what you thought was right and what the people think is right isn’t necessarily the same thing. So that’s why I’m asking you to not support this bill.”

Ed Wardwell told the senators, “The concern that rural counties are unrepresented I think is a red herring, because we still go to the general election, we still have one-person, one-vote.” He added, “I did take a class recently at Boise State, (with) Dr. Moncrief talking about how states matter, how they’re laboratories for democracy and that initiatives and referendums are a big part of that. Actually less than half the states have some, and we have both. I’d hate to see that diminished in any way.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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