Eye On Boise

Senate Dems decry passage of SB 1108

The Senate Minority Caucus is decrying the Senate's passage today of SB 1108, making it tougher to qualify initiatives and referenda for the Idaho ballot, and calling on Idahoans to contact their lawmakers about the bill. It passed today on a 25-10 vote with bipartisan opposition, including all the chamber's Democrats, and now heads to the House; it requires signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 of the 35 legislative districts to qualify a measure for the ballot, rather than just 6 percent statewide. The idea is to protect the voice of rural areas, according to backers, but Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, argues it will do the opposite.

“This absolutely harms rural voters more than those living in urban areas,” she said. “Now, an organization can focus all their efforts on finding the signatures they need in the Treasure Valley’s 16 legislative districts and find two more legislative districts in urban areas such as Twin Falls, Idaho Falls or Coeur d’Alene to meet this higher threshold. It would be unlikely that petition gatherers would even visit rural legislative districts.” Click below to read the Senate Dems' full statement. 

Media Advisory

For immediate release - Monday, March 11, 2013

 

BOISE-A bill intended to weaken the ability of Idahoans to use the initiative process to petition state government passed the Idaho Senate today with overwhelming Republican support and united opposition from Democratic lawmakers.

Senate Democrats fought the bill, SB1108, after listening to the people of Idaho. Idahoans have told us they do not want their rights diminished.

“Idaho Democrats are committed to honoring the voice of the people,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Elliot Werk of Boise. “Anything that makes it harder for the people to speak to their state government is something that we strongly oppose.”

Senators also took issue with the disproportionate burden that the bill will have on people in rural areas.

“This absolutely harms rural voters more than those living in urban areas,” said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum. “Now, an organization can focus all their efforts on finding the signatures they need in the Treasure Valley’s 16 legislative districts and find two more legislative districts in urban areas such as Twin Falls, Idaho Falls or Coeur d’Alene to meet this higher threshold. It would be unlikely that petition gatherers would even visit rural legislative districts.”

SB1108 now heads to the House for consideration. We encourage all Idahoans, regardless of political affiliation, to urge lawmakers to reject SB1108. This bill silences the voices of Idahoans, which is simply not what Idahoans have told us that they want their elected leaders doing.

 

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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