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Eye On Boise

House debates bill to make it tougher to get initiatives, referenda on ballot

The House is now debating SB 1108, the bill to make it tougher to qualify an initiative or referendum measure for the Idaho ballot by adding a requirement for signatures of 6 percent of registered voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts; currently, the requirement is just for 6 percent statewide. Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said the aim is the same as that of a late-1990s law that was overturned in federal court; it required signatures from half of the state’s counties. For the three years it was in effect, no measures qualified for Idaho’s ballot; it was overturned in federal court as a violation of the one-person, one-vote rule.

“It’s not anything that’s particularly new,” Luker told the House. “But it’s doing so in a constitutional manner by referring to the legislative districts.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said, “Last year, there were three referendums on the ballot in November, and three months later we have this very significant revision to the initiative and referendum process. In general, this SB 1108 makes the initiative and referendum process more difficult, more paperwork, more cumbersome, and doesn’t really address an issue that we have here in this state. ... It’s not necessary.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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