March 23, 2013 in Letters, Opinion

Don’t smother initiatives

 

Idaho SB 1108 has the ill-conceived objective to kill one of the world’s oldest grass-roots organization tools: the initiative process.

I’ve volunteered in the huge task of gathering signatures for initiatives. Only one of those made it to the ballot, in 1996. It also prompted fear in certain interest groups, and restrictive changes were immediately adopted by the Republican Legislature in 1997.

SB 1108 would sound the death knell to Idaho grass-roots volunteer efforts to enact initiatives. Only well-organized, well-funded and probably out-of-state-sponsored campaigns would be able to afford hired signature gatherers whose only incentive is to get paid, which results in invalidated signatures causing problems to get the initiative on the ballot.

The Idaho Farm Bureau and the Senate’s Republican leadership dismiss the fact that most proposed initiatives never make it onto the ballot under current Idaho law. But they still want to make it even more difficult by effectively disenfranchising voters of the more populous counties in favor of the smaller rural counties, the strongholds of the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Every citizen who has ever signed a petition should feel outraged.

Contact your legislators and oppose SB 1108.

Cecilia Nolthenius

Coeur d’Alene

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