Reclaim Idaho is preparing to take on opposition
Reclaim Idaho is taking Governor Brad Little to court for signing a bill that they feel is unconstitutional
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Reclaim Idaho is taking Governor Brad Little to court for signing a bill that they feel is unconstitutional. KMVT spoke with the organization to see how they plan to win this battle, and what additional obstacles lay ahead.
The Governor recently signed SB1110, which requires valid signatures of at least 6% of registered voters in each and every one of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts to put an initiative or referendum up for a vote, rather than 18 districts under the old system.
Rep. James Addis (R) of District 4, who sponsored the bill and introduced it on the house floor earlier this month, said, the bill is inclusive and ensures that Idaho’s rural and urban citizens have a voice in the creation of state law. The bill passed house 51-18 before being signed by the Governor.
However, Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “The legislators claim this legislation is necessary to strengthen rural voters that clearly is a smokescreen. That is a sham of an argument.”
He also said the bill, which is now law, makes it virtually impossible for citizens to get an initiative on the ballot, and some legislators agree with him.
Rep. Ilana Rubel (D), of District 18, who voted against the bill, said on the house floor, “If we made a rule in here (House) that you can’t pass a bill unless you have representatives from all 35 districts voting for it. Nobody would say ‘wow what a great way to protect rural voters’. You would say ‘wow you are trying to grind the legislative process to a halt’.”
Mayville said he sees the legislation as payback.
“The legislators did not like that we expanded Medicaid. They wanted Medicaid expansion off the ballot. They never wanted people to vote on it,” said Mayville.
Now there is a new obstacle SB 1150. It requires that those who circulate petitions and gather signatures must collect those signatures on Idaho soil. The person circulating and gathering the signatures must also be an Idaho resident. The bill passed the Senate 28 to 6 in March but has not yet been voted on in the House.
Michelle Stennett (D) of District 26, who voted against the bill, said on the Senate floor, that the legislation would hurt businesses and employees that are based in Idaho but do long-term contracts out of state.
“It would prevent members of the military serving outside of the state. It would prevent them from participating in the initiative process,” said Mayville.
He also said Idaho is one of the toughest states in the country to circulate and gather petitions, and SB 1110 has just created one more hurdle. Mayville stated in the last eight years, while the old rules were in place, only two initiatives out of 15 made it to the ballot, and only one passed.
The percentage requirement is also very high in Idaho he said.
“In most states that have initiatives it is the percentage of the votes that were cast in the previous election, which is a much lower number,” said Mayville. “In Idaho, it is all registered voters.”
According to Mayville, Reclaim Idaho has started a defense fund to fight SB1110 and prove it violates citizens’ rights, and there are now over 1,500 Idahoans from nearly every single county supporting it.
“I believe over 100 towns who have already donated to help cover the legal fees and help cover any other expenses that we occur,” Mayville said.
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