Gov. Brad Little has not even been in office for six months but he’s already faced a crisis that threatened the credibility of our state’s government.
We’re talking about the ill-advised and inexplicable attempt by most of Idaho’s lawmakers to make it impossible for Idahoans to ever place an initiative on the statewide election ballot.
We speak for our entire state when we thank Idaho’s new governor for vetoing this legislation and passing his first major test as our state’s leader with the highest of marks.
Gratitude also goes to the thousands of Idahoans who bombarded Little with phone calls and emails begging him to veto the legislation that would have required anyone wanting to place an initiative on the statewide ballot to gather the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of the state’s 35 legislative districts within a six-month time frame.
Those requirements would have made the initiatives process impossible for average Idahoans, and the Idaho legislators pushing for the changes knew exactly what they were doing.
Because of Little’s veto the current initiative requirements — 6 percent of registered voters’ signatures in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts within an 18-month time frame — will stand.
Every Idahoan who picked up their phone or wrote an email to tell Little their thoughts on this legislation should feel proud and empowered because they played a role in what was truly a grassroots campaign to take back our state’s government.
You all made a huge difference and Little definitely heard all of your voices.
Thanks should also go to those local legislators who consistently voted against this legislation.
Democrats Elaine Smith, Mark Nye and Chris Abernathy deserve praise for being voices of reason during the Legislature’s attempt to take away your constitutional rights.
Republicans Jim Guthrie and Neil Anderson deserve credit for being brave enough to buck their party’s leadership by consistently voting against these bills.
What’s truly disturbing though about this chapter in our state’s history is that most of Idaho’s lawmakers voted in favor of placing restrictions so severe on your right to put an initiative on the statewide election ballot that essentially only the most well-funded special interest groups would have ever been able to successfully navigate the process.
These lawmakers attempted to sell this plan as the exact opposite, lying that it was all an effort to give rural Idahoans a voice.
One backer of the bills, Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, even griped that he was upset Idahoans weren’t thanking him.
Our Legislature’s leaders, Scott Bedke and Brent Hill, shockingly voted in favor of the legislation and in doing so showed us all that they are part of the problem in Boise rather than solution.
None other than far-right Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, was among the voices of reason regarding these bills, noting that the legislation was all the proof she needed to show that lobbyists are the ones controlling the Legislature.
The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, the Food Producers of Idaho and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry all supported the legislation.
“It’s a lot easier for a lobby group to control 70 in this body than it is to control the masses of the people,” Scott warned her fellow Idaho House of Representatives members.
Shame on those lawmakers for thinking they could so easily fool rural and urban Idahoans into supporting such misguided and vengeful legislation.
The reality of this attack on the voter initiative process by a majority of our state’s lawmakers goes back to voters’ approval of the initiative during the November election to close the Medicaid gap.
All the 60-plus percent of Idaho voters who approved that initiative wanted to do was provide some meager health insurance to poor Idahoans who have none.
For some reason, this show of humanity so irked many Idaho lawmakers that they embarked on an all-out effort to make sure it never happened again. It wasn’t good enough that these same lawmakers would not even follow the command of their constituents to close the Medicaid gap. They wanted to punish us.
Gov. Little fortunately saw this attack on our constitutional rights for what it was and vetoed the legislation.
The question Idahoans now must ask themselves is whether it’s time for all of us to veto the Legislature by voting against those lawmakers who obviously think so little of us.
It’s very disturbing that our lawmakers punted on following the statewide vote to close the Medicaid gap. It’s downright scary that they then turned on the citizens of Idaho in an attempt to try to make it so none of us could ever put a ballot initiative on the statewide election ballot.
Re-electing any of these anti-initiative lawmakers would be akin to endorsing and enabling more of the same behavior in the future.
This time our governor provided the necessary smack down on an out-of-control Legislature to protect our rights.
If you don’t want there to be a next time, we encourage you to do what’s needed on election day.
Our Statehouse should be no place for politicians who want to take away our rights and limit our voice.