BOISE, Idaho — Opponents of a bill that would make it far more difficult to get a voter initiative on the Idaho ballot packed a Statehouse auditorium Monday morning, hoping to testify against the legislation proposed by Republican Sen. Scott Grow.
But with five other matters on the agenda ahead of the bill, only a few of them got a chance to speak.
State Affairs Committee Chairwoman Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, a Republican from Huston, nearly closed the hearing after noting that those still waiting to testify were largely against the bill. That's when Republican Sen. Chuck Winder pointed out that cutting off testimony could give the impression that the lawmakers weren't interested in listening on "a significant issue," and Lodge instead said the hearing would be continued on Friday.
The legislation would require those seeking ballot initiatives to get signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of Idaho's 35 districts. Current rules require 6 percent of voters in 18 districts.
Grow's bill would also cut the time allowed to gather the signatures by two-thirds, from 18 months to 6 months.
Both changes would make it harder to get voter initiatives on the ballot.
Critics of the bill say the legislation is an attack on grassroots initiatives like Medicaid Expansion.
Grow is adamant it is not and is not in response to Prop 1 and Prop 2, two voter initiatives that make it on the ballot in 2018.
"Prop 2 has already passed, its the law of the land, it is not an attack on Prop 2 or anybody that has worked on Prop 2," Grow said. "This is looking at avoiding Idaho becoming even the possibility of becoming a California or an Oregon as far as being governed by voter initiatives."
Sen. Grow also notes he believes his bill is important because it tacks on a mandatory fiscal note to voter initiatives, so voters will know what it will cost to pass and implement any voter-created laws.
Most people signed up to testify for today's hearing were not able to speak, but testimony will continue on Friday morning.