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Gov. Little: No need to make ballot initiative process tougher

Little says his position hasn't changed since he vetoed two bills earlier this year that would have made it tougher to qualify an initiative for the ballot.
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File photo of a ballot box in front of the Idaho flag.

LEWISTON, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he's willing to consider updates to Idaho's ballot initiative process but doesn't see a reason to make the process substantially more difficult.

Little, a Republican, told the Lewiston Tribune in a story on Tuesday that his position hasn't changed since he vetoed two bills earlier this year that would have made it much tougher to qualify initiatives for the ballot.

The ballot initiative bills became some of the most contentious legislation during the legislative session that wrapped up in April. They were seen as a reaction by lawmakers to the Medicaid expansion passed by voters in November with 61% of the vote following years of inaction by the Legislature.

The first piece of vetoed legislation would have required signatures from 10% of registered voters in 32 of 35 districts in six months for initiatives to be placed on statewide ballots. It also required fiscal notes and possible funding sources for the proposed laws.

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The second bill required signatures from 24 of Idaho's 35 legislative districts in nine months for an initiative to qualify for the ballot. It also required 10% of registered voters and funding sources for the measures to be placed on ballots.

Current rules require signatures from 6% of voters in 18 districts in 18 months for measures to be placed on ballots.

Little said the restrictions went too far and could have prompted a lawsuit, allowing a federal judge to decide the state's initiative process.

"There's reasons to keep the hurdle at the same level," he said.

Little said he's heard speculation that lawmakers are planning to bring ballot initiative restrictions during the 2020 legislative session again, but no one has approached him so far.