Idaho governor vetoes more hurdles for ballot initiatives

Idaho Governor Brad Little has issued his first veto, rejecting legislation that would have dramatically toughened the requirements to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot.

The Republican governor also plans to veto a second bill amending the first to ease the requirements.

Little says he questions the constitutional sufficiency of the bills, and frowns on the prospect of a federal judge defining Idaho’s initiative process.

The first piece of legislation cleared both the House and Senate last month following heated public testimony, most of which was against the measure. That bill required signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of 35 legislative districts in only six months. It also required a fiscal note and possible funding source for the proposed law.

The second measure required signatures from 10 percent of voters in 24 districts in nine months.

Both proposals are much stricter than the current requirements of signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 districts in 18 months.

Backers of the legislation said it was needed to give rural voters an equal voice due to information technology and social media that will increasingly allow initiative backers to target growing population centers where groups supporting particular issues live.

But opponents of both bills – including some rural Republicans – said it would make ballot initiatives nearly impossible, and eliminated a way for voters to take direct action. (AP)