Idaho man updates challenge to state’s initiative process

An Idaho man has filed documents to keep alive his federal court challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s ballot initiative process.

Ryan Isbelle filed the amended complaint Monday in U.S. District Court.

Isbelle contends the state’s initiative rules violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause because they give more weight to voters in some districts.  Chief U.S. District Court Judge David Nye in dismissing the lawsuit in October didn’t rule on the merits of the case. Instead, Nye said Isbelle lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because he hadn’t tried to get an initiative on the ballot.

Nye gave Isbelle 30 days to file an amended complaint.

In Isbelle’s filing Monday, he said he’s collecting signatures for an active ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. He said in the lawsuit that on Friday he submitted his first petition signature sheet to the Nez Perce County deputy clerk and the signatures were certified.  A copy of the petition was included in his latest filing.

The ballot initiative process in Idaho has been among the most contentious issues in the state in recent years, and it appears possible lawmakers will take it up again when the Legislature begins meeting in January.

Isbelle contends that a law passed in 2013 requiring signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 legislative districts is unconstitutional.  Before 2013, ballot initiatives required signatures from 6 percent of statewide voters.

Isbelle said the change unconstitutionally gave more weight to signatures in some districts, while the 6 percent statewide requirement kept all voters on an equal footing. (AP)