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House OKs bill to make Idaho initiative process tougher

Legislation that would dramatically toughen the requirements to get an initiative or referendum on the Idaho ballot is heading to Gov. Brad Little.

The House voted 40-30 Friday to approve the bill that would require those seeking ballot initiatives to get signatures from 10 percent of voters in 32 of Idaho’s 35 districts, compared to current rules that require signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 districts.

The bill would also cut the time allowed to gather the signatures from 18 months to about six months.

Backers say the legislation is 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.

Opponents say the requirements make the initiative process so difficult that it violates Idaho’s Constitution.

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