BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) - The public outcry against Governor Brad Little's decision to sign senate bill 11-10 is continuing to grow. The controversial bill was signed into law on Saturday. It will make it very difficult for regular people to get their ideas on the ballot.
The nonpartisan group, Reclaim Idaho, is speaking out against the bill that they say will keep the voice of the public from being heard. "We are angry and we are deeply disappointed today with the governor's decision," says co-founder Luke Mayville.
The legislation changes the requirements to qualify citizen initiatives for the ballot. Campaigns must now collect signatures from 6% of registered voters in all 35 state legislative districts. That's up from the 18 districts previously required. The new law means Idaho now has the most restrictive initiative rules in the nation.
"This makes citizen initiatives virtually impossible in Idaho. Under this legislation, we're not likely to see another initiative like Medicaid expansion from 2018 or like the term limits initiative from the 1990's. So we are very disappointed with Governor Little," says Luke Mayville.
There has been large public opposition to this legislation. Those speaking against the bill say this law ignores the people and sides with special-interest groups. Five former Idaho attorneys general, four republicans, and one democrat recently issued a public statement against SB 1110: "the constitution clearly states that the people reserve the right to 'initiate any legislation' and to reject 'any act' passed by the legislature. Procedural rules designed to frustrate those rights are contrary to the constitution."
It is now likely this will be yet another bill passed by the legislature that ends up in court.
"This fight is not over because this legislation is clearly unconstitutional, and our organization, Reclaim Idaho, has decided to file a lawsuit and to ask the courts to strike down this legislation and to protect the citizen iniative rights of all the people of Idaho," says Luke Mayville.
Governor Little does think the bill will ultimately be decided by the court system in a transmittal letter he wrote after signing it.
It reads, "whether senate bill 1110 amounts to an impermissible restriction in violation of our constitution is highly fact-dependent and, ultimately, a question for the Idaho judiciary to decide," Little wrote. "I also expect the federal courts may be called to determine whether senate bill 1110 violates the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
Many see this new law as an attempt to stop a medical marijuana initiative.
Little vetoed similar legislation in 2019 out of concern a federal court could find it unconstitutional and dictate Idaho’s ballot initiative process.