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Bill toughening the initiative process arrives at Governor Little's office, awaits decision

Posted at 10:21 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 00:21:18-04

BOISE — Critics have gone so far as to call it the “revenge on voters act,” and today, Senate Bill 1159 arrived on Governor Little's desk, giving him five days to sign or veto.
But it's not the only bill he may have to consider, a trailer bill, still making its way through the Senate, would soften the strict new requirements slightly, in response to voter push-back.

The Governor’s office has received over 2,700 phone calls this legislative session from Idahoans asking for their name to be added to a long list of tallies, in favor of a veto of Senate Bill 1159 and House Bill 296. The phone calls are coming in within seconds of each other sometimes.

And it doesn't end with phone calls. As of this afternoon, there were more than 2,100 emails in the inbox directly related to Senate Bill 1159 and its trailer bill. Of this long list, executive assistants inside the Governor's office estimate less than 25 of those are in favor of the two bills.

Outside the office, a petition by Reclaim Idaho, the group behind Medicaid expansion, has gathered over 11,000 signatures against the bills.

As we have reported, Senate Bill 1159 would raise the requirements to get an initiative on the Idaho ballot. The legislation would require signatures from 10 percent of voters in 32 of Idaho's 35 districts, and allow only 6 months to gather them. Critics say that would be nearly impossible. So House lawmakers introduced a trailer bill that would soften those requirements slightly, requiring signatures from 10 percent of voters in two-thirds of Idaho's 35 districts, and lengthening the time for gathering them to 9 months.

The last initiative to pass in Idaho was last year's Medicaid expansion, which 61 percent of voters supported. Under the rules of both Senate Bill 1159 and House Bill 296, that measure would have fallen well short of passing in the last election.

The Governor's office has no comment on whether Governor Little will sign the bill, they only say that he has five days from today at 4:30 PM to make a decision.

In response to when the legislative session will end, the office said, “Governor Little has made it clear he will not allow the Idaho Legislature to adjourn until it passes legislation to implement the voter-approved Medicaid expansion initiative.”