The change was prompted by Senate Bill 1108 which passed the House Friday and is headed to Gov. Butch Otter. SB 1108 requires that signatures represent at least 6 percent of the registered voters in at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. Current law simply requires 6 percent statewide.
Rural interests, including the Idaho Farm Bureau, have said the change is necessary to limit the clout of urban Idaho. To qualify a initiative for the ballot — which creates law upon a majority vote at a general election; or a referendum, which strikes down a law — the total signatures would still have to exceed 6 percent of the registered voters statewide.
Though Democrats oppose SB 1108, Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, thanked State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, for bringing the bill to the committee as the session draws to a close.
“I just want to thank you for hearing the concerns and responding to them,” Werk said to McKenzie.
Replied McKenzie: “The credit really goes to the secretary of state for bringing this forward. But I think it’s a good idea.”
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, took the unusual step of asking that the bill not only be introduced but sent immediately to the full Senate with the committee’s recommendation that the measure pass. The committee agreed; if leadership wishes to move the bill quickly it could pass before adjournment.