Farm Bureau defends rewrite of initiative law

A bill to tighten the initiative and referendum process has nothing to do with the Students Come First repeal, the Idaho Farm Bureau says in a recent guest opinion.

The Farm Bureau, a supporter of Senate Bill 1108, says its objective is to protect rural Idaho’s  voice in initiatives and referendums.

The bill would require sponsors of initiatives or referendums to collect signatures from 6 percent of registered voters, or 53,750 signatures — and reach this 6 percent threshold in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

From the Farm Bureau guest opinion: “To illustrate the issue of numbers, consider that statewide there are 895,834 registered voters. Ada County has 251,467 registered voters as of the last general election. Therefore, it would only take 21.3 percent of registered voters in Ada County to get the required 53,750 signatures. If you add Canyon County, it would take only 15.5 percent of registered voters in those two counties to qualify a measure for the ballot. With numbers like these, why would signature gatherers ever need to venture outside of the Treasure Valley?”

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum

In a news conference last week, Idaho Democrats decried this bill. Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said SB 1108 “seeks to restrict the people’s ability to reject bad legislation, such as the Luna Laws.”

The Farm Bureau says it took no position on November’s Students Come First referendums.

SB 1108 is co-sponsored by Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa. The bill is assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee, which McKenzie chairs. No hearing has been scheduled on the bill.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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