Gov. Brad Little has vetoed one controversial bill to restrict Idaho’s initiative process, and he says he will veto a companion bill.
But in a veto message — posted Friday on his web page — Little does not actually criticize Senate Bill 1159. He said he agreed with “the goals and the vision” of the legislation, and said the first veto of his gubernatorial term came “reluctantly.”
“The bills invite legal challenges that likely will result in the Idaho initiative process being determined by the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — the same circuit that recently decided Idaho should pay for gender reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate serving time for molesting a child,” Little wrote.
Senate Bill 1159 would have required groups pushing an initiative to gather signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts, within 180 days.
Dubbed a “trailer bill,” House Bill 296 would have relaxed those requirements a bit — requiring signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 24 legislative districts, collected within 270 days.
The initiative overhaul has been one of the most hotly contested and heavily discussed issues of the 2019 legislative session. An overwhelming majority of callers to Little’s office urged him to veto the bills, the Idaho Statesman reported this week.
“I appreciate the enormous outpouring of opinion from both sides of this issue,” Little wrote Friday. “I have done the best I can to listen to my fellow Idahoans — those vocal and those generally quiet.”
The Legislature can override a veto, but that would appear unlikely in this case. SB 1159 passed the Senate on a narrow 18-17 vote, and passed the House 40-30 — well below the two-thirds threshold required for an override.
More on Friday’s news from Cynthia Sewell of the Idaho Statesman.