By Cameron Rasmusson
Opponents of bills rewriting the rules on ballot initiatives rallied Saturday night at Matchwood Brewing.
Led by grassroots political organization Reclaim Idaho, the rally decried efforts by Idaho lawmakers to restrict citizen rights to enact ballot initiatives. Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville told the crowd that if Gov. Brad Little signs either version of the bill into law, it will spell an end to voter initiatives in Idaho.
“I strongly believe there will not be another grassroots initiative ever in this state if it passes,” Mayville said. “Ever.”
Mayville spent much of his talk distinguishing between the more draconian original bill and its less restrictive rider, which he believes gives Little political cover to support the restrictions. He predicted that should the governor sign off on the restrictions, he’ll say that while he opposed the original bill, the updated version is more reasonable.
The new bill deserves opposition just as ardent as the original, Mayville said. He believes that both make it virtually impossible for grassroots organizations to organize initiatives in Idaho, making the process the exclusive domain of moneyed interests that can afford to flood the state with signature gatherers. Mayville compared the two bills to being asked to jump a 30-foot wall versus a 40-foot wall.
“If both are impossible, the one is just as bad as the other,” he said.
Furthermore, Mayville believes a legislative effort making a constitutionally-guaranteed right functionally impossible for the average citizen is a means of skirting around the onerous requirements to amend the state constitution.
It’s telling, Reclaim Idaho leaders said, that some of the most conservative and progressive voices in the state were united in opposition to the proposals. It’s a matter of individual empowerment that cuts across political ideology.
“We get to link arms with all sorts of folks who care about this,” said Reclaim Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Schroeder. “It’s a consensus issue.”
Schroeder met with Little Wednesday to discuss concerns with the bill in more detail.
“Governor Little and I had a productive discussion,” she said after the meeting. “I think our priorities are aligned on the most important components of this issue: preserving Idaho values of fairness and transparency and protecting every Idahoan’s constitutional rights. With those shared goals in mind, Reclaim Idaho is asking Governor Little to veto both Senate Bill 1159 and House Bill 296. We understand he has a difficult decision to make and are grateful for the chance to present the views of our volunteers from around the state.”
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