Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Holding All the Trumps

Idaho, initiative, ballot, Senate Bill 1159, democracy, voting,

Last week, Idaho’s Senate Bill 1159 — “the bill to make it much harder to qualify a voter initiative or referendum for the Idaho ballot,” as the Idaho Press summarized it — passed the Senate on the narrowest 18–17 vote.

Now headed to the House, the legislation would 

  • nearly double the number of voter-signed petitions to place an initiative onto the ballot
  • reduce the time to gather those signatures by a whopping two-thirds 
  • throw up numerous additional hurdles

What’s the point?

The state already has one of the most arduous petition processes in the nation for qualifying a citizen initiative for the ballot. Moreover, without passing any new law, Idaho legislators currently have and have always had a 100 percent veto on any citizen-initiated measure enacted by voters. 

Idahoans cannot place constitutional amendments on the ballot through their citizen initiative, only statutes. And any statute voters pass can then immediately be repealed by a simple majority of legislators. Or amended any which way those solons so desire.

So, again, why the need for politicians to pull up the ladders? 

Senate Republicans claim — in a news release headlined, “Setting the record straight on initiative bill” — to be “concerned about the integrity, transparency and fairness of the initiative process.”

What does heightening all the hurdles to trip up citizens have to do with integrity, transparency or fairness?*

Voting on an issue is “unfair” to whom . . . legislators?

Holding all the trump cards, Idaho senators still didn’t want the people to have a say. The politicians are scared to death of democracy. 

Which is why we need more, not less. 

Certainly not none.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

* I do acknowledge that the bill is transparently awful.

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Idaho, initiative, ballot, Senate Bill 1159, democracy, voting,

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By: Redactor


  1. Very obvious to me, the legislators want to hide behind curtains thereby removing themselves further from their constituents – damn the citizens.and welcome the PAC and lobbyists.

  2. Fred says:

    Aren’t all your initiative problems occurring in states with republican-controlled legislatures?

    • Paul Jacob says:

      Most. Not all. The trouble tends to come from the “IN” party and not the “OUT” party. Ten years ago most attacks were in Democratic legislatures and now most are in Republican, as the GOP now controls many more state legislatures then a decade ago..

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