By Lindsey Rinehart, Compassionate Idaho
There has been a lot going on at the Statehouse lately that we should all know about. Lets start with a recap. The beginning: Senator Winder (R) introduces two SRs backed by the Association of Idaho Cities. One was to tell the Federal Government to do Exactly what it is currently doing, enforce it's current ban or marijuana. That was Finally defeated in a 21-13 vote on the Senate Floor. Simultaneously introduced was another, to "Ban marijuana from Idaho forever" as a "statement piece." That piece of bad legislation turned into SCR112. It has had it's First reading on the House State Affairs Committee but hasn't moved. I have asked for a hearing for when it does. I have called, left voice mails, and have e-mailed the request. The last piece we haven't discussed enough at all, and that is SB 1108. I have had my eyes on this one for a while. Today it was in the Senate State Affairs Committee and open for testimony Pro and Con.
When SB 1108 came to the committee it re-appeared from about a month hiatus from the lime light. Brought forth from Idaho Farmers Bureau Federation, it seeks to limit how we petition in a couple of Very important ways. The first is to take out the "zip code" part of the signature sheet. It currently has "signature__printed name__address__zip code__date." To replace this, the Bureau found it appropriate to add "legislative district" instead. Here is some basic information to help break this down a bit.
There are 44 counties in Idaho, and 35 legislative districts, with 7 regional districts, and 203 cities. Our population is a Hair over 2,000,000 people. Our voting electorate however, needs to turn out in larger numbers. Approximately 347,000 people voted in the 2012. Props 1,2, and 3 were education bills and had strong support from the voters. We know that medical marijuana will bring voters to the ballot. Props 1,2,and 3 from last year are great example of the initiative process. We need to trust Idaho Voters to make important decisions for Idaho.
The Initiative process is difficult. Our population is very dense in some areas and very rural in others. We currently gather signatures by County. Any petitioner can carry any county. At the end of our last run we had all 44 counties. This is where it's getting confusing for people. It's surprising to me how many people don't know what County they live in. Since I have moved back to Boise, the legislative district lines have been redrawn 3 times. My district is 17, even though my voter ID card says 18. This will be Very confusing to people that just want to spend a minute or two to use their voice. Many people do Not know their district. To be good petitioners we would need to carry that information on hand.
The other part that is disturbing about this Bill is that it wants 6% of 18 of these districts before the signatures will count toward the goal. If we fall short in a district but are heavy in another and we meet the 6% requirement for state signatures what happens? We don't know! Also, if we are doing 6% of the electorate off of district, and not State, does that mean we can qualify an initiative by just using 18 districts and have Those 6% and then the rest aren't needed?? If so, then we are discounting the Majority of the voice. No one has presented MATH on these numbers, so please pardon me if the Deets are off a Tiny, tiny bit. Please feel free to correct it. I've never claimed to be great at math but at a glance I can tell you that if we target 18 sparsely populated counties and got 6% in each of those counties, it's not enough to qualify for the ballot.
There is a VERY easy solution to this problem. Let it die in committee. The math hasn't been done, motives are misplaced by the Bureau, and it takes away freedom of speech in a few different ways. It leaves the state up to litigation and it's confusing for Everyone to change it. It's not broken and there's No reason to "fix" it.
Ultimately, it goes to the ballot however we have to do it but the biggest argument is that signatures could be gathered out of one populous area. We have 9 teams around the state. Regardless of WHERE those 57,751 signatures come from, the Idaho Voter Decides at the Ballot. No Matter what!
As for SCR112 , it's in the House State Affairs Committee and we are Watching. Look out for action alerts to testify! The SB 1108 will be having more testimony accepted and expected Monday morning, the 4th at 8am in room WW55. We would like to see as many of you as possible turn out and use your voice as our legislature progresses down this treacherous path.
Be the change you want to see!