Idaho Dems Call to Defend the Initiative Process

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Michelle Stennett

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are calling on all Idahoans to help stop Senate Bill 1108, which will weaken our constitutional right to petition our government.

S. 1108 comes just months after voters went to the polls and rejected the Luna Laws. This bill damages urban and rural areas alike by raising the bar to place initiatives or referenda on the ballot. Idaho voters need a voice. This tool allows voters to check legislative power. Idahoans have a history of using this power wisely. As Sen. Michelle Stennett said: “This bill is part of a troubling trend that makes it easier for lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people.”

Call, write, email, or visit your legislators and tell them you didn’t send them to the Idaho Capitol to take your voice away!

Statement Regarding Voting Rights/Initiative Process Read at Feb. 20 Press Conference by Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett:

Idahoans only have a few ways to directly participate in the democratic process: testifying before committees, through an initiative or referendum, and by voting.

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are united in our strong opposition to any effort that will impede the People’s constitutional right to directly petition their state government. We stand aligned with the people of Idaho in protecting our constitutional voting and initiative rights.

Today, we call on Idahoans of all political affiliations to speak out against Senate bill 1108.

This bill is part of a troubling trend that makes it easier for lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people.

Right now, this trend is playing out in the Legislature in a variety of ways.

Idaho Democrats have introduced a slate of bills, the VOTE Initiative, seeking to modernize and make our voting system easier for Idahaons to access. Four of those bills have been dismissed by the majority. Only two of those bills remain alive: the Online Registration Act awaits a hearing and the Early Voting Opportunity Act is being modified to create an incentive for counties to set up additional early voting centers.

We introduced the VOTE Initiative bills because Idaho Democrats listened to voters. They asked us to make voting more convenient for people who have to work. A new generation of voters asked us to utilize modern tools and allow Idahoans to register to vote online or register at the same time they get their driver’s licenses.

As you can see, those bills have received a chilly reception from the supermajority in the Legislature.

HB 176 would prevent Idahoans who are living overseas from voting in their local elections, unless they are servicemen and women. This bill discourages Idahoans from being active members of their communities and simply takes away their right to vote.

Last November, 370,000 Idahoans rejected the top-down education mandates commonly called the Luna Laws.

Idaho Democrats heard the message: Idahoans value their children’s futures. Idahoans do not believe their children get a World Class education when teachers are silenced and bullied. Idaho parents want a voice in the policies that shape education—they don’t want dictates from lawmakers.

Because we listen to voters, Idaho Democrats also endorsed Gov. Otter’s wise decision to create an education task force to look at those failed laws and to give parents, students, educators and local people a say in how our children are educated.

Just a couple months after voters soundly rejected them, the Luna Laws are back as a series of bills that resurrect Proposition 1. This is the same legislative process that the People rejected in November.

Not only is this Legislature ignoring the People, but Senate Bill 1108 seeks to restrict the People’s ability to reject bad legislation, such as the Luna Laws, and ensure that the majority Party need not face such a stunning rebuke of their process and policies in the future.

Idaho voters must be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to petition their government. They have every right to expect that their elected officials will listen to them or pay the price at the polls. They must have access to an initiative and referendum process that gives them a loud voice in the laws that they must live by.

Idaho Democrats will dedicate ours efforts to defeating these pieces of legislation and assure that the voice of the People is not stifled. But we cannot do this alone. We call on every citizen of our state to contact your legislators. Write letters, send emails, make phone calls, or come on over and meet with your legislators. Make your voice heard loud and clear. Tell your legislator that you do not want a handful of politicians to take away your rights to participate in the governance of our great state. Demand that they listen to you.

Idaho Democrats have heard you. We’re working for you. And we’re asking for your help to make sure your voice is not silenced.

Courtesy: Idaho Democratic Party