As we head into the legislative session, some of our so-called representatives continue to insist that our “big problem” is the initiative process. In fact, some of these “leaders” have said that they plan to try to make our initiative process — which is part of our Idaho Constitution — harder than it currently is.
Yes, that’s correct. Rather than taking a hard look at issues like affordable housing, childhood literacy and the fact that we have some of the lowest wages in the country, our “representatives” are very concerned with the fact that Idahoans can correct their oversights through the ballot initiative process.
In reality, getting an initiative on the ballot is already fairly challenging. Our legislators made sure of that after the citizens rose up and overturned their terrible decision in passing the Luna Laws. While they claim that the current push to make it harder for citizens to move forward has nothing to do with last year’s passage of Proposition 2, the timing remains somewhat suspicious.
But it’s really less about timing that suggests that our “leaders,” rather than actually lead, want to browbeat us into submission. It’s more about the fact that our “representatives” have been spreading misinformation about the process and trying to gaslight the voters. It’s also about how, after being taken to task for their failure to address the needs of the constituents, many of these so-called leaders would rather just silence us than actually represent us.
These legislators claim that making it even harder to get initiatives on the ballot would reduce interference by special interests. That’s ridiculous. More than 90 percent of the signatures gathered to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot were collected by unpaid volunteers. I know. I collected signatures. Still haven’t received a check.
However, if you increase the signature requirement while reducing the amount of time citizens have to collect those signatures, you’re not actually reducing special interest involvement. The actual consequence of some of the proposed changes would be that only special interests could afford to collect signatures in the first place.
Some of these “leaders” have claimed they want to protect rural interests. Have you tried to canvass a rural area? I’ve been there and done that. Reducing the time frame for gathering signatures actually puts rural districts at a disadvantage because volunteers can’t adequately cover the area in the limited time. Of course, out-of-state special interests, like those that help some of our “representatives” write some of the legislation we see coming out of Boise, would benefit from these requirements. They’re the only ones who could afford to mount such campaigns in rural areas.
When you get right down to it, what it really looks like is that some of our so-called representatives are afraid of our voices. The initiative has been used very sparingly in Idaho, with few initiatives being passed. As citizens, we’ve shown that we’re judicious in this matter.
Rather than fighting to silence us, our legislators should be addressing matters of material concern to Idahoans.