May 16, 2021

Democrats Disappointed in Gov. Little’s Decision to Sign SB 1110

Just a day after Gov. Brad Little vetoed legislation seeking to trim his emergency powers, he signed Senate Bill 1110 into law, destroying the initiative and referendum rights of the people.

The bill seeks to make an already onerous process ostensibly impossible by doubling the district signature requirements needed, rising to 6% of signatures of registered voters in all 35 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts, rather than in 18.

The governor’s claims that House Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1136 should be vetoed for unwisely and unconstitutionally taking his emergency powers now ring very hollow, Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Grant Burgoyne said. It is evident that this year’s legislative session has deteriorated into a slugfest in which legislative factions and the governor merely seek to grab power for themselves and leave the people, and their constitutional rights, out in the cold, he added.

House and Senate Democrats voted against Senate Bill 1110, and urged Little to veto the legislation when it reached his desk. The three branches of government — the governor, the legislature and the courts — are supposed to hold each other in check, but the Idaho Constitution wisely recognizes that the people need to be able to hold politicians in check through the power of the initiative and referendum process.

“The governor proved yesterday that he’s willing to use his veto to protect executive power, but by signing SB 1110 he was apparently unwilling to also protect the people’s power,” House Democratic Leader Ilana Rubel said. “SB 1110 puts unreasonable and unworkable restrictions on the ballot initiative process, effectively denying voters the only ability they have to enact laws when their legislators won’t act.”

Burgoyne echoed Rubel’s sentiments.

“Citizen initiatives and referenda are cornerstones of democracy. The governor owed it to the people he represents to use his veto power to protect them, and we are extremely disappointed he allowed the legislature to strip the people’s powers away,” Burgoyne added. “Everyday Idahoans know a power grab when they see it, and will not stand for it.”