Public records show vast majority of constituents asked governor to veto initiatives bill

Out of 4,000 phone calls and 2,200 emails, only 150 were in favor of signing 

By: - April 23, 2021 8:28 am
Idaho Gov. Brad Little announces a ban on state involvement in vaccine passports

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announces an executive order banning state government from requiring or helping to facilitate COVID-19 “vaccine passports.” (Photo: Screenshot from Idaho Public Television video)

Gov. Brad Little received approximately 2,150 emails and 4,000 phone calls asking him to veto the bill that changes the requirements for gathering signatures to trigger a ballot initiative – a bill Little signed April 17.

Per Idaho law, Little had five days from the time the bill was delivered to his desk to sign or veto it. Alternatively, the governor also has the option to let the five days expire and allow the bill to become law without his signature. 

Marissa Morrison Hyer, press secretary for the governor’s office, sent the constituent call tally to the Idaho Capital Sun after an emailed request. Hyer said approximately 2,200 emails were received in total, with 50 encouraging Little to sign Senate Bill 1110. Approximately 100 phone calls were in favor of signing the bill. Hyer said the office also received 30 letters urging his veto.

In early April, former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court Jim Jones also delivered a petition with 16,000 signatures to Little’s office asking that the governor veto the bill.

The legislation requires organizers of a ballot initiative to gather signatures from 6% of voters in each of the state’s 35 legislative districts, whereas previous law required signatures from 6% of voters in 18 legislative districts. Opponents have said the new parameters make it all but impossible to gather enough signatures for an initiative, while supporters say it ensures rural and urban residents have the opportunity to determine what goes on the ballot.

Little announced he had signed the bill in a letter to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who presides over the Idaho Senate. In the letter, Little said he believes in the bill’s intent to reach rural communities and allow every voter across the state to have the opportunity to decide whether a question is placed on the ballot. He acknowledged the bill may go too far in the limits it places on signature gathering, but he said it is ultimately up to the courts to decide.

Per a request from the Idaho Capital Sun, Hyer also sent all emails received regarding Senate Bill 1110 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 15. Many of the emails simply asked Little to veto the bill, but some who wrote in elaborated on their thoughts. 

Here are some examples of feedback Idahoans provided. No emails from this date that were provided to the Capital Sun contained messages in favor of signing the bill. Some responses have been edited for clarity and locations from respondents were included when provided:

“Please do the right thing and veto SB 1110 which basically removes an important voice for the people of Idaho to directly petition their state for … any reason they feel is important.”
Constituent in Coeur d’Alene

“The initiative process should be difficult, but not impossible. Please veto SB 1110.”
Constituent in Twin Falls 

“Please veto SB 1110 which is an attack on constitutional right to seek initiatives. Our legislature seems intent on seeking to limit your authority, the attorney general’s authority, and the people’s authority. Please veto this and send the message that you support the initiative process which has been used sparingly and is already a difficult process.”
Constituent in Idaho Falls

“I believe this bill is unreasonable and absolutely violates the people’s right to address issues otherwise ignored or delayed by the legislature.

Ballot initiatives should not be subject to the impossibly high bar this bill sets. The bar is already a bit high, in my opinion, because…

A ballot initiative puts in motion only a statewide discussion and airing of that idea. This is good. We learn from each other as we discuss, and then we decide, as a whole state rural and urban and all in between. That is good government.”
Constituent in Boise

“Let the people keep the power to self govern.”
Constituent in Sagle

“Please, please, please veto senate bill 1110.  This would be a move FOR the people of Idaho.  Our constitution allows the people to get initiatives and referendums on the ballot. This is a way to let the legislature know that we do not approve of some of the things they are doing.”

“I am asking that you veto SB1110. Citizens’ initiative should be encouraged not discouraged.

The ballot initiative is the constitutional right of every Idaho citizen. It’s a right that was enshrined in our state constitution over a century ago to give ordinary citizens a voice in their government. Senator Vick’s bill amounts to an attempt to revoke one of our most cherished constitutional rights.

Please veto SB1110.

Thank you for all you have done for our state and your swift and smart action in confronting the coronavirus.”

“I am writing in regard to SB1110. Please veto this bill. It is designed to make citizen initiatives all but impossible to get on the ballot. It is contrary to our Idaho constitution. It is purely retribution for the citizen’s initiative to expand Medicaid. Please stand up for the majority of Idahoans, and don’t let the legislature steal power away from the people. Thank you for your consideration.”
Constituent in Meridian

“Please veto SB1110 and preserve Idaho’s citizen initiative. Honor one person – one vote.

While I’m at it, can we find a way to pull things back toward the middle? Some of the stuff the legislature is proposing and passing is frankly embarrassing.

Good luck”
Constituent in Boise

“Please veto SB 1110. I am completely mortified with our current far-right legislature, and their power grabs. I find it so interesting they claim to be the party of limited government, and over and over again this year, they’ve drafted heavy-handed legislation meant to keep a thumb on you, me, and us. I guess it’s limited government for everyone, but them. It’s really unbelievable…talk about hypocrisy.

Thank you for listening.”
Constituent in Grangeville

Reclaim Idaho, an Idaho organization that spearheaded the campaign to expand Medicaid across the state through a ballot initiative, filed an initiative with the Idaho Secretary of State in early April that would preserve the traditional signature requirements for ballot initiatives in the state. Senate Bill 1110 includes an emergency clause. That means the new rules go into effect immediately now that Little has signed the bill.

Luke Mayville, founder of Reclaim Idaho, has also said organizers plan to challenge the law in court. Mayville told Boise State Public Radio on Thursday that they have retained legal counsel on the matter and they “really look forward to taking it to court.”

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.