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Gov. Little vetoes bill that would have tightened requirements for citizen initiatives


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has vetoed one of two controversial bills that would tighten the process to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. He said he plans to veto the second one, as well.

In a veto letter quietly posted to the governor’s website on Friday, Little said he is concerned about the bills not being able to withstand a legal challenge. He vetoed SB 1159, and said he plans to veto HB 296.

The veto was the first of his tenure as Idaho’s governor, and he said he reluctantly vetoed the legislation.

“I agree with the goals and the vision of S 1159 and H 296,” Little stated in his letter. “Idaho cannot become like California and other states that have adopted liberal initiative rules that result in excessive regulation and often conflicting laws.”

Under the Idaho Constitution, the Legislature can override a governor’s veto if two-thirds of the members present in both chambers vote to override.

The Senate passed SB 1159 by one vote, the House passed it 40-30. The trailer bill passed the Senate in 20-15 vote and the House in a 47-22 vote. If all members are present, the Senate would need 24 of its 35 members to vote for the override and the House would need 47 of it 70 members.

The two bills were met with overwhelming public opposition, leaving Little with a difficult decision — defer to the Legislature or defy it.

The first bill, SB 1159, changes Idaho’s initiative and referendum process to make it the toughest in the nation. This bill has passed both the House and the Senate and is on Little’s desk awaiting consideration.

The second bill, HB 296, is a trailer bill that modifies the original bill. Republican lawmakers hastily assembled this bill in attempt to salvage the original after it came under fire by former judges, attorneys general and the public.

Because this bill is a trailer bill, it cannot be enacted into law without the original bill being enacted.

“I appreciate the enormous outpouring of opinion from both sides of this issue,” Little stated in his letter. “I have done the best I can to listen to my fellow Idahoans — those vocal and those generally quiet.”

This article was originally published in the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.