Bill Description: Senate Joint Resolution 101 would amend the Idaho Constitution to require that organizers of initiative and referendum petition drives gather signatures from all 35 legislative districts in Idaho.
NOTE: Senate Joint Resolution 101 was amended to say "Before any referendum petition or initiative petition may be submitted..." rather than "Before any initiative petition may be submitted..." This amendment does not change our rating or analysis of the bill.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency, accountability, or election integrity? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency, accountability, or election integrity?
Senate Joint Resolution 101 would amend Section 1, Article III of the Idaho Constitution, which deals with initiatives and referendums, to add the following subsection: "Before any referendum petition or initiative petition may be submitted to the vote of the people, there must be affixed thereto the signatures of legal voters from each legislative district equal in number to at least six percent of the legal voters at the time of the last general election." [The underlined portion was added by the amendment.]
Current law requires signatures from 6% of the total number of qualified electors in the state at the time of the last general election. It also requires the signatures of 6% of the qualified electors in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. This amendment to the state constitution would require signatures from 6% of the total number of qualified electors in each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.
This change would require that Idahoans from all parts of the state (rather than just the urban areas) sign on to an idea before it can be added to the ballot. This would broaden the geographic scope of government accountability.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Senate Joint Resolution 101 would help to restore some of the constitutional principles that have been lost in the initiative and referendum process. The U.S. Constitution guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government," but political and legal trends have pushed the country toward direct democracy for more than a century. The initiative and referendum processes are part of this shift.
The U.S. Constitution established a system of representation that recognizes not just population centers, but the geographic and cultural boundaries that make up states. By preventing the initiative and referendum process in Idaho from bypassing most counties and electoral districts, Senate Joint Resolution 101 helps to secure a republican form of government in Idaho.