Reclaim Idaho will be in Idaho Falls on Tuesday to hold a town hall-style debate on the initiative process.
Reclaim Idaho, the group responsible for getting Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2018, lobbied extensively during this year’s legislative session against adding work requirements or making other changes to Medicaid expansion, and also against attempts to raise the threshold to get an initiative on the ballot. Two bills that, taken together, would have cut signature-gathering time from 18 to 9 months and increased the signature requirement from 6 percent of voters statewide and in 18 of 35 legislative districts to 10 percent of voters statewide and in two-thirds of the state’s districts, passed the Legislature, but Gov. Brad Little vetoed them.
This will be the fifth in Reclaim’s series of “Idaho Speaks” town halls. The first four were in Boise, Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls. The town hall starts at 6 p.m. at the Senior Citizen’s Community Center, 535 W 21st St.
Supporters of raising the thresholds, including most Republican lawmakers, said they would ensure rural Idahoans have a voice in the initiative process and make it harder for big special interest groups to run an initiative. Democrats dubbed the bill the “Revenge on Voters Act,” casting it as a response to the passage of Medicaid expansion and said the bills would make it impossible for citizens’ group or anyone without deep pockets to get an initiative on the ballot. All of the Legislature’s Democrats and a handful of Republicans opposed the bills.
Former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones will come to Idaho Falls to argue in favor of preserving the current initiative process. Jones, a Republican who had previously served as attorney general, retired from the court in 2017. Since then, he has been outspoken on a number of issues, including support for refugees and removing the exemptions from Idaho law that shield faith-healing parents from prosecution if their children are injured or die from treatable conditions.
Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, has agreed to argue in favor of changing the process. Reclaim has also sent invitations to other Idaho Falls area-lawmakers to attend and speak, and so far Sen. David Lent, R-Idaho Falls and Rep. Randy Armstrong, R-Inkom, have also agreed to come.