Week 5 at the Legislature

at the Statehouse (5)

The bills are piling up in both chambers of the statehouse, and many of them are an unwelcome addition to the bill tracker. Luckily, we have a great team and many partners that are up to the challenge of analyzing, monitoring, and mobilizing voters on bills that pose a threat to Idaho’s values. Here’s the latest on our agenda:

No Excuse Absentee Voting – the newest boogeyman at the polls
HB75 would remove no-excuse absentee voting, a popular and well-loved tool used by thousands of voters. Currently, there is no required reason for voting absentee, making it a convenient, secure way for thousands of Idahoans to vote with ease and speed. If HB75 passes, you would no longer be allowed to vote absentee unless you fall into one of the categories below, 

  • Military deployment
  • Disability, illness, hospitalization 
  • Unable to appear at polls because of work or university
  • Out of the country on religious mission

Over 129,000 votes were cast via absentee ballot in the 2022 general election. Of those voters, how many would have been eligible for absentee voting under the new proposal outlined in HB75? 

This bill creates more problems than it solves (because there is no problem to solve here). How can a person anticipate illness? What about our seniors who are homebound? Us nine-to-fivers and parents, are we to plan vacations around election day? As a busy mom, I usually vote absentee myself. And there’s the thousands of Idahoans who prefer to avoid long election lines and scheduling conflicts by simply (and efficiently) casting their ballot absentee.

There are a number of problems with this bill, but chief among them is its purpose of fixing a problem that does not exist, a problem perpetuated by the false notion that our elections are not secure. 

We’ll have more information available on this bill, and how to oppose it, by the end of the week. 

No alternative transportation! Only cars! 
We’re currently tracking a suite of bills that take aim at funding for transit, transportation, and highway districts. Four bills, all originating in the House, are moving through the Statehouse. They all do different things, but, in general, would weaken local governments’ ability to address community transportation needs. They do this by limited funding tools, taking control from local transportation authority, and designating that funds can only be for road widening and bridge maintenance. These bills do nothing for individual communities, and consolidate power within the legislature – a theme of this (and previous) sessions! 

We’ll have more on this one later! 

Amending the Constitution 
We’re still tracking the proposed Constitutional Amendment to restrict the process for qualifying an initiative or referendum to the ballot. SJR101 is currently on the amending order in the Senate, meaning it could come up at any time. The Idaho Supreme Court has already knocked down a previous attack on the ballot initiative, securing it as a constitutional right. 80% of Idahoans either approve of the current system, or think it should be easier. Our legislators need to know that we value the current ballot initiative process. 

While we wait to see the next steps of this bill, help us keep up pressure by contacting your elected officials and asking them to kill this legislation on the floor.