Maryanne Jordan, thanks for supporting Idaho voter rights
Please help us increase accountability for respecting Idahoans’ constitutional right to ballot initiatives
We haven’t met yet, but I’m one of your constituents in District 17.
This letter is part of the #IdahoSpeaks blogging campaign, organized by Reclaim Idaho. We’re posting letters expressing why ballot initiative rights matter to us, and what we think about our legislators’ stances on the issue.
This campaign is about accountability and empowering Idahoans to stand up and speak out for our rights. It’d be great if you’d join us and write a post as well!
Why Ballot Initiative Rules matters to me
I never thought the public policies I believed in were possible in Idaho.
Republican domination of the legislature meant that I tuned out. It was just depressing to think that it was virtually impossible to flip enough seats for there to be a challenge to Republicans, real competition on policy ideas, and a chance to make real change.
I was tuned out until Trump got elected.
That disturbed me so much that I felt I had no idea what was going on in politics, at any level. I started paying more attention to everything, and I began watching Idaho politics closely for the first time. And then I saw something occur that I never thought could happen — Reclaim Idaho showed me that it’s possible to challenge our legislature.
I never thought Medicaid Expansion had a chance.
I assumed that everything smelling remotely like a government solution to a societal problem was stillborn in Idaho. I thought, “Well, good for those guys. Give it a whirl. I appreciate the effort, but there’s no way.”
And then they got the signatures they needed to get it on the ballot.
I was shocked. I thought, “No way! That’s amazing. Obviously, it won’t get approved by voters, but holy shit! Good on all those people. I’m inspired.”
People started actually discussing the merits of Medicaid Expansion.
And that’s when I learned there were hundreds of millions of dollars just sitting there waiting for us from the federal government. We were just choosing not to accept it. (🤯) And we were paying a ton of money at emergency rooms for preventable issues that would have been way less expensive if people had the basic care that Medicaid provides.
According to projections, Idaho was going to actually save money!
How the hell had we not been talking about this?! It seemed like Proposition 2 might have a real chance, though I still thought it would fail. On election day, I was stunned to see it pass with 61%. I was in disbelief.
Suddenly, I had hope for the future. It seemed like anything was possible now.
I had heard that the legislature would try to dismantle this, but I thought, “No way. You don’t try to repeal something 61% of people approved.”
But they tried. That blew my mind.
And when that wasn’t workable anymore, they tried to put as many restrictions on it as possible. Restrictions that actually make it more expensive and less effective — we’ve learned that from comparing states that implemented the same restrictions those that didn’t. Unbelievable.
And then, they went WAY too far.
They tried to make it virtually impossible for a ballot initiative to be successful again. The bill was dubbed the “Revenge Against Voters Act,” which was very apt. To me this was such a blatantly corrupt bill, meant to ensure there’s never real competition for the Republican-owned legislature and their special interest money.
If there was ever a time to freak the fuck out, it seemed like it was then.
Thank God for Reclaim Idaho’s successful Veto 1159 campaign. I had a big sigh of relief when I saw that Governor Little vetoed the bill, but when I read his letter I was very disappointed with his point of view. Basically, he agrees with the spirit of the bill (taking away power from Idaho voters), but he didn’t want a liberal judge to be able to challenge it in court.
Ballot initiative rights barely survived. And they’re coming for them next session.
As early as the day after Little’s veto, the legislature was trying to restrict ballot initiatives a different way. I couldn’t believe how brash and determined they were. That didn’t move forward before the end of the session, but we can be sure they’ll be back in 2020. This is totally not okay, and we need to do everything we can to stop it.
I regret that I wasn’t a part of the Prop 2 campaign, but I won’t be on the sidelines for the ballot initiative battles to come.
Our elected leaders should never forget that their job is to represent us, and our votes are the most sacred thing. Anyone that dares to shrink the power of our votes should be voted out of office immediately. #Accountability2020.