BOISE, Idaho (AP)
TOUGHER HURDLES FOR BALLOT MEASURES
Legislation making it more difficult to get initiatives or referendums on ballots is heading to the governor, who has hinted of a possible veto.
The House voted 51-18 on Wednesday to approve the measure backers say is needed because the current process favors urban voters. It passed the Senate last month. Opponents say the measure would make it nearly impossible to get initiatives on ballots.
The proposed law would require the signatures of 6% of registered voters in all 35 Idaho districts. Republican Gov. Brad Little vetoed similar legislation in 2019 out of concern a federal court could find it unconstitutional and dictate Idaho’s ballot initiative process.
‘VACCINE PASSPORTS’ BANNED
Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued an executive order banning state government from requiring or issuing so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports. The Republican governor issued the order Wednesday that also prevents state agencies from providing information on people’s vaccine status to other people, companies or government entities.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a similar order on Wednesday and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis did so last Friday.
The White House has ruled out a national vaccine passport. Idaho officials say more than 325,000 Idaho residents are fully vaccinated that 170,000 have received one dose of vaccines requiring two doses.
ANTI-ABORTION BILLS ADVANCE
A panel of Idaho lawmakers advanced two bills targeting abortion Wednesday. One attempts to dissuade women from having abortions if the fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Another would eliminate any government funding from health care providers, schools or other entities if they provide abortions, refer someone to an abortion provider or even contract with someone affiliated with an abortion provider for non-abortion services.
The funding bill would also bar schools from dispensing emergency contraception, even though emergency contraception prevents pregnancy and doesn’t end an established pregnancy.
The Senate State Affairs Committee sent the bill to the Senate to be amended after some raised concerns about the contracting ban.
HOUSE VOTES TO OVERRIDE TAX COMMISSION VETO
The House has voted to override Republican Gov. Brad Little’s veto of a bill involving the responsibilities of the chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission and the three other commissioners.
Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated chamber voted 62-7 on Wednesday to override the veto issued last week. The legislation would change the law to require commissioners’ approval when the chairman makes certain administrative decisions.
Little says the legislation adds a level of red tape that goes against his core belief of good government. Backers of the legislation say it prevents the governor from making the tax commission subject to excessive partisanship.
The bill now goes to the Senate.