This past November the people of Idaho had the opportunity to vote on two initiatives. One of these was Medicaid Expansion which was to close the “gap” in insurance coverage available to Idahoans. This initiative will bring $400 million in federal funds back to the state, secure Idaho’s rural hospitals while creating thousands of good paying jobs in the process.
The Medicaid Expansion initiative was quite popular and passed receiving 61% of the vote. This success got the state legislators’ attention. So much attention that some legislators tried to make it virtually impossible to ever get another initiative on the ballot. Through two bills SB 1159 and HB 296 they attempted to prevent future initiatives from ever getting to the voter. Keep in mind, the initiative process has been guaranteed under the Idaho Constitution for more than a century.
Our very own representative, Sage Dixon, (District 1, A seat) proposed HB 296. Prop 2 passed in Dixon’s district. Dixon’s reasons for ignoring his own constituents are without logical basis. He claims his drive to take away our initiative rights has nothing to do with Medicaid Expansion. Obviously that is absurd. No one was even thinking about restricting the initiative process until Medicaid Expansion passed. Proposition 2 was clearly the motivating factor behind Dixon’s attempt to repeal our constitutional right. Given his campaign is funded with out of state special interest dollars, one could reasonably question his motives.
Dixon, and others, claims Idaho voters didn’t understand what they were voting for. Really? As an Idaho voter I find this insulting. What voters didn’t understand is Sage Dixon. Medicaid Expansion has been a national and statewide issue for six years. Nearly two thirds of Idaho voters voted for their family, friends, and neighbors to have health care security. They’re people I know much better than Sage Dixon.
Dixon also said that rural Idahoans voices are not heard in the initiative process. Should the 39% that voted against prop 2 have been victorious? No, of course not.
Getting an initiative on the ballot is too difficult as it is under current law. If anything the process should be easier. After all, we the people are the most important part of the government. Prop 2 only succeeded because of the massive grassroots effort by thousands of volunteers inspired by Reclaim Idaho. The volunteers do a variety of work including going door to door because of their passionate belief in strong families and strong communities. Year after year our state legislators failed to solve the healthcare crisis in our state. Thankfully, you the voter provided the solution.
The initiative process is better left as it currently is. Our state legislators should leave it alone.