Proposed Amendment To Limit Voting Rights

capIn a shameful act of disdain for the constitutional rights of citizens, The Idaho legislature is trying to strip voters of authority currently guaranteed by the Idaho Constitution. At issue is Article VIII, sec 3 of the the constitution which gives citizens authority to approve long term debt by any “subdivision of state government”–generally cities, counties, and school districts.

In the waning days of the session, Rep. Fred Wood is introducing a proposed amendment that would exempt airports, parking garages, recreation facilities, all urban renewal projects, public hospitals and “any revenue generating facility” from complying with the constitutional provision that gives citizens the power to approve or reject debt exceeding a single year’s annual revenues.

Ever since GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier prevailed in the Idaho Supreme Court case against Boise City over a proposed $29 million parking garage, cities, counties and public hospitals have worked to either amend the constitution or subvert the will of the voters by declaring projects to be within urban renewal districts–sometimes even creating the district to avoid voter scrutiny.

We have been adamant in our defense of the constitution, looking at all of the unintended consequences created. For instance just about anything could be declared a “revenue generating facility.” Golf courses, jails (rent cells to the state or feds), a high school sports stadium–anything claiming to generate revenue to pay off bond debt.

If a project is funded without using property taxes and it benefits the community, put it up for a vote and get the citizens behind it! Idahoans routinely approve bonds and levies for school districts and they deserve to weigh in on major “Profound” public projects constructed on public land with public money for public use.

If the amendment is passed by two-thirds of both the house and senate, it will be on the ballot in November 2010. At that time it will need a simple majority of votes from people wishing to give up their voting right and trust politicos to decide financial matters with no oversight.

The amendment is ill conceived and ill intended. There certainly has been no grassroots movement from citizens wishing to limit their voice. It is a move by lobbyists and local politicos who fear those they claim to represent.

NOTE: KBCI channel 2 (8 on cableone) covered the issue. Click on VIDEO below Scott Logan’s byline to see and hear GUARDIAN editor Frazier.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Oh. I thought this article was about Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney’s attempt to remove voting rights from Idahoans.

  2. What’s the bill number?

    EDITOR NOTE–BILL# at present is RS18916. They say RS bills are closely held by the sponsor, but that is all I have. I have read it of course, but it is FAX, not on line.

  3. Remember, to a politician voters are merely an inconvenience…

  4. Once again, a legislator is saying: The people who elected us are obviously too stupid to be trusted with the right to vote on anything.

    That may be correct!

  5. Steve Edgar
    Apr 2, 2009, 6:46 pm

    This is akin to the “Term Limits” issue in that the lawmaker(s) feel they know what is “good” for the electorate! The assumption being that we lack the required intellect to understand the issues. As reader JIMV stated; “to a politician voters are in inconvenience” except when they run for re-election with no term limits! Thanks Dave for highlighting this late session eleventh hour “earmark bill”. And I was under the impression we had more important issues to deal with this session like THE BUDGET~

  6. Time to Call Your Reps
    Apr 2, 2009, 6:50 pm

    It is time to get on the phone and call your reps at the statehouse and see where they stand on this ASAP.

    If you want your taxes raised just do nothing. Which is what Fred Wood and virtually every county and city official want.

  7. Of course, we’re the State who’s former Representative in Congress tried to introduce legislation to suspend the Law of Gravity.

    So that sounds about right.

  8. I see the legislature is putting one last sucker punch in before they go home.

  9. Serendipity
    Apr 2, 2009, 8:53 pm

    This issue was on Channel 2 this evening, where they said it came up last year and was defeated by just one vote. Maybe we’ll get lucky again this year.
    And has everyone noticed that the Boise Weekly has been sold to a big corporation? Now we have yet another news medium to support all the right-wing druthers in the Leg. and out of it. At this point we have zero alternative media, where once we could enjoy various articles dismantling persistent reactionary attempts to silence and disempower Idaho voters.

    EDITOR NOTE–Serendipity, the GUARDIAN post is TRUE. You got sucked in on the annual WEEKLY APRIL FOOL ISSUE!

  10. North Ender
    Apr 2, 2009, 11:02 pm

    Keep up the good work Mr. Guardian.
    You are like the Boise Factor, No Spin Zone.

    I read your site dailey.
    Thanks again

    Also, I couldn’t agree more with JIMV
    “Remember, to a politician voters are merely an inconvenienceā€¦”

  11. This is just another sneaky underhanded deal to remove voters from voting on anything but people in office.

    It is also a green light for incompetent people to abuse taxpayers as it will remove voter oversight to the whims and fancy of politicians.

    I see almost no attempt to adapt to this economy by local elected officials. They are trying every way they can to keep everything “revenue neutral” with last year. Levy rates are going to go up. Taxes of every kinds or going up and we get stuck with paying the bills.

    Throw the rascals out!

  12. We might end up having to fight the proposed constitutional amendment at the ballot box. Voters should be outraged when our elected officials try to cut us out of the spending equation and we should not vote to let it happen.

    At the county, we are trying vigilantly to reduce spending beyond the “revenue neutral” point. We realize that taxpayers are hurting, so it’s time for government to feel similar pain. If you have any suggestions for where unnecessary or wasteful expenditures can be cut, please let me know. My direct dial office number is 287-7001 and home is 362-0843. Thank you!

  13. Tom Anderson
    Apr 3, 2009, 10:46 am

    Time to sharpen the pitchforks and soak the torches…

  14. Let’s see if I understand this correctly. The legislature is proposing that people be allowed to vote on an amendment to the Idaho Constitution. Those long advocating that people be allowed to vote on proposals are opposed to allowing people to vote on this proposal. Isn’t that a bit ironic? Or is it just hypocritical?

    EDITOR NOTE–see note to JON above. Citizens are not allowed to propose amendments to Idaho’s Constitution. Only the legislature can propose amendments in Idaho, even if 90% of the citizens were to sign a petition.

  15. Dave, last year you responded to one of my comments with something on the order of “if you don’t like it, get the constitution changed.” That is exactly what our CITIZEN representatives are proposing here. They are fully within there rights and are by no means trying to sneak this through. Should it pass a public vote, it will be the public that has chosen to abridge their direct rights and not the legislature.

    EDITOR NOTE–There is absolutely no demand from citizens to alter the constitution–the pressure is from those wishing to deny us the right we already enjoy to vote on debt. You are correct regarding passage. That is why we will all have to work to overcome the might and financial resources of cities and counties which are being used against the masses. You ready to help?

  16. Dave, do you have specific data that says there is no demand from the citizens? I have personally spoken with dozens, maybe even hundreds of Valley business leaders that would be in favor of this amendment.

    EDITOR NOTE–You make my case. The bankers who profit from sale of bonds, the lawyers, and those who make payments to lobbying groups may wish to see the citizen approval go away. The Chamber of Commerce that takes all those “leaders” to Sun Valley to get away from the unwashed masses probably wants to see cities go around the citizens. My guess is that “leadership” is going to change.

  17. Dave, all I can say is that you have way oversimplified this in your response. I’m not talking about the “fat cats” in corner offices, but rather the emerging creative class. They are the business leaders of tomorrow for this valley and many of them are just as tired of Libertarian scare tactics as they are good old boy politics.

  18. Jon,
    As mentioned in the initial post…Idaho citizens routinely approve these projects. If it’s a meaningful project the voters will approve it. All opponents of this proposal are saying is, “just let the voters decide on the individual projects”.

    As great as business growth is for cities, voter opinion/approval is just as vital.

  19. Jon, do you think voters are stupid? If you do then what is proposed makes sense, if not then people are wise enough to recognize a true need from a want.

    Everyone recognizes there has to be a certain level of taxation and public support of various public entities. It is when they get stupid about spending our money without approvals and we have no recourse I find galling.

    Public schools support is a great example of taxpayers stepping up to the plate to fund stuff. Urban Renewal districts routinely abuse taxpayers and I won’t go into all the abuses but all you have to do is look around at all the stuff they said would not cost the taxpayers a dime and are now fully funded by taxpayers.

    The history of Artilce 8 section 3 was that governments all over the west were squandering taxpayer money (borrowed I might add) and going bankrupt bending over backwards to attract business and industry.

    Take a good look at California $42 billion in the red, counties and cities going bankrupt. Why? no voter oversight on spending, caving to public employee unions and other pet projects done on the easy pay plan.

    I want to keep my right of oversight on elected officials and will not support any Republican Legislator who votes for this effort to make Idaho Governement Bigger than it already is. All of the Repubs. tell us they are for smaller government and lower taxes. They have lost their brand identity with this voter.

  20. We already live in a world where elected and appointed demi-Gods direct every facet of our lives. The areas where they must pay attention to the citizens are few. Why reduce them?

  21. I have a close friend who is a small business man and he summed it up for me many years ago. He said, “You know, when times are good and my business is rolling along, if the government wants to take some of my profits, that’s OK. But when times are tough and I am wondering where my next job is going to come from, I am sorry, but I need my money to feed my family, pay my bills and put gas in my truck. I can’t afford to have the government take even more of my income”. Maybe we should start electing “CITIZENS” rather than the local “elitists” who know what is good for us!

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