Idaho Statewide Ballot Initiatives Will Require 56,191 Signatures 

Any push for a statewide local option initiative will face a daunting challenge, given statics from the most recent general election. The Idaho Secretary of State reported late last week that 710,877 Idahoans cast ballot on Nov. 8—nearly 76 percent of 936,529 registered Idaho voters.

To secure a statewide ballot initiative, state law requires petitioners gather a minimum of 6 percent of registered voters from the most recent general election. That translates to more than 56,000 signatures (the previous threshold was 47,623) . A new amendment to state law also requires those signatures to represent at least 6 percent of all registered voters in each of Idaho's 35 legislative districts.

Advocates of a statewide local option tax initiative are drilling into those Election Day statistics to see if it's feasible to mount a petition drive in the coming months. For now, the city manager of Twin Falls has already gone on record saying he'd like to see a local option in his city.

"I believe that all cities and counties should have the right to ask their citizens how they want to be taxed," Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler told the Twin Falls Times-News.

In another Idaho community, the mayor has gone as far as to veto a local option tax ordinance that his city council wanted to put before voters. The McCall Star-News reports the city council in the Valley County community of New Meadows (where it's already legal to have a local option because the town is considered a resort community), voted unanimously to put a measure before voters, asking to increase the city's sales tax by 2 percent.

“It’s nothing more than an attempt to dig into the pockets of every citizen within the city limits,” New Meadows Mayor Tony Koberstein said in a statement explaining his decision.

Council members said they were blindsided by Korberstein's veto, because he never expressed any opposition during the lengthy hearings and meetings on the issue.

“Through all the conversations, you never brought it up,” argued Councilwoman Shannon Fairchild. “You pushed us to do this; you wanted this.”

That said, the issue of local option is dead, at least for now, in New Meadows.

And any chance that the Idaho Legislature might fast-track a local option during the upcoming session is slim to none.

"I am not aware of any proposal that will come forward this legislative session," Rothweiler told the Times-News. "I haven't heard of a single group or association that's going to ask the Legislature to ... consider local option tax."
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