Elections

Backers spent nearly $2 million trying to get two initiatives on the Idaho ballot

Volunteers gather petition signatures to add Medicaid expansion onto the November ballot

Volunteers Laurie Durocher and Paula Davis, right, gather signatures from registered voters in a Nampa neighborhood Saturday, April 7, 2018. They are looking for people in support of adding a Medicaid expansion initiative onto the November ballot.
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Volunteers Laurie Durocher and Paula Davis, right, gather signatures from registered voters in a Nampa neighborhood Saturday, April 7, 2018. They are looking for people in support of adding a Medicaid expansion initiative onto the November ballot.

The backers of two statewide initiatives collectively have spent $1.8 million trying to get their respective proposals on the November ballot, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's Office.

The Medicaid for Idaho initiative calls for expanding Medicaid eligibility in this state.

Reclaim Idaho, a volunteer group behind the effort, raised about $34,000, mainly though small individual contributions.

The Medicaid expansion effort received a big boost from The Fairness Project, a Washington, D.C., group that works to get “economic fairness” initiatives on state ballots. The organization paid $474,000 to hire field workers to collect signatures around the state.

The Save Idaho Horse Racing proposal would legalize gambling terminals in which bets are made on the results of past horse races at locations where live or simulcast horse racing occurs, including Ada County’s Les Bois Park. The Legislature earlier approved and then repealed the machines.

Treasure Valley Racing, a consortium of racehorse owners and breeders, solely funded the initiative, contributing $1.3 million. Treasure Valley Racing operated live, simulcast and historic horse racing at Les Bois Park from 2012 until historic racing's repeal in 2015.

To get a citizen initiative on Idaho ballots statewide, you must have signatures equaling 6 percent of the state’s registered voters as of the last general election. The signatures must come from at least 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

To meet this requirement for 2018, petitioners for each initiative had until April 30 to gather 56,192 signatures.

Medicaid for Idaho says it has more than 60,000 signatures.

Save Idaho Horse Racing says it has collected nearly 115,000 signatures.

County clerks have until June 30 to validate the signatures. Those must then be submitted to the Secretary of State's Office by July 6 for final approval.

Cynthia Sewell is Idaho Statesman's politics and watchdog reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, csewell@idahostatesman.com or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.
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