Idaho Online Learning Veto Referendum, Proposition 3 (2012)

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Prop. 3
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Type:Veto Referendum
State code:(Targeted law) SB 1184
Proposition 3 also known as the Idaho Online Learning Veto Referendum, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Idaho as a veto referendum, where it was defeated. The referendum was a part of three referendums targeting recently signed education laws. The measure was filed in response to an education bill that was signed into law during 2011 state legislative session.

The veto referendum was filed after a previously pending education-related law, dealing with technology and online learning, was signed into effect. The referendum was filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's office around April 8, 2011.[1][2][3]

The targeted law required all high school students in the state to take two online classes to graduate.

According to the law, the students and their teachers would be given laptops or tablets. To finance the programs, the state could shift a considerable amount of money away from salaries for teachers and administrators, according to reports.[4]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are unofficial election results:

Idaho Proposition 3
Defeatedd No432,66766.7%
Yes 215,800 33.3%

Results via Idaho Secretary of State.

Text of the measure

The following was the ballot text voters saw for Proposition 3:[5]

Referendum to approve or reject legislation amending school district funding, requiring provision of computing devices and online courses for high school graduation.

Referendum to approve or reject S1184; relating to education: revising Idaho Code by amending 33-125, to provide for a fiscal report card; repealing 33-129 relating to science education matching grants; amending 33-357 relating to a certain internet website; amending 33-1002 relating to the educational support program; adding new section 33-1002A relating to fractional average daily attendance; amending 33-1004 relating to staff allowances; amending 33-1004A relating to the experience and education multiplier; amending 33-1004E relating to district's salary-based apportionment; amending 33-1004F relating to obligations to the public employee retirement system and social security; amending 33-1020 relating to moneys distributed to the Idaho Digital Learning Academy; adding new section 33-1021 relating to distribution of moneys to school districts for certain math and science courses; adding new section 33-1022 relating to public school technology and expenditures or distributions of moneys for such; adding new section 33-1626 relating to dual credit; adding new section 33-1627 relating to online courses and mobile computing devices and providing certain expenditures or distributions of moneys; adding new section 33-5216 relating to public postsecondary institutions being authorized to operate public charter high schools.

Shall the legislation amending school district funding, requiring provision of computing devices and online courses for high school graduation be approved?

A YES vote means you approve the legislation. A NO vote means you reject the legislation.[6]

Targeted law

The following law was targeted by the referendum:

Editor's note: The law is followed by the formal ballot title in which the referendum appeared on the ballot.
Statement of Purpose



  • The main campaign for the legislation was Yes! for Idaho Education.
  • Governor of Idaho Butch Otter stated that he would personally campaign in favor of the bill, and the other two pieces of legislation. According to Otter, when commenting on the referendum efforts: “That’s the people’s right — that’s what being part of a republic is all about. We’re going to do our level best to make sure that the correct information gets out.” Otter later added: "I hope they fail."
  • Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush endorsed the reform, saying that the pieces of legislation "will be the models for the rest of the country.”[7]
  • Idaho Republicans elected Barry Peterson to lead the campaign against the referendums on the ballot. According to reports, GOP leaders described Peterson as an example of the state's conservative origins. Peterson was a Mountain Home, Idaho hardware store owner. According to Peterson, “We will unitedly work to have a more effective and impactful role in the politics of our state. I see the most important role in our central committee in the state as that of the executive director. I will immediately seek assistance from you, if you have a recommendation, to get the very best on the board.”[8]

Campaigning, events and strategies

  • At the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s annual conference in Twin Falls, the Gov. Otter praised the group for supporting the three Idaho education reform bills, and urged even more support by stating: “The results were the three bills that we finally got through with your help, with your assistance, with your faith, and now they’re under attack. So I need that same energy that you helped us with in the Legislature this last session.”[9]



  • The Idaho Education Association (IEA) were the sponsors of the veto referendum filed.[10]
  • Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform filed the third referendum.[3]


  • IEA President Sherri Wood stated about the laws the referendum, and two other referendums were trying to repeal: "Basically this so-called reform is nothing more than sending the responsibility to the districts to say we get to cut a whole bunch of things in order to fund technology and a pay-for-performance plan."[10]
  • Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association stated: "We had 13 Republicans join the 13 Democrats in the Senate to oppose SB 1184, which was the one that trades teachers for technology. One out of four teachers in Idaho could ultimately lose their jobs because of the money that is being moved to pay for technology."[11]
  • According to Ann Rosenbaum, a teacher in Post Falls, Idaho, the measure was forced on the state: "This technology is being thrown on us. It's being thrown on parents and thrown on kids."[4]
  • Supporters of the repeal said that the proposed online classes would replace teachers with computers. Also, arguments were made that the measure would ultimately move taxpaying money to companies based out-of-state that will be hired to provide the tools needed for online classes.[12]


The following is a donation that was made towards the campaign in opposition of the legislation. The donation was made for signature gathering and petition printing costs, according to reports:[13]

Donor Amount
National Education Association $75,000

Other perspectives

  • Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa had an alternative perspective on the referendums, without giving his position on the purpose behind them. He stated: "Obviously we have the state Legislature, but we also have the people who have reserved for themselves, legislative power to reject legislation, that's the referendum. That's the people's right to legislate, and that's on equal footing, with the Legislature's right to legislate, and here you go back and forth." Ysursa also stated that he would spend the next year and half before the election educating voters on what a "yes" and "no" vote means for the referendums.[14]


  • On April 27, 2011, the Idaho Education Association filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court in Ada County against SB 1108, challenging the constitutionality of the bill. According to IEA President Sherri Wood, when commenting on the lawsuit and the ongoing referendum effort, “Because the Legislature, Gov. Otter and State Superintendent (Tom) Luna failed to listen to the voices of Idaho citizens and, in the case of SB 1108 and the trailer bills, overstepped their legal bounds, the IEA supports citizen efforts to place referendums on the ballot challenging the Luna laws. Likewise, we will challenge the constitutionality of SB 1108 and the trailer bills.”[15]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho

In order for a proposed veto referendum to be placed on the 2012 statewide ballot for Idaho voters to decide, at least 47,432 signatures for each targeted bill must have been collected within 60 days after lawmakers leave for the session. On April 7, 2011, the Idaho Legislature concluded their 2011 state legislative session, meaning any referendum effort hoping to obtain ballot access had until June 1, 2011 to submit the required amount of signatures to county clerks' offices. Once the clerks verified enough signatures, the verified signatures were then returned to the supporters. Supporters then had until June 6, 2011 to submit them to the Idaho Secretary of State.[2][16][17]

On May 20, 2011, it was reported that the referendum effort was close to its goals of collecting signatures. Supporters of the effort fully expected to turn in signatures by the June 1 deadline. According to Tim Hurst, the chief deputy secretary of state, when commenting the exact amount of signatures already collected by the initiative effort: “We’re not going to know until the clerks have got everything entered if they’ve got enough [signatures]. We also know there are a lot of signatures that have not been checked by the clerks yet.”[18][19]

Then on May 25, 2011, it was reported that supporters had collected enough signatures to place one of the three measures on the ballot, and were within 800 signatures for the last two proposed ballot referendums.[17]

Submitted signatures

As the June 1 deadline arrived, in the middle of that day, it was reported that each of the three referendums had enough valid signatures to make the ballot, although those numbers were unofficial. According to reports, the number of validated signatures by county clerks across the state were as follows: 65,088 for SB 1108, 65,252 for SB 1110, and 63,744 for SB 1184.

When contacted by Ballotpedia, the Idaho Secretary of State's office stated that although signatures had not been filed as of 3:30 p.m. MDT, contact was made with the petition organizers, and that signatures would be filed before the close of business.

Signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State's office, reports confirm, as more than 210,000 verified signatures were submitted. Each referendum needed 47,432 valid signatures, which means the more than 72,000 signatures submitted for each measure was well above the requirements. Official ballot placement from the Secretary of State's office was expected shortly after submission of signatures.[20]

On June 13, 2012, the Idaho Secretary of State's office issued official certificates placing the referendums on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot.

See also

Suggest a link

Additional reading


  1. Reuters, "Idaho teacher union may ask voters to overturn curbs," March 18, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1, "Idaho teachers union takes first step to repeal education bills," March 22, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Spokesman-Review, "Referendum Drive Greets Ed ‘Reform’," April 8, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 SF Gate, "Idaho teachers fight required classroom computers," January 4, 2012
  5. Idaho Secretary of State, "2012 GENERAL ELECTION REFERENDA BALLOT QUESTIONS," accessed October 17, 2012
  6. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. The Spokesman-Review, "Jeb Bush: Idaho ed reforms ‘models’ for country," June 14, 2011
  8. Idaho Spokesman, "Idaho GOP elects leader who will fight repeal of education reforms," June 24, 2012
  9. Idaho Press, "Otter to business: Support ed laws," June 17, 2011
  10. 10.0 10.1, "IEA pushes education bill referendum," March 22, 2011
  11. Huffington Post, "Progressives Plot Ballot Initiative Strategy To Roll Back GOP Laws," August 23, 2011
  12., "Idaho lawmakers review online learning rule," January 17, 2012
  13. The Republic, "Natl Education Assn pays for signature gatherers for referendum on education reform," April 28, 2011
  14., "Secretary of state weighs in on education reform referendum," May 26, 2011
  15. Idaho Spokesman, "Idaho teachers sue to block reform bill," April 27, 2011
  16., "Effort underway to repeal education reforms," April 24, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 Idaho Reporter, "Education reform referendums probably have signatures to get on the ballot," May 25, 2011
  18. Public News Service, "Education Referenda Signature Gatherers: “Almost There”," May 20, 2011
  19. Idaho Reporter, "Education referendum most of the way to its goal," May 19, 2011
  20. Idaho Spokesman, "In brief: Signed referendum petitions submitted," June 7, 2011