The signature requirements are based on “votes cast in the county, city, or town for all candidates for
governor” If that number is:
25,000 or more:10%;
10,001 – 25,000: 12.5%;
2,501 – 10,000: 15%;
501 – 2,500: 20%;
251 – 500: 15%;
However for initiative regarding charter amendment the signature requirement is 15% of the total votes cast for mayor in the immediately preceding election.
In addition to the overall signature requirement, there is a distribution requirement if the local legislative body is elected from council districts, in which case the aforementioned percentage must be obtained in a majority of council districts. Utah Statutes 20A-7-501 provides these rules for local initiative petitions.
Utah Statutes 20A-7-601 provides rules for local referendum petitions. Overall signature
requirements are the same as for initiatives, but there is no distribution requirement.
Subject matter restrictions
There is a single subject ban on using Initiative to enact pension change for existing employees under contract impairment clause, though cities can make changes as long as they are to affect new hires.
- Petitions for initiative can be circulated no more than 316 days earlier than the next general election but no later than the April 15 before the next general election.
- Petitions for referenda can be circulated no later than 45 days before general election.
- There are no restraints on when the initiatives or referenda can be circulated but due to the 316 day limit for initiatives there are some practical restrictions.
- Petitions must be circulated by a resident of Utah who is 18 years of age or older.
Petitions sheets and signatures
- The form of initiative petitions and signature sheets is given in Utah Code section 20A-7-503.
- Any signature petition sheet for an initiative must contain a statement saying the signer has read and understands the law proposed by the initiative. For a referendum petition, a statement must be included that says the signer has read and understands the law that the referendum petition seeks to overturn.
- See law: Utah House Bill 192 (2014)
- The form of referendum petitions and signature sheets is given in Utah Code section 20A-7-603. The size, line spacing and signer requirements are very like the those for initiative petitions.
- The local clerk must provide sponsors/circulators with materials as established by Utah Code section 20A-7-504.
- Signatures must be given under the witness of the circulator and cannot be sent by mail.
- Signatures and petition sheets must be turned into the local clerk.
Adoption of the Initiative measure
The legislature either adopts or rejects the petitioned law upon signature verification. The original measure gets submitted to voters whether the legislature accepts it or not. The legislature can adopt a competing law and offer it to voters as well. If two competing measures are on the ballot the one with the greatest number of affirmative votes is the one made effective.
The measure will be voted on at the next general election unless the there is a resolution for a special election by the legislature. At the election a simple majority is necessary for adoption of the measure.
There is a fiscal estimate feature that is important for the success of any initiated bill. Before the bill is circulated there is a fiscal analysis that states how much the proposed initiative will cost. After the bill passes there is a final analysis. If the final analysis exceeds the initial one by 25 percent than the legislature can disqualify the bill. Also, this fiscal impact report must contain calculations for the legal impacts, such as cost of litigation or settlements.
For all local referendums a fiscal impact statement including the legal impacts is also required. Moreover, for both initiatives and referendums, petitioners have to make all petition packets that they will use at the beginning of the drive before collecting signatures so that the packets can be numbered.