Multiple ethics commission measures may appear on Utah ballot

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February 2, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: This week the Utah House Ethics Committee passed 5 reform bills, one of which was a proposed constitutional amendment to create an independent ethics committee.[1] The proposed legislation, HJR 15, is sponsored by House Speaker David Clark. However, a different yet somewhat similar proposition known as the Utah Ethics Commission Initiative (2010), an initiated state statute, is "a broad ethics initiative" that also includes an independent commission. In this case, though, not all legislators that support one of the proposed ethics commission measures supports the other. House Speaker Clark, for example, does not support the ethics initiative but is a sponsor for the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.[2]

If both measures make it to the ballot and are approved by voters legal authorities said they believe the issue will go to court, according to reports. However, according to legal authorities constitutional amendments typically overrule statutes. "This is the first time I'm aware of in Utah history where you have a constitutional provision and a statute that both attempt to address the same thing. So the courts have been silent on how those would actually merge," said John Fellows, general counsel for the Legislature.[3]

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