Utah Election of Appointed Lieutenant Governor, Amendment B (2014)
The Utah Election of Appointed Lieutenant Governor, Amendment B was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Utah as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure will remove the requirement that an appointed lieutenant governor stand for election in the next regular general election following his or her appointment and, in lieu, provide that an appointed lieutenant governor will not be up for election until the next gubernatorial election.
The Lieutenant Governor of Utah, an elected office, is filled by appointment in the event that the lieutenant governor's office becomes vacant. The Utah Governor, with consent of the Utah Senate, appoints a person to fill the vacancy.
In Utah, an amendment must win a majority of all votes cast on that particular proposal and a majority of the vote of everyone voting in that election. This is known as a double majority.
|Utah Amendment B|
Election results via: Utah Lieutenant Governor
Text of the measure
The official ballot text was as follows:
|“||Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to modify the term of office of a person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor?||”|
The impartial analysis provided in the state's voter guide was as follows:
|“||Constitutional Amendment B modifies a provision of the Utah Constitution relating to the term of office of a person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of the Lieutenant Governor. The Amendment changes the term of an appointed Lieutenant Governor to avoid a potential situation where the term of an appointed Lieutenant Governor would be different from the term of the Governor.
Background and current provisions of the Utah Constitution
Since 1984, the Utah Constitution has required the candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor from each political party to appear together on the same ballot and be voted on together. In 2009, the Utah Constitution was amended to specify what happens in the case of a vacancy in the office of Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Because of the 2009 amendment, it is possible, under certain circumstances, for an appointed Lieutenant Governor to serve to the end of a full four-year term even though the office of Governor is subject to a mid-term election. Likewise, it is possible for a Governor to serve to the end of a full four-year term even though a mid-term election is required for the office of the Lieutenant Governor. Electing a Governor at a mid-term election when the Lieutenant Governor’s office is not subject to election, or electing a Lieutenant Governor at a mid-term election when the Governor’s office is not subject to election, would be inconsistent with the state’s practice and policy since 1984 of electing the Governor and Lieutenant Governor together. Electing a Governor and Lieutenant Governor at different times also creates the possibility that a Governor and Lieutenant Governor would be from different political parties.
Effect of Constitutional Amendment B
Constitutional Amendment B modifies the term of office of a person appointed as Lieutenant Governor so that the term is the same as the term of Governor. The Amendment eliminates the potential that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor might be elected at different times and from different political parties.
If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment B takes effect January 1, 2015.
Constitutional Amendment B has no fiscal impact.
- See also: Article VII, Utah Constitution
Sen. Stephen Urquhart (R-29) wrote the argument in support of the amendment found in the state's voter guide:
|“||In 2008, the Utah Constitution was amended to address the possibility of a Governor vacating office soon after being elected, or very early in a term. In such situations, the 2008 amendment established (1) that the Lieutenant Governor would assume the role of Governor, (2) that the newly appointed Governor would pick someone to fill the Lieutenant Governor position, (3) that the people would revote the Governor position at the next general election (which would be two years into the original term instead of four), and (4) that the person elected in that general election would serve a two-year term, at which time Utah would return to its normal 4-year cycle.
That amendment was not clear regarding the status of the newly-appointed Lieutenant Governor. Rather than allow uncertainty to exist, this amendment specifies that candidates for Lieutenant Governor would continue to run in tandem with a candidate for Governor, not as a stand-alone candidate. 
—Sen. Stephen Urquhart
Rep. Jim Nielson (R-19), the sole legislator to vote against the measure, said there were no drawbacks to the current system. He also wrote the argument against the amendment found in the state's voter guide:
|“||Amendment B lessens voter involvement in choosing our leaders. Join me in voting no on Amendment B.
Our current rules for replacing the Lt. Governor preserve a principle that is fundamental to our elected Republic: we use elections to choose our political leaders. Indeed, never having weighed in on a newly appointed Lt. Governor (who could well become Governor one day) citizens have a compelling interest in voting to accept or reject this new statewide official at the next reasonably available opportunity—at the first succeeding general election.
Proposed Amendment B might have impacted three of Utah’s five most recent Lt. Governors. When two were appointed Governor and another stepped down, replacements were appointed. By constitution, voters weigh in on the Governor’s choice at the next general election—within two years or less. Amendment B, however, means an appointed Lt. Governor could go almost four years before facing voters. If we also had to replace the Governor during this same period, Utah could end up with a Chief Executive that had never been elected.
By constitution, if the Governor must be replaced at any time, the Lt. Governor—elected together with the governor—is appointed to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy happens during the first year of a governor’s term, the replacement—the Lt. Governor—must stand for election again at the next general election, or less than two years after being appointed Governor. This was the case with Governor Herbert, who was appointed in the summer of 2009, elected for the remaining two-years of that term in 2010, and then elected to a full four-year term in 2012.
Similarly, when a new Lt. Governor must be appointed, our constitution requires that voters have a say in the matter sooner rather than later. Regardless of timing, the new Lt. Governor stands for election at the next general election, even if the governor isn’t running that year. This provision is built on the premise that voters have an even greater interest in ratifying the appointment of a new Lt. Governor than they do a replacement Governor. The reason is obvious: A vacancy in the Governor’s mansion is, of course, filled by the sitting Lt. Governor, an official that usually will have already been subject to election by voters. But a vacancy at Lt. Governor will always be filled by appointment rather than by a previously elected running mate.
Proposed Amendment B postpones voter input until the next time the Governor is up for election. That could be close to four years down the road. In comparison to what’s our constitution requires today, the constitutional tinkering of Amendment B could double the chances of the Governor’s office becoming vacant and an unelected Lt. Governor filling the vacancy. Why on earth would we want to increase the chances of having a Governor we never elected?
—Rep. Jim Nielson
Path to the ballot
- See also: Amending the Utah Constitution
The measure was introduced into the state legislature on January 28, 2014, as Senate Joint Resolution 8. SJR 8 was approved in the Utah Senate on February 20, 2014. The amendment was approved in the Utah House of Representatives on March 13, 2014.
The amendment was enrolled on March 21, 2014.
February 20, 2014 Senate vote
|Utah SJR8 Senate Vote|
March 13, 2014 House vote
|Utah SJR8 House Vote|
- Utah Legislature, "S.J.R. 8 Enrolled," accessed August 7, 2014
- Utah Lieutenant Governor, "2014 Constitutional Amendment Ballot Titles," accessed August 8, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Utah Lieutenant Governor, "Utah Voter Information Pamphlet 2014," accessed October 20, 2014
- Jim Nielson 4 Utah, "Last Day of the Session, March 13, 2014," accessed September 10, 2014
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