Laws governing the initiative process in Utah

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Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Utah may initiate legislation as either a direct or indirect state statute. In Utah, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments. The Utah State Legislature, however, may place legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the ballot with a two-thirds majority vote of each chamber.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Utah, each proposed measure must address only one subject clearly expressed in its title.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Constitution, Article VI, Section 22 & Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202(5)(d)

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Any initiated measure that would "allow, limit, or prohibit the taking of wildlife or the season for or method of taking wildlife" requires a two-thirds supermajority in Utah.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Constitution, Article VI, Section 1(2)

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Utah ballot measures

Utah law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other. The Governor of Utah is responsible for determining whether two measures conflict--his decision can be appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 211

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

At least five sponsors (each a Utah resident who has voted in the past three years) must apply in order to start a statewide petition. Along with a form identifying the sponsors, proponents must submit the full text of the measure, a descriptive title, and a statement regarding their planned use of paid petition circulators. Applications should be submitted to the Lieutenant Governor.

  • The sponsor application form can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

Once an application has been submitted, the Lieutenant Governor reviews the measure. The application will be rejected if the measures is "patently unconstitutional," "nonsensical," could not become law if passed, contains more than one subject, or does not clearly express the subject in its title. Compliance with the state's limits on re-attempting initiatives is also assessed. At this time, the measure is also submitted to the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget for a fiscal analysis.

Although other states require public hearings on proposed measures, Utah is the only state where that process is part of the review/revision process. After the fiscal review has been complete and prior to collecting signatures, sponsors must host seven meetings around the state to gather feedback. Rules regarding the geographic distribution of these hearings are set forth by state statute and sponsors are required to make a record (audio, video, or detailed minutes) for publication by the Lieutenant Governor. After the final hearing, sponsors have two weeks to submit modifications to the proposed measure. The changes must be germane to the original text of the measure and are also subject to review by the Lieutenant Governor and Office of Planning and Budget.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202 & Section 204.1

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

Once the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget has received the proposed measure, it must prepare an "unbiased, good faith estimate of the fiscal impact" of the measure. This estimate should also list any funding sources for the measure and the effect of the proposal on public indebtedness. It may also contain a caveat concerning the reliability of the estimate if the effects of the measure are difficult to predict. The estimate is included on the petition, in the voter information pamphlet, and on the ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202.5, Section 203, Section 209 & Section 702

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Utah signature requirements

The number of required signatures is tied to the number of votes cast in Utah for the office of President in the most recent Presidential election. Before 2011, the basis for signature requirements was the gubernatorial election. For directly initiated statutes and veto referendums, proponents must gather signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast for President. For indirectly initiated statutes, proponents must get 5% of this vote. If the legislature chooses not to adopt the measure, proponents must collect another 5% to place the measure on the ballot.

Year Direct statute Indirect statute Round 1 Indirect statute Round 2 Veto referendum
2014 102,879 51,440 51,440 102,879
2012 97,119 48,559 48,559 97,119

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 201, Section 208 & Section 301

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

In Utah, ballot measures are subject to a distribution requirement. For directly initiated state statutes, signatures must be collected from each of at least 26 of the 29 Utah State Senate districts equal to 10% of votes cast for President in that district.

For indirect initiatives, signatures must be collected from each of at least 26 of the 29 Utah State Senate districts equal to 5% of votes cast for President in that district. If a second round of signatures is collected, the signatures as a whole (equaling 10% of the vote cast for President) are subject to the requirement for direct initiatives.

For referendum petitions, signatures must be collected from each of at least 15 of the 29 counties in Utah equal to 10% of votes cast for President in that county.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 201, Section 208 & Section 301

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Utah circulators are forbidden from signing the petition that they are circulating. Each initiative petition contains a mandatory circulator affidavit. Circulators are not required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, but must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that they personally witnessed every act of signing the petition.[4] Paid circulators must be at least 18 years old and meet the residency requirements of Section 20A-2-105. When petitions are being circulated by paid circulators, the sponsors of the initiative must file a report with the lieutenant governor.[5] Once circulation is completed, the petition sponsors must deliver each signed and verified initiative packet to the county clerk of the county in which the packet was circulated.[6]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code - 20A-7-203, 20, 20A-7-205, 205.5 & 20A-7-206

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Utah does not ban paying circulators by the signature.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 205 & Section 205.5

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Utah requires petition circulators to be residents of the state.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 205 & Chapter 2, Section 105

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Utah does not require signature gatherers to disclose their paid or volunteer status.[7]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 205 & Section 205.5

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Utah does not permit electronic signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 101 (18b)

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

All signatures for Utah initiatives must be submitted within 316 days of the initial filing or by April 15 of the general election year--whichever is sooner. The first round of signatures for indirect initiatives are due on the November 15 prior to the general session where the petition will be considered. Signature sheets must be submitted to the county clerk in the county where the sheets were circulated.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 206

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

In Utah, each signature is verified by the county clerks in the county where the signature was collected. County clerks follow a two-stage process for signature verification. First, the signatures are examined, and any signatures by non-Utah residents or persons under the age of 18 are noted and reported to the county attorney and the state Attorney General. Next, the signatures are checked against the state voter registration database. Once the county clerks have reviewed and certified the signatures, the petition forms are delivered to the Lieutenant Governor who counts the total number of certified signatures and declares the petition either sufficient or insufficient.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 206 ; Section 206.3 & Section 207

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In Utah, each initiative or amendment is assigned a number or letter, respectively. For each general election, the numbering (lettering) begins at 1 (A). In addition to this generic title ("Initiative 1," "Amendment A"), each Utah ballot measure also receives a ballot title drafted by the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. The ballot title is a statement of 100 words or less impartially summarizing the measure--it may differ from the descriptive title chosen by sponsors prior to circulation. The ballot also includes the fiscal impact statement drafted by the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 6, Section 107 & Chapter 7, Section 209 & Section 202.5

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

Any measure that would "allow, limit, or prohibit the taking of wildlife or the season for or method of taking wildlife" requires a two-thirds supermajority in Utah. All others require only a simple majority.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Constitution, Article VI, Section 1(2)

Effective date

If an indirect initiative is adopted by the Legislature, it takes effect 60 days after the adjournment of the legislative session. Unless otherwise specified in the measure, direct initiatives take effect five days after the Governor proclaims the official election results.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 212

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Any three of the petition sponsors may challenge the ballot title. This challenge must be filed by July 30 (sponsors must be mailed notification of the ballot title decision by July 21). Within 20 days of the delivery of the fiscal impact statement to the Lt. Governor, any three sponsors may challenge in the statement. In both of these cases, the challenge should be filed with the Utah Supreme Court. There is a rebuttable presumption that the state's title and statement are fair and accurate.

Any person may challenge the Lt. Governor's determination of sufficiency. Such challenges should be filed with the state Supreme Court by June 15. The deadline for the Lt. Governor to make his or her determination is June 1.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202.5209 ; Section 207 & Section 209

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Utah State Legislature may amend any initiated statute by a simple majority vote. When presented with an indirect initiative, the Legislature may make technical corrections to the proposed law.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 208 & Section 212

Re-attempting an initiative

Once signatures have been filed, no "identical or substantially similar" measure may be submitted for circulation (initial filing/application) for two years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202(5f)

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Utah ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Utah's campaign finance laws are:

  • Utah bans labor unions from making donations to referendum campaigns as a condition of membership.
  • All corporations who donate $750 or more in a referendum campaign must register with the Lieutenant Governor of Utah.
  • Utah bans unapproved political advertising, only with the express consent of a registered committee's leadership.
  • Utah bans public entities from donating to campaigns in support or opposition of a referendum.

State initiative law

Article VI of the Utah Constitution addresses initiatives.

Title 20A, Chapter 7 of the Utah Code governs initiatives.

External links

References


Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Utah.

Proposed changes by year

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the Utah State Legislature:

Approveda Utah House Bill 119 (2012): Requires the Lieutenant Governor of Utah to conduct a study regarding online signature gathering for ballot measure, new party, or candidate petitions.

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the Utah State Legislature:

Approveda Utah Senate Bill 165 (2011): SB 165 changes the basis of Utah's signature requirements from the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election to the number of votes cast in the last presidential election. This will raise the number of signatures required. In addition, the bill bans electronic signatures for ballot initiatives. Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.[1]

Approveda Utah Senate Bill 280: Bill description/summary: "This bill modifies the Election Code to establish procedures for submitting a nonbinding opinion question to the voters of Utah."

Approveda Utah Senate Bill 72: Bill description/summary: "This bill: requires an initiative to contain no more than one subject to the same extent a bill may not pass with more than one subject under the Utah Constitution; authorizes initiative petition sponsors to change the text of a proposed law following public hearings; and requires the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget to update an initial fiscal impact estimate if the text of a proposed law is changed."


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Utah Legislature:



The following bills were introduced in the Utah Legislature:

Approveda Utah House Bill 44 (2010): HB 44 changes how certain terms in Utah's initiative laws are defined. The bill passed by a 70-2 vote on January 25, 2010 in the Utah House of Representatives. The bill passed the Utah State Senate by a 24-0-5 vote on February 25, 2010 and was signed into law by the Governor of Utah on March 29, 2010[1].

Approveda Utah Senate Bill 119 (2010): SB 119 requires that any special election involving bonding, levies, or sales taxes must have a 2/3rd's vote from the governing body requesting the election.[2]

Defeatedd SB 177: Modified signature requirements for Utah initiative petitions. The bill died in committee without a floor vote in either house of the Legislature[3].

Approveda Utah Senate Bill 275 (2010): SB 275 changes the procedures for the withdrawal of signatures from initiative petitions, removing the requirement for a notarized statement. This requirement is replaced by a requirement for a signed statement, including voter's identification info and address.[2]

  1. Utah Legislature "History of House Bill 44 (2010)"
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NCSL2010
  3. Utah Legislature "History of Senate Bill 177 (2010)"