Utah Terms Used to Refer to Local Government Officials, Proposition 1 (2000)

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Utah Proposition 1 was on the November 7, 2000 statewide ballot in Utah, where it passed, with 69% in favor. It was one of four statewide ballot measure that year in Utah. The measure was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The language on the ballot said:

1. Modify terms used to identify certain local government entities. The Utah Constitution uses the phrase "Municipal and School officers" when referring to local government officers that are the subject of a provision relating to the time of their election. Proposition 1 changes that phrase to "officers of each city, town, school district, and other political subdivisions of the State." The effect of this change is to identify more precisely the local government entities to which this provision applies and to broaden its application to include political subdivisions of the state whose officers are elected, such as certain special districts that provide water services, sewer services, etc. The Utah Constitution allows voters of any "legal subdivision" to initiate any desired legislation or to require legislation passed by the lawmaking body of the "legal subdivision" to be submitted to voters before taking effect. Proposition 1 replaces the term "legal subdivision" with "county, city, or town." Under this proposition, counties, cities, and towns would be the only local government entities whose voters would be able to initiate legislation or require legislation passed by the local lawmaking body to be submitted to voters before it may take effect. The Utah Constitution prohibits "corporations for municipal purposes" from being created by a law with specific rather than general application. Proposition 1 replaces the phrase "corporations for municipal purposes" with the phrase "cities or towns." The Utah Constitution prohibits the Legislature from imposing taxes for the purpose of any county, city, town, "or other municipal corporation." Proposition 1 replaces the more narrow term "municipal corporation" with the broader term "political subdivision of the State." The Utah Constitution empowers the Legislature to authorize a county, city, or town to establish special districts. Proposition 1 changes the terminology of that provision from "special district" to "special service district." Because the term "special district" includes a larger class of local governmental entities than the term "special service district," Proposition 1 may narrow the class of entities affected by the constitutional provision containing that terminology.

2. Expand the types of services provided by special service districts. The Utah Constitution lists nine services that a special district may provide. Proposition 1 eliminates the list of nine services and replaces it with more expansive language stating that special service districts may provide whatever services they are allowed by statute to provide.

3. Authorize the Legislature to provide for the establishment of additional local government entities Proposition 1 explicitly authorizes the Legislature to provide for the establishment of political subdivisions or other governmental entities, in addition to counties, cities, towns, school districts, and special service districts. It also provides that those political subdivisions or other governmental entities may provide services and facilities, exercise powers, and perform functions as provided by statute.

4. Modify county seat and optional forms of county government provisions. The Utah Constitution imposes certain conditions on the removal or relocation of a county seat. Proposition 1 replaces the removal and relocation language with language relating to any effort to "move" a county seat, while preserving the two-thirds vote requirement presently in the constitution. This proposition also gives the Legislature greater flexibility in providing for optional forms of county government. The adoption of an optional form of government by a county would continue to require county voter approval.

5. Provide for municipal dissolution. The Utah Constitution requires the Legislature to provide for the incorporation, organization, and classification of cities and towns. Proposition 1 also requires the Legislature to provide for their dissolution.

6. Clarify election provisions. The Utah Constitution states that all general elections shall be held in November. Proposition 1 confirms current practice and clarifies that general elections are held in November of even-numbered years. The Utah Constitution provides that legislation initiated by the people is to be submitted to a vote of the people for approval or rejection. Proposition 1 clarifies that, except for an initiative on wildlife, the vote required to pass legislation initiated by the people is "a majority vote of those voting on the legislation." An initiative on wildlife would continue to require a vote of two-thirds of those voting to pass.

7. Modify the exclusive uses of specified highway revenues. The Utah Constitution requires proceeds from the imposition of any license tax, registration fee, driver education tax, or other charge related to the operation of a motor vehicle and the proceeds from the imposition of an excise tax on gasoline to be used exclusively for specific highway purposes stated in the constitution, including the construction, improvement, repair, and maintenance of roads. Proposition 1 provides that those highway purposes include the repayment of debt incurred for the construction, improvement, repair, and maintenance of roads. Proposition 1 also eliminates "tourists and publicity expense" as one of the highway purposes for which the proceeds must be used.

8. Repeal redundant or obsolete language. Proposition 1 repeals language in the Utah Constitution that is redundant or obsolete. For example, it eliminates one of two almost identical provisions prohibiting the imposition of a property qualification on a person in order to vote or hold office. In addition, Proposition 1 deletes language in the Utah Constitution recognizing school districts as legal subdivisions of counties. School districts are now widely acknowledged to be political subdivisions of the state.

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