Utah Radioactive Waste, Initiative 1 (2002)

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The Radioactive Waste Initiative, also known as Initiative 1, was on the November 2002 statewide ballot in Utah, where it failed, with 32% in favor. It was one of seven statewide ballot measure that year in Utah. Of those seven, it was the only one that failed, and that only one that was an initiative (as opposed to a legislative referral).

Gallivan v. Walker

The path Initiative 1 took to the ballot was rocky. The Utah Supreme Court intervened and ordered it onto the ballot in the case of Gallivan v. Walker. At issue was the fact that the signatures gathered for the initiative only met Utah's distribution requirement in 14 of Utah's 29 counties, whereas a state statute required that the distribution requirement be met in 20 of Utah's 29 counties. The signatures filed by Initiative 1's supporters originally met the threshold in 20 counties, but after filing, opponents of the initiative waged an effort to convince petition signers in rural counties to ask to have their signatures removed; this effort resulted in about 3,000 signatures in sparsely-populated counties being removed from the petition.

Controversial role of the NEA

The National Education Association Ballot Fund contributed $323,800 to Utahns for Radioactive Waste Control to get the measure on the ballot. The NEA's interest in the measure was based on the fact that the increased tax revenues proposed by the measure would have gone into public education. A group called "Education Excellence Utah" filed a complaint against the NEA's Ballot Fund, on the grounds that although any group that assist[s] in placing a statewide ballot initiative on the ballot" is required to register with the state's election office as a "Political Issues Committee" and disclose its expenditures, the NEA did neither.

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