I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little disappointed. A few months ago, I signed the Count My Vote (CMV) petition in the hopes that it would ultimately end up on the ballot this fall.
I was not just in favor of this particular initiative, I was also really looking forward to seeing how a well-funded effort to get a citizen initiative on the ballot fared, and now that they have made a deal with the legislature, it doesn’t look like that will happen.
Just to bring you up to speed, over the weekend the CMV folks and several legislators announced that they had reached an agreement that would legislate several changes to the way candidates can reach a primary ballot in exchange for CMV dropping their petition efforts.
Over the years there have been other attempts at citizen initiatives and every time the legislature has made laws that set the bar farther out of reach. During the ethics petition drive they even changed the law midway through. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the legislature does not want citizen petitions to succeed.
CMV was ready for the fight though and they came prepared with big names and a big bank account–two things I think are unfortunately crucial, considering the overly burdensome requirements.
Turns out that the very real threat CMV posed was finally enough to get the legislature to negotiate and what we ended up with isn’t half bad. The proposal is part of SB54, a bill being sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble and Representative Dan McCay. The image above is a quick look at what the bill will change.
When SB54 was debated in the House Government Operations Committee, there was a lot of talk about gambling and really, that’s probably the best analogy for this whole process–one big gamble and the legislature obviously feels the odds are favoring CMV.
Despite the vocal dislike of the bill by several committee members, it was obvious the fix was in as it passed out unanimously. The same thing played out on a larger scale on the House floor as many stood in opposition. But despite their posturing for the record, the vote was disproportionately in favor. The fact that this compromise had made some of the more extreme members of the majority party apoplectic makes me like the proposal even more.
CMV may have cracked the code for forcing the legislature’s hand. Of course, it took over a million dollars, the help of some pretty big names (Mitt Romney ring a bell?), and the signatures of 100,000 Utahns who believed in the promises of the initiative. Let’s hope the compromise brings the results they were promising.