Press Release: Initiative bills confuse, delay, and create bureaucratic hurdles in the initiative process

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2019

Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Legislature passed HB 133 “Initiative Amendments,” and HB 145, “Citizen Political Process Amendments.” These bills make changes to the initiative process by pushing back the implementation date and making adjustments to the signature-gathering process.

Representative Daw’s bill, HB 133, imposes an ultra-conservative ideology onto initiatives and, had it been law last year, would have delayed implementation of Medicaid expansion until January 2020. Representative Thurston’s bill, HB 145, would require county clerks to publicly post the names of voters who signed ballot initiatives, introduce a 30-day deadline for volunteers to submit signature packets, and make it a crime to knowingly verify a false signature date on an initiative packet.

Meanwhile, HB 195 “Initiative and Referendum Amendments,” was sent back to Senate Rules. This bill would likely increase the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot while shortening the amount of time to gather those signatures.

Lauren Simpson, policy director at Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement:

“In combination, these are bad bills meant to hamper the right of Utahns to create their own laws through the initiative process. Delaying implementation for over a year of an initiative that increases revenue is a punitive way to obstruct the will of the voters. Publicly posting voter signatures and adding criminal consequences will chill civic participation in the constitutionally-enshrined ballot initiative process.

“The people of Utah sent a message to the Legislature last year that they want action on important issues long ignored by legislators. And this session the Utah Legislature sent a message back: ‘what you want is secondary to what we want.’ HB 133, HB 145, and HB 195 are thorns in the side of the democratic process in Utah, and we will do everything in our power to make sure Utahns remember in 2020.”

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Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.

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