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KSL TV, File

Lawmaker says he won't try to repeal controversial SB54

By Lisa Riley Roche, KSL | Posted - Feb. 15, 2019 at 10:01 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, said he no longer intends to try to repeal a controversial law known as SB54 that gives candidates an alternative path to a primary ballot.

McCay said he had a repeal bill drafted but has decided not to introduce it because opponents of the bill are waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear their case to overturn lower court rulings upholding the 2014 law.

"The Supreme Court is going to decide one way or the other," McCay said. "I'm hoping there is an opinion that people can at least look back to and say, 'This is how the court feels about the election law,' one way or another."

The senator, who was the House sponsor of SB54, said if the high court takes the case and issues a ruling, "it will help settle some of what I believe has been a very divisive issue."

Last year, an initiative intended to strengthen the law from the same Count My Vote group that was behind the legislative compromise that created SB54 ended up failing to qualify for the ballot.

In 2014, Count My Vote was circulating another initiative that would have established a direct primary in Utah, taking away the power of political parties to nominate candidates to a ballot.

Under the compromise in SB54, candidates can continue to compete for the support of party delegates through the caucus and convention system, choose to gather voter signatures to guarantee a place on a primary ballot — or take both paths.

The issue of how candidates should be nominated has split the Utah GOP. Last month, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, urged Republican Gov. Gary Herbert to stop defending what the senator believes is an "unconstitutional" law.

Lisa Riley Roche

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