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The Initiative Process

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Utah citizens beware!

Some of your lawmakers are tinkering excessively with your constitutional right to directly enact laws through the citizens’ initiative process.

Now, don’t get us wrong. KSL isn’t a fan of the initiative process. Generally, it isn’t an effective way to make law. And it is a process that can be abused by well-heeled individuals and special interest groups. Still, it is a constitutional right! It offers a needed form of citizen redress when the legislature, for whatever reason, fails to address public concerns.

The latest assault on this constitutional right comes from the legislature’s Government Operations Interim Committee. At a meeting in November, committee members approved a number of measures that would make it more difficult for citizens’ initiatives to get on the ballot.

They range from modifying the number of signatures required to get an initiative approved, to requiring a series of unnecessary public hearings, to making criminals out of unregistered voters who sign petitions or citizens who sign a petition more than once.

The only redeeming change offered would require public disclosure on petitions if signature gatherers are paid for their efforts.

Because the Utah Supreme Court last summer struck down portions of the state’s initiative process, certain changes obviously need to be made. But the proposal coming out of the Government Operations Interim Committee is not the way to go.

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