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Politics & Government

Anti-Corporate Personhood Initiative Stalled

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An effort to ban corporate personhood in America through a local Salt Lake ballot initiative has been stopped, but city officials who support the measure say it’s not over yet.

As part of a nationwide campaign to persuade Congress to overturn a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits unlimited corporate and union spending on election campaigns,  members of the group Move to Amend collected enough signatures to put an initiative on Salt Lake City’s November ballot. It would affirm on a local level that corporations are not people, and for the purpose of elections, money is not speech. But  the initiative didn’t comply with state law, says Salt Lake City Attorney, Ed Rutan.

"Something which is merely a statement of opinion or a recommendation is not something that qualifies as a citizen initiative under the Utah constitution. Now in other states it does. But in Utah under our constitution, it’s not a proper subject of initiative."

Only initiatives that would lead to the adoption of a law are permissible, Rutan says. 

Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle Lamalfa says he doesn’t want to change the initiative. But, he says, the city has other options.

“What I would like to do as a city council member is propose that as a council; we not only put the Move to Amend petition on the ballot for voters to decide. But furthermore, we change our ordinances in such a way that by default any voter-sponsored petition goes on the ballot and it would take an act of the city council to remove it from the ballot.”

The Salt Lake City council has until August to adopt a resolution and get an initiative on the ballot.

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