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Lawmaker Wants to Repeal SB54 Compromise

Brian Grimmett

A freshman legislator in the Utah House of Representatives is trying to undo the Count My Vote compromise the legislature passed two years ago. 

Currently the state of Utah is involved with it’s second federal lawsuit with the Utah Republican Party over the changes made to election law when the legislature passed Senate Bill 54 two years ago. In the latest lawsuit, the Utah GOP is challenging whether or not they’re allowed to recognize the caucus/convention route as the only valid way to become the party nominee. The Lt. Governor’s office maintains that a candidate is free to choose how to get on a party primary ballot, which includes bypassing the convention and gathering signatures instead.

But while that battle continues in the courts, Republican Rep. Justin Fawson is attempting to solve the argument through legislation.

“You know, there’s a lot of uncertainty around what will happen in the courts," Fawson says. "If legislatively we can go back and fix this, and that’s my perception, I’m trying to fix this issue. Then, we can forgo all these court battles and expensive fights that the parties are going through.”

But Fawson’s substitute bill will likely face stiff opposition from those who supported the SB54 compromise two year ago. House Speaker Greg Hughes says, while Fawson is free to challenge the legislation, he thinks letting the courts resolve the issue might be the better way to go.

“And I’ve just told the sponsor of the substitute, we have so many bills and we have so much challenge in terms of finite time, do you work and make sure you have votes to make a credible case to the body," Hughes says. "I’ll be voting against repealing. I voted for the compromise and I’m a man of my word and I’m going to stay with my word.”

Members of the House started to discuss Fawson’s substitute bill last week, but ultimately decided to pause the debate until more legislators could become familiar with it. Fawson says he expects the bill will be picked up again some time this week. 

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