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As Ballot Measures Inch Forward, Lawmakers Look To Delay Effective Dates

Austen Diamond / KUER

There are six citizen-led initiatives making their way to the ballot this year, addressing everything from medical marijuana to election laws. But even if some of those pass, Utah lawmakers are looking at delaying their implementation.

Currently, ballot initiatives take effect five days after an official vote canvass, usually in late November. But Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, is pushing a bill to could delay that until May.

Daw told a House committee Thursday that the legislature might need to clarify ballot measures that might pass and conflict with existing law.

“There have been some accusations made that this gives the legislature time to modify the initiative during the next legislative session,” Daw said. “The fact is the legislature can do that with this law or without it.”  

During the hearing, the legislature’s newest representative, Travis Seegmiller, R-St. George, worried openly that citizens may have too much power to change laws.  

“I’m nervous about the concept of empowering the citizenry to intervene so swiftly and rapidly to delay the deliberative and systematic processes of the legislature,” Seegmiller said.

“I’m not nervous about empowering the citizenry,” Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, fired back. She said citizen-led initiatives already meet a high bar to get on the ballot.

Several groups pushing ballot measures this year opposed the bill, but it passed the committee with a vote of 8-2 and now heads to the House Floor.

Gov. Gary Herbert also expressed unease over the proposal Thursday.

“I’m very reluctant to have anything that would be contrary to what the voice of the people says,” he told reporters.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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