SB66 would squash citizens' referendums
Wednesday , March 06, 2013 - 4:30 PM
As a citizen who worked with referenda this past year, I agree that the Utah state requirements for referendum should be revisited. However, the current
SB0066 does not adequately address nor facilitate our citizen’s right of redress. Here are some specific examples:
• The five day filing period for citizens includes weekend days while city, county, state entities are allowed five working days. Our referendum process in Layton took four days just to receive materials from the city about the law we were challenging.
• The requirement of 20 percent citizen signature for every precinct to file is much more stringent than any election process of which I am aware. To monitor signature percentage per precinct is unreasonable. “When has any elected official ever been required to have a set percentage in every single precinct to just run for office?”
• The requirement of retaining a lawyer for the entire process further distances the right of redress for the average citizen. Such costs make it almost prohibitive.
• Any government entity has built-in powers that average working citizens, even with great expertise, do not. Government entities have automatic legal counsel, established press contacts, maintain a full-time staff and built-in printing and meeting abilities. In SB0066’s current form, they are given additional powers with which to rule on referenda challenges.
Referenda involve too much work, time and money for anyone to undertake in ignorance and without real commitment to difference of opinion. It is condescending of the bill’s proponents and the Utah League of Cities and Towns to say that SB0066 will result in a more “informed vote.”
Our Layton referenda petition volunteers collected signatures from all over the city. Most who signed petitions were not uninformed, fiscally naive, nor alarmist, but reflective of a different opinion and vision for Layton, and a concern about an unresponsive city hall.
SB0066 complicates our right of repeal and adds extraordinary costs. Our Layton city petitions were the first land-use issue referenda in the state of Utah in 38 years. If SB0066 passes they might be the last. Please ask representatives to defeat HB66 as it is now written.
Corlie Ann Pead