Regardless of one's opinion regarding the referendum process, the importance of this citizens' right to Utah's founding fathers cannot be denied, as they were the second state in the union to embrace this concept.
SB066, if passed, will gravely impede a citizens' ability to exercise this constitutional right by requiring too much in too little time.
Through the years, the process has become so restrictive that legal assistance is often necessary. One aspect of the bill will actually require citizens to appeal to the Utah Supreme Court if they disagree with impact statements provided by the governing body they are challenging, which would be a daunting task without a lawyer. Although the bill promotes more transparency, it comes all at the expense of citizens' rights.
Not too long ago our Utah Legislature came under great public scrutiny, in both the local and national news, for a piece of legislation that was both repressive and regressive concerning GRAMA laws. The Utah legislature became the focus of many jokes regarding this bill which fortunately was never adopted. SB066 falls into that same category and if passed will make Utah's referendum law one of the most stringent in the nation.
In recent court rulings, the Utah Supreme Court actually expanded citizens' rights for redress in land use decisions; however the pattern from our elected officials has been just the opposite. If SB066 passes, it will appear as though citizens have the right of redress, when in reality it is just an allusion. SB066 will make this right inaccessible to the average citizen--hardly what our wise, Utah founding fathers intended.
Larry J. Porter