What's On The Ballot? A Look At Constitutional Amendments Utah Voters Weigh In On This Year
In an election cycle dominated by the presidential race, it's easy to forget the other races and initiatives on the ballot. Utah has seven constitutional amendments ranging from removing slavery as a punishment to how income tax can be distributed.
To make a change to the Utah state constitution, the amendment has to be passed by both branches of the state legislature and then approved by voters. Proposed amendments this year range from the uncontroversial, like changing the constitutional language to be gender neutral or clarifying municipal water rights, to the unconventional, like adding the right to hunt and fish to the constitution. There’s even an amendment to officially remove slavery as a legal punishment for a crime in the state.
The Utah Foundation, a non-partisian research group, published a report for voters that reviews all the amendments at once. Their biggest task this season has been to make sure the language on the ballots is really clear to voters.
“We really did try to boil them down as much as we could. Particularly, some of these are pretty straightforward but some of them are a bit more complicated,” said Peter Reichland, President of the non-partisan Foundation.
An amendment that may divide voters the most is Amendment G, and that’s because it’s about income tax funds. It doesn’t change the amount of tax collected, but allows fund distribution to expand from just schools to also include programs for children and others with disabilities.
“The question at hand is, is the level of protection that the current constitutional language provides for education, is that worth the trade off in reduced flexibility across the state budget?" Reichland said.
Reichland noted it’s not like voters are being asked to consider whether income tax should exist - the amendment doesn’t change the amount of tax. It rather leaves the current language intact. Regardless, if a measure is included on the ballot, Reichland wants Utahans to be able to consider all sides of an issue.
“It's just important for voters to focus on what it is that they're voting on, which is a constitutional amendment,” Reichland said.
Early voting began on Monday, and all mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2. The Utah Foundation's report on all constitutional amendments can be found here.