Flagged Bill: SJR 2 – Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Rights of Political Parties – Sen. Scott Jenkins

Senator Scott Jenkins (Republican – Plain City)

Last Wednesday, we analyzed Senator Scott Jenkins’ (Republican – Plain City) SB 43 – Closed Primary Amendments. At that time, we knew Jenkins intended to introduce legislation which would start the process of amending the state constitution—specifically to nullify both Count My Vote and the compromise legislation set forth though Senator Curt Bramble’s (Republican – Provo) 2014 legislation SB 54 – Election Amendments.

We won’t rehash the pros and cons of Count My Vote (CMV) and the compromise of 2014’s SB 54 (you can read those analyses here and here), but we will say that Jenkins’ latest legislation, SJR 2 – Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Rights of Political Parties would be the coup de grâce to Count My Vote’s attempt reform how candidates appear on the election ballot.

Jenkins’ SJR 2, if successful, will modify Utah’s Constitution to say that a political party, and only political parties, can establish the way a candidate appears on the ballot—completely forgoing any public oversight through lawmakers of the process.

Because the legislation would change the state constitution, it will require a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate, as well as an affirmative vote by the public to make the change official.

This is an interesting tactic, considering that the primary reason CMV and its supporters were able to force the legislature to act last session was due in no small part to the vast amount of signatures CMV was able to collect with their army of paid and volunteer petition signature gatherers all across the state. Indeed, when CMV finally let off the gas following negotiations with Senator Bramble and others in the legislature, it claimed to have collected more than 100,000 signatures, well within striking distance of number required to place the issue on the ballot.

Furthermore, with CMV’s powerful institutional (and monied) supporters, it was quite possible that the CMV petition may have been successful come election season in their quest to allow candidates to skip the political party nominating process if they were able to gather enough signatures, as CMV backers were willing and able to make media buys in order to promote their cause.

However, since a compromise with lawmakers was reached, CMV has gone dormant. Jenkins’ SB 43 and SJR 2 will no doubt reawaken the organization. Though Jenkins may be able to navigate the legislative waters with SB 43, once something is released out to the public, such as a constitutional amendment, things become much more difficult to control.

We once again echo our concern that Jenkins appears to be more concerned with protecting the Republican Party over the people of Utah, as demonstrated by his quote in The Salt Lake Tribune when he said that, “SB54 created a compromise that hurt the party,” and that he felt that “…it’s our obligation as Republicans…to do the best we can to prevent that from being implemented.” However, because the resolution requires the direct will of the people in order to be successful, the legislation may be seen as more palatable when compared to SB 43.

We also remind Jenkins that the provisions in SB 54 have not had a chance to function and therefore feel that he may be putting the cart before the horse. Regardless of whether the legislation is proper or not, it appears to be premature.

To contact Senator Jenkins, Click Here or call 801-731-5120

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade D

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