Does the legislature work for the people or special interests?
This seemingly simple question can provoke profound questions about the very legitimacy of our democracy.
We will receive an answer to this question based on how HB 131 – Election Modifications from Representative Jake Andregg (Republican – Lehi) plays out over the 45 days of the legislative session.
[pullquote]The people called for a change to our election laws, the Utah GOP has fought tooth and nail against them – where will the legislature fall?[/pullquote]HB 131 is a direct attack upon SB 54 – the (in)famous piece of legislation prompted by the Count My Vote movement in 2014.
Though the legislation had a loud chorus of detractors and attempts were made to alter the bill during the last legislative session, SB 54 survived the 2015 legislative session. Not to be deterred, the Utah Republican Party sued the state over SB 54 – though the Utah GOP was able to overturn portions of the new law, the primary sticking point, the ability for candidates to collect signatures and appear on a ballot under the banner of a political party, remained.
Regardless of your feelings towards Count My Vote and SB 54, some facts remain the same:
- Count My Vote was close to putting a popular initiative on the ballot for the 2014 election.
- SB 54 was the compromise made to stop Count My Vote from continuing its signature-gathering drive in exchange for some revisions to the election laws.
- SB 54 was approved by the Utah House and Senate, and signed by the Governor – all of whom were democratically elected by the people.
- The heads of the Utah GOP have fought SB 54 from the very start.
- The provisions of SB 54 have not even been tested during an election cycle.
Perhaps the last point is the most important. We know that there are some Republicans that do not like SB 54, and that is fair, but the results of the new law remain untested. Indeed, the only thing we know from the naysayers is that they say nay.
One could argue that the Republican Party is an organisation advocating for the people and that the state has put undue restrictions upon the party. But the courts, the Legislature, the Governor, and the Attorney General are also organisations the people have created to advocating for their cause – all of whom have signed off on SB 54 in one way or another.
The final question is if SB 54 creates undue harm. The answer, it appears, is no. It is the Utah GOP, not the state, that has mandated purity tests to participate in the organisation that claims it is advocating for the people (and in Utah, the presumed majority). It is the Utah GOP that has dug its feet in; it is the Utah GOP that fought against the Republican Legislature, Governor, and Attorney General; it is the Utah GOP that refuses to comply with the laws of this state for no other reason, it appears, then they don’t like the people telling them what to do.
Though many of the people that claim the Republican banner will be voting on HB 131, another fact remains: In the very room that Representative Anderegg will spend the upcoming 45 days, there is a simple carving of two words above the well: Vox Populi – The voice of the people.
Perhaps SB 54 will be a failure, but the people have called for it through various governmental institutions. Lawmakers owe the people the opportunity to allow the law a legitimate chance to succeed or fail based on its own merit, not simply because a political party refuses to comply.
To contact Representative Anderegg, click here or call 801-901-3580 (Cell).
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