Learn about the ballot questions so you can be an #InformedVoter

September 27th, 2018|Action of the Day|0 Comments

Do you know what questions will be on your ballot come midterm elections? Do you know how you will vote on those questions? Your vote matters! You can start learning about the ballot questions now so you know so you are ready to cast a vote on each and every one the moment your vote-by-mail ballot arrives (after Oct 16), when early voting starts (October 23) or for election day (November 6).

WHAT YOU CAN DO

1. Check out your sample ballot at vote.utah.gov to see what questions are posed in your area or find the state ballot questions on the Lt. Governor’s website at elections.utah.govAll ballots across the state will have these ballot items:

  • Constitutional Amendments A, B and C – Amendments to the Utah constitution, placed on the ballot by state legislators but that require voter endorsement
  • Nonbinding Opinion Question #1 – A question meant to poll Utah voters to help guide a decision by state legislators
  • Propositions 2, 3 and 4 – Policy proposals placed on the ballot by community members after a rigorous ballot measure application and signature gathering process

In addition to these questions, some areas have placed additional local questions to be approved (or not) by voters, such as questions about increasing taxes to pay for roads and transportation needs.

2. Join an event or online discussion to learn more about the issues. Learn more and get your questions answered about Prop 3 and Prop 4 at the following upcoming events:

3. Figure out your stance on the issues. For your convenience, we have described each of the state ballot questions below and posted the arguments for and against so you can better understand the questions. You can also do some online research to learn more about the questions and propositions.

2018 Statewide Ballot Questions

Ballot Question Review by the Salt Lake Tribune

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT A: Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to modify the period of time that a person in the military needs to serve out of state under an order to federal active duty in order to qualify for a property tax exemption for the military person’s residence, allowing the military person to qualify if the period of service is at least 200 days in a continuous 365-day period? 
Our analysis: Everyone seems to be in agreement on this question. The measure passed in both the Utah State Senate and House unanimously, and no rebuttal argument against was filed with the state.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT B: Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to authorize the creation of a property tax exemption for real property, such as land or buildings, that the state or a local government entity leases from a private owner?

Our analysis: Tax exemptions already exist for properties owned by state and local governments, but not on properties state and local government lease from private owners, who may pass the cost of taxes along to the government. This proposed tax exemption would apply to private property, but eliminates only those taxes that are currently paid directly by the government back to the government as a matter of simplicity. Though this measure is considered revenue neutral, it remains unclear how it would impact local tax calculations and therefore local taxpayers.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT C: Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to:

  • authorize the Legislature to convene into a limited session if two-thirds of the Utah Senate and House members agree that convening is necessary because of a fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster, or emergency in the affairs of the state;
  • require the Governor to reduce state expenditures or convene the Legislature into session if state expenses will exceed revenue for a fiscal year; and
  • require a session of the Legislature, other than the 45-day annual general session, to be held at the state capitol, unless it is not feasible due to a specified condition?

Our analysis: Although the legislature is in near-unanimous consensus in favor of this constitutional amendment, it should be noted that Governor Herbert opposes it. That’s because Constitutional Amendment C would alter checks and balances that have been in place for over a century. Currently, the governor has exclusive power to call the Legislature into session and set the agenda, though the Legislature may amend or veto the agenda. The only time in the past several decades that the two bodies have disagreed over calling a special session was in 2017 when Jason Chaffetz abruptly resigned from his post as congressional representative of Utah’s District 3. While the Legislature wanted to call a special session to appoint Chaffetz’ successor, Governor Herbert opted to hold a special election instead, putting the decision in the hands of the voters.

NONBINDING OPINION QUESTION #1: Potential Gas Tax Increase for Public Education and Local Roads

Question: To provide additional funding for public education and local roads, should the state increase the state motor and special fuel tax rates by an equivalent of 10 cents per gallon?

Our analysis: This nonbinding question is an essential part of the compromise that legislators made with the Our Schools Now ballot measure initiative. Our Schools Now would have raised $715 million a year for Utah’s public schools through a small increase in sales and income taxes — a measure that Utahns supported by a small majority. The compromise gives only $350 million per year to schools through increases in property, income and gas taxes. Just over half — $180 million — is slated to be raised from this small gas tax hike. Note that this question is nonbinding. The Legislature may still raise taxes on gas or anything else if it so chooses  regardless of the vote.

PROPOSITION NUMBER 2: Shall a law be enacted to:

  • establish a state-controlled process that allows persons with certain illnesses to acquire and use medical cannabis and, in certain limited circumstances, to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal medical use;
  • authorize the establishment of facilities that grow, process, test, or sell medical cannabis and require those facilities to be licensed by the state; and
  • establish state controls on those licensed facilities, including:
    • electronic systems that track cannabis inventory and purchases; and
    • requirements and limitations on the packaging and advertising of cannabis and on the types of products allowed?

Our analysis: Medical marijuana policies have been proposed through the Utah State Legislature for five years with no results, despite a growing majority of Utahns who want to see a medical solution passed. At the same time, a majority of Utahns do not want to legalize recreational marijuana. The fear of the recreational has faith and medical groups opposing this measure with promises of a new legislative solution to be presented and voted upon during a possible special session in October. It will then be up to the voters to decide if the new legislation — if passed — fits the bill of what they have been demanding for so many years.

PROPOSITION NUMBER 3: Shall a law be enacted to:

  • expand the state Medicaid health coverage program to include coverage, based on income, for previously ineligible low-income adults;
  • maintain the following as they existed on January 1, 2017:
    • eligibility standards, benefits, and patient costs for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and
    • the payment rate for healthcare providers under Medicaid and CHIP; and
  • use the tax increase described below to pay for Medicaid and CHIP?

This initiative seeks to increase the current state sales tax rate by 0.15%, resulting in a 3.191% increase in the current tax rate.

Our analysis: HB 472 passed in the 2018 State Legislative Session as an alternative to Prop 3 by offering partial Medicaid expansion a smaller number of Utahns that come with work requirements. The benefit of HB 472 is that it would cost the state less money than full expansion. It would also cover fewer people (70,000-90,000 people versus 150,000 covered under Prop 3), bring in fewer federal funds and spur less economic growth and fewer jobs. Another big difference between the bill and the ballot measure is that HB 472 requires a federal waiver to pass, which it has yet to receive. Furthermore, the White House has issued a statement declaring that they have no plans to award any such waivers. That means we still have no Medicaid expansion in Utah. Health groups and a majority of Utahns support Proposition 3.

PROPOSITION NUMBER 4: Shall a law be enacted to:

  • create a seven-member commission to recommend redistricting plans to the Legislature that divide the state into Congressional, legislative, and state school board districts;
  • provide for appointments to that commission: one by the Governor, three by legislative majority party leaders, and three by legislative minority party leaders;
  • provide qualifications for commission members, including limitations on their political activity;
  • require the Legislature to enact or reject a commission-recommended plan; and
  • establish requirements for redistricting plans and authorize lawsuits to block implementation of a redistricting plan enacted by the Legislature that fails to conform to those requirements?

Our analysis: Although many state legislators oppose this ballot measure, these “representatives of the people” do not reflect the will of the people on this issue. The Better Boundaries (Prop 4) ballot measure is a bipartisan effort that challenges the current legislator stronghold on redistricting by adding in an independent redistricting commission of appointed individuals to recommend electoral maps that the Legislature may approve or disapprove. The measure is expected to create more competitive elections, greater accountability to votes and more voter participation. Utah voters support Proposition 4 by a margin of 2 to 1.

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