Commissions & Councils/General
Senator Thatcher’s proposal would require the unanimous vote of the legislative body of a local government approving a mental competency exam in court. If a judge then ruled the individual to be incompetent, the legislative body could then move to remove the official with another unanimous vote.
It is important to note that both Representative Chavez-Houck and Senator Thatcher have repeatedly reached out to UAC staff and have assured us that they are not interested in pushing legislation that the counties are not comfortable with.
Those appeals are not evenly spread over Utah’s 29 counties. Depending on the taxpayer and county, the tax shift varies greatly throughout the state. In some counties, the shift is only a few cents; in others the shift could reach several hundred dollars to an average homeowner. By preparing and sharing this information, UAC is helping county officials make a more educated decision as to which appeals to challenge and which to ignore.
As such, we created a coalition of 9 public and private members to provide some alternatives. While the division’s proposal would have nearly tripled the fees for some facilities, we were able to come up with an alternative that provides the stability the division sought, while still keeping fees as a manageable level. With over 100 public waste facilities, there isn’t enough space to give you all the details. However, if you would like the details for the proposal, please give the staff a call and we can provide that information. Thanks to Salt Lake County, Trans Jordan, Davis County and others for actively assisting in this effort.
Among other things, the proposed legislation, sponsored by Representative Daw, would allow local governments to put a hold on the referendum process before the signature-gathering period begins to help determine for the sake of the government and the sponsors of the referendum the legal merit of the referendum. Additionally, the bill aims to clarify what level of political activity the local government can take in regards to a referendum. The Utah Association of Counties has been working closely with the League of Cities and Towns and the sponsor on this issue.
To prepare for the replacement of Utah’s voting equipment, the Lt. Governor’s Office has created the Voting Equipment Selection Committee. The committee (upon which sit a number of county clerks) recently sent an RFP to various voting equipment vendors and will be selecting the next generation of voting equipment in the State of Utah in the coming months.
Just like we did a decade ago, Utah’s counties and the Lt. Governor’s Office are hopeful that we can purchase voting equipment statewide rather than leaving it to each of Utah’s 29 counties to find their own replacement. There are several advantages to a statewide contract including economies of scale and a broader knowledge base to draw from should any election’s office run into challenges with the equipment.
UAC and the Lt. Governor’s Office are interested in a partnership with the state to cover $10 million price tag. We have already started meeting with key legislators to that end.
To address this perceived problem, several legislators have floated the idea of voting by ranked choice. Rather than voting for one candidate, voters would rank their preference of candidates. Votes for the candidate with the lowest number of votes would then be distributed among the remaining candidates based on the second preference of that candidate. This would continue until one candidate receives a plurality of votes.
Recent news out of Maine has neutered the enthusiasm for ranked choice voting. After a November, 2016 voter initiative directed the state to run ranked choice voting elections, the Maine Supreme Court in May of this year ruled that such elections would be unconstitutional. Even more recently, Maine’s state senate has begun rolling back the ranked choice voting code through new legislation.
Not only would ranked choice voting prove expensive and confusing in Utah, it would also likely be found unconstitutional according to Utah’s constitution which reads very similar to Maine’s.
Moving CivLAC under the direction of UCDAA ensures that the work CivLAC engages in is in harmony with the desires of Utah’s county attorneys. The newly constituted CivLAC has begun meeting and will continue to serve as a vital “vetting group” for the UAC.