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Amendment A removes gendered language in the Utah Constitution (such as “he,” “husband,”) and replaces it with gender-neutral language (such as “the person”, “spouse.”)
S.J.R. 7 passed the Senate and House unanimously.
Amendment B specifies that qualifications of a legislator including age, citizenship, and state and local residency apply as of the time of election or appointment, rather than the time a legislator assumes office.
H.J.R. 4 passed the House and Senate unanimously.
Slavery and Involuntary Servitude Prohibition
Amendment C removes an exception from Utah’s Consitution that allows the use of slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. It also clarifies that this change does not affect otherwise lawful administrations of the criminal justice system.
Utah is one of 20 states whose constitutions allow slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. This language is modeled after 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which bans slavery and involuntary servitude but makes an exception if they are used as punishment for a crime. In 2018, Colorado became the first state to remove the exception allowing slavery from its state constitution.
H.J.R. 8 passed the House and Senate unanimously.
Supported by: Utah Coalition to Abolish Slavery, Utah Democratic Party, Utah GOP
Water Resources of Municipalities
Amendment D establishes rules under which municipalities can provide water to residents who live outside the municipal boundary. It allows municipalities to create a “designated water service area” extending beyond the city or town, as well as contract to provide water to areas outside of that zone.
Utah’s constitution was amended in 1896 to prohibit cities from selling their water rights after Ogden bartered away its rights prior to Utah becoming a state. Currently, 50 cities provide water to residents outside their boundaries but only do so through contracts that can be canceled with 30-days notice.
H.J.R. 3 is the result of compromise legislation between Salt Lake City and Utah lawmakers. It passed the House and Senate unanimously.
Right to Hunt and Fish
Amendment E establishes a state constitutional right for people in Utah to hunt and fish.
According to Ballotpedia, 22 states have incorporated the right to hunt and fish into their state constitutions. The resolution sponsor, Rep. Casey Snider said the constitutional protection of hunting and fishing will be meaningful as hunting and fishing decline in future decades: “It is not unforeseeable and history bears this out, that 30 or 40 or 50 years from now those participating in these activities will be a significant minority, more than they already are.”
H.J.R. 15 passed the House 61-9 and passed the Senate 21-7.
Supported by: Utah Shooting Sports Council, National Rifle Association
Annual General Sessions of the Legislature
Amendment F allows the Utah Legislature to set the starting date for the 45-day general legislative session for another day in January via state statute, rather than constitutionally requiring the session to begin on the fourth Monday in January.
Federal and state holidays would continue to be excluded from the legislative session.
In public meetings, some lawmakers expressed support for changing the date to the third Tuesday in January following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, although this could not be decided unless Amendment A passes. Other lawmakers preferred the consistency of keeping the date the same.
S.J.R. 3 passed the Senate unanimously, and passed the House 50-24.
Use of Tax Revenue
Amendment G allows the Utah State Legislature to use revenue from income taxes and intangible property taxes to support children and individuals with a disability, rather than continuing to limit such tax revenue to support public education and higher education.
Currently, Utah’s Constitution restricts money from Utah’s income tax to be used solely for education. (Art. XIII, Sec. 5(5)) Originally, Utah’s Constitution designated money from the state income tax solely for the public education system, but in 1996 Utah passed a constitutional amendment allowing the education fund to be used for higher education as well.
S.J.R. 9 was passed during the 2020 General Legislative Session as part of a compromise package along with H.B. 357, a bill guaranteeing increased funding for schools. H.B. 357 passed into law but is not included as part of the constitutional amendment. H.B. 357 requires the Legislature to fund growth and inflation each year, creates a new reserve account for education funding, and eases restrictions on local school district property taxes to protect schools in the event of an economic downturn.
In a message to members of the Utah Education Association, President Heidi Matthews said, “All along we’ve said that a guarantee of funding is much more beneficial than a guarantee of revenue,” and that while the compromise is not a perfect solution, it represents a step in the right direction.
Originally, legislative allocations to education in 2020 gave a 6% funding increase to Utah’s weighted pupil unit, or WPU. Those funding decisions did not manifest due to budget adjustments following COVID-19, but public education still received a 2.2% increase to the public education budget, including a 1.8% increase to the weighted pupil unit, in addition to funding for growth.
Other education advocates have pushed back on removing the education earmark on income tax funds. The Utah Citizens’ Counsel claims that the state has lost over a billion dollars annually for public education as a result of the 1996 constitutional amendment, as well as income and property tax structure changes.
Utah’s income tax was lowered in 2007 to a flat rate of 5% across the board. Previously, Utah had a dual track system, allowing taxpayers to choose between either a progressive, tiered rate system or a flat rate at 5.31% which was calculated based on federal adjusted gross income.
While nine states have some sort of earmark on revenue from the income tax for education, Utah is the only state requiring that all income tax revenue go toward education. Despite this, Utah remains last in the nation for per-pupil student spending, as it has for two decades.
S.J.R. 9 passed the Senate 23-6 and passed the House 67-5.
Supported by: Utah Education Association, Utah Taxpayers Association
Opposed by: Utah Citizens Counsel, League of Women Voters of Utah