2014 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

2014 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Utah Constitution

There are three proposed amendments to Utah’s Constitution that are on the ballot this year.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment A

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to modify qualifications for members of the State Tax Commission?

Current provisions of the Utah Constitution

The Utah Constitution directs the State Tax Commission to administer and supervise Utah’s tax laws. The Constitution states that the State Tax Commission consists of four members, appointed by the governor with the consent of the Utah Senate. The Utah Constitution also states that no more than two of those four commission members may belong to the same political party. The Constitution does not provide any other qualifications for members of the State Tax Commission.

Effect of Constitutional Amendment A

Constitutional Amendment A removes the limitation that no more than two members of the State Tax Commission may be appointed from the same political party. The Amendment requires State Tax Commission members to meet qualifications as set in statute but allows the Governor to appoint a State Tax Commission member without considering the member’s political party affiliation. Under the Amendment, it is possible for all or a majority of State Tax Commission members to be
from the same political party.

Effective Date

If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment A takes effect January 1, 2015.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment B

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to modify the term of office of a person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of the Lieutenant Governor?

Constitutional Amendment B modifies a provision of the Utah Constitution relating to the term of office of a person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of the Lieutenant Governor. The Amendment changes the term of an appointed Lieutenant Governor to avoid a potential situation where the term of an appointed Lieutenant Governor would be different from the term of the Governor.

Background and current provisions of the Utah Constitution

Since 1984, the Utah Constitution has required the candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor from each political party to appear together on the same ballot and be voted on together. In 2009, the Utah Constitution was amended to specify what happens in the case of a vacancy in the office of Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Because of the 2009 amendment, it is possible, under certain circumstances, for an appointed Lieutenant Governor to serve to the end of a full four-year term even though the office of Governor is subject to a mid-term election. Likewise, it is possible for a Governor to serve to the end of a full four-year term even though a mid-term election is required for the office of the Lieutenant Governor. Electing a Governor at a mid-term election when the Lieutenant Governor’s office is not subject to election, or electing a Lieutenant Governor at a mid-term election when the Governor’s office is not subject to election, would be inconsistent with the state’s practice and policy since 1984 of electing the Governor and Lieutenant Governor together.

Electing a Governor and Lieutenant Governor at different times also creates the possibility that a Governor and Lieutenant Governor would be from different political parties.

Effect of Constitutional Amendment B

Constitutional Amendment B modifies the term of office of a person appointed as Lieutenant Governor so that the term is the same as the term of Governor. The Amendment eliminates the potential that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor might be elected at different times and from different political parties.

Effective Date

If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment B takes effect January 1, 2015.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment C

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to authorize the Lieutenant Governor, State
Auditor, and State Treasurer each to appoint legal counsel?

Current Provisions of the Utah Constitution

The Utah Constitution states that, unless otherwise provided in the Constitution, the Attorney General shall be the legal advisor of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, and State Treasurer. In the case of the Governor, the Constitution provides otherwise by authorizing the Governor to appoint legal counsel to advise the Governor. Under current practice, the Governor’s appointed legal counsel provides the Governor day-to-day legal advice, and the Attorney General continues to represent the Governor in lawsuits involving the Governor. The Constitution does not similarily authorize the Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, or State Treasurer to appoint legal counsel to advise each of these state offices. Accordingly, the Attorney General is the legal advisor for each of these state officers for all purposes.

Effect of Constitutional Amendment C

Constitutional Amendment C authorizes the Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, and State Treasurer each to appoint legal counsel.

Effective Date

If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment C takes effect January 1, 2015.

Fiscal Impact

The enactment of Constitutional Amendment C will not alone have any fiscal impact. Depending on how the Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, and State Treasurer choose to implement the Amendment, there may be an increase in costs to state government. If the Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, or State Treasurer appoints legal counsel, as the
Amendment allows, the increased annual costs to the state will be approximately $120,000 for each new position. The costs may vary depending on a number of factors, including whether the position is full-time or part-time, whether the attorney is hired for a permanent position or on a contract basis, and the level of experience of the attorney hired.

More Information

For information about each of these proposed amendments, including arguments for and against each, please refer to the 2014 Voter Information Pamphlet (PDF).