With an election almost two years off, lawmakers chose to ignore 12 proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution.
"It's an off year and no one's real excited to do anything about them right now," said Robin Riggs, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. "And the feeling is they might not even want to do anything next year, either."Utahns could have been going to the polls in 1990 to vote on several flashy constitutional amendments, like allowing gambling in Wendover, starting a state lottery and even tax limitation.
Of 12 constitutional amendment proposals filed in the 1989 Legislature, only one Senate proposal made it to the House and only one House proposal made it to the Senate. And neither came up for a vote, although they are considered non-controversial.
While most lawmakers were taking a wait-until-next-year attitude, Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Young Ward, who had two tax limitation measures that were defeated, had a different observation.
"They have no guts. I have no fear of taking those kinds of issues to the voters. But apparently there are a lot here who fear that we might be restricting the power of the Legislature by allowing the public to vote on them."
The two measures that came the closest to passing were to allow rural counties to create special taxing districts for health care services and to remove from the Constitution and place into statute the provisions for corporations.
Among the proposals voted down, or not even debated, by lawmakers:
- Restricting lawmakers to three terms in the Legislature.
- Restricting the use of revenues from gasoline taxes to state and local highway maintenance and repair.
- Prohibiting elected or appointed local officials from serving in the Legislature.
- Limiting state spending to 98 percent of the projected revenues, with the balance going into a rainy day fund for unanticipated expenses.
- Requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes.
- Exempting personal business property from the property tax.
"Next time (the 1990 Legislature) you will see a lot of proposals," said Riggs.