SALT LAKE CITY — It looks like lawmakers will wait until next session to take on Proposition 4, the Better Boundaries ballot initiative passed by voters last November that creates an independent redistricting commission.
"It doesn't need to be addressed this session," House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton said Friday. "We'll just wait and see. We'll look at it in interim and see what happens next session."
Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said there have been talks about what to do about Proposition 4, billed as a safeguard against gerrymandering — the manipulation of political boundaries to favor one party or candidate over another.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen," Adams said. He said new boundaries for legislative, congressional and State School Board districts won't be redrawn until 2021, after the next once-every-10 years census in 2020.
"We've got this year, next year and maybe the 2021 session so I think there's a lot of discussion," the Senate president said. "The timing of when it runs is probably unclear."
Several participants in those backroom conversations between lawmakers and backers of the initiative described the tone as "positive" and said retaining the advisory commission is part of what's been considered.
But without a push from the Legislature's GOP leadership, those talks appear to be on hold.
Better Boundaries, the group behind Proposition 4, is waiting to see what happens.
"We are closely monitoring the process and it's our understanding the Legislature has not decided whether they intend to address Prop 4 this session," Jeff Wright, the Republican co-chairman of Better Boundaries, said in a written statement.
"From our perspective the Legislature stands to benefit from Proposition 4 because the essence of the law is about good government," Wright said in the statement.
The Legislature has already replaced the two other ballot initiatives approved by voters — Proposition 2, which legalized medical marijuana, in a special session last year, and Proposition 3, full Medicaid expansion, in the first weeks of this session.
While there were many groups behind the changes made to Proposition 2, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Medical Association, supporters of full Medicaid expansion fought limitations imposed by lawmakers.
Their efforts included TV commercials urging lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert to respect the will of Utah voters. Faith leaders signed a letter to legislative leaders and the governor and a few tried to block the entrance to the House before a vote.
But a GOP plan extending Medicaid to a smaller group of people and requiring those left out of the plan to buy federally subsidized insurance policies has already been signed into law by the governor.11 comments on this story
Senate Minority Caucus Manager Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake, said Democrats "recognize that there's a role for the Legislature to play in cleaning up any initiative or making it better."
But Kitchen said it's also important to "keep the spirit alive" of what voters approve.
"We're aware that after cannabis and after Medicaid that there's a sentiment in the community that the Legislature doesn't respect democracy," he said. "When we talk about redistricting, we have to be extra-sensitive and aware of those feelings."