What’s on the ballot in Provo? Amendments, propositions and bonds explained

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Editor’s note: As the Nov. 3 election draws near, the Daily Universe is exploring different national and local issues impacting voters in a series of stories.

The 2020 general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 3 and absentee/mail ballots must be received by Nov. 2. (Preston Crawley)

Provo voters will have the chance to vote on nine measures, including seven Utah constitutional amendments, during the November 2020 general election. 

On average, only four measures have appeared on each ballot for the general (even-year) elections in Utah from 1995 to 2018, according to BallotPedia. There are seven Utah constitutional amendments, one county proposition and one Provo-specific measure for Provo voters to vote on during the 2020 general election. 

Constitutional Amendment A

Amendment A would change gender-specific words in the Utah Constitution to be gender-neutral. For example, in Article 1 section 1 the word “men” would be replaced with “persons.” This amendment would only affect six out of the 237 sections in the Utah constitution, as a majority of the constitution already uses gender-neutral language.

The House and Senate voted unanimously for the proposed amendment at the 2019 Legislative General Session. No rebuttal or argument opposing the amendment was submitted to Utah’s voter informational pamphlet. 

Constitutional Amendment B

Amendment B is intended to clarify that a state legislator must be at least 25 years old at the time they are elected or appointed to office. The Utah Constitution currently doesn’t clarify exactly when a person needs to be 25 in order to be eligible for office, only that they must be 25 years old. This amendment would clarify that a person does not need to be 25 when they file to run or at any other time before their election or appointment. 

The House and Senate voted unanimously for the proposed amendment at the 2019 Legislative General Session. No rebuttal or argument opposing the amendment was submitted to Utah’s voter informational pamphlet. 

Constitutional Amendment C

Amendment C would remove language from the State Constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime. While slavery and involuntary servitude are otherwise banned in the constitution, this amendment would close the remaining loophole. 

This amendment wouldn’t impact Utah’s prisons or criminal justice system. Democrat Rep. Sandra Hollins and Republican Sen. Jacob Anderegg wrote in their argument in favor of the amendment that other states have voted to remove similar language from their constitutions and haven’t experienced any problems with their corrections systems. 

The House and Senate voted unanimously for the proposed amendment at the 2019 Legislative General Session. No rebuttal or argument opposing the amendment was submitted to Utah’s voter informational pamphlet. 

Constitutional Amendment D

Amendment D would allow municipalities (cities and towns) to sell or supply water outside of the municipality’s boundaries. The amendment would also allow municipalities to define and set their water supply borders. The original purpose behind prohibiting cities and towns from selling water outside of their boundaries was to make sure that there was enough water for the people living in the city or town. 

The House and Senate voted unanimously for the proposed amendment at the 2020 Legislative General Session. No rebuttal or argument opposing the amendment was submitted to Utah’s voter informational pamphlet. 

Constitutional Amendment E

Amendment E would grant individuals the constitutional right to hunting and fishing within the state. The amendment would also declare hunting and fishing as the preferred way of managing and controlling wildlife. Hunting and fishing methods would still be regulated by the state.

The amendment wouldn’t affect trespassing or property rights laws, or the state’s duty to manage its lands and natural resources. 

The proposed amendment passed 21-7 in the Senate and 59-11 in the House at the 2020 Legislative General Session. 

Constitutional Amendment F

Amendment F would allow the state legislature more flexibility on when it begins its annual 45-day session. The Utah Constitution currently requires the session to begin on the fourth Monday in January, but the amendment would allow legislators to pick any day in January to start. 

Legislators have changed the start date in the past to accommodate the 2002 Winter Olympics and proponents of the amendment argue that similar changes will be needed in the future. 

The proposed amendment passed unanimously in the Senate and barely passed in the House with a 50-24 vote. No rebuttal or argument opposing the amendment was submitted to Utah’s voter informational pamphlet. 

Constitutional Amendment G

The current Utah Constitution states the money the state receives from income taxes can only be used for education funding. Amendment G would allow the state to also use that money for other state programs that support children or people with a disability. 

Education groups like the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah PTA have supported the amendment. The proposed amendment passed 26-2 in the Senate and 67-5 in the House at the 2020 Legislative General Session. 

Proposition 9 – Change of County Government

Executive and legislative decisions in Utah County are currently made by three full-time commissioners who make up the Utah County Commission. Proposition 9 would move Utah County into a mayor-council form of government, consisting of five part-time council members to form the Utah County Council and one county mayor. The mayor would be the county executive and the council would hold the legislative power.

Proponents for the proposition have argued that the mayor-council form would offer better representation and accountability, as the five council members would represent five geographical areas in Utah County. Over a dozen Utah County officials have voiced their support for the proposition. 

Opponents of the proposition have argued that it would lead to an expansion of government and higher taxes. Some Utah County officials wrote in a rebuttal that the proposition would not increase taxes, but would keep the same budget and redistribute the mixture of full-time/part-time staff. 

Provo City School District 

The Provo City School District General Obligation Bond is for $80 million to partially rebuild Timpview High School. A similar bond was proposed last year and failed to pass the 2019 general city elections. The proposed bond would increase property taxes by an average of $70 per year, or $5.83 per month.

The Provo City Council has formally supported this bond after much debate.

The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and the registration deadline is Oct. 23. However, as of 2018, Utah voters can register at polling locations on the day of the election. Early voting started on Oct. 20 and absentee/mail ballots must be received by Nov. 2. 

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