- Associated Press - Friday, February 6, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Lawmakers on Friday gave early approval to two bills that would delay and ultimately repeal a 2014 law that overhauls Utah’s system for nominating political candidates.

The law, which was aimed at increasing participation, has sparked a dispute among Republicans, with the state GOP suing Utah’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor.

The law allows candidates to bypass Utah’s caucus and convention system by instead gathering signatures and participating in primary elections. It was a compromise Utah’s Republican-controlled Legislature reached with a group called Count My Vote, which wants to change the nomination system and allow more people to participate.

Without the compromise, Count My Vote planned to continue gathering signatures for an initiative petition that would have let voters decide to abandon the caucus system altogether.

The Utah Republican Party argues the changes are unconstitutional and the party should be allowed to determine for itself how it nominates candidates.

On Friday afternoon, a Senate government operations committee voted 4-1 to approve a bill delaying the changes until after the 2016 election.

The proposal, from Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, originally would have repealed parts of the 2014 law before next year, but Jenkins said he didn’t have enough support to roll back the law so quickly.

Instead, Jenkins said the delay will give political parties more time to adapt to the 2014 overhaul and let the Republican lawsuit play out.

The Senate committee voted 5-1 on another proposal from Jenkins that would amend Utah’s constitution to effectively repeal the Count My Vote compromise.

If approved by both the Legislature and governor this year, that amendment would need approval from Utah voters in 2016.

Both of Jenkins’ bills advance to the full Senate for consideration.

It’s unclear how much support the efforts will have. The Count My Vote compromise passed with wide margins in both the House and Senate last year, and the top Republican in each chamber has said this year they’re still satisfied with the deal.

Beyond Jenkins’ repeal effort, the state Republican Party in December sued Utah’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor over the law.

That case is pending in federal court.

Utah’s Democrats, significantly outnumbered by Republicans in the state, have stayed out of the debate and consider it an internal Republican struggle.

Salt Lake City Sen. Luz Escamilla, the sole Democrat on the government operations committee, was the only vote against both measures Friday.



SJR 2: https://1.usa.gov/1v5iufG

SB: 43: https://1.usa.gov/1C59hJm

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide