LOCAL NEWS

What Utah voters should know about Constitutional Amendment A

Oct 25, 2022, 6:38 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 10:44 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah voters will decide if they are for or against a constitutional amendment that impacts how much spending money lawmakers can handle during an emergency this election.

Constitutional Amendment A will raise the cap on spending during special sessions and emergencies if passed.

Lawmakers said the proposal comes after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During COVID, we had to have a lot of special sessions, we had a lot of changes we had to make to our budget, a lot of federal money was coming at us,” said Rep. Jeff Stenquist, R-Draper.

He said if Constitutional Amendment A is passed, it will give lawmakers more flexibility when responding to an emergency situation.

“There’s always a bit of an element of the unknown, you don’t know what’s going to come up,” Stenquist said.

That flexibility concerns opponents like Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah.

“We believe that those constitutional checks and balances, it’s not always meant for convenience or flexibility, it’s meant to be able to work in a system where different parties have to agree to get things done,” Thomas said.

Currently, the state legislature can use 1%of the state budget for emergencies. This amendment would bump that up to 5%.

“We just want to be able to make sure that we can react quickly when needed when it comes to funding,” Stenquist explained.

Opponents said the amendment gives lawmakers more control.

“We believe it’s an unnecessary power grab by the legislature at the expense of our constitutional checks and balances,” Thomas said.

The amendment only applies to emergencies when special sessions are called.

“If we had an earthquake or something like that, we might have to do some emergency measures,” Stenquist said.

Supporters of the amendment pointed out special sessions don’t often happen, while opponents said the legislative body should continue to operate as is.

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What Utah voters should know about Constitutional Amendment A