What is a ballot initiative?

Most laws go through the legislative process, which includes drafting a bill, holding a committee hearing, having a vote in the House or Senate chamber, repeating the process in the other chamber and then being signed by the governor. A ballot initiative is another way to create laws, where private citizens propose an initiative that they would like to see become law.

The initiative is reviewed by the lieutenant governor to make sure it is constitutional, as well as to determine if there are any costs to the state. For instance, does it spend or collect public funds? The initiative’s sponsor must hold seven public meetings throughout the state to collect public input, then the official language is presented to voters. Once this point is reached, no further changes may be made to the text.

The sponsors of the initiative must collect at least 113,143 signatures from registered voters, meeting specific thresholds for 26 of the  29 state senate districts throughout the state.

Citizen involvement is an important part of our system; however,  negative consequences can occur when there is not a proper, deliberative vetting process, especially when dealing with such complex issues as controlled substances and the state budget. Getting it wrong could have severely negative ramifications for all Utahns.

This November, Utah voters will be deciding whether or not to support three ballot initiatives that raise significant concerns – Utah Medical Cannabis Act, Utah Independent Redistricting Commission and Standards Act, and Utah Decides Healthcare Act.

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