Sponsor: Utah State Legislature
This amendment to the Utah Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convene a special session in response to epidemics, persistent fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster, or if an emergency in the affairs of the State necessitates convening the Legislature into session.
To call the Legislature into special session, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives would issue the call if two-thirds of all members elected to each house are in favor.
The duration of a special session would be limited to a maximum of 10 days and could not be convene for at least 30 days following the adjournment of the regular session. Additionally, the Legislature would not be able to make appropriations during the special session that exceed 1% of all appropriations made during the previous general session.
“YES” Vote Means
Amending the Utah constitution to allow the Legislature to call a special session up to 10 days with two-thirds vote approval on the basis of emergency.
“NO” Vote Means
The Utah constitution will not be amended, and the Legislature will NOT be allowed to call themselves into session, leaving the authority to call a special session with the governor.
Argument in Support
The amendment may give the Legislature too much power to intervene in other areas of the Utah government which are delicately balanced. While lawmakers argue this better aligns the Utah Constitution under the principle of separation of powers, it ignores the checks and balances that exist to limit power in any one branch of government.
The word “emergency” as used in one of the reasons for which a special session could be called is extremely broad. It is extremely easy to justify almost any situation as an emergency.
View the official arguments in favor and against here.
This amendment is in response to the conflict of power that resulted from the resignation of U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Governor Gary Herbert called a special election to fill the seat. However, House Speaker Greg Hughes and the Legislature felt it was in their power and responsibility to determine the special election process. The Senate and House Republicans voted in Caucus meetings to request Governor Herbert to call a special session to discuss the election process, but their request was denied.
This 2018 amendment, Representative Brad Wilson argues, would allow the Legislature to call a special session to discuss emergency affairs of the state such as with the Chaffetz resignation.
Though not mentioned in the fiscal note, it would also cost the state money to pay the Legislators for every special session called.
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Information regarding the amendment was taken directly from the amendment language. Arguments and lists of important groups were taken from newspapers, websites, and groups. Citations are embedded directly in the text.
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