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2020 Election: the 7 amendments to look for on your ballot

A man submits his ballot at a drop box at the Salt Lake County government building in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Chris Samuels, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When you receive your ballot in the mail in Utah, starting as soon as this week, in addition to making a decision on who to vote for for president, governor, Congress and attorney general, you’ll also see seven proposed amendments to the Utah State Constitution. 

Amendments on the Utah ballot

The amendments also referred to as ballot measures, are modifications to the state Constitution proposed by the state legislature. They are written, often, to alter existing policy, language, and/or timeframes. After that, voters weigh in on the proposed amendments, deciding if the state should adopt the alteration to the Constitution. 

This year, Utah voters will see seven constitutional amendments outlined on the ballot, labeled A-G. Here they are:

Amendment A: Make the State Constitution’s language more gender-neutral

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to change words that apply to a single-gender (such as the word “men”) to words that are not limited to a single-gender (such as the word “persons”)?

When constitutional amendments were first drafted, it was common to use single-gender words. This amendment would change all single-gender language written in the Utah Constitution to gender-neutral.  It would remove the words “he, his, and him” and replace it with a non-gendered pronoun like “person” or “the person.” 

If approved by voters, the language modification would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. Additionally, the ballot states Amendment A has no fiscal impact, costing the state nothing to establish. 

Read more about Amendment A here.

Amendment B: Establish qualification standards candidates must meet in order to run for the Utah Legislature 

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to specify that certain requirements that a person must meet to be eligible for the office of senator or representative in the Utah Legislature apply at the time the person is elected or appointed?

This amendment would require all those running to be a representative or senator in the state of Utah to meet certain qualifications before taking office. Candidates may complete the qualifications at any point up until they take office. 

These qualifications include:

  • must be a citizen of the United States; 
  • reach at least 25 years of age;
  • reside in Utah at least three years; and 
  • must run for office in the district they reside in

It also states the lawmaker must give up their seat once they are no longer live in the district they represent. 

If approved by voters, the rule would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. 

Read more about Amendment B here.

Amendment C: Abolish the use of slavery and involuntary servitude allowed in Utah’s constitution  

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to make the following changes to the Utah Constitution’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude:

  • remove the language that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime; and
  • clarify that the ban does not affect the otherwise lawful administration of the criminal justice system?

Currently, the Utah Constitution bans the use of slavery and involuntary labor except when someone has been convicted of a crime. This amendment would remove the exception allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime.

Related Coverage: Plan to remove slavery from Utah Constitution passes House

The ballot states the measure would not alter the use of lawful work within Utah’s criminal justice system. This will not impact how a judge sentences a person or a convicted person’s ability to participate in prison/jail work programs. 

If approved by voters, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2021. There are no fiscal resources needed to implement the change. 

Read more about Amendment C here.

Amendment D: Specifying how state municipalities can use its water supply and/or resources 

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to:

  • rewrite a provision relating to municipal water rights and sources of water supply;
  • allow a municipality to define the boundary of the municipality’s water service area and to set the terms of water service for that area; 
  • state that a municipality is not prevented from:
    • supplying water to water users outside the municipality’s boundary; or
    • entering into a contract to supply water outside the municipality’s water service area if the water is more than what is needed for the municipality’s water service area; and
  • modify the basis upon which a municipality is allowed to exchange water rights or sources of water supply?

The Utah Constitution states municipalities (cities and towns) cannot sell or dispose of their water rights or sources of water supply, such as wells, springs, or streams. Municipalities must use their water supply for their own residents. However, it doesn’t specify if one city can trade water supply and resources of equal value with another city.

This amendment would rewrite the provision of Utah’s Constitution dealing with a municipality’s water rights and sources of water supply. It would allow the municipality to draw its own supply border and set water terms for services in the area. 

Read more about Amendment D here.

Amendment E: Creates a constitutional right for Utahns to hunt and fish 

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to: 

  • preserve the individual right to hunt and to fish, including the right to use traditional hunting and fishing methods subject to certain regulation; and
  • establish public hunting and fishing as the preferred way of managing and controlling wildlife?

This ballot measure would add a section to Utah’s Constitution to protect a resident’s right to hunt and fish, including traditional methods used for hunting and fishing. Additionally, the amendment prioritizes public hunting and fishing as the preferred way of controlling and managing wildlife. Amendment E would also establish hunting and fishing regulations.

The amendment would not impact property or trespassing rights nor would it affect Utah’s authority in land management and resources. 

If passed by voters, Amendment E would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. 

Read more about Amendment E here.  

Amendment F: Change the start date of the annual Utah Legislative session and exclude state holidays from counting as days spent in session 

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to:

  • change when annual general sessions of the Utah Legislature begin from the fourth Monday in January to a day in January designated by a law passed by the Utah Legislature; and
  • exclude state holidays that are not also federal holidays from counting towards the maximum number of days of the Utah Legislature’s annual general sessions?

The Utah Consitution currently requires the start of the state’s annual legislative session to begin on the fourth Monday in January. The State Constitution also says the session can not exceed 45 calendar days, excluding federal holidays but not state holidays. 

Amendment F would change the start date of the Utah Legislature from the fourth day in January to a date voted on by lawmakers. Additionally, the ballot amendment would exclude state holidays from counting towards the 45-day session. 

Read more about Amendment F here.

Amendment G: Expand funding from income and intangible property taxes to be used for education to serve children and those with disabilities 

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to expand the uses of money the state receives from income taxes and intangible property taxes to include supporting children and supporting people with a disability?

First, an intangible property tax refers to personal property such as stocks, bonds, patents and copyrights. Currently, in the Constitution, income tax paid or taxes from intangible property to the state must only be used to fund education. The state requires residents to pay income tax but a not intangible property tax. 

This ballot amendment would change the Constitution to allow the state to use money from income taxes or intangible property tax to fund children and those with disabilities. 

Related: Backers, opponents of Amendment G make their case ahead of the election

The amount of money the state decides to allocate to children and persons with disabilities will be based on a vote from the Utah Legislator. 

If approved, the amendment will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. 

Read more about Amendment G here.

Voter information 

You must be a registered voter in Utah to vote on any of the amendments on the ballot. 

There is still time to register to vote if you haven’t! You can register to vote online until Oct. 23 at 5 pm. Visit here to register and to check your voter registration to make sure it’s up to date.  

Here’s where to look at the issues on the ballot impacting each county and district, including candidate information.