Do you know about the 3 constitutional amendments on the ballot?

Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-31 19:52:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Three constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot, impacting government functions.

Amendment A would change the makeup of the Utah State Tax Commission from having two Republicans and two Democrats to whomever the governor feels is appropriate.

"Voting YES on this Constitutional Amendment will ensure that the governor is able to appoint the most qualified people available as Tax Commissioners," former Utah State Tax Commissioners Val Oveson, Marc Johnson and Mark Buchi wrote in favor of Amendment A.

Writing in opposition to it in the state voter guide, Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, said: "Make no mistake, the stakes are high for every Utahn."

"With so much on the line, balancing Tax Commissioner’s politics is the best way to make sure that Tax Commission decisions don’t favor powerful groups alone. Ensuring that no one party dominates the makeup of the commission helps
keep politics out of tax policy," he wrote.

Amendment B would modify the term of the Lt. Governor to ensure he runs at the same time as the governor, ensuring he is not a standalone candidate.

When Jon Huntsman left to become ambassador to China, then-Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert took his place. Herbert then appointed Spencer Cox to be his Lt. Governor.

Opponents of the amendment claim it delays elections for up to three years.

"It is a distinct possibility that an appointed Lt. Governor could rise to become Governor without ever having faced the voters," wrote Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful.

"Without the clarifying language of this amendment, someone could argue that the language of the 2008 amendment allows an appointed LG to serve 4 years when a mid-term election is required for Governor. This amendment simply clarifies that the offices of Governor AND Lieutenant Governor are voted in tandem," Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, wrote in support of Amendment B.

Amendment C was created in the aftermath of the corruption scandals surrounding former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.

"The problem was brought to a head last year when the Lt. Governor's Office was attempting to investigate the attorney general," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, an Amendment C supporter.

"But the constitution says the attorney general is the legal counsel to the Lt. Governor's Office."

The amendment would allow for the Lt. Governor, the state auditor or treasurer to hire their own outside legal counsel. But opponents say it already exists in statute. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said the Swallow/Shurtleff case was so rare -- it doesn't make it necessary to change the Utah State Constitution.

"I see that the legislature may have reacted to this with the attorney general's problems," he told FOX 13. "We probably ought to at least wait and let that settle before we decide to change the constitution. Because we haven't had problems before and my guess is we're not going to have it going forward."