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A second citizen referendum has been filed over tax bill

Posted at 8:01 AM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 21:09:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A second citizen referendum has been filed with the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office, challenging the Utah State Legislature’s tax bill.

“The People’s Right,” headed by Steve Maxfield, said it would file its own referendum on Tuesday afternoon to seek a public vote on the massive bill the legislature passed in special session last week.

“Once again the pompous, arrogant and smallest legislative body in the state of Utah (the Legislature) has once again set its pen at the destruction of liberty under the ruse of extraordinary circumstances. This will be stopped, this must be stopped,” Maxfield wrote in an email Tuesday announcing his plans.

On Monday, a group led by Republican former state representative Fred Cox filed a citizen referendum application with the state. The difference between the two is Cox’s intends to use volunteers, while Maxfield said his group would hire people to gather the required 115,869 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“It’s unfortunate that is has come to this, the only way for the citizens to participate in the larger, organic and ultimate legislative process is to beg special interest for the estimated 5 million dollars to gather the signatures, in the time, manner, and in the number as provided by statute…We are open for business,” he wrote.

The People’s Right unsuccessfully sought a referendum on the Utah State Legislature’s bill replacing Proposition 2, the medical cannabis ballot initiative. Maxfield previously campaigned against a rollback of Utah’s open records laws (that the legislature ultimately repealed).

It is unknown if the Lt. Governor’s Office will allow competing citizen referendums for the same subject. State elections told FOX 13 they were having attorneys review it. Maxfield filed his initiative petition on Tuesday afternoon.

The legislature passed the bill in special session that cut Utahns’ income tax burden, but also raised the sales taxes on groceries and food. It also imposed a sales tax on some services. Advocacy groups on the right and left have been contemplating whether to support a referendum.