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Judge tosses citizen referendum lawsuit

Utah elections officials reject second referendum on tax overhaul bill
Posted at 1:45 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 15:45:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state over citizen referendums and who is qualified to bring them.

In an order filed last week, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein dismissed Steve Maxfield, Daniel Newby and Morris Maxfield's lawsuit challenging their ability to bring a citizen referendum.

The Maxfields and Newby filed a lawsuit over the Utah State Legislature's tax reform bill in 2019 that sparked a citizen referendum that thousands of Utahns signed to overturn it. The legislature ended up repealing the law they passed rather than face a public vote in 2020.

But the plaintiffs wanted to run their own referendum. They were rejected by the Lt. Governor's Office because Morris Maxfield and Newby had not voted in an election within the past three years (Morris was a new voter and Newby did not vote).

Maxfield, who has pushed citizen engagement in state politics for years, has filed a number of lawsuits against the state challenging the legislature's laws on citizen referendums and ballot initiatives.