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Judge won't dismiss lawsuit over rejected tax referendum

Utah State Capitol
Posted at 4:11 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 18:11:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the state by backers of a rejected citizen referendum on the legislature's tax reform.

At a telephonic hearing in U.S. District Court on Monday, court records show Judge David Nuffer denied a motion by the Utah Attorney General's Office (representing Lt. Governor Spencer Cox) to dismiss a lawsuit by members of The People's Right. In December, they sought a referendum on the legislature's tax overhaul bill but were rejected because some of their sponsors hadn't voted in an election in the past three years.

The People's Right, headed by Steve Maxfield, argued that is unconstitutional. On Monday, the judge agreed enough to allow the lawsuit to proceed in federal court.

"I was able to listen in to the hearing, was quite impressed with the thoughtfulness of the judge regarding the constitutional issue ( Utah Referendums statute ) I look forward to that being resolved through this process," Maxfield said in a text message to FOX 13.

A separate referendum headed up by former Utah state lawmaker Fred Cox did move forward and qualified for the ballot when lawmakers earlier this year reversed course and repealed their tax overhaul.