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The Utah State Legislature, Prop. 4 backers announce deal

Prop. 4 compromise
Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 27, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers and backers of the ballot initiative for independent redistricting announced their agreement to tweak the voter-approved Proposition 4.

At a news conference Thursday, the Better Boundaries campaign appeared with legislative leaders to outline Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

The bill preserves the intent of the citizen ballot initiative, said Sen. Bramble.

"No one got everything they wanted at the table," he said, adding that everyone got something.

Overall, the bill calls for an independent redistricting commission that was in the initiative. But the disagreement was over rules and definitions for the commission. Under the bill, the independent commission gets $1 million to hire its own staff and draw its own maps for congress, legislature and school board boundaries. The legislature will hear the presentations for those maps, but is not bound by it. Court rulings have found the legislature has the authority to set boundaries for districts.

"It is going to be contingent on the public to hold the commission accountable," Better Boundaries director Rebecca Chavez-Houck said. "We have given them the guidelines, we have given them the standards to which they need to account. They may evaluate how they implement those standards but they will be accountable to those."

Prop. 4 passed in 2018, with just over 50% of the vote. Lawmakers had been negotiating with the campaign for more than a year, but talks broke down last week with Better Boundaries claiming repeal of the initiative could be possible. Talks re-started and the deal was reached on Wednesday.