Monday, November 1, 2010

Elections 2010: Beyond the Candidates

Posted By on November 1, 2010, 6:18 PM

Beyond the candidates, there are constitutional amendments and bond proposals.---

A total of four amendments to the state constitution are being proposed this year, all of them placed on the ballot by the Legislature. They include one establishing an ethics commission and another that directly targets union elections. Here they are, with only limited commentary:

Amendment A: This is an amendment that is actually part of a larger trend around the country, the so-called "card check" law. In short, which doesn't really do this debate justice, if this amendment is passed it would mean that elections to organize a worksite for a union would be done privately. In some states, although I don't think this is the case in Utah, a union can currently organize a worksite if they can get a majority of workers to sign a union card publicly. Here is a couple of articles, one from the New York Times and one from the Wall Street Journal, which delve into the issue on a national scale.

As far as I can tell—and it's something reinforced in the above-linked WSJ article—in Utah this is really meant to send a message to Big Labor more than change existing laws.

Amendment B: This basically puts into the state constitution that somebody appointed to fill an elected office at the state level has to live in the district they will represent.

Amendment C: Non-profit water companies would be exempted from property taxes for water they sell to users. This would, ideally, prevent them from being taxed twice, once for the water they own and again when they sell it. Quite honestly, I can't find anyone speaking against this amendment in my Googling, for whatever that's worth.

Amendment D: This would create an independent ethics commission. No, this is not the citizen-driven ethics initiative, this is one that came from the Legislature. The main argument for the commission is that it's independent, so politics will be removed from their investigations. Opponents of the amendment say that it's weak because it simply refers complaints that it finds "suspicious" back to the Legislature and, well, that the amendment was created by the Legislature. You know, fox making rules for the chicken house, and so forth.

Salt Lake County Prop 1: The Museum of Natural History needs $7.5 million to complete their new museum and open in a timely fashion. Supporters say that this money is the final amount needed, not an initial funding request that could continue to grow, and it's only a couple of bucks per year. Also, they have really cool lawn signs. Opponents say that it's a bad economy, and this is a luxury that people can't afford. Also, they should raise the money privately, like almost everybody else has to do.

After the polls close, visit CityWeekly.net for a live blog of election results.

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