Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Like we didn't see that coming!

It was clear that many members of the Utah Legislature were unhappy when a group of citizens filed a petition to overturn an unpopular voucher law last year.

They were even more unhappy when, against all odds, that citizens’ group collected more than enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

They were even MORE unhappy when the Utah Supreme Court halted their attempts to circumvent the referendum process and implement the program before a vote could be taken.

Can you imagine how unhappy they were when voters soundly defeated the proposal at the polls last November with a 62%-38% margin statewide and a majority in every county in the state?

Were they angry enough to teach voters a lesson?

Today’s Deseret News reports that legislative leaders would like to make it even more difficult to place a referendum on the ballot. If they make the process difficult enough, they may be able to prevent any more messy direct votes on important issues in the future.

Despite how unpleasant it is for the powers that be, the founders of our state recognized that a direct vote of the people can provide an important check on the power of the legislature and a reminder to politicians about who they are supposed to represent. That’s why the Utah State Constitution specifically provides for the referendum and initiative process, placing the legislative power jointly on the legislature and “the legal voters of Utah.” Legislators would do well to protect our constitutional rights rather than try to undermine them.