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Backers of rejected referendum sue the state of Utah

Posted: 11:56 AM, Dec 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-24 13:56:04-05
Backers of rejected referendum sue the state of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The backers of a rejected referendum on the tax overhaul bill have filed a federal lawsuit against the state.

Steve Maxfield, the founder of The People’s Right, filed the lawsuit on Monday against Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, in his capacity as the state’s chief elections officer. The Lt. Governor’s Office rejected a referendum application by The People’s Right on the tax bill because some of its sponsors hadn’t voted in the past three years.

In the lawsuit, Maxfield argues that is unconstitutional. He asks the court to strike down that part of Utah law. The lawsuit also challenges the signature thresholds for each county in the state, saying it discriminates against urban voters.

“In other words, one Carbon County voter’s decision whether to join a referendum petition has 54 times more weight than a Salt Lake County’s voter’s decision (43,211 Salt Lake County votes needed / 796 Carbon County votes needed),” The People’s Right attorney Brent Manning wrote. “Moreover, in Daggett County—the least populous county—a voter’s decision whether to join a referendum petition would have 919 times more weight than a Salt Lake County voter’s decision (43,211 Salt Lake County votes needed /
47 Daggett County votes needed).”

The referendum by The People’s Right is the second one to challenge the Utah State Legislature’s tax overhaul bill. In a special session earlier this month, lawmakers approved an income tax cut, but also raised the sales tax on food, gasoline and imposed new taxes on some services.

Another referendum being run by former Republican state lawmaker Fred Cox was accepted by the Lt. Governor’s Office and is in the midst of gathering signatures. The group had already secured the backing of most of the candidates for Utah governor, who were also actively participating in the referendum.

Read the lawsuit here: