Utah voters will become legislators in the Nov. 6 general election — deciding whether to allow medical marijuana, expand Medicaid, cement recent changes in how candidates qualify for the ballot, and try to stop gerrymandering.
Supporters of four initiatives on those issues say they each gathered at least the 113,143 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot — and from 26 of the state’s 29 Senate districts as required — as the deadline to submit them hit Monday.
Signatures must still be verified in coming weeks by county clerks.
The magic number of 113,143 is equal to 10 percent of the votes cast statewide in the past presidential election. Meeting the tough signature-gathering requirement will give voters the chance to weigh in on issues that polls have shown are supported by a majority of Utahns, but consistently failed to gain traction in the Legislature.
One initiative fell short: the “Keep My Voice” effort by conservative Republicans. It aimed to return to the caucus-convention system as the only path to the ballot for candidates, no longer allowing them to qualify by gathering signatures. Organizers conceded they did not gather enough signatures — but aim to try again in 2020.
Our Schools Now
A legislative compromise avoided yet another initiative — the Our Schools Now effort that had proposed to raise taxes for schools by $715 million a year.
Instead, the Legislature approved a deal that could raise about $375 million a year for schools after five years — if voters approve a 10-cent gasoline tax increase that lawmakers agreed to put on the ballot this fall, so voters will still have a direct voice on that issue.
The proposed gas tax hike could