The 2021 Legislative Session is over and the legislators handled a lot of bills!
This was a very different session as the number of people allowed at the capitol was very limited due to COVID-19. Most meetings were conducted by Zoom and discussing bills with our legislators had to be accomplished the same way.
Our legislators, Reps. Merrill Nelson and Doug Sagers, along with Sens. Daniel Thatcher and Scott Sandall, were very responsive to our requests on the bills that affected the County through the Clerk’s office. They worked very hard to do what was best for their constituents …us!
Those bills are listed below with a summary of what the bill does.
HB 12 Deceased Voter Amendments
By January 2022, the State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall notify the Lt. Governor’s Office about the death of any Utah resident within five days. This includes residents who die outside the State of Utah. Currently we are only receiving information about the death of residents who die within the State.
HB 19 County Classification Amendments
Population numbers modified for determining the classification of counties. This bill does not affect Tooele County. We would have to gain 100,000 more people to go from a 3rd-class county to a 2nd-class county.
HB 23 Voter Referendum Amendments
Adds “rezoning of a single property or multiple properties” to the definition of Land use law under 20A-7-101. If a referendum relates to legislative action taken after April 15, the election officer may not place the referendum on a ballot until the following year unless the local clerk, county clerk and applicable attorney agree.
HB 70 Ballot Tracking Amendments
The immediately effective portion of this bill is that a voter’s phone number will now be classified as protected information. Protected information will now include: full date of birth, phone number, Driver License/State Identification number, Social Security number and email address. Provisional ballot envelopes must also be updated to list the phone number as protected information. Beginning in May 2022, voters may choose to receive email or text messages regarding their ballot status — both when it is mailed to them and when it is returned to the county. This will be an option on the registration form. County clerks must provide confirmation to voters that they have chosen to receive electronic notifications or how to sign up for this if they did not opt in during registration.
HB 75 Municipal Alternative Voting Methods Pilot
The date for a municipality to commit to participating in the Alternative Voting Methods Pilot is changed from April 15 to the second Monday in May. For 2021, this is May 10. The municipality must inform the Lt. Governor’s office and the County Clerk’s office if it intends to participate in the pilot.
HB 115 Municipal Boundary Modifications
This legislation states that “No municipality may annex an unincorporated area located within a specified county unless the municipality has adopted an annexation plan as provided in this section.” The date of the annexation no longer matters to be subject to the above statement.
HB 136 Initiative and Referenda Modifications
Signature gatherers may only be paid an hourly rate, they may not be paid per signature, and if they are paid, the gatherer must wear a badge which displays required information. Information required to be displayed on the badge: A unique identifying number assigned either by the Lt. Governor’s Office or the County according to the type of initiative/referendum, the title of the initiative/referendum, the phrase “Paid Signature Gatherer”, and the name of the entity paying the signature gatherer. The above information is required to be displayed on the badge in 24 point black font, on white cardstock. All signature gatherers must provide certain information to each individual who signs the packet. Modifications were also made to the pages of the packet. Additionally, sponsors must send an email to each signer with a legible email address giving them certain information about the initiative that they signed as well as instructions on how to remove their signature. These emails must be sent before delivering the packet to the County Clerk.
HB 173 Vote Reporting Requirements
Each day that unofficial results are released, the Election Officer shall publicly release an estimate of uncounted ballots in their custody.
HB 196 Ballot Amendments
At the beginning of the judicial retention section on the ballot, include a statement directing the voters to the JPEC website. This is not new, but adds it to the section of code that itemizes elements of the ballot. 20A-6-301(4)(d) & 20A-6-304(2)(d)
HB 197 Voter Affiliation Amendments
In even years, voters may not make any changes to their affiliation after March 31 until after the June primary election. For registration forms that are mailed, they must be postmarked no later than March 31. In-person forms must be received in the office no later than the last business day before April 1. Changes made on-line must be made no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 31. All other portions of the registration form, besides party affiliation, must be processed until the voter registration deadline, 11 days prior to Election Day. After Election Day, pending affiliations need to be processed.
HB 211 Initiatives and Referenda Amendments
The requirement that the sponsor has voted in a general election within the last three years has been removed. This legislation also adds certain language to the certification page for each signer, and requires the Lt. Governor’s Office to furnish and track a range of numbers assigned to each initiative that shall be used for the packets related to a specific initiative. Voters that timely request that their signature be removed from a packet must have their names and voter ID numbers removed from displayed lists on the county and State website. The signature threshold is modified.
HB 312 State Residency Amendments
If a person has been absent from the state for more than 180 days, an individual can submit evidence, at the time of filing, that they intended to return to the state. There is a rebuttable presumption that they did intend to return if their absence was due to employment by the federal government or the state of Utah, a student away at school or if the person was engaged in religious or humanitarian philanthropic work. If these reasons are not present, the evidence presented must be clear and convincing that they intended to return.
SB 201 Public Notice Amendments
The requirement to publish in a newspaper of general circulation has been removed. The other noticing methods, instead, use the other methods specified in the code such as publishing on the entity website, on the Utah Public Notice website and mailing notices, as specified. Refer to the specific section of code for remaining options to fulfill notice requirements.
As you can see, it was a very busy session! If you have any questions on the bills, or anything else, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 435-843-3148.