Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image The Utah state legislature, seen here in Janurary 2015, will have the option to adjust when it may begin its sessions if some changes to the Utah state constitution are approved by voters in November.

October 15, 2020
State constitutional amendments D, E, and F

Municipal water, protection for hunting and fishing, state Legislature’s start date 

Election ballots list seven state constitutional amendments. The constitutional amendments are identified on the ballot as amendments A through G. 

In the Oct. 8, 2020 issue wea look at amendments A, B, and C. Here’s information on amendments D, E, and F.

Constitutional Amendment D rewrites the constitution as it relates to municipal water rights and sources of water supply.

If approved, Amendment D would allow municipalities to define the boundary of their water service area adn to set terms of service for that area. The amendment states that municipalities are not prevented from supplying water to users outside of their boundary. The amendment specifies that municipalities may enter into a contract to provide water outside of their boundary if they have more water than what is needed for their service area. It also modifies that basis for allowing municipalities to exchange water rights or sources of water.

The Utah Constitution currently prohibits a municipality from selling or disposing of its water rights and its sources of water supply, such as wells, springs, or streams.

The constitution does not mention whether a municipality is allowed to supply water to water users outside the municipality’s boundary. Over time the need for water outside municipal boundaries has resulted in a long-standing and widespread practice by many Utah municipalities of supplying water to water users outside the municipality’s boundary.

The amendment was unanimously approved by both the Senate and the House.

No argument was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office against Constitutional Amendment D.

Constitutional Amendment E adds a section to the state constitution protecting the individual right to hunt and fish — including the right to use traditional methods of hunting and fishing. The amendment also establishes hunting and fishing as the preferred method of managing and controlling wildlife in Utah.

Amendment E states that it does not affect laws related to trespass or property rights, the state’s authority over its natural resources, or the state’s duty to manage lands that the state received when Utah became a state. 

“Recognized as “natural rights” for most of human history, the right to hunt and fish has been understood as the right to procure healthy, natural food for oneself and family. However, special interests are actively working to take away these opportunities and, in a growing number of states, they have been successful. In Europe, before the founding of our country the legal right to hunt had been limited to nobles and the monarchy. But on the American continent settlers found bountiful wildlife and the freedom to pursue it. From native peoples they learned to depend on food from the land. They viewed the equal rights to hunt and fish as proof of their liberty,” reads the statement in favor of Amendment E.

Opponents to Amendment E believe that constitutional guarantees of the right to keep and bear arms and the right to protect individuals and families are not about hunting and fishing, according to the statement against Amendment E.

“Without the amendment, you will still be able to hunt and fish, and the state will continue to promote and protect these activities as they always have. No one is even considering taking away our hunting and fishing rights, so why are we considering inserting unnecessary language into our constitution? By adding this amendment, we will dilute our fundamental rights, like our right to protect ourselves and families, our right to free speech, and our right to peaceably assemble,” reads the argument against Amendment E.

Amendment E passed the Senate with a 21-7 vote. It passed the House with a 59-11 vote.

Constitutional Amendment F, if passed, would allow the state Legislature to set their own starting date for their annual general sesion. The starting date would need to be on a day in January, designated in law by the state Legislature. The amendment would also exclude state holidays that are not federal holidays from counting as part of the maximum numbers of days for annual general sessions.

The Utah constitution currently requires each annual general session of the Utah Legislature to begin on the fourth Monday in January. The state constitution also states that an annual general session may not exceed 45 calendar days, excluding federal holidays. The constitution does not exclude state holidays from the 45-day limit so state holidays that are not also federal holidays count towards the 45-day limit.

“The Legislature has changed the start date of the annual General Legislative Session twice in the last two decades. One change was to accommodate the 2002 Winter Olympics. Another change was to avoid overlapping the Martin Luther King Jr holiday in 2008. More changes will likely be needed in the future, especially if the state hosts another Winter Olympics. The Utah Constitution sets the start date of the General Legislative Session. Changing the Constitution to adjust something as simple as the start date of the General Legislative Session is a lengthy process that costs taxpayers money. Each time the start date needs to be adjusted, a bill must be passed a year in advance and then voters must approve the change in the following November election. This Constitutional Amendment F does not change the number of days the Legislature is in session, it remains at 45,” reads the argument for Amendment F.No argument was submitted against Constitutional Amendment F.

Amendment F passed the Senate 29-0. It passed the House 50-24.

More information about the state constitutional amendments and other ballot issues and candidates can be found at vote.utah.gov.

 

Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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