Representative Merrill F. Nelson proposes the following substitute bill:




Chief Sponsor: Merrill F. Nelson

Senate Sponsor: Scott D. Sandall


8     General Description:
9          This bill addresses local referenda.
10     Highlighted Provisions:
11          This bill:
12          ▸     modifies the definition of a land use law; and
13          ▸     modifies the elections at which a referendum relating to legislative action taken
14     after April 15 may appear on the ballot.
15     Money Appropriated in this Bill:
16          None
17     Other Special Clauses:
18          None
19     Utah Code Sections Affected:
20     AMENDS:
21          20A-7-101, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2019, Chapters 136, 203, and 210
22          20A-7-607, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2020, Chapter 31

24     Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
25          Section 1. Section 20A-7-101 is amended to read:
26          20A-7-101. Definitions.

27          As used in this chapter:
28          (1) "Budget officer" means:
29          (a) for a county, the person designated as budget officer in Section 17-19a-203;
30          (b) for a city, the person designated as budget officer in Subsection 10-6-106(4);
31          (c) for a town, the town council; or
32          (d) for a metro township, the person described in Subsection (1)(a) for the county in
33     which the metro township is located.
34          (2) "Certified" means that the county clerk has acknowledged a signature as being the
35     signature of a registered voter.
36          (3) "Circulation" means the process of submitting an initiative or referendum petition to
37     legal voters for their signature.
38          (4) "Eligible voter" means a legal voter who resides in the jurisdiction of the county,
39     city, or town that is holding an election on a ballot proposition.
40          (5) "Final fiscal impact statement" means a financial statement prepared after voters
41     approve an initiative that contains the information required by Subsection 20A-7-202.5(2) or
42     20A-7-502.5(2).
43          (6) "Initial fiscal impact estimate" means:
44          (a) a financial statement prepared under Section 20A-7-202.5 after the filing of an
45     application for an initiative petition; or
46          (b) a financial and legal statement prepared under Section 20A-7-502.5 or 20A-7-602.5
47     for an initiative or referendum petition.
48          (7) "Initiative" means a new law proposed for adoption by the public as provided in this
49     chapter.
50          (8) "Initiative packet" means a copy of the initiative petition, a copy of the proposed
51     law, and the signature sheets, all of which have been bound together as a unit.
52          (9) (a) "Land use law" means a law of general applicability, enacted based on the
53     weighing of broad, competing policy considerations, that relates to the use of land, including
54     land use regulation, a general plan, a land use development code, an annexation ordinance, the
55     rezoning of a single property or multiple properties, or a comprehensive zoning ordinance or
56     resolution.
57          (b) "Land use law" does not include a land use decision, as defined in Section
58     10-9a-103 or 17-27a-103.

59          (10) "Legal signatures" means the number of signatures of legal voters that:
60          (a) meet the numerical requirements of this chapter; and
61          (b) have been obtained, certified, and verified as provided in this chapter.
62          (11) "Legal voter" means a person who:
63          (a) is registered to vote; or
64          (b) becomes registered to vote before the county clerk certifies the signatures on an
65     initiative or referendum petition.
66          (12) "Legally referable to voters" means:
67          (a) for a proposed local initiative, that the proposed local initiative is legally referable
68     to voters under Section 20A-7-502.7; or
69          (b) for a proposed local referendum, that the proposed local referendum is legally
70     referable to voters under Section 20A-7-602.7.
71          (13) "Local attorney" means the county attorney, city attorney, or town attorney in whose
72     jurisdiction a local initiative or referendum petition is circulated.
73          (14) "Local clerk" means the county clerk, city recorder, or town clerk in whose
74     jurisdiction a local initiative or referendum petition is circulated.
75          (15) (a) "Local law" includes:
76          (i) an ordinance;
77          (ii) a resolution;
78          (iii) a land use law; [or]
79          (iv) a land use regulation, as defined in Section 10-9a-103; or
80          [(iv)] (v) other legislative action of a local legislative body.
81          (b) "Local law" does not include [an individual property zoning decision] a land use
82     decision, as defined in Section 10-9a-103.
83          (16) "Local legislative body" means the legislative body of a county, city, town, or
84     metro township.
85          (17) "Local obligation law" means a local law passed by the local legislative body
86     regarding a bond that was approved by a majority of qualified voters in an election.
87          (18) "Local tax law" means a law, passed by a political subdivision with an annual or
88     biannual calendar fiscal year, that increases a tax or imposes a new tax.
89          (19) "Measure" means a proposed constitutional amendment, an initiative, or
90     referendum.

91          (20) "Referendum" means a process by which a law passed by the Legislature or by a
92     local legislative body is submitted or referred to the voters for their approval or rejection.
93          (21) "Referendum packet" means a copy of the referendum petition, a copy of the law
94     being submitted or referred to the voters for their approval or rejection, and the signature sheets,
95     all of which have been bound together as a unit.
96          (22) (a) "Signature" means a holographic signature.
97          (b) "Signature" does not mean an electronic signature.
98          (23) "Signature sheets" means sheets in the form required by this chapter that are used to
99     collect signatures in support of an initiative or referendum.
100          (24) "Special local ballot proposition" means a local ballot proposition that is not a
101     standard local ballot proposition.
102          (25) "Sponsors" means the legal voters who support the initiative or referendum and
103     who sign the application for petition copies.
104          (26) (a) "Standard local ballot proposition" means a local ballot proposition for an
105     initiative or a referendum.
106          (b) "Standard local ballot proposition" does not include a property tax referendum
107     described in Section 20A-7-613.
108          (27) "Tax percentage difference" means the difference between the tax rate proposed by
109     an initiative or an initiative petition and the current tax rate.
110          (28) "Tax percentage increase" means a number calculated by dividing the tax
111     percentage difference by the current tax rate and rounding the result to the nearest thousandth.
112          (29) "Verified" means acknowledged by the person circulating the petition as required
113     in Sections 20A-7-205 and 20A-7-305.
114          Section 2. Section 20A-7-607 is amended to read:
115          20A-7-607. Evaluation by the local clerk -- Determination of election for vote on
116     referendum.
117          (1) When each referendum packet is received from a county clerk, the local clerk shall
118     check off from the local clerk's record the number of each referendum packet filed.
119          (2) Within two days after the day on which the local clerk receives each referendum
120     packet from a county clerk, the local clerk shall:
121          (a) count the number of the names certified by the county clerks that appear on each
122     verified signature sheet;

123          (b) if the total number of certified names from each verified signature sheet equals or
124     exceeds the number of names required by Section 20A-7-601 and the requirements of this part
125     are met, mark upon the front of the petition the word "sufficient";
126          (c) if the total number of certified names from each verified signature sheet does not
127     equal or exceed the number of names required by Section 20A-7-601 or a requirement of this
128     part is not met, mark upon the front of the petition the word "insufficient"; and
129          (d) notify any one of the sponsors of the local clerk's finding.
130          (3) If the local clerk finds the total number of certified signatures from each verified
131     signature sheet to be insufficient, any sponsor may file a written demand with the local clerk for
132     a recount of the signatures appearing on the referendum petition in the presence of any sponsor.
133          (4) (a) If the local clerk refuses to accept and file any referendum petition, any voter
134     may apply to a court for an extraordinary writ to compel the local clerk to do so within 10 days
135     after the refusal.
136          (b) If a court determines that the referendum petition is legally sufficient, the local clerk
137     shall file the petition, with a verified copy of the judgment attached to the petition, as of the date
138     on which it was originally offered for filing in the local clerk's office.
139          (c) If a court determines that any petition filed is not legally sufficient, the court may
140     enjoin the local clerk and all other officers from:
141          (i) certifying or printing the ballot title and numbers of that measure on the official ballot
142     for the next election; or
143          (ii) as it relates to a local tax law that is conducted entirely by mail, certifying, printing,
144     or mailing the ballot title and numbers of that measure under Section 20A-7-609.5.
145          (5) A petition determined to be sufficient in accordance with this section is qualified for
146     the ballot.
147          (6) (a) [If] Except as provided in Subsection (6)(b) or (c), if a referendum relates to
148     legislative action taken after April 15, the election officer may not place the referendum on an
149     election ballot until a primary election, a general election, or a special election the following
150     year.
151          (b) The election officer may place a referendum described in Subsection (6)(a) on the
152     ballot for special, primary, or general election held during the year that the legislative action
153     was taken if the following agree, in writing, on a timeline to place the referendum on that ballot:
154          (i) the local clerk;

155          (ii) the county clerk; and
156          (iii) the attorney for the county or municipality that took the legislative action.
157          [(b)] (c) For a referendum on a land use law, if, before August 30, the local clerk or a
158     court determines that the total number of certified names equals or exceeds the number of
159     signatures required in Section 20A-7-601, the election officer shall place the referendum on the
160     election ballot for:
161          (i) the next general election[.]; or
162          (ii) another election, if the following agree, in writing, on a timeline to place the
163     referendum on that ballot:
164          (A) the affected owners, as defined in Subsection 10-9a-103 or 17-27a-103, as
165     applicable;
166          (B) the local clerk;
167          (C) the county clerk; and
168          (D) the attorney for the county or municipality that took the legislative action.