I support both the Utahns for Ethical Government and Fair Boundaries initiatives. The deadline for signatures for both is April 15th. I also support the citizen initiative process. Local politicians talk the "We the people" talk when dealing with the federal government, but become downright defensive when confronted with that same reality on the state level--that their authority is derived completely from the people they represent.
Article I, Section 2 of the Utah State Constitution.
All political power is inherent in the people;
Article VI, Section 1 of the Utah State Constitution.
(1) The Legislative power of the State shall be vested in:
(a) a Senate and House of Representatives which shall be designated the Legislature of the State of Utah; and
(b) the people of the State of Utah as provided in Subsection (2).
(2) (a) (i) The legal voters of the State of Utah, in the numbers, under the conditions, in the manner, and within the time provided by statute, may:
(A) initiate any desired legislation and cause it to be submitted to the people for adoption upon a majority vote of those voting on the legislation, as provided by statute;
State legislators constantly use a false example to make their cause seem just. "California is bad! If we make laws by initiative, we will end up liberal and bankrupt like California! Honest!"
It is faulty, ego-driven logic to argue that passing any citizen initiative will turn Utah into California, yet I have seen this argument both in print and in person from legislators. It's silly, shallow electioneering just like sticking a picture of Ted Kennedy or Barack Obama in a commercial about a political opponent and shouting "Ooga booga!" The legislators should represent us to the best of their ability, not protect their power and act like their wisdom is irreplaceable.
The legislature has exercised their procedural authority to make getting the citizens' voice on the ballot via initiative almost impossible. The signatures of 10% of all Utah voters must be gathered, including 10% out of the individual State Senate Districts. Only widespread active advocacy can succeed.
So here's my point tonight. The head folks at both Utahns for Ethical Government and Fair Boundaries are necessarily putting on a confident face. With only 2 weeks left until the April 15th deadline (which the legislature arbitrarily moved from June until April in retaliation after the citizens voted down the voucher bill...SB 54 sponsored by a Democratic senator and Republican Kevin Garn in the House), I think the threat of not gathering enough signatures is greater than the threat of initiative opponents knowing which districts to target--they'll know after April 15th anyway.
The difficulty does not lie in the message or the bill itself--it lies in apathy. Most voters have still not heard of either initiative. Not enough of those supportive of the concepts of the initiatives have signed them or volunteered to gather more signatures. I can speak from personal knowledge that the signature totals for both petitions in the Utah County Senate Districts are not going to pass unless more people volunteer to get one packet worth of 20 signatures immediately.
That's my plea. Get a signature packet from either or better yet, both of the initiative organizations, and get 20 signatures in the next week. There are contact people on both websites who can get you signature packets.
Here are the contact links for Utahns for Ethical Government and Fair Boundaries.
We need fast, low-hanging fruit from every neighborhood in the Senate Districts of Senator Madsen, Stephenson, Valentine, Dayton, Bramble, and Hinkins. There are a lot of people supportive of putting ethics reform and fair political redistricting on the ballot that just need to be asked. If you are politically interested enough to be reading this blog, then you know 10-20 people among your family, friends, and neighbors that would sign the petitions. The active volunteers have already gotten the signatures of their neighbors and are doing the tough stuff door-to-door or standing outside public places. That is rewarding and effective (In my experience, 75-80% of those who will listen to explanations of the initiatives sign.), but slow. 50 people gathering 20 signatures each from their circle of friends is what is needed.
Utah County residents, please just make one phone call to the contact person for the initiatives. Spend a couple hours in the next two weeks and gather 20 signatures. Determine whether inspiration or guilt is more effective in your particular case, and consider me sending you whichever is required. I think both are merited for these causes to improve our state government.