by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip
In conjunction with the United States Census conducted every 10 years, Utah draws new political boundaries to equalize the population size of the Legislature’s Senate and House districts. In Utah, your elected state senators and representatives draw the new lines for the districts. Most Utahns understand the inherent conflicts when legislators are drawing their own boundaries.
The Fair Boundaries Initiative petition is circulating throughout our state for the purpose of creating an independent commission to handle redistricting in Utah to allow communities who have common interests to be fairly represented by the Legislature. If enough signatures are gathered, the proposed changes contained in the Fair Boundaries Initiative can be placed on the ballot next November for a vote of Utah’s citizens. Here are the highlights of the changes proposed by the initiative:
Establishes an eleven-member independent commission
Allows no more than four members from the same political party, three unaffiliated, to serve on the commission
Sets anti-gerrymandering standards
Keeps more local communities intact
Defines an honorable, open and transparent process
Excludes individuals with obvious conflicts of interest from the commission
Opens the process to citizen applicants
Recently the Utah Legislature passed (with Senate Democrats opposing) and Governor Herbert signed Senate Bill 275. This new law repeals the requirement that a voter submit a notarized statement to the county clerk to have the voter’s signature removed from a statewide initiative or referendum petition, making it much easier for a citizen to remove his/her name. It also extends the time for removing a voter’s signature from an initiative. This new law is viewed by many, including the KSL Editorial Board, as a maneuver to thwart the initiative process.
I urge you to sign the Fair Boundaries Initiative by the April 15 deadline. For information about how to sign the petition, visit http://www.fairboundaries.org/