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Meet The Candidate - Constitutional Amendments - Part 2

Article Date: 
29 October, 2010 - 06:00

There will be four proposals on the ballot for constitutional amendments. The first two were covered last week. This week the other two will be reviewed.
The summary wording that will be on the ballot for constitutional amendment C is “Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to provide a property tax exemption to nonprofit entities for their: 1. Water rights and specified facilities used within the state to irrigate land, provide domestic water, or provide water to a public water supplier; and 2. land occupied by and, under certain conditions, immediately adjacent to some of those facilities?”
This amendment would treat nonprofit private companies the same as governmental entities, who already have tax exemption. It would provide tax exemption for companies that are providing water to public water suppliers which would likely result in lower costs to the consumers of both irrigation water and culinary water served by these non profits.
The analysis of the amendment asserts that this change will have no impact on the revenues of the local or state government. In fact, those in favor assert that at present the tax represents double taxation since the water companies already pay property tax on the increased value of their property from the availability of the water service provided by the non profit water company.
There does not appear to be many opposed to this amendment.
The summary wording that will be on the ballot for constitutional amendment D is “Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to: 1. establish a five-member legislative ethics commission whose members may not include sitting legislators or registered lobbyists; 2. authorize the commission to conduct an independent review of complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior; and authorize the legislature to provide for: a. procedures and requirements for filing a complaint; b. the qualifications, appointments, and terms of commission members; and c. commission duties, powers, operations, and procedures”
The current authority to take action on unethical legislative behavior lies with both the house and the senate. These bodies are charged to take action when one of their members is engaged in unethical behavior. They have a number of measures they can take up to and including expelling the member from the house or senate.
This amendment would add another body to review these cases. The proponents assert that this body will be more independent because those sitting on it cannot be sitting legislators or lobbyists. Opponents point out that the appointment of this commission will be by the legislature and will, therefore, likely have political affiliations and loyalties. Proponents state that this will put in place a body to review complaints to see if they have merit or are politically motivated before the complaint needs to come before the house or the senate. Opponents point out that this will add another part of government and a more convoluted process for ethics problems to go through.
Both sides agree that the ultimate accountability for those elected remains with the elector. The difference between the two sides rests of whether the legislature should take up all cases directly or whether another governmental body should screen the cases before they come to the legislature.