Utah Republicans could get blindsided by more ballot propositions

Photo by Keith Bacongco

The recent midterm elections had significant turnout in Utah. In interview after interview, it became obvious that ballot questions were a strong motivator for voters to get out to the polls. Proposition 2, which would legalize medical use of marijuana, was often cited as a top draw. Combined with left-leaning issues such as Medicaid expansion and an independent redistricting commission, all appearances are that this was a large factor in Democratic turnout. That helped Democrats in several legislative districts as well as Ben McAdams in CD4. Given the large turnout…

Our Schools Now is a bum deal

Can anyone recall a legislative session where there wasn’t someone demanding more education spending? It’s about as predictable as the punchline from a Pat Bagley cartoon. I’m not automatically opposed to any spending increases, but I do expect to have an idea of what the money is going to be spent on and hold someone accountable for it. In this regard, the proponents of Our Schools Now are often failing miserably to make the case. Let’s get this out of the way right now: yes, I know that Utah has…

Popular democracy can be bad government

Ballot initiatives are often championed as a “check” by the people, for the people. A taste of direct democracy to offset an unresponsive legislature or city government. In Utah, initiatives have brought down a flawed plan for school vouchers, attempted to ensure independence in redistricting (Fair Boundaries) and ethics (UEG), and greatly influenced popular election changes (Count My Vote). But are they a good way to govern? While the 2007 fight over vouchers stands as positive example of voters rejecting a legislative process, if not the idea of school vouchers…