Summary of the midterm election ballot initiatives for Utah voters
(KUTV) -- In addition to voting for candidates, Utah voters have the opportunity to cast their votes for several initiatives that include medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, political redistricting and a proposed 10 cent tax increase to fund education.
To help voters, a summary of the ballot initiatives are as follows:
Our Schools Now had proposed a ballot initiative to raise more than $700 million in annual education funding through income and sales taxes. However, it pulled its initiative in exchange for an alternative way to raise education funds with a $350 million proposal from increasing property and income taxes, in addition to a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax.
The grassroots organization's website states:
The choice voters make at the polls on November 6 has far more consequences than simply paying a bit more at the pump. Many legislators, who up until now have been hesitant to make significant new investments in education, are looking at the vote as a signal from Utahns – Do we value public education? Do we believe our students deserve more opportunities? Are we willing to increase our investments in public education?
But a Beyond the Books investigation revealed that by law, any money gained from the gas tax must go into the transportation fund. In lieu of that fact, the legislature has promised to free up the equivalent of 70 percent of the gas tax — or $125 million — from the general fund to go to schools.
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients with a doctor's recommendation to obtain a medical marijuana card. This card would allow a patient to buy cannabis products from a state-approved dispensary.
In a 2News report, people on both sides of Prop 2 joined with Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert in the proposal of a new bill that would replace Prop 2 to be put before the Utah Legislature after the midterm election.
In a prior interview with 2News, Director of Utah Patients Coalition DJ Schanz said he believed the new bill won't gut Prop 2 whether it is passed or not. He said:
If it passes, they are minor modifications, If it doesn’t pass, it’s a new bill with Prop 2 wrapped in it with some of these modifications.
Utah voters will have the opportunity to vote on the Utah Decides Healthcare Act of 2018. The Act includes a 0.15 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income Utahns.
Medicaid is a federal-state program that has grown to cover about 1 in 5 U.S. residents, from many newborns to severely disabled people to elderly nursing home residents. Former President Barack Obama's health care law expanded Medicaid to allow states to cover low-income adults with no children living at home.
If the initiative passes, Medicaid will be made available to more than 100,000 adults and is dependent on increased federal funding.
Under federal law, states may expand Medicaid for low-income people making up to roughly $16,750 for an individual or $34,640 for a family of four. Voters in Utah will decide whether to expand the program to includes these adults.
In an Associated Press report, most states' legislature and governors are responsible for redistricting U.S. House and state legislative seats.
However, more than a dozen states primarily use boards or commissions to redraw state legislative districts, and about a half-dozen do so for congressional districts.
Utah's Prop 4 looks to join those states with a 7-member redistricting commission that is an independent, unelected group to help draw electoral maps.
If Prop 4 passes, the newly formed commission's recommendations would then be approved or rejected by the Utah Legislature without the need for an amendment.
Constitutional Amendments A, B and C
Amendment A would clarify an existing exemption available to active-duty members of the military.
Amendment B would eliminate taxes on property that is leased by a government entity.
Amendment C would allow lawmakers to call themselves into a special session to address a “fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster, or emergency in the affairs of state.”