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Holding Legislature poll on U.S. Senate candidates fails

Published January 31, 2012 9:37 pm

Politics • Some lawmakers pine for pre-1913 days before popular elections picked senators.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Legislators apparently are not ready to pretend as though the 17th Amendment is repealed or, at least, watered down.

Sen. Casey Anderson, R-Cedar City, pushed HJR11 to call for a secret-ballot, informal poll of legislators each election year to show the public which Senate candidate they prefer. The bill aimed at giving a nod to the days when state Legislatures — not voters — elected U.S. Senators failed to advance on a tied 3-3 vote Tuesday in the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee.

Anderson said "1913 is widely considered to be one of the worst years in American history" because of passage of the 17th Amendment that year, which he said hurt the ability of states to hold senators accountable. He said his bill would recreate an important tie between senators and the Legislature he believes should exist, even if it is only advisory.

"It is no surprise there is a large disconnect between Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country when the majority of the dollars raised for each race does not come from the home state but from special interest groups in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, agreed, saying, "The 17th Amendment is directly responsible for every single federal overreach that's happened in the past 90 years." But he said he would only support the resolution if it took effect after this year, so it would not appear legislators are posturing to support one of the current candidates.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, also supported the resolution, saying it would show "the states have some significance. We're not just 50 states here to do the clerical bidding of an overreaching federal government." While others did not speak against the legislation, it still failed to achieve the needed votes to proceed.