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Voters will decide if Utah Tax Commission should be partisan

Published March 13, 2014 9:08 am

Amendment would change constitution to no longer require Democrats on board.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah voters will soon decide whether to erase a requirement in the Utah Constitution that at least some Democrats must be appointed to the Utah State Tax Commission.

The House voted 66-5 to pass SJR7. It proposes a constitutional amendment that has passed the House and Senate by two-thirds majorities, and will go to voters this fall.

Democrats in the House supported the amendment, while Democrats in the Senate fought it.

Currently, the constitution requires that no more than two of the commission's four members come from the same political party.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, said in earlier debate that he feels Republicans are trying to get rid of Democrats on the commission.

"Rather than increase diversity and differences of opinion, this will indeed narrow the different opinions and points of view," he said. "It is clearly a political decision to take the diversity away."

But Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, treasurer of the party, told the House Thursday that he supports the measure and feels some positions should be non-partisan, which is why he also voted against making school board elections partisan.

"It is just good public policy to have the most qualified individuals serve on the state tax commission," he said.

Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo, House sponsor of the amendment, said the current partisan requirement "restricts the pool of qualified applicants" for positions that require technical, specific training. He said the change would "ensure that the most qualified individuals can be chosen, regardless of party affiliation."