A statewide initiative is a publicly sponsored piece of legislation that can be submitted to a vote of the people at a general election or to a vote in the legislature. To place a statewide initiative on the general election ballot or before the legislature, sponsors of the initiative must complete the procedures listed below.
Please note that this information is not a substitute for Utah State Code, and it is not intended to be a comprehensive or an authoritative statement of law. If any inconsistency exists between this website and statute, the statutory language governs. Consult Utah State Code Title 20A Chapter 7 Part 2 for more information on statewide initiatives, and consult Utah State Code Title 20A Chapter 7 Part 5 for more information on local initiatives.
STEP 1: FILE AN APPLICATION WITH THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (20A-7-202)
Application forms may be obtained online. Sponsors may file the application in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office or by mail. The application must contain notarized signatures of at least 5 sponsors. Each sponsor must be a resident of Utah and must have voted in a regular general election in Utah within the last three years. If the sponsors are unsure if they meet these two requirements, they may contact their county clerk.
In addition to the completed application, sponsors must provide a copy of the law being proposed, the title of the law, and a statement whether signature collectors may be paid. If the proposed law raises taxes, the sponsors must also include the statement, “This initiative petition seeks to increase the current (insert name of tax) rate by ___ percent, resulting in a(n) __ percent increase in the current tax rate.”
STEP 2. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR REVIEW (20A-7-202(5))
After the application is submitted, the Lieutenant Governor will either accept or reject the application. The Lieutenant Governor must reject the application if the proposed law:
Is nonsensical or patently unconstitutional;
Could not become law if passed;
Contains more than one subject;
Contains a subject that is not clearly expressed in the law’s title; or
Is identical or substantially similar to a law proposed by an initiative that was submitted to the county clerks and lieutenant governor for certification and evaluation within 2 years preceding the date on which the application was filed.
Please note that initiatives must propose statutory laws; they cannot amend the Utah Constitution.
STEP 3. FISCAL IMPACT ESTIMATE (20A-7-202.5)
Within three days of receiving the application, the Lieutenant Governor will forward the initiative to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). GOMB will then prepare an unbiased, good faith estimate of the fiscal impact of the law proposed by the initiative. Refer to 20A-7-202.5(2) - (3) for more information on what the fiscal impact estimate should contain. GOMB will prepare this estimate within 25 calendar days of receiving the application from the Lieutenant Governor and mail a copy of the estimate to the first 5 sponsors on the initiative application.
If the sponsors of the initiative believe that the fiscal impact estimate, taken as a whole, is an inaccurate estimate, they may challenge it. They can do so by filing a petition with Utah Supreme Court within 20 calendar days of the date of delivery of the initial fiscal impact estimate to the lieutenant governor’s office. Refer to 20A-7-202.5(5) for more information on the challenge process.
STEP 4. HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS (20A-7-204.1)
After the GOMB provides their fiscal impact estimate, the sponsors shall hold at least 7 public hearings throughout the state:
One meeting in the Bear River region - Box Elder, Cache, or Rich County
One meeting in the Southwest region - Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, or Washington County
One meeting in the Mountain region - Summit, Utah, or Wasatch County
One meeting in the Central region - Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, or Wayne County
One meeting in the Southeast region - Carbon, Emery, Grand, or San Juan County
One meeting in the Uintah Basin region - Daggett, Duchesne, or Uintah County
One meeting in the Wasatch Front region - Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Tooele, or Weber County
Of the 7 meetings, at least 2 of the meetings shall be held in a first or second class county, but not in the same county.
At least 3 calendar days prior to each public hearing, the sponsors must provide sufficient notice by:
Notifying the Lieutenant Governor in writing;
Notifying each state senator, state representative, and county commission or county council member who is elected in whole or in part from the region where the public hearing will be held in writing;
Publishing a notice that describes the hearing’s time, date, and location in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county in the region where the public hearing will be held; and
Posting a notice on the Utah Public Notice Website.
If the initiative proposes a tax increase, please note that written notices must include the following statement, in bold, in the same font and point size as the largest font and point size appearing in the notice: “This initiative petition seeks to increase the current (insert name of tax) rate by __ percent, resulting in a(n) __ percent increase in the current tax rate.”
During each public hearing, the sponsors must either video tape the hearing, audio tape the hearing, or take comprehensive minutes of the hearing, detailing the names and titles of each speaker and summarizing each speaker’s comments. The sponsors must provide the recordings or the minutes to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to make the recordings publicly available.
Within 14 days after the final public hearing is held and before circulating an initiative petition, sponsors of the initiative may change the text of the proposed law. Refer to 20A-7-204.1(5) for more information on this process.
STEP 5. COMPILE & PRINT INITIATIVE PACKETS (20A-7-204)
After the public hearings are held, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office will provide the sponsors with the template for the initiative petition (refer to 20A-7-203 to read the formatting requirements of petition packets). Each petition packet must contain the following elements in the same order:
One cover sheet;
One copy of the text of the proposed law;
Up to fifty signature sheets; and
One circulator verification sheet
Sponsors are responsible for printing and binding petition packets. Petition packets must be securely bound with staples, stitching, or spiral binding in at least three places across the top of the petition. Petitions must be bound prior to circulation and cannot be separated. Petition packets that have been separated will be invalidated and not counted.
After the petition packets have been printed, sponsors must deliver the petition packets to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office will then number each initiative packet and return them to the sponsors within 5 business days.
If the sponsors plan on submitting the proposed law to the people for a vote, they must collect 113,143 signatures of registered voters in Utah (this is equal to 10% of all votes cast in Utah for U.S. presidential candidates in the last presidential election). Not only must sponsors collect 113,143 signatures, but they must ensure that they meet specific signature thresholds for at least 26 of the 29 state senate districts. View these specific thresholds here.
If the sponsors plan on submitting the proposed law to the legislature for a vote, they must collect 56,572 signatures of registered voters in Utah (this is equal to 5% of all votes cast in Utah for U.S. presidential candidates in the last presidential election). Not only must sponsors collect 56,572 signatures, but they must ensure that they meet specific signature thresholds for at least 26 of the 29 state senate districts. Consult 20A-7-201 or contact the Lieutenant Governor’s Office for more information on these thresholds.
Electronic signatures are not permitted; signatures must be holographic (i.e., wet) signatures. It is suggested that sponsors collect more signatures than the required amount, as some individuals who sign the petition may not be registered voters.
Circulators must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Utah. They are not required to be registered voters, but it is suggested as it makes verification easier for the county clerks. Circulators cannot sign their own petition packets, and they must circulate petition packets with the front sheet(s), which includes the petition wording and the Lieutenant Governor’s certification.
STEP 7: SUBMIT PETITIONS TO COUNTY CLERKS FOR VERIFICATION (20A-7-206)
Sponsors must submit petition signatures to the county clerks for verification. Signatures from voters residing in a particular county must be sent to their corresponding county clerk (e.g., signatures from Salt Lake County voters must be sent to the Salt Lake County Clerk). Each county clerk will verify that the individuals who signed the petition are registered voters.
If the initiative is submitting the law to the people for a vote, the petitions must be submitted to the county clerks within 316 days from the day the initiative application was filed or by April 15th of the regular general election year (whichever is soonest). If the initiative is proposing the law for the legislature, they must submit the petitions by November 15th before the next general legislative session.
County clerks will verify the petition signatures by May 15th (for initiatives submitting laws to the people) and December 15th (for initiatives submitting laws to the legislature). If the petition obtained the required number of petition signatures, the Lieutenant Governor will declare the petition sufficient and will either direct the county clerks to include the initiative on the next regular general election ballot or deliver the petition to the Legislature for their consideration.