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Amendment requirement gains Senate’s approval

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Utah lawmakers have a message for the Constitutional Revision Commission: If you have an opinion, give it before the Legislature takes a vote, not after.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved HB21, which requires the CRC to make its recommendations before the lawmakers vote on a proposed constitutional amendment. The CRC is the entity consisting of judges, lawmakers and citizens that reviews proposed constitutional amendments.HB21 was in direct response to an incident last year in which the Legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment that says it takes a two-thirds vote for citizens to initiate changes to wildlife laws. The CRC did not issue an opinion at that time.

But the commission reviewed it and came out against it before the public vote. The CRC's opinion was used by opponents in their campaign, although voters approved the change.

"To take a position against the Legislature after it has approved it would be improper," said Senate Majority Whip Leonard Blackham, R-Moroni. "But there is nothing in the bill that says they couldn't discuss it after the Legislature takes action."

However, Sen. Ed Allen, D-Ogden, said lawmakers were "gagging the commission. There is nothing as important as freedom of speech."