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2 of 3 Utah constitutional amendments pass

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station at Trolley Square in Salt Lake city on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station at Trolley Square in Salt Lake city on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns apparently like the idea of the Legislature being able to call itself into special session.

Voters appear headed to approve Amendment C as unofficial vote totals show it winning 63.2 percent to 36.8 percent.

Amendment A was winning by an even wider margin, up 78.6 percent to 21.4 percent, but Amendment B was failing 73 percent to 27 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Amendment C came in response to Gov. Gary Herbert refusing to call lawmakers into session to set up a special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz last year. Legislators were frustrated that the governor wouldn't hold a special session to set up the process to replace the Republican congressman.

Amendment C will allow the Legislature to call itself into special session if two-thirds of the House and Senate agree that convening is necessary because of a fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster or emergency. It also allows the Legislature to hold a special session outside the Capitol if the building isn't available.

The proposal also requires the governor to reduce state spending or convene the Legislature if state expenses exceed revenue for a fiscal year.

Voters also weighed in on two other constitutional amendments.

Amendment A changes the period of time that a military person must serve out of state on federal active duty in order to qualify for a property tax exemption, allowing the exemption for someone on at least 200 days in a continuous 365-day period, rather than requiring the 200 days to occur in one calendar year.

Amendment B would have a created a tax exemption for real property, such as land and buildings, that the state or local government leases from a private owner.

Under the Utah Constitution, all tangible property is subject to being taxed, except for property it explicitly exempts, such as property owned by the state or local governments.