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Utah House panel OKs bill reducing time to declare if gathering voter signatures

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill cutting the period of time candidates have to declare they're gathering voter signatures for a place on the ballot to just a week was advanced Wednesday by the House Government Operations Committee.

HB338 was passed by committee 7-1 and now goes to the House.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, shortens the time from Jan. 1 through the third Thursday in March in a general election year to the first through fifth business day in January.

McCay told the committee he attempted to make the change last year because of "sensitivity to politicization" during the legislative session and was trying again after the bill with that change failed.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, who voted against the bill, questioned why the filing period was limited to just a week when it could last longer and still not overlap with the 45-day legislative session that starts in late January.

McCay pointed out the late March filing deadline for candidates is a week long and "making it consistent seemed valuable."