SALT LAKE CITY — The United Utah Party announcedMonday a citizen initiative petition is being launched to set term limits on state elected officials, including legislators and the governor.

It would restrict state lawmakers to 12 consecutive years in office — three terms for senators and six for representatives — while the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor and attorney general could serve two, four-year terms at a time.

The proposal would not prevent elected officials who reached those limits to run again if they remain out of office for at least the equivalent of a single term. It also would not apply to Utah's congressional delegation.

"The goal is to restore the ideal of citizen service and discourage career politicians," said Richard Davis, chairman of the political party formed in 2017 to appeal to moderate Republican and Democratic voters.

Davis, a former leader of the Utah County Democratic Party, said the preference would be for the Utah Legislature to set term limits, but that "legislators will not seriously limit their own terms."

A law passed in 1994 in response to a citizen initiative that would have limited legislative terms to 12 years was later reversed by the 2003 Legislature with little debate. Polling at the time showed three-quarters of Utahns favored term limits.

However, four years ago, an effort pushing to get an amendment to the Utah Constitution setting term limits for the governor and other statewide elected officials before voters faltered.

Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said there hasn't been much interest in pursuing the issue despite some initial unhappiness with lawmakers for repealing the term limits they'd passed.

"The reality is there has not been a drumbeat to impose term limits," he said.

Fifteen other states have set term limits on legislators, including Arizona, California, Montana and Nevada, and 28 other states restrict the number of terms a governor can serve, according to the United Utah Party.

Davis said term limits are "just the first step" for the new party, saying future initiatives could include setting campaign finance limits, opening primary elections to all voters regardless of political party and simplifying the initiative process itself.

Perry said taking on term limits "does keep the United Utah Party relevant" and is an issue that's "reflective of their priorities and their policies. I think the issue will take on a life of its own, however."

Several initiatives on the 2018 ballot, particularly Proposition 2 that legalized medical marijuana, helped bring significant numbers of voters to the polls. Perry said term limits won't have the same impact on voter turnout.

That's because medical marijuana was an issue that "touched people at home, in their families and in their relationships" becoming personal for voters, he said, while "term limits remains political for many people."

More information about the initiative, currently being reviewed by the state Elections Office, is available at a new website, The United Utah Party is soliciting volunteers as well as financial contributions.

To qualify for the November 2020 ballot, backers will have to collect more than 115,000 voter signatures from at least 26 of Utah's 29 state Senate districts while meeting specific thresholds by mid-February.