SALT LAKE CITY — Backers of a citizens referendum on Utah’s just-passed tax reform law say they can’t print the petitions fast enough.

“We have plenty of people who want to sign,” said Fred Cox, a former Republican legislator who helped organize the effort to undo the tax structure approved Dec. 12.

Some of them, including GOP gubernatorial candidates Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton and Jeff Burningham and Democrat Zachary Moses, put their signatures on the petition Monday during a news conference at the Capitol. Organizers have already turned in a batch of signed petitions to the lieutenant governor’s office, which oversees the state elections office.

Cox said the referendum has bipartisan support.

“This is not a Republican revolt. This is a Utahns revolts,” he said.

Meantime, the leader of another group whose application to run a second referendum on tax reform was rejected, sued the state in federal court Monday. Steve Maxfield’s lawsuit challenges provisions in Utah’s referendum law.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill in a special session earlier this month that lowers the state income tax rate and provides tax breaks to low- and moderate-income residents, including a larger dependent exemption and a grocery tax credit to offset raising the state sales tax on food to 4.85%.

The law also imposes sales taxes on wholesale gasoline purchases on top of what will be a 31-cents-per-gallon gas tax in 2020, expected to add at least 10 cents a gallon at the pump.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed the measure last week.

Referendum backers must gather nearly 116,000 signatures from at least 15 of the state’s 29 counties by Jan. 21 — less than a week before the 2020 Legislature convenes — to get the issue on the November 2020 ballot. The governor and lawmakers have said the referendum could delay tax cuts and rebate checks.

Cox said referendum organizers intend to get signatures from every county and exceed the number required.

“We are moving faster than the printers can go,” he said, adding a second printing company is now working on petition packets.

Utah Legislative Watch, Utah Tax Reform Coalition, United Women’s Forum and Citizens for Tax Fairness are among the groups advocating against the new tax law.

Brett Hastings, director of Utah Legislative Watch, said the groups don’t take a referendum lightly and see it as an integral and indispensable part of the checks and balances on government.

“This referendum is in essence a vote of no confidence in our Legislature and in our governor, at least on this question of tax reform,” he said.

Hastings said the “radical and risky” measure opens the door to taxing all services and raised the tax on food and gas to the detriment of poor Utahns.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Burningham speaks about a citizen’s referendum on Utah’s tax reform law during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. | Colter Peterson, Deseret News

Taxing gas will make everything Utahns buy and the services they use more expensive, said Dalane England, of the United Women’s Forum.

“We’re also very opposed to picking winners and losers, pick certain service industries to attack and some leave alone for a while,” she said, adding it’s only a matter of time before all services are taxed.

Krista Palmer, of the Utah Tax Reform Coalition, said while she wishes the governor and legislators a merry Christmas, they have “all but ruined Christmas for us.” She said the tax reform was based on flawed math, inaccurate information and a “made up” revenue crisis.

Utah, she said, has the finest economy in the United States.

“We’re winning,” Palmer said. “We’re winning at everything.”

While backers of the referendum collect signatures, members of another group filed a lawsuit Monday to have its application reinstated. The state elections office rejected The People’s Right application because two of its sponsors had not voted in a general election in the state within the last three years as required by law.

Steve Maxfield, the group’s chairman, told the Deseret News last week that he included his newly registered-to-vote 18-year-old son Morris as a sponsor to let him “exercise his right to directly participate in the legislative process.” He argues in the lawsuit that it’s unconstitutional to prevent a “legal voter” from sponsoring a referendum.

Maxfield filed a referendum application after he learned supporters of the first one do not plan to use paid signature gathers, which he said makes it nearly impossible to gather the requisite number of signatures in the limited time allowed under the law.