Each year, there’s a little bit of conversation about resolutions that would put constitutional amendments on the ballot to be voted on.
Last year, there was coverage of a potential amendment to call for a national constitutional convention. While that bill did not pass, it is likely to come up again this year.
In 2014, the Boy Scouts got a bill passed to provide for a constitutional amendment to benefit their Bechtel Reserve Summit. This amendment, allowing the company to operate the Reserve as a for-profit entity while keeping their nonprofit tax exemption, was the first constitutional amendment passed since 2004.
Only three constitutional amendments have been passed by the voters in the last 30 years. We have made 18 amendments to the constitution since 1872, with most relating to veteran benefits and roads.
The hurdles are intentionally high to passing a constitutional amendment: a bill has to pass the state legislature, and then has to be approved by a majority of voters on the general election ballot. For this reason, most proposed amendments never even get on the broader public’s radar.
While we can’t predict yet what will happen with the many constitutional amendments that have already been proposed during this legislative session, there are two that we’re already paying close attention to.
SJR 8 – Imposing Term Limits on Certain Offices
This proposed amendment would create term limits for certain elected offices, including legislators, the Governor, and the Secretary of State among others.
Senators would be limited to 3 consecutive terms (of 4 years each) and Delegates would be limited to 5 consecutive terms (of 2 years each).
The amendment proposes to limit the Governor to 2 consecutive terms and to provide a 3 term limit to the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer and Commission of Agriculture.
The resolution was introduced by Senator Gaunch and is currently in the Judiciary Committee.
SJR 1 – County Economic Development Amendment
Sponsored by Senator Leonhardt, this proposed amendment would allow county commissions to use property taxes and other local fees and taxes to fund infrastructure and capital improvement projects that would promote economic development.
It specifically targets property taxes imposed on new manufacturing facilities and manufacturing facility capital additions.
This resolution is currently in the Judiciary committee.