There are no less than three pieces of legislation on Utah's Capitol Hill seeking to undo the compromise lawmakers made with organizers of the Count My Vote citizen's initiative.
Last week, SB 43 and SJR 2, sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, passed out of a Senate committee. Both bills take direct aim at last year's compromise. SB 43 postpones the implementation of the compromise until the 2018 election while SJR 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment to give political parties complete autonomy from the state in how they nominate candidates.
Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, is sponsoring similar legislation in the House. HB 281 also delays implementation of the CMV compromise to the 2018 election.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the architect of the compromise says he's not surprised Jenkins bills passed out of committee, but he's confident there's not enough votes in the Senate to pass Jenkins' bills.
"Many of those who didn't support SB 54 are now supporting Sen. Jenkins," says Bramble. "Legislative integrity is important to maintain. The Count My Vote folks agreed to withdraw the initiative if we passed SB 54. It's important that we uphold our end of the agreement."
Three of the four lawmakers who voted to push Jenkins' bills out of committee cast their votes in favor of the SB 54 compromise in 2014. Sens. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, and Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, all voted for the compromise twice last year. Sen. Al Jackson, R-Highland, was not in the Senate last year.
"Every legislator that voted for SB 54 knew that if we passed it and the governor signed it, they would withdraw the initiative. They acted in good faith and it's important that we maintain the integrity of that," says Bramble. "If we don't then how will any group feel comfortable negotiating with this body."
And that's the key. Most of the lawmakers who voted for the compromise last time around are still on the hill.
"There's a critical mass up here that supported the compromise last year," Bramble points out.
One point that gets lost in the debate is the SB 54 compromise preserves the caucus system that Count My Vote threatened to do away with completely.
"Revisionist history is a marvelous thing," chuckles Bramble. "You can make it whatever you want it to be."