What Utah’s Election Results Mean for the State

The 2018 midterm elections were one for the books, and both sides had some significant wins and losses. There’s a lot to unpack, but this article is focusing on Utah’s statewide elections. With weed, taxes, and gerrymandering all on the ballot, the results of this election could mean some very interesting things.

Congress

Let’s start with the easy stuff: Utah had one Senate seat and four House seats up for grabs and, as predicted, Republicans held most of them. Mitt Romney won the seat in the Senate, which means he’s officially going back to Washington to step into the shoes of Senator Orrin Hatch, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

As for the House, all but one of the seats were held by Republicans. UT-4 is currently held by Republican Mia Love, who is currently the only black female Republican member of Congress. As of right now, Democrat contender Ben McAdams is in the lead, but reports by the Salt Lake Tribune state that it may take days of counting ballots to know the winner.

What this means: As of right now, it looks like Utah’s actions in Congress aren’t going to change.

 

Propositions

Prop 1 was a proposed increase of 10 cents/gallon on tax, with the money collected from the raised tax going mainly towards education. Utah’s spending per pupil is the lowest of any state, so there was a lot of campaigning around getting this to pass, but ultimately it fell short.

What this means: Sadly, it looks like Utah isn’t going to up their educational funding anytime soon.

 

If you’ve been on any college campus in Utah recently, you probably know Prop 2 is about legalizing medicinal marijuana. It passed, something many people didn’t think would happen.

What this means: Truthfully, there are a lot of qualifiers to this proposition that needed to be added in order for it to get on the ballot, so don’t get any ideas about Utah going the route of California and Oregon. That said, this is going to make access to legal weed a lot easier – provided it’s a prescription.

 

Prop 3 was an expansion of Utah’s Medicaid program, and passed with just shy of 55%.

What this means: This expansion essentially means that taxpayers will be paying a little more in order to expand coverage. Only time will be able to tell what exactly this means in terms of budget and costs to both the state and its residents.

 

Prop 4 passed by a hair, but approves an initiative to have an independent committee look over Utah’s districts and decide if they need to be redrawn to counteract gerrymandering.

What this means: Hopefully, this means that Utah is going to fix at least some of their gerrymandering issues. In an election that was fraught with voter suppression nationwide, it’s an important thing to be addressing.

 

Constitutional Amendments

Amendment A was to change the amount of time an active duty military member needed to serve in order to get property tax exemption from 200 days in a calendar year to 200 days in a 365 day period. It passed easily.

What this means: This just makes it a little easier to get that exemption for military members.

 

Amendment B didn’t pass, but its intention was to allow a property tax exemption on land leased by the government from private owners, ostensibly to save the government money.

What this means: Basically, the private owners and the government still have to pay property taxes on this land.

 

Amendment C allows the state legislature to convene in times of fiscal crisis, war, natural disasters, and other emergencies. It passed.

What this means: If Utah’s in a crisis and legislature isn’t in session, they’re allowed to convene to make decisions.

 

Essentially, Utah’s as red as ever, but the more progressive areas have some footholds, as evidenced in the Prop 2 results. Over the next year, Utah will start seeing these changes being implemented, and find out what exactly their votes this year meant for the long-term. Who's ready for 2020?

Image Sources: 1, 2 

Information gathered from Ballotpedia