Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 13, 2008

Utah Supreme Court Holds City is Not Required to Put Council Resolution on the Ballot

This week the Utah Supreme Court upheld a district court decision denying a request from Citizens for Responsible Transportation (CRT) that Draper City be compelled to put on the ballot a city council resolution endorsing the TRAX commuter rail alignment through the city.

 

While the Utah Constitution grants the people power to refer “any law or ordinance passed by the lawmaking body,” administrative actions are not referable.  “The determinative test in deciding whether an action is legislative or administrative in nature is whether it creates new law on the one hand, or merely executes or implements existing law on the other.”

 

The Court upheld the District Court’s dismissal of CRTs claim because the resolution was an administrative act which simply expressed Draper City’s preference for particular alignment.  The resolution did not constitute a law or ordinance, had no legal effect and is not legally enforceable.  Thus Draper City was correct in refusing to subject the council resolution to a referendum vote.  Citizens who are unhappy with the execution or implementation of a law cannot use the referendum process to change things.  Their remedy lies in the political arena and at the ballot box.

 

Citizens for Responsible Transportation v. Draper City, 2008 WL 2696875 (7/11/2008).

 

The opinion can be accessed at:

http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/supopin/CRT071108.pdf

 

Thanks to Neil Lindberg ,Chair of the APA Utah Chapter’s Legal Committee for providing this information.


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