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The Utah Senate on Wednesday called on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment so that state senators could again select U.S. senators.
It voted 20-6 to pass SJR2, and sent it to the House. It calls for Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1913 to allow people to directly elect U.S. senators.
Its sponsor, Sen. Al Jackson, R-Highland, says electing senators by the state Senate is needed because no branch of the federal government now represents the needs of state governments. A change would force senators to do that.
"Today, senators are more beholden to special interest groups than to their states" because those interests give them money for re-election, Jackson said.
He added, "It's time for our senators to come home every weekend and take direction from this body and from the House and the governor on how they should vote in the upcoming week."
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, agreed. "We represent the people and we are the ones who can respond and give direction to our senators."
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, disputed the plan's logic. U.S. senators are now the only lawmakers elected by all voters in the state, she said, and therefore are not affected by redistricting that she says may have favored Republicans in Utah. She said repealing the amendment would also take away power from voters.