Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers
Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature
How Did Your Representatives Represent You in 2006?
2006 Session Leaves Voters Bewildered
The 2006 session held out much promise for Utahns, as legislators openly talked of large tax cuts, the tightening of immigration laws, the possibility that tuition tax credits would finally pass and an increase of our second amendment rights.
What Utah voters got was a very small tax cut, no official votes on a bill which would have barred illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition and another year with no vote on tuition tax credits as both bills died in committee.
SB 24 from Mark Madsen (R-UT) would have extended a persons right to keep an bear arms to their vehicle was so watered down that even well known anti-second amendment legislators voted for it.
In a move that left long time watchers of the legislature scratching their heads, conservatives who have fought against hate crimes for years helped pass a hate crimes bill. While they claimed the bill made current law better, legislators gave the bill’s original sponsor, David Litvack (D-SL) a standing ovation for his success in finally passing a hate crimes bill.
For the second straight year Governor Huntstman vetoed parental rights legislation. Last year the Governor vetoed a bill which would have prohibited school personnel from making medical recommendation concerning psychotropic medications (such as Ritalin) and removing children from parents who did not follow their recommendations. This year the Governor vetoed H.B. 148 which would have reasserted a biological parent’s rights.
While the legislature failed to give the citizen’s a meaningful tax cut, they did pass a bill to provide funding for a soccer stadium for Real Salt Lake. Ironically shortly after the bill passed, the owner of Real Salt Lake bought an NHL hockey team for $150 million.
Morley Receives Top Score in House; Madsen, Stephenson Tie in Senate
House Summary: Mike Morley (R-UT) received a score of 81% to lead all House members for the second straight year. Other representatives scoring above 70 or above were Aaron Tilton (R-UT) who received a 78%, and Margaret Dayton (R-UT) and Greg Hughes (R-SL) who received 70%. This year House members averaged 39%, compared to a lifetime average of 48%.
Last year the House averaged 57%
Senate Summary: Howard Stephenson (R-SL) and Mark Madsen (R-UT) received top marks amongst state senators as each received a score of 75%. Stephenson also sponsored the most legislation which appears on the GrassRoots report. He sponsored three bills, which GrassRoots rated as good bills. Overall the Senate averaged a 38% compared to a lifetime average of 44%. Last year the Senate received an average score of 48%
Governor: Governor Huntsman received a 25% on this year’s report. His lifetime average now stands at 40%.
What is GrassRoots?
GrassRoots has been issuing an annual legislative report card since 1992. The Constitutions of the nation and state are the guides which GrassRoots uses in picking issues for its legislative report card. Bills are picked without regard to any particular individual.
Analysis of Bills for 2006
Bills are listed by number with house bills listed first. The sponsor of the bill is in parentheses. The tally on bills from each house is listed by yeas, nays and those absent or not voting. Text of all bills can be found at http://www.le.state.ut.us/.
A) HB 22 (P. Ray) Creates the Utah Child Abuse Prevention Board. Bill increases the size of the government and endangers the rights of parents. Parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children, not the government. Recent government cases have found the government often persecuting innocent parents in the name of child abuse. Bill also increases government spending by $189,000 per year. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (53-16-6) but did not come up for a final vote in the Senate.
B) H.B. 43 (J. Alexander) Bill reauthorizes 38 state entities and programs which would have ended before the 2007 session. Sunset laws are designed for programs to end after a certain period. Renewing 38 programs in one bill is poor public policy and allows the government to continue to grow. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (71-0-4), Senate (27-0-2) and was signed into law by the governor
C) H.B. 61 (S. Wyatt) Under this bill if a government entity felt that an animal owner was not properly caring for their animal that citizen could be charged with a felony. Often such judgments are arbitrary, and a felony conviction causes a citizen to lose voting and second amendment rights. For example, some extremists believe trapping a mouse is animal cruelty. While animals should be treated with proper care, the bill is vague on several definitions it puts to many citizens’ rights at risk. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (48-24-3) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
D) H.B. 74 (P. Ray) Creates licensing requirement for athletic trainers. Bill expands the role and size of government. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (64-6-5), Senate (23-4-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
E) H.B. 77 (D. Cox) Bill allows voters within certain cities and counties to submit to voter approval proposals to establish new school districts. By making it easier to create new school districts, it allows greater parental involvement and increases the accountability of school district officials. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (45-27-3), Senate (18-11-0) and was signed into law by the governor.
F) H.B. 107 (K. Holdaway) Establishes voluntary full-day kindergarten programs within the state. Education is the role of parents and this bill is the first step towards requiring children at a younger age to enter the school system. Bill also increases government spending by $14 million over the next two years. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (43-29-3) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
G) H.B. 142 (R. Romero) Appropriates $50,000 for translation services to the Center for Multicultural Health. Providing health care is not a proper role of government. In addition this bill creates inequality under the law, as the money and health services provided by this center are not targeted at all Utahns. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (64-0-11), Senate (24-0-5) and was signed into law by the governor.
H) H.B. 148 (L Christensen) Bill increases the rights of biological parents by allowing them to terminate temporary and voluntary delegation of parental authority. Biological parents have the primary duty to raise their children. This bill reinforces this God-given right. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (38-18-19), Senate (15-12-2) but was vetoed by the governor.
I) H.B. 176 (D. Bourdeaux) Requires school districts to break apart performance reports by race, ethnicity and gender. The role of government is to insure every citizen is treated equally. Requiring school districts to look at students based on the above criteria creates inequality under the law. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (60-8-7) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
J) H.B. 250 (G. Hughes) Prohibits local governments from imposing rent or fee controls on private residential properties. When a city or county government enacts rent or fee controls it erodes property rights, which is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (45-27-3), Senate (17-8-4) and was signed into law by the governor.
K) H.B. 299 (M. Morley) Prohibits school personnel from making medical recommendations including the use of psychotropic medications and prohibits this information from being used to remove children from parental custody. Parents have lost custody of their children because they refused to follow the recommendations of school personnel by not giving their children drugs which they consider dangerous. Bill would strengthen parental rights. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (48-24-3) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
L) H.B. 371 (D. Clark) Increases the transient room tax and allows funds from this tax to be used to build a soccer stadium for Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. Not only does this bill increase the tax burden on citizen’s it funnels money from this tax increase into the hands of a private enterprise. Neither of these actions is constitutional. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (47-28-0), Senate (21-6-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
M) H.B. 429 (M. Morley) Regulates the sale of certain over the counter cough and cold medicines by requiring a person to show photo identification and for the business to keep a record of these transactions for one year. In the name of fighting methamphetamines, this bill violates a person’s fourth amendment rights by attempting to punish any individual who goes to the store to buy medicine to relieve them from their suffering from a cold but also expands the role of government by putting undue burdens on stores which sell such products. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (70-0-5) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
N) S.B. 19 (M. Waddoups) Erodes private property rights by banning smoking in private clubs. While smoking may not be healthy for an individual, it is still a choice that they should be able to make. Persons should have the choice as to whether they want to be in establishments that allow smoking; this bill takes away this personal choice. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (40-34-1), Senate (17-11-1) and was signed into law by the governor.
O) S.B. 92 (G. Davis) Requires crane operators to be licensed by the state. This bill is one more example of government interfering with private enterprise and limiting one’s opportunity to support his or her family. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (61-7-7), Senate (24-2-3) and was signed into law by the governor.
P) S.B. 96 (C. Buttars) Bill requires schools to teach that there were several theories in regards to the origin of the species. One of the cornerstones of our republic is a belief in God. All too often parent’s attempt to teach their children values in their homes, only to have those values undermined in the schools. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the Senate (16-12-1) but failed in the House (28-46-1).
Q) S.B. 97 (C. Buttars) The traditional family is the fundamental unit of our society. One of the methods those who oppose the traditional family have used is to create clubs in schools which may undermine these values. This bill would have regulated how these clubs operate. Since our schools are owned by the citizens of this state, such building should not be used to promote activities which undermine traditional values. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the Senate (17-11-1) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
R) S.B 98 (K. Hale) Makes it a primary offense for anybody older than 19 to not be wearing a seat belt. While the wearing of seat belts is a good practice, it is still a person’s responsibility and right to make this decision. If a person chooses to not wear a seat belt it is their responsibility and not the responsibility of the government. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the Senate (15-10-4) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
S) S. B 108 (P. Knduson) Amends the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Practice Act to clarify the definition of unprofessional conduct with regard to making unsubstantiated claims of superiority in training or skill. It is the responsibility of the individual to make decisions in regards to their medical care, not the government. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (71-0-4), Senate (25-0-4) and was signed into law by the governor.
T) S.B. 113 (H. Stephenson) Raises the amount of damages a claimant may receive per occurrence when the action involves the government. When a person suffers a loss in connection with the actions of a government entity or employee they should be able to receive fair compensation for their loss. In the case of a recent accident involving college students at Utah State University because of limits of government claims, those who lost family members were not adequately compensated for their loss. This bill will help insure this does not happen in the future. In addition, this bill increases the accountability of government entities and its agents. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (57-10-8), Senate (28-0-1) and was signed into law by the governor.
U) S.B. 117 (H. Stephenson) One of the great dangers to our constitutional right to own property is the threat of eminent domain. Bill narrows the public uses for which local governments may acquire roads, streets or alleys by eminent domain. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (59-12-4), Senate (20-8-1) and was signed into law by the governor.
V) S.B. 175 (H. Stephenson) Requires the Department of Corrections to issue a request for proposals to private prison contractors. Private prisons have been shown to save taxpayer money. Competitive contracting for services is a practice which should be practiced by all government entities. This will save taxpayer dollars and help relieve the burden on taxpayers. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the Senate (18-8-3) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
W) S.B. 176 (C. Bramble) Enacts the Contact Lens Consumer Protection Act within the Utah Optometry Practice Act in relation to producing, prescribing, marketing, selling and distributing contact lens. Bill increases the role of government and regulates private business by requiring a manufacturer to “certify by affidavit to the attorney general that the brand of lenses are made available in a commercially reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner to prescribers, entities associated with prescribers and alternative channels of distribution.” If government can do this with contact lenses, what other products should it an affidavit? GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (45-26-4), Senate (22-5-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
X) S.B. 247 (A. Christensen) Appropriates $7 million to the Hill Air Force Base Museum. Hill Air Force Base has played an important role in this state, and the members of the military who have served at HAFB deserve our support and thanks. Their contributions are already honored in a fine museum at the base. If the state wants to spend $7 million, it would be better spent giving the citizen’s a larger tax cut which the governor and the state senate fought against. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the Senate (28-0-1) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
House Top 25 - 2006
1 Michael Morley - R
House Bottom 25 - 2006
51 Mark Wheatley - D
House Top 25 - Lifetime
1 Michael Morley - R
House Bottom 25 - Lifetime
51 Kory Holdaway - R
Senate Rank - 2006
1 Howard Stephenson - R
Senate Rank - Lifetime
1 Howard Stephenson - R
Average Score House 2006=59%
Average Score House Life=48%%
Average Score Senate 2006=38%
Average Score Senate Life=44%
5.7% of elected reprepsentatives scored 70 or Higher
last year the House averaged a 57% and the Senate a 49%.
Gov. Huntsman’s Score of 25 would have ranked 57th in the House and 21st in the Senate.
Past Governor’s Lifetime Scores:
The 2006 GrassRoots Report was prepared by Don Guymon
The author thanks all of those individuals who helped in the publication of this report.
The True Fight for Freedom
By: Don Guymon
Prior to the American victory at Trenton during the American Revolution, a battle which was the first turning point in the War for Independence, George Washington had his troops listen to a message written by Thomas Paine.
“These are the times that try men’s souls. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of his country’ but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; ‘tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its good; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
Our country’s freedom cost us the very best blood of their generation, as our founding fathers pledged to each other, “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Many of them had the misfortune to see the fulfillment of this pledge.
A reading of the Declaration of Independence educates us on the terror that the men and women of Colonial America knew. Amongst the charges made against King George were “transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the barbarous ages,” Other accusations included, “suspending our own legislatures, constrained our fellow citizens”, and exciting “domestic insurrections”
Yet amongst men who knew terror, they chose freedom over security. Benjamin Franklin, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, said “They, who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” These wise men knew that once freedom is lost, it is never voluntary given back by the government.
Just as our founding fathers put freedom first, we must put freedom above the war on terrorism and the drug war.
As leaders from both parties both nationally and in Utah ask us to give up our freedoms, they must remember that the Constitution, and the liberties contained therein, are not a buffet. One cannot simply pick and choose which articles or amendments they feel are appropriate and ignore the others as having no value.
Hence those who shout, “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” weaken their argument when they ignore the fourth amendment which states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”
Other passages have equal value today, and our country and state have paid a heavy price when these principles have not been followed. Here are a few examples from which we have strayed from original intent: The Constitution grants Congress the power, “To declare war” (Section 8:11), our first amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the sixth amendment grants a criminal the right, “to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury,” and the tenth amendment which states that powers not given to the federal government in the Constitution, “are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
The primary battle front for freedom is not being fought with guns or bombs, but it is being fought daily in the halls of government as our leaders decide just how much God given freedom they will grant us. It is ridiculous to think that any terrorist or drug lord will ever gain sufficient manpower to overthrow our free republic, but a reading of legislation during the last session reveals attempts to decrease our privacy, increase government regulation and increase government spending. It is equally as bad or worse on the national level. All of this legislation chips away at our freedoms.
Just as Paine called for true patriots in his day, it is time for true patriotism today which puts country before party and freedom before fear.