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Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature
PDF version (Contains ratings charts and rankings)
How Did Your Representatives Represent You in 2018?
Where have all the good bills gone?
Prospects for a tax cut were quickly dashed, despite having $382 million in ongoing revenues and one-time increase of $102 million, the Utah Legislature chose to continue the trend of raising taxes. If HJR 20 is passed Utah drivers will see a 33% increase in their gasoline tax. Another bill, HB 293, is projected to cause property tax revenue to the state increase by $125 million by H.B. 293.
Increased revenue will be spent on changing the name of Utah Transit Authority which lawmakers are hoping Utah’s citizens will forget the years of misuse of taxpayer dollars. While the bill has some good provisions as the old saying goes, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.”
Utah lawmakers also helped contribute to our growing national debt, as they voted to expand the Medicaid program in the state. They also passed H.B. 12 which requires the Medicaid program to reimburse providers for long-term contraceptives.
Several programs which weaken parental responsibility passed, as government sought to expand its influence on pre-kindergarten children.
Good bills which GrassRoots chose to cover included HJR 11 which would have required some agencies to use base- line budgeting passed the House but failed in the Senate. Another good bill H.B. 129 which would have strengthened an individual’s right to self-defense passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate. The Senate wouldn’t even consider an abortion bill to protect children with Downs Syndrome.
Roberts Tops House; Dayton Leads senate
Marc Roberts received a perfect score on this year’s GrassRoots report. Rounding out the top 10% in the House were Brian Greene (R-UT), Ken Ivory (R-SL), Travis Seegmiller (R-WA), Adam Robertson (R-UT), Norman Thurston (R-UT) and Kim Coleman (R-SL).
Senate Summary: Margaret Dayton (R-UT) received the top score in the Senate.
Governor: Governor Herbert received a 21% compared to his lifetime average of 41%. Herbert’s previous scores were: 71% (2010); 73% (2011); 75% (2012); 28% (2013); 29% (2014); 41% (2015), 24% (2016), 27% (2017). Averages: The House received an average score of 46% which is equal to the Representatives lifetime score. The Senate averaged a 31% which is below the Senators average of 44%.
Analysis of Bills for 2018
Bills are listed by number with house bills listed first. The sponsor(s) of the bill is in parentheses with the primary sponsor listed first. 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://le.utah.gov.
A) H.B.12 (R. Ward, B Zehnder) Increases government by requiring the Medicaid program to reimburse providers separately for long-acting contraception. Proposals such as this furthers our slide towards socialized medicine by enabling the government to become more involved in our health care and family planning. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (53-21- 1), Senate (22-4-3) and was signed into law by the Governor. B) H.B. 129 (C. Maloy, D Hinkins) Protects the right to self- defense by clarifying that individuals are not required to retreat from an aggressor who is attempting to commit a violent felony in their presence. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (58-11-5) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
C) H.B. 161 (C. Watkins, D. Ipson) Removes the penalty for failure to sign or display a vehicle registration card. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (63-1-11), Senate (24-0-5) and was signed into law by the Governor. D) H.B.164 (B. Cutler, A Millner) Creates the Early Childhood Task Force for children who have not entered Kindergarten. The raising of children is the primary role of parents, government has increasingly become more involved in the process which weakens the family unit. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (33-36-5).
E) H.B. 207 (M. Winder, B Zehnder) Establishes the Utah Responsible Fatherhood Commission. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (20-51-3).
F) H.B. 260 (R. Ward, S. Adams) Raises fourth amendment concerns as bill makes it easier for law enforcement to get access to the Controlled Substance Database without a warrant. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (39-22- 4) but failed in the Senate (9-18-2).
G) H.B. 264 (S. Eliason, H. Stephenson) Appropriates over $2.2 million per year for schools to hire additional counselors. While GrassRoots does not oppose additional counselors in our schools, we believe these decisions are best made at the local level with parental involvement. Those closest to the decision should bear the cost—not the Utah taxpayer. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (59-11-5), Senate (22-3-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.
H) H.B. 293 (B. Last, L. Fillmore) Passed on the last day of the session, the fiscal note states property tax revenue will increase by $125 million in 2023 by raising property taxes in perpetuity. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (45-26- 4), Senate (25-3-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.
I) H.B. 319 (R. Chavez-Houck, A. Millner) Creates the Governor’s Early Childhood Commission to assess the availability of pre-kindergarten services. Parents are primarily responsible for raising their children, we are concerned government is increasingly take away this responsibility. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (38-32- 5) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
J) H.B. 326 (E. Redd, H. Stephenson) Appropriates $1 Million to address intergenerational poverty through grants to counties. Governments proper role is to protect life, liberty and property. Addressing income inequality does not fall into one of these roles. Also, such grants to local government entities distort local priorities, and compromise and distort local sovereignty and self-governance. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (65-3-7), Senate (24-1-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.
K) H.B. 338 (D. McCay, L. Filmore) Conditionally repealed SB 54 passed in 2014 which restricted the Free Speech rights of Utah political parties on how the parties choose their candidates. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (53-19- 3) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
L) H.B. 380 (B. Last, A Millner) Increases government spending by $10.2 million in 2019 and $2.9 million annually thereafter for the School Readiness Restricted Account. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (61-12- 2), Senate (22-1-6) and was signed into law by the Governor.
M) H.B. 462 (S. Eliason, T. Weiler) Allocates $6.6 million to fund the purchase of temporary homeless facilities. Charity is not the proper role of government—especially the more distant state government. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (59-8-8), Senate (22-5-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.
N) H.B. 472 (R. Spendlove, B. Zehnder) Expands Medicaid in the state of Utah. While most of this funding would come from the federal government, the federal government is $21 Trillion in debt and taxpayers still bear the burden. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (47-27-1), Senate (20-8-1), and was signed into law by the Governor.
O) H.B 485 (M. McKell, C. Bramble) Further limits free speech and assembly rights of Utah political parties by limiting their ability to define membership to set party rules. Individuals have free speech rights, and they do not lose those rights when they choose a political party. Political parties should be able to determine how they choose their nominees for political office without the state being able to veto those decisions. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (40-31-4) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
P) H.J.R 11 (J. Fawson, E Vickers) Increases government accountability by requiring zero based budgeting, which requires every expense to be justified, under certain conditions. The goal is to reduce unnecessary expense and limit the tax burden on Utah taxpayers. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (73-0-2) but failed in the Senate (12-12-5).
Q) H.J.R. 20 (B. Edwards, L. Fillmore) Directs the Lieutenant Governor's office to issue a ballot initiative to allow voters to decide whether to approve a gasoline tax increase of ten cents per gallon (a 33% increase). The funds raised will be used to pay for increased funding for public education and local roads. Grassroots opposes tax increases as a matter of principle believing that the state budget is already fully funded and that state legislators would do better to identify areas of wasteful state spending to cut or eliminate rather than raise taxes upon our already overtaxed citizens. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (55-17-3), Senate (24-4-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.
R) S.B. 54 (A. Christensen, B. Edwards) Increases the marriage license fee but provides the increase to be refunded should the couple go through pre-marriage counseling. Government should not be creating barriers to entry for marriage. Bill also raises Freedom of Religion issues as who will determine if clergy is qualified to provide this counseling? Government would be regulating religions which is a slippery slope. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (44-24- 7), Senate (23-4-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.
S) S.B. 99 (A. Christensen, S. Sandall). Adds animal cruelty to the list of offenses that may qualify as a domestic violence offense. A domestic violence offense may cause an individual to forfeit rights thus the bar should be set high for these offenses. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (26-0- 3) but failed in the House (31-39-5).
T) S.B. 104 (A. Millner, B. Wilson) Bill creates a program to provide an incentive loan to a student who intends to work in a qualifying job. This is an example of social engineering and could lead to crony capitalism as companies could attempt to sway the state where these tax dollars will go. Bill will cost taxpayers $2.5 million for first two years. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (25-0-4), Senate (49-14-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.
U) S.B. 122 (H. Stephenson, D. McKay) Protects taxpayers by ensuring a local political subdivision may not receive, from the issuance of certain bonds approved by the voters at an election, an aggregate amount that exceeds by a certain percentage the maximum principal amount stated in the bond proposition. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (40- 28-7), Senate (25-0-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.
V) S.B. 136 (W. Harper, M. Schultz) Rebrands the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to Transit District of Utah which is estimated to cost Utah taxpayers $50 Million. The UTA has a history of mismanagement and poor decisions, changing the name of the organization will not correct these problems which have been going on for several years and have already cost taxpayers millions of dollars. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (40-32-3), Senate (17-10-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.
W) S.B. 146 (J. Anderegg, B. Wilson) Allocates $250,000 on an annual basis to the Silicon Slopes Technology Summit. The Summit has been very successful with high attendance and several corporate sponsors. The Summit does not need government money, nor should government be giving money to a private enterprise. GrassRoots approves a NO vote. Passed the House (57-15-3), Senate (18-6-5) and was signed into law by the Governor.
X) S.B. 154 (H. Stephenson, K. Coleman) Protects citizens’ rights by prohibiting a political subdivision or law enforcement agency from imposing an arrest or citation quota on a peace officer. Justice should be based on actual crimes, not driven by quotas. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (74-0-1), Senate (22-4-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.
Y) S.B. 202 (L. Escamilla, M. Schultz) Provides $250,000 on an annual basis for after school programs. While one should ask why government should be responsible for after school care for children, one should also ask why the state is doing this and not local school districts? GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (46-21-8), Senate (22-4-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.
Z) S.B. 235 (G. Davis, S. Eliason) Allocates $2.5 million in 2019 and $5 million in 2020 to mitigate the impact of homeless shelters, and to employ additional public safety personnel there. Charity is not the proper role of government." GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (44-28-3), Senate (19-7-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.
The Blame Game
By Don Guymon
The Blame Game.
It has certainly become popular in our society, as society is quick to point a finger. For example, after the recent mass shootings, the trend has been to place accountability on law abiding gun owners. They have become the villains who have done nothing wrong except for exercising a right guaranteed by our Constitution.
While society attempts to place the blame on them for something they have no control over, society attempts to take accountability away from individuals who should be accountable. As government reduces accountability for some in society, it places a larger burden on others.
For example, as government expands programs for children it removes the accountability from parents and puts the financial burden on others. During this past legislative session bills were introduced to get government more involved in pre-kindergarten education, marriage, fatherhood and health care to name a few areas where government is becoming involved where it should not be.
With our rights comes responsibility. As government takes away this responsibility it dilutes our rights. When it comes to accountability and education, Ezra Taft Benson, Former Secretary of Agriculture, said, “[We should] reassert the primary right and responsibility of parents for the total education of their children, including social values, religious convictions, and political concepts... Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by professional educators. After all, it's their children and their money.”
When you take away accountability for actions, you take away all accountability. With rights comes accountability, without accountability there can be no rights.
For example, when it comes to elections, some in Utah have argued that we can not expect voters to take responsibility and attend a neighborhood caucus once every two years. We attempt to make voter registration so easy that we attempt to do it when someone gets a driver’s license, because society cannot set any expectations on its citizens, but citizens have the right to set high expectations on other citizens.
Under this concept, then all must be punished when crime is committed.
Former President Ronald Reagan taught, "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
We must accept that individuals are responsible for their actions and should hold only them accountable. We are responsible for our own actions. Parents are responsible for their actions towards their children and elected officials are responsible for their actions.
If good government is to return, the blame game must stop.
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