Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers
Legislative Updates - 3 February 2014
This is GrassRoots’ first legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature. We hope to be sending a weekly update on legislative happenings during the session, and will be concentrating on bills that we find to be friendly to the principles of limited government on one hand, or, on the other hand, friendly to big, intrusive government. As you may know, the principles of GrassRoots are summarized as Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government, Free Market Economy, Participatory Republic, Separation of Powers, Family.
We would encourage and challenge you, if you see one or more bills that interest you, contact your representative and/or senator about it/them. We think they usually hear enough from paid lobbyists (some would say more than enough), but they may not hear enough from you.
At this time (one week into the session), there are about 350 numbered bills for this session on the Utah Legislature website, maybe about half of the bills that will be numbered by the end of the session which, under the Utah Constitution, will go for 45 days. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.
HB33, “Reauthorization of Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism,” sponsored by Representative Rebecca Edwards and Senator Osmond, would eliminate the sunset date (currently July 1, 2014) for the sections of Utah Code authorizing the continued existence of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism. Therefore HB33 would make said Commission into a more permanent fixture in our government.
The website for said Commission declares, “We offer state leadership. As a branch of the state government and a program of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, we can use our bully pulpit to promote volunteerism with authority.”
The voting membership of said Commission is mostly appointed by the Governor, and is a prescribed mish-mash of special interests.
HB33 passed the House 58-11 on January 31st, and appears to be headed to the Senate.
In our opinion, volunteerism is best left to individual volunteers and groups; bullying, even from a pulpit, is not needed. Government, which, of necessity, involves the use of force, should stick to its proper roles, and otherwise stay out of our way and out of our business. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB33.
SB46, “Administrative Subpoena Requirement Modifications,” sponsored by Senator Mark Madsen:
SB46 currently awaits consideration by the Senate Judiary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee.
Consistent with constitutional requirements, probable cause is a more appropriate standard of proof than reasonable suspicion. Also the power of issuing subpoenas (which might potentially violate privacy or other rights) should, as much as reasonably possible, be limited to independent judges, and be kept out of the hands of prosecutors. As currently drafted, GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB46.
SB128, “Safety Belt Amendments,” sponsored by Sen Luz Robles, would provide, with certain exceptions, that “a state or local law enforcement officer shall enforce a violation of this section [Section 41-6a-1803. Driver and passengers -- Safety belt or child restraint device required.] as a primary offense.” This means that one may be “pulled over” for a seat belt violation. (Currently, those over 19 may only be cited for failure to wear a seat belt when being “pulled over” for something else.)
SB128 currently awaits consideration by the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, and Technology Committee.
As currently drafted, GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB128.
Other bills of interest that have yet to be allowed out of the either house’s Rules Committee are as follows:
HB73, “Living Wage Amendments” sponsored by Representative Hemingway, would increase Utah’s “minimum wage” to $10.25/hour.
Having or increasing a “minimum wage” is an unwarranted interference in the marketplace, and prices some individuals out of jobs. As currently drafted, GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB73.
HB223, “School Board Election Provisions,” sponsored by Representative Jim Nielson, and HB228, “Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments,” sponsored by Representative Brian Greene: would:
HB223 would provide for nonpartisan election of Board members, while HB228 would provide for partisan election of State Board members.
The current process for selecting candidates for the State Board of Education allows the Governor and nominating and recruiting committees (themselves a mish-mash of appointed special interest representatives) to select who will be our choices on election day. As such, the current process does not place full responsibility on the Governor, nor does it allow the people to choose whom they will. Either HB223 or HB228 would make a great improvement in the process for electing State Board of Education membership by making them more directly accountable to the people (rather than to the Governor and to the favored special interests represented on the nominating and recruiting committees).
HB237, “Campaign Contribution Limits,” sponsored by Representative Kraig Powell, would provide that a state office candidate, a legislative office candidate, a school board office candidate, or a judge may not, during any two-year period, accept total contributions from the same individual or source in an amount of $9,999 or more.
Current law already requires the reporting of contributions to such candidates above a small amount. Prohibitions on larger contributions may effectively infringe upon free speech and related rights, and may inappropriately favor incumbents. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB237.
HB276, “Disorderly Conduct Amendments,”sponsored by Representative Paul Ray, would confirm that “The mere carrying or possession of a holstered or encased firearm, whether visible or concealed . . . does not constitute a violation of this section [disorderly conduct].”
There are reports of individuals being cited for disorderly conduct when they were peacefully carrying a firearm. Such behavior by law enforcement would be an infringement of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” (see the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Utah State Constitution, Article I, Section 6). GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB276.
SB100, “Antidiscrimination Amendments,” sponsored by Senator Urquhart, includes sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases for discrimination in employment and for discriminatory housing practices.
Some discrimination is good and justified, and other discrimination is bad and unjustified. But depriving owners of control of their own property and businesses is generally bad practice. And depriving people of their freedom of association is generally bad practice. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB100.
Given the possibility of significant amendments to bills, as well as other factors, the GrassRoots positions given in this letter are preliminary, not final positions. If you have any questions about these bills, GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.
PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to le.state.gov and click on “Legislators”.
Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to le.state.gov and click on “2014 General Session Page” then click on “Numbered Bills”.
Do you have other questions about how to effectively participate in the political process? Please contact us, and we will try to help as appropriate.
Do you have friends that would appreciate this legislative update? Please feel free to forward it to them.
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