Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
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Legislative Updates - 22 February 2016
This is GrassRoots’ fourth weekly legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.
At this time (four weeks into the session), there are about 660 numbered bills for this session. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.
Education Bills catching our attention this week
This week, several bills relating to education and schools in Utah have caught our attention. In our judgment of, and positions on, these bills, the following principles and ideas have guided our thinking:
The traditional family is the fundamental unit of society for the support, teaching, and nurturing of children and other minors. Parents are primarily responsible for, and should have control over, the education of their children.
Government should avoid unwarranted interference in the functioning of families and with the prerogatives of parents—including directing the education of their children.
Government should also avoid excessive taxation for all manner of education and other spending. While some spending on education is extremely valuable, government is often an inferior, and more corrupt, entity (in comparison with parents, students, and other private parties) for making such spending decisions—in no small part because of the force (compulsion) that is involved in implementing most government programs.
Local community control of education is usually better than control by a distant State Board of Education.
So far, civilization has survived in Utah without these proposed programs. We doubt if any of these proposals are necessary for Utah, even if there might be some benefits to some individuals. (Of course, with “the law of unintended consequences” at work, as it so often is in government matters, we suspect that the costs of each of these programs would far outweigh the benefits.)
Here are some education-related bills that have caught our attention:
HB28, “Grants for Educator Professional Learning”, sponsored by Representative Last and Senator Millner, would:
HB28 passed the House of Representatives 61-12 on February 5th, and the Senate (2nd reading only) 25-2 on February 28th and awaits final 3rd reading consideration by the Senate. Final (3rd reading) consideration by the Senate will likely be delayed until the last week of the legislative session due to the bill’s fiscal impact.
As currently drafted, HB28 would put another $30 million under the control of the State Board of Education, and LEAs would have to “jump through the State Board’s hoops” to obtain the monies. Why is it better to centralize power in the hands of the distant State Board of Education, instead of decentralizing the power, and leaving it in the hands of LEAs, local parents, and local taxpayers?
If there is a spare $30 million, we would prefer a tax cut rather than enactment of HB28.
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB28.
HB41, “Fees for Supplemental Hours”, sponsored by Representative Eliason and Senator Millner, would:
HB41 passed the House of Representatives 47-27 on February 8th, and the Senate Education Committee 4-2 on February 17th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.
Enactment of HB41 would be an enlargement of the scope of socialized education. It would pose a problem of additional government competition with the private sector. If we are going to expand hours of kindergarten instruction, we would prefer that this decision be made by parents who decide to spend their own money on the decision, rather than bringing even more government force into the equation.
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB41.
HB42Substitute, “Early Learning Amendments”, sponsored by Representative V. Lowry Snow and Senator Millner, would:
HB42Substitute passed the House of Representatives 58-16 on Feb 11th, and the Senate Education Committee 6-0 on February 19th, and will probably be placed on the Senate 2nd reading calendar shortly.
This looks like another $10 million per year being tossed to the control of the distant State Board of Education, with LEAs being allowed to apply for their share as they “jump through the State Board’s hoops.” If there is a spare $10 million, we would prefer a tax cut rather than enactment of HB42Substitute.
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB42Substitute.
SB67, “Partnerships for Student Success”, sponsored by Senator Millner and Representative Rebecca Edwards, would:
SB67 passed the Senate 21-8 on February 3rd, and the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee 6-0 on February 10th, and awaits action by the House Rules Committee due to the bill’s fiscal impact.
This looks like another $5 million per year being tossed to the control of the distant State Board of Education, with various “public-private partnerships” allowed to apply for a cut of the public monies. If there is a spare $5 million, we would prefer a tax cut rather than enactment of SB67.
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB67.
Another bill catching our attention this week:
HB56, “Women in the Economy Commission Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Rebecca Edwards and Senator Bramble, would repeal the sunset date of the Women in the Economy Commission Act, which would have the effect of allowing the commission to continue beyond July 1, 2016.
As specified in the Women in the Economy Commission Act, “The commission’s purpose is to:
Membership of the commission is a hodge-podge of 11 individuals appointed by legislative leadership (of both parties), the executive director of the Department of Workforce Services, and 6 individuals appointed by the Governor.
HB56 passed the House of Representatives 69-0 on January 26th, and the Senate 21-5 on February 11th, and awaits action by the Governor.
We doubt if the 11 appointees on this commission are endowed with such wisdom as would be needed to fulfill its stated purpose any better than a thousand other such commissions. Don’t get us wrong; we are totally in favor of the preservation of women’s (and men’s) legitimate rights. We just believe that those rights are already reasonably well-stated in our national Bill of Rights, and in the Declaration of Rights found in Article I of the Utah State Constitution. And we doubt if these 11 appointees will improve on these constitutional statements.
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB56, and requests that Governor Herbert veto HB56, and allow this commission to sunset on July 1st.
Updated status on bills mentioned in earlier GrassRoots updates
HB67, “Weapons on Public Transportation”, sponsored by Representative Thurston and Senator Christensen, would eliminate a prohibition of carrying a firearm on a bus, by deleting current language in Utah Code that “A person who boards a bus with a concealed dangerous weapon or firearm upon his person or effects is guilty of a third degree felony.”
HB67 passed Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee 3-0 on February 16th, and the full Senate (2nd reading) 25-2 on February 18th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 3rd reading calendar.
HB67 is a welcome step in the direction of undoing an affront to the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB67.
HB120Substitute, “DUI Enforcement Funding Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Eliason and Senator Bramble, would:
HB120 Substitute passed the House 71-0 on February 16th, and awaits consideration by the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee.
As we have stated earlier, funding for DUI enforcement sounds like a proper use of public monies. Also, the proposed increase in the impound fee may be reasonable if due process is ensured. We suppose such sentiments contributed heavily to the unanimous (among those present) passage of HB120Substitute by the House of Representatives.
However, we continue to be concerned with the proliferation of administrative fees and fines in the absence of an actual conviction for wrong-doing, or other evidence of due process. In more and more cases, it seems that our constitutional rights to jury trial are being circumvented by administrative powers of imposing fines and fees. And, in the case of these administrative vehicle impound fees, we have found no evidence that Utah Code (including the section to be amended by HB120Substitute) requires a conviction or guilty plea or “no contest” plea before the fee is assessed to the owner of the vehicle. In the absence of such a requirement of due process, we believe it would be imprudent to increase the impound fee.
GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB120Substitute as currently drafted.
HB160Substitute was replaced by HB160Sub2, “Justice Court Judge Qualifications Amendments”, and is sponsored by Representative Craig Hall and Senator Hillyard. HB160Sub2 would:
HB160Sub2 passed the House 44-28 on February 18th, and awaits action by the Senate Rules Committee.
With all due respect to the training of an attorney, we still believe that it would be unwise to eliminate 90+% of our population from consideration for such positions of trust. Anyone (attorney or not) with a good command of the English language and reasonable degree of life experience and reasoning skills can understand our statutes, and our state and national constitutions; law school graduates do not have a monopoly on such qualifications.
As with prior versions of HB160, GrassRoots also favors a “no” vote on HB160Sub2.
SB43 was replaced by SB43Substitute, “Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention in Public Schools”, and is sponsored by Senator Weiler and Representative McKay. SB43Substitute looks similar to the original SB43, and would:
SB43 passed the Senate 22-5 on February 12th, and awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.
We still believe that there is no compelling need to add this kind of instruction into a government school system that already is given too much to do, and already consumes too many tax-dollars and too much parental prerogative.
Also, even with the addition of language in the latest version of the bill, that the instruction “shall be neutral of political statements on guns”, we are still concerned that the prescribed instruction is more likely to be politically tainted (whether subtly or not), than if left to the private sector (including such volunteer organizations as the Boy Scouts of America). And we question whether development of the prescribed course materials is an appropriate assignment for the Attorney General’s office (which should be occupied with the legal and law enforcement interests of the people of Utah), and for the State Board of Education (a rather distant entity when compared with parents and local school districts).
As with the original bill, GrassRoots also favors a “no” vote on SB43Substitute.
SB45, “Compulsory Education Revisions”, sponsored by Senator Alvin Jackson and Representative Anderegg, would eliminate criminal (class B misdemeanor) penalties for a parent of a truant school-age child.
SB45 passed the Senate 22-5 on February 17th, and awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.
The traditional family (not the government school bureaucracy) is the fundamental unit of society for the support, teaching, and nurturing of children and other minors. Reducing the ability of government school bureaucrats to coerce parents with Class B Misdemeanor threats would be a welcome change in policy.
GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on SB45.
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.utah.gov and click on “Legislators”.
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