Legislative Updates - 12 February 2018

<< All 2018 updates

Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ third weekly legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.

At this time (three weeks into the session), there are about 590 numbered bills for this session. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.

Bills catching our attention this week

HB193, “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact”, sponsored by Representative Jeremy Peterson, would:

  • provide that presidential electors are elected based on the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationally rather than the presidential candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the state;
  • enact an agreement among the states to elect the president and vice president of the United States by national popular vote; and
  • provide conditions for the agreement to take effect.

HB193 awaits consideration by House Government Operations Committee.

HB193 would, under certain circumstances (in accordance with an “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote”), abdicate Utah’s sovereignty in the casting of its electoral votes for President and Vice-President of the United States.

The electoral college remains an important instrument for the exercise of state sovereignty under the US Constitution. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB193.

HB264, “Elementary School Counselor Program”, sponsored by Representative Eliason and Senator Howard Stephenson, would:

  • authorize the State Board of Education (board) to award grants to local education agencies (LEAs) to provide targeted school-based mental health supports in elementary schools;
  • authorize the board to make rules for grant applications and awards; and
  • require a local education agency that receives a grant to submit an annual report to the board.

HB264 prescribes priorities in the awarding of grants as follows: “(a) first priority to an LEA that proposes to target funds to one or more elementary schools with a high percentage of students exhibiting risk factors for childhood trauma; and (b) second priority to an LEA that proposes to target funds to one or more elementary schools with a high percentage of students experiencing intergenerational poverty.”

The fiscal note for HB264 estimates that “Enactment of the programs required by this legislation could cost the State Board of Education $2,250,000 ongoing from the Education Fund beginning in FY 2019. These programs would include $2,100,000 for grants to 28 qualifying LEAs for school-based mental health supports and $150,000 for the development and administration of an educator training program on the impact of trauma on student learning.”

The fiscal note further estimates that, for the case of 28 awarded LEAs, the local LEA matching requirement would be $700K ($25K per LEA) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, and $1.4 million ($50K per LEA) in FY2021.

What is the stated motivation for HB264? At least in part, it may be found in the following as reported by the Deseret News: “Rep Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, sponsor of HB264, noted Utah's growing rates of suicide among youths ages 10 to 17. The youngest child to end their life last year was 11 years old, he said. ‘I think starting a little earlier in elementary school (providing more counselors) is key to getting ahead of this situation,’ Eliason said” (“Bill to create grant program for elementary school counselors gets committee nod”, Deseret News, February 5th; also see https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900009518/bill-to-create-grant-program-for-elementary-school-counselors-gets-committee-nod.html ).

HB264 passed the House Education Committee 7-1 on Feb 5th and awaits consideration by the full House.

Most would characterize improvement of mental health and reduction of suicides as worthy goals. But is an increased number of school counselors, paid for by grants awarded by the (distant) State Board of Education a good answer? Is this kind of social planning, taking control from individual taxpayers and families, and filtering resources through the State Board of Education, likely to improve mental health? The likely answer to these questions is “no.”

Furthermore, knowing the historical results of large-scale social planning, we have reason to suspect that we may not even like the social planners’ definition of what constitutes “good mental health.” We would therefore advocate a more decentralized approach. Let those closest to the problems decide what is and is not a worthy expenditure, and let them shoulder the cost.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB264.

SB146, “Technology Summit Incentives”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg, would:

  • allow some nonprofit organizations engaged in publicizing, developing, and promoting the high tech sector to qualify for a grant from the Industrial Assistance Account; and
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2019: to the Economic Development - Industrial Assistance Fund as an ongoing appropriation: from the General Fund, $1,000,000.

One objective appears to be to promote “a program of out-of-state advertising, marketing, and branding for an annual conference for the high tech sector with at least 10,000 attendees. . . .”

SB146 passed the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee 4-0 on February 6th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

This looks like another proposal to insert government into activities that should be pursued (or freely not pursued) in the private sector. A tax cut of $1 million would be more helpful to our freedom and prosperity than this proposed spending. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB146.

SB154, “Prohibition of Law Enforcement Quotas”, sponsored by Senator Howard Stephenson, would:

  • prohibit a political subdivision or law enforcement agency from: a) requiring or directing a peace officer to meet an arrest, citation, stop, or other quota; or b) transferring, promoting, disciplining, or taking any other action against a peace officer for reasons related to an arrest, citation, stop, or other quota; and
  • require the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to develop model standards unrelated to quotas to evaluate peace officer performance.

SB154 passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee 4-0 on Feb 8th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

Law Enforcement Quotas as defined in this bill distort law enforcement priorities. This bill is a sound step in the direction of avoiding such distortion of priorities. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB154.

Updated status on bills mentioned in earlier GrassRoots updates

HB164Sub2, “Early Learning Task Force”, sponsored by Representative Cutler and Senator Millner, would create the Early Childhood Task Force, which would be charged with making “policy recommendations related to a comprehensive state strategy for early childhood to ensure that children are prepared to succeed academically.”

Additional coverage of HB164Sub2 may be found in our update of February 5th.

HB164Sub2 failed the House 33-36 on February 9th.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB164Sub2.

SB104Substitute, “Talent Development and Retention Strategy”, sponsored by Senator Millner and Representative Wilson, would:

  • create the Talent Development Incentive Loan Program to award an incentive loan to an individual who: a) pursues a qualifying degree for a qualifying job; and b) intends to work in a qualifying job in Utah;
  • provide for the Governor's Office of Economic Development to determine which jobs are qualifying jobs and the qualifying degrees for each qualifying job;
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2019: to the State Board of Regents - Student Assistance - Talent Development Incentive Loan Program, as an ongoing appropriation: from the Education Fund, $2,500,000.

Additional coverage of SB104Substitute may be found in our update of February 5th.

SB104Substitute passed the Senate 25-0 on February 7th, and is scheduled for consideration at the February 12th-8am meeting of the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee, where it is currently scheduled as item #2 on the agenda.

A $2.5 million tax cut would be more beneficial to the economy and to our freedom than this program. GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SB104Substitute.

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.

Sincerely,

Steve Stromness
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots
steven.stromness@gmail.com
435-637-5248

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots
donguymon@gmail.com
801-574-9461

PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to le.utah.gov and click on “Legislators”.

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to le.utah.gov and click on “2018 General Session Page” then click on “2018 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.

Would you like to help us with review of legislation in a small or large way? Consider taking a special look at bills sponsored by your own representative or senator. Please contact us with your findings and/or with any questions we might be able to help you with.