Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature

April 2020

PDF version (Contains ratings charts and rankings)

How Did Your Representatives Represent You in 2020?

Contents


The Citizens Strike Back

In December during a special session, the Utah Legislature passed comprehensive tax reform which many felt would raise overall taxes. Shortly after passage of the bill a citizens’ referendum to repeal the bill began. Citizens from throughout the state rose to sign the petition and were successful. To save face, the legislature almost unanimously repealed this measure.

This demonstrates the power citizens have in this state when they become involved. We would encourage readers to read through these bills and provide feedback (both good and bad to your representative) to your representatives. Informed citizen involvement is a good thing.

While licking their wounds from the tax battle, legislators did successfully fight efforts on red-flag laws. Red-flag laws rob a citizen of their due process rights by removing firearms from them without a citizen’s ability to have a defense (and without any charges filed against them).

In other good news, the legislature enacted three bills that will limit abortion in the state of Utah.

But in bad news, the big spending continued. Legislators passed several bills which increase the cost of government. In an era of economic uncertainty, the government is putting itself in a position with so many new programs that the next revolt may not just be against changing how taxes are collected but on how we are taxed and how big our government has grown.

This is what happens when legislators spend recklessly and don’t plan for rainy days in the future.


Seegmiller Receives Top Overall Score, Fillmore and McCay Lead Senate

House Summary: Travis Seegmiller (R-WA), Cory Maloy (R-UT), Marc Roberts (R-UT), Mark Strong (R- SL), Kim Coleman (R-SL), Stewart Barlow (R-DA) and Kevin Stratton (R-UT) were in the top 10% of the House.

Senate Summary: Lincoln Fillmore (R-SL) and Dan McCay (R-SL) received the top scores in the Senate.

Governor: Governor Herbert received a 28% 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), 21% (2018), 40% (2019)

Averages: The House received an average score of 46% compared to the lifetime score of 42%. The Senate averaged a 38% which is below the Senators average of 46%


Analysis of Bills for 2020

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. 33 (K. Lisonbee, W. Harper) Strengthens parental rights by looking for the least restrictive means and alternatives to prevent “irretrievable destruction” of the family unit. It also protects the family by considering a relative or friend for the temporary placement of a child. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (70-0-5), Senate (22-0-7) and was signed into law by the Governor.

B) H.B. 99 (L. Snow, L. Hillyard) Appropriates, as an ongoing appropriation, an additional $10 million to the enhanced kindergarten early intervention program. It also increases state control of local education by requiring the state board to develop and collect data for kindergarten entry and exit assessments. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (47-23- 5), Senate (27-0-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

C) H.B. 100 (L. Snow, L. Hillyard) Violates the principle of equal treatment under the law by creating the Veterans Treatment Court, an advancement of the pre-existing Veterans Court. The bill also creates rights issues for the accused, Separation of Powers issues, and maybe even states’ rights issues, as it specifies “continuous judicial supervision using a cooperative approach with prosecutors, defense attorneys, substance abuse treatment services, the Department of Corrections, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Justice Outreach Program”. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (71-0-4), Senate (24-0-5) and was signed into law by the Governor.

D) H.B. 101 (C. Moss, D. Ipson) Reduces the penalty for variouscell-phone-related conduct while driving from class C misdemeanor to infraction. It also repeals the elevation of the “crime” to a class B misdemeanor for certain repeat offenses. These are improvements. It also expands the definition of such offenses by broadening to using “a hand to hold or operate a handheld wireless communication device.” And this enlarged category of offenses remains as a class B misdemeanor “if the person has also inflicted serious bodily injury upon another...” We believe civil liability for fault in an accident is appropriate. We question the propriety of imprisoning somebody for 6 months for an accident. We judge that the bad of this bill outweigh the good. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (40-32-3), Senate 2nd reading (19-8-2), but failed to pass the Senate, never having come to a 3rd reading vote in there. Legislators have different reasons for voting on a 2nd reading.Please ask you State Senator to explain their vote.

E) H.B. 104 (B. King) Infringes on an individual’s free-speech rights by making it a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable for up to six months in jail if an individual does not contact 911 during an emergency or crime. While an individual has an individual responsibility to help, putting someone in prison is extreme and could be abused. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote.Failed in the House (29-46-0).

F) H.B. 107 (M. Winder, L. Hillyard) Is likely to cost $428,200 for the Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools and allows teachers in grades 1-3 to be eligible to participate. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (54-16-5), Senate (27-0-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

G) H.B. 114 (S. Waldrip, A Millner) Increases government spending by allocating, as an ongoing appropriation, $5 million for early childhood assessments in mathematics. Bill also takes away local control by using state dollars to determine the assessments that local education associations can provide. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (38-33- 4), Senate (25-0-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.

H) H.B. 132 (K. Coleman, T. Weiler) Protects rights of students at institutions of higher education by prohibiting a college or university from punishing certain acts of speech providing they do not violate another’s rights. These acts cannot be discriminatory harassment. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (39-31-5) but failed in the Senate (9- 16-4).

I) H.B. 146 (C. Maloy, C. Bramble) Prohibits the suspension of a driver's license simply because an individual has not paid certain fines. Individuals need to work to provide for their families and basic needs. If an individual cannot drive, they may not be able to work, and this places a burden on the taxpayer. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (40-32- 3) but did not come up for a floor vote in the Senate.

J) H.B. 189 (T. Quinn) Creates inequality under the law by allowing an individual who is 72 years old to be excused from jury duty simply based upon his or her age. As citizens, we have certain obligations, one of these is jury duty. Exempting an individual because of their age is discriminatory and creates two classes of citizens. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (30-40-5)

K) H.B 209 (R. Ward, E. Vickers) The Fourth Amendment protects a citizen from “unreasonable searches and seizures”, bill violates this right by allowing the Health Data Committee to disclose identifiable health data to the Department of Health or other public health authority. This includes information on immunization and cancer. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (48-20-7), Senate (24-0-5) and was signed into law by the Governor.

L) H.B. 222 (D. Johnson, L. Hillyard) Is likely to cost US taxpayers $1 million to create the Start Smart Utah Program. It provides breakfast after the school day has begun. Individuals have increasingly become more and more reliant upon government which increases the burden on taxpayers and takes away the responsibility from parents to provide for their children. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (53-17- 5), Senate (25-1-3), and was signed into law by the Governor.

M) H.B. 241 (L. Shurtliff) Infringes on parental rights by decreasing age at which a child must attend kindergarten from six to five years old. Continues an ongoing attempt to replace parental influence with government control over children. Ultimately, we must remember it is the responsibility of the parents to raise their children, not the government. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (23-46-6).

N) H.B. 323 (S. Eliason, A. Millner) Prohibits mental health screening in government schools without parental consent, and provides that data collected from a mental health screening may not be included in a student’s records. These appear to be improvements in the statute where mental health screening is already taking place in our schools. It also requires the State Board of Education to approve an “evidence-based” mental health screening program to be administered annually to students in participating LEAs (local education agencies). The sponsor’s stated goal is to reduce suicide among young students. This is a worthy goal. But routine mental health screening in government schools is another enlargement of the role of government in our society. We would urge that government institutions only perform mental health screening (which is a form of search) based on probable cause (for instance, probable cause to believe that an individual is considering suicide). We would urge that mental health screening without such probable cause be left to consenting parties in the private sector. We judge that the bad of this bill outweighs the good. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (44-28-3), Senate (19-9-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.

O) H.B. 324 (M. Judkins, T. Weiler) Provides that a prosecution agency may create a conviction integrity unit to review past convictions that, considering new or previously hidden evidence, look problematic. When such a conviction is questioned and a court is petitioned to review it, the crime victim is to be notified of this petition. In response to the petition, the court has various options, including vacating the conviction, ordering a new trial, and-or modifying the sentence. One of the bedrock principles of our justice system is to protect innocent individuals from going to jail. When prosecutors erroneously bring about punishment for an innocent person, they should be able to take steps to correct their errors. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (44-28-3), Senate (24-2-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.

P) H.B. 350 (S. Waldrip, S. Sandall) Creates inequality under the law by creating increased penalties for drivers who had a drug metabolite even if the individual was not shown to be impaired. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (67-2-6) but failed in the Senate (11-17-1).

Q) H.B. 364 (S. Christensen, C. Bramble) Protects the right to life by requiring a medical professional to offer a display of live fetal images and of audible the fetal heartbeat (if possible) to a pregnant woman before performing an abortion. The right to life is our most fundamental right, this bill provides for showing evidence abortion kills a living being. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (47-20-8), Senate (16-7-6) but changes made in Senate did not receive a final vote in the House.

R) S.B. 39 (J. Anderegg, V. Potter) Increases government spending through a one-time appropriation of $10 million to the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund for affordable housing in the state of Utah. Affordable housing is not the proper role of government, and government involvement increases housing costs. Let the free market decide. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (48-24-3), Senate (16-10-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.

S) S.B. 62 (J. Anderegg, M. Roberts) Reauthorizes all administrative rules made by various executive agencies. This compromises the principle of Separation of Powers by allowing the continuation of rulemaking of a legislative nature by executive agencies, in violation of Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (67-1-7), Senate (27-2-0) and was signed into law by the Governor.

T) S.B. 67 (C. Bramble, K. Lisonbee) Honors the right to life, by requiring health care facilities to provide for the final disposition of aborted fetus and miscarried fetal remains. Some health care facilities have sold the remains of fetuses, a barbaric practice. All human life is precious and should be protected. Grassroots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (49-20- 6), Senate (22-6-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.

U) S.B. 74 (D. Kitchen, S. Eliason) Requires the Division of Health Care Financing to apply for a Medicaid waiver or a state plan amendment to extend family planning services to individuals with income equal to or less than 250% of the federal poverty level. Thus increases the cost of government by $3 million in FY2021 and $4 million in FY2022 between federal and state funding (the fiscal notes list some of this money as revenue from the federal government, but taxpayers still pay for it). GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (23-1-5) but did not come up for a floor vote in the House.

V) S.B. 173 (D. Ipson, L. Perry) Infringes on an individual’s first amendment rights by placing more restrictions on how an individual may protest government action at a public meeting or in a public place. The bill says a person can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor (could be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor) if their conduct creates a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or threatening behavior. The language is vague and threatens a citizen’s rights. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (40-30-5), Senate (26-0-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.

W) S.B. 174 (D. McCay, K. Lisonbee) Protects human life by prohibiting abortion with limited exceptions if a court of binding authority holds that a state may prohibit abortion. All rights are predicated upon the right to life. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (51-21-3), Senate (22-5-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

X) S.B. 198 (K. Mayne, C. Moss) Creates barriers to entry by requiring substitute teachers to complete certain training before employment. It also takes power from local school districts which should have the authority to create hiring criteria for their district. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (25-2-2) but failed in the House (21-49-5).


Addenda