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Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature
PDF version (Contains ratings charts and rankings)
How Did Your Representatives Represent You in 2020?
A Deliberative Body?
That's the number of bills passed by the Utah Legislature this past session. An increase of 9 over 2021.
The Legislature passed 119 bills (23% of the total) on the final day of the session. The last two days saw 219 bills (42.7% of the bills passed).
In a rush to pass so many pieces of legislation, was the body truly deliberative?
In reviewing legislation for this year's session, bills that drastically increased government spending or curtailed civil liberties passed by wide margins (in some cases unanimously).
With the rush to pass so many pieces of legislation, it is easy to remember that one of the primary purposes of the Legislature should be to protect taxpayer dollars. Hence it was not shocking that Senate President Stuart Adams (R-UT) said this was the highlight of this session, "Record funding for education," Adams said. "A billion dollars for infrastructure. Funding social services at record levels and a tax cut. When you do all that, that's a pretty phenomenal session."
For example, H.B. 200, which increased government spending by $3.5 million, passed without any nay votes.
While GrassRoots will always favor minimizing taxes, the tax cut was only .1% and should have been much more extensive. As record inflation begins to impact Utahns, it is even more vital that the government keep its proper role and allow taxpayers to keep more of what they earn.
Seegmiller Receives Top Score in House. Johnson Receives Highest Score in Senate
House Summary: Travis Seegmiller (R-WA) received the top score on this year's GrassRoots report. Placing in the top 10% were Ken Ivory (R-SL), Adam Robertson (R- UT), Kevin Stratton (R-UT), Kera Birkeland (R-MG), Mike Peterson- (R-CA), and Mark Strong-(R-SL)
Senate Summary: John Johnson (R-WB) led all Senators, with Dan McCay (R-SL) and Mike Kennedy (R-UT) finishing in the top 10%.
Governor: Governor Cox received a 29%. Below his lifetime average of 44%. Past Governors' lifetime scores were Gary Herbert-41%, Jon Huntsman-39%, Olene Walker-33%, and Mike Leavitt-27%.
Averages: The House received an average score of 38% compared to the lifetime score of 44%. The Senate averaged 39%% which is below the Senators' lifetime average of 45%
Analysis of Bills for 2022
Yeas, Nays list the tally on bills from each House and those Absent or Not Voting. 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. Text of all bills can be found at http://le.utah.gov.
A) H.B. 32 (R. Spendlove, D. Ipson) Creates inequality under the law by creating enhanced penalties for assault or threat against an owner, employee, or contractor of a health facility. We already have laws for assault and threats. All should be treated equally by our judicial system. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (56-16-3), Senate (25-0-4), and was signed into law by the Governor.
B) H.B. 85 (M. Petersen, J. Johnson) Protects the right of private property by removing the creation of a public park as general use for which a government entity may exercise the power of eminent domain. The power of the government to confiscate property should be a last resort for the legitimate functions of government. Denying an individual their property rights for a park violates this. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Failed in the House (34-41-0).
C) H.B. 135 (B. Brammer, J. Johnson) Requires a public body holding an open meeting to allow a reasonable opportunity for the public to provide verbal comments at the meeting. Public servants should be serving the public. For public servants to understand the people's will, they must listen to them. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (72-0-3) failed in the Senate when it failed to get a Constitutional majority of the Senate (13-9-7).
D) H.B. 182 (M. Strong, K. Cullimore) Protects state sovereignty by excluding state facilities and the capitol hill complex from the jurisdiction of a local health department order of constraint. It also protects individual rights by specifying that "An action by a legislative body of a municipality or county to terminate a state of emergency . . . is not subject to veto by the relevant chief executive officer." GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (47-19-9), Senate (22-4-3), and was signed into law by the Governor.
E) H.B. 193 (S. Waldrip, A. Millner) Increases government spending by $12.2 million per year to expand the Optional Extended Day Kindergarten program. Parents are primarily responsible for raising their children. And Utah's government school system is already enormous and far-reaching enough. We prefer a $12 million tax cut over this expansion of the nanny state. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (59-16-0), Senate (24-3-2), and was signed into law by the Governor.
F) H.B. 200 (S. Eliason, C. Bramble) Increases spending by $3.5 million annually through expansion of the Medicaid program for children with complex medical conditions. Supporters of the bill say that only $1 million of this spending comes from state funds, with the remainder coming from the federal government. Expanding our national debt, which is now over $30 trillion, is not fiscally responsible. Healthcare is also not the proper role of the government. The best way to help children is through family, friends, and charitable organizations. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (73-0-2), Senate (28-0-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.
G) H.B. 239 (N. Abbot, C. Bramble) Creates more transparency in state and local government entities by requiring them to disclose information on percentage growth in the budget and percentage growth in the jurisdiction's population in the government entities' budget. With the rapid expansion of government spending, giving taxpayers more information gives them the tools to hold government officials accountable for how they spend their hard-earned money. Grassroots approves of a YES vote. Failed in the House (29-43-3).
H) H.B. 261 (P. Lyman, C. Bramble) Includes a physician assistant and nurse practitioner on the list of individuals who may evaluate an individual to be temporarily civilly committed. Individuals could be detained for up to four days. The fifth amendment states, "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (69-0-6), Senate (19-5-5) and was signed into law by the Governor.
I) H.B. 274 (C. Moss, K. Cullimore) Extends the reach of the government school system by requiring the State Board of Education to establish sexual assault resource strategies and prevention instruction requirements. Parents are primarily responsible for instructing their children. Home is the best place to receive this instruction. We have seen the graphic details some school districts in the country have utilized. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (43-25-7) but failed in the Senate (10-18-1).
J) H.B. 373 (R. Spendlove, D. Buxton) Enlarges government by creating the Convention and Tourism Business Assessment Area Act. Allows legislative bodies in certain counties to increase taxes on certain lodging establishments to pay for certain activities that benefit lodging establishments, thus inserting county governments into tourism industry management (not a proper role of government). GrassRoots approves of a NO vote Passed the House (73-0-2), Senate (19-8-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.
K) H.B. 374 (K. Ivory, T. Weiler) Protects our children and parental rights by prohibiting certain sensitive instructional materials in public schools. Recent events have caused parents to look at what type of books are in our school libraries. Our libraries contain sexually explicit content that our children can access. Using taxpayer dollars to undermine values parents teach their children in their homes is not the proper role of government. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (59-16- 0), Senate (23-3-3), and was signed into law by the Governor.
L) H.B. 415 (S. Handy) Bill creates inequality under the law by creating enhanced penalties for assault or threat of violence against a transit worker. As with other bills, assault and the threat of assault is already against the law. Our laws should treat all equally. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (36-34-5) because the bill could not get a constitutional majority of 38.
M) H.B. 422 (J. Teuscher, T. Weiler) Allows school boards to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. A decision about voting eligibility for government positions should be considered a legislative matter to be decided by the Legislature (or, if a constitutional matter, then it should be proposed by the Legislature and decided by the people of Utah). It should not be an experimental pilot project to be chosen by local school boards. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the House (29-46-0).
N) H.B. 462 (S. Waldrip, J. Anderegg) Increases government spending by $1.8 million in FY2023 and puts several requirements upon local governments to implement affordable housing plans. Affordable housing is not the proper role of the government. When the government gets to be involved in housing, many consider it the responsibility of the government to provide housing for its citizens, and the cancerous entitlement mentality grows. Affordable housing laws also are a threat to private property rights. The right and control of property are one of the foundations of a free people. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (61-11-3), Senate (24-3-2), and was signed into law by the Governor.
O) S.B. 49 (R. Winterton, S. Handy) Authorizes an additional $12 million of tax credit certificates to film companies for rural film productions. While GrassRoots is not opposed to $12 million in tax cuts, this is another example of unequal treatment under the law and a crony capitalist giveaway to filmmakers. If the state government can live without these $12 million (and we think it can), then additional broad-based tax-rate reduction would be appropriate. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (50-22-3), Senate (22-7-0) and became law without Governor's signature. We are scoring this as if he were absent, since the Governor could have signed or vetoed the bill.
P) S.B. 59 (D. McCay, C. Snider) Reduces the tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85% on individual and corporate taxable income. While GrassRoots believes this reduction should have been larger, we favor tax rate reduction, which benefits all citizens. Further rate reduction should occur next session. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (63-12-0), Senate (28-0-1), and was signed into law by the Governor.
Q) S.B. 88 (L. Fillmore, M. Winder) Creates fourth amendment concerns by making the electronic certificate and identification card program a permanent option. Digital ID has created several issues. The government has expanded what driver licenses are used for, creating privacy concerns. Many in government want to enlarge the use of a digital license. Digital ID could allow law enforcement to use the digital driver's license as a pretext to search people's devices. Other future concerns would be that records of digital I.D. checks could be held in a centralized database to allow tracking of everyday activities, and the government could use digital id for vaccine passports. While this bill says it requires security and privacy, we believe this opens the door to increased surveillance of citizens. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (25-0-4) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
R) S.B. 115 (C. Wilson, C. Maloy) Protects second amendment rights in the state by creating the Firearms Preemption Enforcement Act. With limited, specified exceptions, the Act states that a local or state governmental entity may not enact or enforce a directive regulating possession, ownership, sale, transport, transfer, or use of firearms on public or private property. Bill waives immunity from suit for local and state government entities violating the Act. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (58-16-1), Senate (20-5-4), and was signed into law by the Governor.
S) S.B. 128 (C. Bramble, B. Brammer) Reauthorizes all rules of Utah state agencies. Insofar as any of these administrative rules are legislative in their nature, which violates the Utah State Constitution Article V Section 1 "The powers of the government of the State of Utah shall be divided into three distinct departments, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted" Insofar as any of these rules are executive in their nature, there is no need for the Legislature to authorize them We also wonder: How many legislators read and understood all of the rules that they just voted to reauthorize. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (68-0-7), Senate (26-0-3) and was signed into law by the Governor.
T) S.B. 185 (L. Escamilla, M. Schultz) Expands the government's spending by over $7 million in FY2023 and $9 million in FY2024 by directing the Department of Health to expand eligibility for all Utah children under Medicaid and CHIP. Providing health care is not the role of the government. Providing children's health care is best done by family, friends, and charitable organizations. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (21-5-3) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
U) S.B. 188 (K. Cullimore, S. Waldrip) Enlarges an existing program and renames it the Clean Fuels and Emission Reduction Technology Program. Bill also expands low-income assistance programs and adds construction and farm equipment to the "clean vehicles" list that qualifies. Increases government spending by $127,000. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (49-24-2), Senate (20-3-6), and was signed into law by the Governor.
V) S.B. 212 (A. Millner, J. Moss) Creates the Manufacturing Modernization Grant Program and a one-time appropriation of $10.million to award grants to existing Utah businesses to establish, relocate, retain or develop the manufacturing industry in the state. While GrassRoots supports more manufacturing in the state, this bill smacks of socialism and cronyism as government redirects taxpayer funds to favored businesses. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (69-0- 6), Senate (18-4-7) and was signed into law by the Governor.
W) S.B. 238 (J. Anderegg, S. Waldrip) Enacts provisions related to the "Covid-19 Homeless Housing and Services Grant Program" to fund projects for affordable housing. Would increase government spending by $55 million. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (63-7-5), Senate (25-1-3), and was signed into law by the Governor.
X) SJR 3 (D. McCay, C. Pierucci) Protected rights by terminating the public health orders (mask mandates) in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. Mask mandates violate personal and property rights (including First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights) by dictating to individuals what actions can occur on their property (including their own bodies). We believe there is not and never was Probable Cause for the mask mandates that SJR3 terminates. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (45-29-1 and Senate (22-5-2). It did not require the Governor's signature.
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