Grass Roots
Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers

Legislative Updates - 25 January 2021

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ first legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature. We hope to be sending weekly updates on legislative happenings during the session, and will be concentrating on bills that we find to be friendly to the principles of limited, constitutional 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, Family, and Separation of Powers.

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 380 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 and issues that we consider to be noteworthy.

Separation of Powers, and one bad-looking bill:

In our American tradition, Separation of Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Powers, has been an essential principle in preserving the liberty of the people. Of the importance of Separation of Powers, James Madison wrote:

"The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. . . . [And, quoting Montesquieu, Madison continues:] When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body . . . there can be no liberty because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarch or senate [or, we might add, administrative board] should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner." Again “Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it [the power of judging] joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor.” (Federalist No. 47, 3rd and 8th paragraphs).

Here in Utah, we have also written the principle of Separation of Powers into our state constitution: "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" (Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1).

But we frequently fail to adhere strictly to this principle. We frequently see bills proposed and passed that prescribe “rule-making authority” for various executive department agencies. We believe this practice compromises the Separation of Powers that is so important to the preservation of our liberty. And 2020 has given us an extra taste of the economic and other effects of so much executive and bureaucratic rule-making.

Here is one bill that, we believe, merits additional scrutiny and skepticism this year:

SB12, “Reauthorization of Administrative Rules”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg, states: “All rules of Utah state agencies are reauthorized.”

SB12 passed the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee 7-0 on January 22nd, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

To the extent that any administrative rule is legislative in its nature, this would seem to be contrary to Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1 (see above quotation).

To the extent that any administrative rule is executive in its nature, the need for the Legislature to authorize it seems nonexistent. After all, "The executive power of the state shall be vested in the Governor who shall see that the laws are faithfully executed" (Utah State Constitution, Article VII, Section 5). If anyone needs to authorize administrative rules that are executive in their nature, it is the Governor—not the Legislature.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB12.

Other bills catching our attention

HB60, “Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Brooks, would provide that an individual who is 21 years old or older, and may lawfully possess a firearm, may carry a concealed firearm in a public area without a permit.

HB60 passed the House Judiciary Committee 8-3 on January 22nd, and awaits consideration by the full House.

A government-issued permit should not be required to exercise natural rights, including the natural right of self-defense. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB60.

HB116, “Student Attendance Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Robertson, would prohibit a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district from requiring documentation from a medical professional for an absence due to mental or physical illness.

HB116 awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.

Parents should be assumed competent to excuse their children’s absences from school, and should not have to spend money on a medical professional to confirm that their child is ill. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB116.

SB74, “Price Control Repeals”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg, would repeal the Price Controls During Emergencies Act, with its associated definition of “excessive prices” and associated fines (up to $1000 per violation, and up to $10000 per day) for prohibited charging of “excessive prices” during an emergency.

SB74 is scheduled as Item #1 to be considered at the 2pm, January 25th meeting of the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

In most, if not all, cases, the buyer and seller of a good or service should voluntarily agree on the price to be charged without government interference. This proposed repeal of certain price controls is consistent with free market principles. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB74.

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.


Steve Stromness
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

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

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to and click on “2020 General Session Page” then click on “2020 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.

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