Utah Legislature – Alliance for a Better Utah

Utah Legislature

Politics can be confusing, but we’re here to help! Our staff works hard to promote political awareness and participation among all groups in Utah.

During the legislative session, you’ll find us hanging out at the Capitol building for the latest scoops in lawmaking. We publish regular reports during each session to keep you up to date on new bills and ballot initiatives.

Keep an eye out for out for our forthcoming Voter Guide, which provides impartial outlines of several significant issues in Utah politics.

2018 Legislative Scorecard

We finished all the grading. Now it’s time for you to see how your representative and senator did during the 2018 Legislative Session!

Better Utah on the Hill

Sign up to receive updates from our policy and advocacy counsel, Chase Thomas, as he follows the 2018 Interim Session!

Latest Blog Posts and News

16 states to Supreme Court: Let us fire people for being transgender

This article originally appeared in Think Progress. Read it in its entirety here A group of sixteen states has filed a brief calling on the Supreme Court to rule that it’s legal to fire people for being transgender. In the amicus brief filed Friday, the states recommended the Court consider R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc….

GOP Utah Legislators Roberts, McCay Get Fs in Overall Report Cards From Watchdog Organization

This story by Rhett Wilkinson originally appeared at TheGoodMenProject.com. Members of the Utah House of Representatives didn’t fail just in making a music video. Republicans Marc Roberts and Dan McCay got the worst grades among all members of the Utah Legislature – and the worst you can get overall – in the Alliance for a Better…

The Session is Over, So Now What?

When the Utah State Legislature adjourned at “sine die” on March 8, my first thought was “Thank God, it’s over! I don’t have to deal with this for another nine months.” And while it’s true we won’t have hundreds of bills flying around every minute and I won’t be staying up until midnight or later,…

The People of Utah have Their Own Legislative Authority

It’s time for our Legislature to quit being the overbearing parent who feels they always know what’s best. When one thinks of the power to make laws here in Utah, the first thing that comes to mind is normally the Utah Legislature. Understandable, as we elect legislators to the Legislature so they may legislate. However,…

Legislators Turn a Deaf Ear to Native Voices

After the legislature’s call to rescind Bears Ears led the Outdoor Retailer trade show to relocate to Colorado, one would think our representatives would handle future land decisions more carefully and listen to constituents. Including input from those who occupy these lands and consider them sacred is not only the right thing to do, it’s…

Press Release: Representatives Pass Bill Giving Themselves Time To Change Initiatives

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   (WE SPOKE TOO SOON) REPRESENTATIVES PASS BILL GIVING THEMSELVES TIME TO CHANGE INITIATIVES   Salt Lake City, UT – After initially being defeated on the floor of the House, representatives reconsidered H.B. 471, “Initiative Amendments” and passed…

Press Release: Ballot Initiatives Safe From Legislative Meddling For Now

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   BALLOT INITIATIVES SAFE FROM LEGISLATIVE MEDDLING FOR NOW   Salt Lake City, UT – H.B. 471, a bill from Rep. Brad Daw (R – Orem) that would have delayed implementation of ballot initiatives once approved, failed in…

Press Release: Utahns Will Be Left #StillWaiting Under Medicaid Expansion Bill

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   UTAHNS WILL BE LEFT #STILLWAITING UNDER MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL   Salt Lake City, UT – The Utah House of Representatives passed H.B. 472 from Rep. Robert Spendlove (R – Sandy) by a vote of 47-27. This bill…

H.B. 281, “Voter Eligibility Amendments”

H.B. 281, “Voter Eligibility Amendments,” is a bill introduced by Rep. Briscoe (D-Salt Lake City) that would expand voter’s ability to register for and participate in state primary elections. The bill, which is currently on the Senate’s second reading calendar, would amend Utah law to allow those who are 17 years old to register and...

H.B. 326, “Intergenerational Poverty Initiative”

H.B. 326, “Intergenerational Poverty Initiative” is a bill sponsored by Rep. Redd (R-Logan) that would establish a pilot program through the Department of Workforce Services to address Utah’s intergenerational poverty problem. "Intergenerational poverty" occurs when two or more consecutive generations of families live at or below the federal poverty level of income. H.B. 326 appropriates...

H.B. 117, “Hourly Wage Increase Amendments”

H.B. 177 would raise the hourly minimum wage in Utah to $10.25. Under this bill, employees would receive a three dollar increase from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. The change would be effective July 1, 2018. This bill further schedules a minimum wage increase to $12.00 per hour in 2022. The Utah minimum...

H.B. 471, “Initiative Amendments”

ACTION ALERT: EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE! H.B. 471 passed out of committee and is now waiting for a vote on the House floor. Email your representative NOW to let them know they should vote NO on this bill! {{ vc_btn:link=url%3Ahttp%253A%252F%252Fact.betterutah.org%252Fletter%252Faction-alert-email-rep-hb471%252F%7C%7Ctarget%3A%2520_blank%7C&title=EMAIL+YOUR+REPRESENTATIVE&style=3d&gradient_color_1=turquoise&gradient_color_2=blue&gradient_custom_color_1=%23dd3333&gradient_custom_color_2=%23eeee22&gradient_text_color=%23ffffff&custom_background=%23ededed&custom_text=%23666&outline_custom_color=%23666&outline_custom_hover_background=%23666&outline_custom_hover_text=%23fff&shape=rounded&color=warning&size=md&align=left&i_align=left&i_type=fontawesome&i_icon_fontawesome=fa+fa-adjust&i_icon_openiconic=vc-oi+vc-oi-dial&i_icon_typicons=typcn+typcn-adjust-brightness&i_icon_entypo=entypo-icon+entypo-icon-note&i_icon_linecons=vc_li+vc_li-heart&i_icon_monosocial=vc-mono+vc-mono-fivehundredpx&i_icon_material=vc-material+vc-material-cake&i_icon_pixelicons=vc_pixel_icon+vc_pixel_icon-alert }} Currently, proposed laws approved by state voters take effect five days after the Governor certifies...

S.B. 172, “Medicaid Waiver Amendments”

SB 172 seeks Medicaid waivers from the federal government for a host of extremely bad ideas, including:  - Per capita block grants  - Work requirements for around 10,000 individuals  - Medical savings accounts for Medicaid recipients  - Retroactive eligibility limits  - Monthly payments similar to premiums S.B. 172 is a HUGE bill- one that makes...

H.B. 12, “Family Planning Services Amendments”

Ray Ward’s H.B. 12 is a bill attempting to bridge the gap in healthcare for poor women and families across the state by providing family planning services and sexual education to reach those most in need. The bill establishes a 4-year pilot program that would offer family planning education, advocacy, and counseling for low-income Utah...

H.B. 79, “Private Attorney General Doctrine”

H.B. 79 would restore the inherent equitable power of courts to award attorney fees to a private citizen who brings a lawsuit that benefits a significant number of people in the public. This doctrine is known as the "Private Attorney General Doctrine." This power is exercised at the close of a lawsuit when the court...

H.B. 205, “Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act”

ACTION ALERT: EMAIL YOUR SENATOR! After sitting in the Senate Rules Committee for two weeks, H.B. 205 was just assigned to the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee. This means it will most likely be heard in committee in a few days. Email your Senator now to tell them to vote no on...

H.B. 283, “Workplace Protection Amendments”

Better Utah SUPPORTS H.B. 283 Bill Sponsor: Rep. Rebecca Edwards Floor Sponsor:

Better Utah on the Hill

Once again, the Utah State Legislature is in session. Starting today, legislators will meet for 45 days to consider hundreds of pieces of legislation. Needless to say, there is a lot to get done in short amount of time. Over the next month and a half, some bills, such as those addressing education funding, Medicaid...

November Is a Time to Be Grateful…And to Learn More About the Legislature

It’s the middle of November, which means we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Next week is Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner. For me, the middle of November also means the next Legislative Session is just around the corner as well. We are now only 67 days away...

Fall Up at the Utah Legislature

  It is now my favorite season in Utah: fall! The beautiful yellow Aspen leaves along the Alpine Loop are not the only evidence of this wonderful season falling upon us, but the trees in the loop around the Utah State Capitol have also taken on the various autumnal shades. I love the landscaping up…

Double Feature at the Utah Legislature

Another month, another Interim Session with the Utah State Legislature. Except September consisted of twice the fun (or twice the boredom) because the Governor decided to call a Special Session to be held on the same day! I spent all day up at the Capitol and here’s a quick run-down on what I saw and…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: “All Things Water”

Utah has a long way to go to be a leader in water quality. From mine tailing contamination to algal blooms to depleting water supply, Utah faces a potential water crisis. Fortunately, Utah is trying to fix the problem, but that process is speckled by pros and cons. The Good   Governor Herbert requested a…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: “The Future of Utah’s Income Tax”

Income Tax Working Group, Utah Tax Review Commission: August 2017 You can always count on Senator Dabakis to make even the most mundane meetings exciting. During Utah Tax Review Commission’s meeting on Utah income tax system, Senator Dabakis made sure to ask tough questions and push-back when he saw potential inequity in the tax code….

August 2017 Interim Session Update: “Healthcare and All that Good Stuff”

Healthcare and All that Good Stuff: August 2017 It was a busy week on the hill for healthcare committees. Legislators heard from various groups on medicaid expansion, insurance premiums, and general healthcare structures. Healthcare Systems Legislators heard from the The Commonwealth Fund, which included a presentation on the general health of the healthcare system, comparison…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: Water Rights and the Struggle for Power

Commission on Federalism: August 2017 Ah, Federalism — Utah legislators’ favorite topic. Representative Ivory is still pushing for a scholarship essay, in which students detail “how federalism secures the blessings of liberty.” President Niederhauser elicited a round of applause for lamenting the loss of state sovereignty, and Senator Dayton claimed the federal government is trying to…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: What to do about property taxes??

Property Tax Working Group, Utah Tax Review Commission – 8/22/17 When somebody says “fun legislative committee meeting,” what’s the first thought that pops into your head?? Well, obviously Property Tax Reform!!! During August’s Interim Session, the legislature met to discuss property taxes as part of its broader review of Utah’s tax system. Miraculously, I managed…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: Teachers’ Salaries

Education Interim Committee – 8/23/17 Education–it’s important! However, as we all know “action speak louder than words,” and while our legislators continue to speak tough on funding education, their actions continue to say otherwise. During August’s Interim Session, legislators met and discussed the topic of “Educator Salaries and Retention,” and although it seems like everyone…

July 2017 Interim Session Update

Another month, another day of interim session meetings up at the Utah Legislature. As always, Alliance for a Better Utah was up at the Capitol to monitor our legislators and learn more about the topics they are studying. July’s interim session consisted of meetings with the appropriations subcommittees. If you don’t know what appropriations are,…

2017 June Interim Session Update – Animal Shelters, Removal of Local Officials, and Free Expression

Political Subdivisions Interim Committee 06/21 The committee covered several topics: animal shelters, the removal of local officials, local government disposition of property, drafting legislation, and local government enforcement mechanisms. Animal Shelters – SB56 Senator Knudson and Rep. King in the last session introduced a amendments related to the euthanasia of animals by an animal shelter. The…

June 2017 Interim Session – Tax Reform Update

Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee – 6/21 As we have said before, tax reform is probably the biggest issue that legislators are contemplating as they head into the 2018 General Session. Utah’s population is growing rapidly and more revenue will be needed in order to provide for better education, transportation, and other government services. The…

June 2017 Interim Session – Boards, Commissions, Campaign Finance, and Poll Watchers Update

Government Operations Interim Committee – June 21 Review of Boards and Commissions with Legislative Participation To help make policy, the Legislature depends heavily on boards and commissions. These entities cover a variety of issues and policy areas, such as healthcare on the Health Reform Task Force, public lands on the Commission for the Stewardship of…

June 2017 Interim Session – JRI Update

Judiciary Interim Committee Meeting – 6/21 Justice Reinvestment Initiative Presentation Chair Todd Weiler began the meeting by inviting two representatives from the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Doreen Wayland, JRI Coordinator, and Sofia Nystrom presented some effects of HB348, the bill establishing the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). This program is meant to assist certain…

June 2017 Interim Session – Education Update

Education Interim Committee Meeting – June 21, 2017 Recodification The meeting began with a proposal to recodify Title 53A, which governs the state’s public school system. It will be divided into three new titles. 53E guides state administration. 53F contains funding policy. 53G guides local school administration. This was primarily for organizational purposes. After representatives…

Press Release: Senate Reveals Healthcare Bill with Huge Cuts to Medicaid and Insurance Coverage

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 22, 2017 CONTACTS: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah | chase@betterutah.org | 480.532.1880 – – – – – – SENATE REVEALS HEALTHCARE BILL WITH HUGE CUTS TO MEDICAID AND INSURANCE COVERAGE – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – This morning, Senate Republicans released…

2017 Interim Session – Healthcare Update

Health Reform Task Force – June 18 With Congress still debating the future of the Affordable Care Act and an expected vote coming soon in the Senate on the American Health Care Act, it is no wonder that health reform is one of the main topics on the agenda over the course of the Interim…

2017 Interim Session – Federalism Update

Commission on Federalism We had the joy of once again sitting in on Rep. Ken Ivory’s pet project for which he receives state taxpayer dollars, a.k.a., the Commission on Federalism. Now, don’t get us wrong — federalism is an important principle, one which our representative democracy was built upon. Federalism is what allows state to…

2017 Interim Session – Transportation and Alcohol Update

Transportation interim Committee The May Interim’s Transportation Committee confronted two important issues today: The Utah Department of Transportation presented on the importance of Utah as a lynchpin of transportation, especially of cargo and freight, in the western U.S. They also observed that, with the population along the Wasatch front expected to double by 2050, automobile…

2017 Interim Session – Education Update

Education Interim Committee The issues discussed by  May’s interim Education Committee were largely technical in scope, but here are a few things that caught our eye: Representative Snow presented the details of HB 239, his proposed bill for reforming K-12 school approaches to juvenile delinquency. Minor offenses (including tobacco use, truancy, and Class C misdemeanors)…

2017 Interim Session – Voter Participation Update

Government Operations Interim Committee There were a range of topics in this month’s Government Operations Interim Committee meeting, but we honed in on one major topic: voter participation. Rep. Patrice Arent presented on Presidential Primary Funding. During the legislative session, Arent and her co-sponsor, Sen. Curtis Bramble, passed a bill requiring the state to hold…

2017 Interim Session – Public Lands Update

Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee This meeting started late, much to the chagrin of committee chair, Sen. Margaret Dayton. (She hates that.) During the “Committee Business” portion at the beginning of the meeting, committee chair, Rep. Keven Stratton, mentioned potential studies for the committee to consider. Among them? “Oil and gas operations…and potential…

What’s the Deal with Interim Session?

This coming Wednesday, May 17, the Utah State Legislature is meeting for its monthly interim session. Don’t know what an interim session is? Not sure what you can do to be involved? No worries – we’ve got you covered! Here’s what you should know about Utah’s interim sessions. What is an Interim Session? Under the…

Better Utah Broadcast – ABU’s Final Judgment of the 2017 Legislative Session (Special Broadcast)

Tune into our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

Press Release – BETTER UTAH HOSTS ANNUAL POST-LEGISLATIVE SESSION PANEL

Salt Lake City, UT – Tomorrow evening, Alliance for a Better Utah is hosting its annual Post-Legislative Session Panel. The discussion will take a behind-the-scenes look at the big issues of this year’s legislative session. Each of the panelists will bring a different perspective to these issues as they attempted to influence those issues through…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH RESPONDS TO PASSAGE OF FEDERALISM RESOLUTION

Salt Lake City, UT – The Senate passed HJR 17 this evening, a resolution from Rep. Ken Ivory crafted after several meetings of the Commission on Federalism over the course of the session. HJR 17, “Joint Resolution to Restore the Division of Governmental Responsibilities Between the National Government and the States,” is a resolution from…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LEGISLATURE FOR COMMITTING TO PROTECT CIVIL LIBERTIES OF ALL PEOPLE

Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Utah House of Representatives voted to follow their colleagues in the Senate in passing SCR 6, “Concurrent Resolution on Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms of All American People.” Only a few days after President Trump instituted a travel ban limiting the admittance of refugees from specific countries…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH DECRIES LACK OF PUBLIC PROCESS FOR NEW PRISON FUNDING

Salt Lake City, UT – Without holding a public committee hearing, the Utah Senate passed HB 460, a bill approving $100 million in additional bonding for the new state prison currently under construction in Salt Lake City. The House also voted to approve the bonding measure on Monday evening without holding a public committee hearing….

Breakneck approval of over $1B in borrowing with little or no public comment leads to questions

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Completing a whirlwind trip through the Legislature, lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to two big borrowing proposals: bonding for $1 billion to accelerate state highway projects and seeking an extra $100 million for the new state prison. The House gave final approval to the highway bill, SB277, on a 72-3…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH RESPONDS TO DEFEAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE RESOLUTION

Salt Lake City, UT – The House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee voted this afternoon to reject HJR 18, “Joint Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship.” This resolution recognizes the impacts of climate change in Utah and encourages individuals, corporations, and the legislature itself to take individual and collective actions to combat those impacts….

ABU Update: Alcohol Revisited and Banning Criminal History Questions on Job Applications

Source: KCPW KCPW’s Roger McDonough is once again joined by Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas for an update on alcohol-related measures at this year’s meeting of state lawmakers – including lowering the legal blood alcohol level; and to talk about a so-called “ban-the-box” bill, that would prohibit public employers from asking job applicants…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CALLS OUT HOUSE FOR RESTRICTING ACCESS TO DEMOCRACY

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Policy reported this morning that two election law reform bills from Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck would be held in Rules Committee for the duration of the session. Holding the bills has the effect of killing them without giving the public an opportunity to be heard on these bills. HB 403…

ABU Legislative Update: Zion Moats? Behemoth Alcohol Bill Unveiled

Source: KCPW This week in the legislature: a massive alcohol bill emerges, and Utahns may be swapping ‘Zion Curtains’ for ‘Zion Moats.’ Also, considering diversity will remain a part of the judicial nomination process. And a measure requiring doctors to inform patients of so-called ‘abortion reversal’ moves advances. Every Tuesday and Thursday Alliance for a…

Better Utah Broadcast – Week 5: Resurrected Bills, Voting Rights & More

Tune into our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

Imagine if it was Democrats squeezing GOP out of state boards

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Imagine Utah is a state controlled by Democrats. Hard to picture, I know, but go with me on this for the sake of seeing things from the other side. The governor is a Democrat. All four congressional representatives are Democrats. Both senators are Democrats. There are only 12 Republicans in…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH DISMAYED BY UTAH SENATE REJECTION OF REDISTRICTING STANDARDS

Salt Lake City, UT – This morning, the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee voted along party lines to reject HJR 1: Joint Rules Resolution on Redistricting Standards. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Merrill Nelson (R – Grantsville), would have adopted fair and reasonable standards to guide the Utah Legislature during the next redistricting…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CHASTISES STATE LAWMAKERS FOR CONTINUING RECKLESS PUBLIC LANDS RHETORIC

Salt Lake City, UT – This morning, the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee voted to favorably pass HCR 1, sponsored by Rep. K. Stratton. HCR 1 expresses legislative support for taking public lands from the protection of the federal government and handing over management to the state. One of the methods advocated in…

Utah lawmakers OK resolution pushing for public lands

Source: AP SALT LAKE CITY Utah lawmakers backed a resolution on Friday urging the state to be prepared to sue the U.S. government if Washington leaders don’t start handing over federal land to the state. Members of a House natural resources committee approved the proposal, despite concern from one lawmaker that it could be costly,…

ABU Legislative Update: Concealed Carry, Instant Runoffs, Striking ‘No Promo Homo’

Source: KCPW This Thursday’s Better Utah Legislative Update includes a look at efforts to lower the age at which a person can get a concealed carry permit, at an effort to institute ranked-choice voting in Utah elections, and a measure to get rid off language in state code preventing the advocacy of homosexuality in Utah…

ABU Legislative Update: Another Lands Resolution, Voting Amendments, Rape-Kit Testing

Source: KCPW Tuesday and Thursday mornings during the 2017 Utah State Legislative Session, KCPW’s Roger McDonough speaks with Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas for an update from the legislature. Today they look at a newly-unveiled resolution on public lands, an endorsement by lawmakers of term-limits in Washington, at an effort to expand a…

Better Utah Broadcast – Week 4: We’re Halfway There

Tune into our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

ABU Legislative Update: Appropriations to Public Lands Lobbyists, Judicial Diversity, Good Landlords

Source: KCPW Chase Thomas from Alliance for a Better Utah joins KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about funding requests at the legislature related to public lands and threatened species. Millions of dollars have been allocated to nonprofits lobbying the federal government on Utah’s public lands agenda, but some lawmakers want better accounting on how that…

Utahns visit Capitol to laud benefits of Affordable Care Act

SALT LAKE CITY — Without the Affordable Care Act, Kammie Garr may be forced to sign her son over to the state so he can get the medical care he desperately needs. “We struggle,” the Clinton mother of three said Wednesday. “He’s better with health care, but many of the therapies that would work for…

http://kutv.com/news/local/utah-group-highlights-health-care-law-support

Source: City Weekly Unlikely Pair Effort to wrest federal lands meets push to pay teachers better at Capitol. Underpaid teachers and opponents of Utah’s new national monument on Wednesday came together in a rare piece of legislation bridging the two groups. The proposal from Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, won support from the House Wednesday morning….

ABU Legislative Update: Ed Spending, End of Life Amendments, Pre-Marriage Counseling

Source: KCPW As the 2017 Utah Legislative Session nears its halfway point, KCPW’s Roger McDonough speaks with Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas to hear the latest on what’s happening at this year’s meeting of lawmakers. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning during the session, tune in at 8:30 for KCPW’s Better Utah Legislative Update….

Better Utah Broadcast – Week 3: Nevertheless We Persist

Tune into our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

ABU Legislative Update: Elections Changes, Rape Kit Testing and Cleaner School Busses

Source: KCPW Every Tuesday and Thursday morning KCPW’s Roger McDonough speaks with Chase Thomas, Policy and Advocacy Counsel with Alliance for a Better Utah to check in on what’s happening at the 2017 Utah State Legislature. Today they discuss an initiative to mandate the testing of all rape kits collected by law enforcement, and about…

ABU Legislative Update: Sex-Ed Bill Fails, Monument Resolution Gets Governor’s Signature

Source: KCPW The third week of the Utah State Legislative Session is now underway. For a check of what lawmakers are working on, every Tuesday and Thursday KCPW’s Roger McDonough speaks with Chase Thomas, Policy and Advocacy Counsel with Alliance for a Better Utah. Today they talk about the fallout from state support for a…

Better Utah Broadcast – Week 2: An Emboldened GOP

Tune in to our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

Press Release – BETTER UTAH SUPPORTS HJR 1 – CALLS ON LEGISLATURE TO ESTABLISH RULES FOR FAIR AND PROPORTIONAL REDISTRICTING

Salt Lake City, UT – During a hearing of the House Government Operations Committee today, the Alliance for a Better Utah testified in support of Rep. Merrill Nelson’s HJR 1, “Joint Rules Resolution on Redistricting Standards.” This resolution would establish principles and procedures for the legislature to follow during the next redistricting process in 2021….

ABU Legislative Update: Electric Cars, Solar Panels, and the Commission on Federalism

Source: KCPW A fourth of the way through the 2017 Utah State Legislative Session, KCPW’s Roger McDonough and Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas discuss efforts by lawmakers to: sunset tax credits on solar panels; extend credits for electric vehicles; and to oblige lawmakers to learn about federalism. Listen to the KCPW podcast here

ABU Legislative Update: Monument Resolutions, Scaled Back Expectations on Medical Marijuana

Source: KCPW It’s now the second week of the 2017 state legislative session. To get caught up on what’s happened since their last conversation, KCPW’s Roger McDonough spoke again with Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas for another Better Utah Legislative Update. Today, they talk about the unorthodox way two resolutions on national monuments…

Better Utah Broadcast – Week 1: A Start to the Legislative Session

Our podcast has been reborn and rechristened “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Chase and Maddie here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

Utah lawmaker introduces ‘modified’ sex ed bill, hopes for more support

Source: Desert News and KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers will rehash sexual education in public schools, but the bill’s proponents hope a different approach gains more favor this time around. HB215, introduced Thursday, “is a bill about ensuring our kids are more likely to know about and have the components of what makes…

Provo lawmaker’s bill raises concerns about partisan representation in Utah

Source: The Daily Herald Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo has introduced a bill in Utah’s 2017 legislative session that has some people worried about giving one political party too much power. House Bill 11, which would remove political party affiliation requirements for certain state boards and commissions, was recommended by the Government Operations Interim Committee on…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH DENOUNCES VOTE TO UNBALANCE PARTISAN BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

Salt Lake City, UT – This afternoon, the House Government Operations Committee voted to favorably recommend HB 11 State Boards and Commissions Amendments. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Norm Thurston (R – Provo) would remove “the political party affiliation requirement for certain boards and commissions” on 29 of 74 boards and commissions that currently have…

ABU Legislative Update: Priorities for the 2017 Session

Source: KCPW Monday marked the beginning of the 2017 Utah State Legislative Session. Throughout this year’s meeting of lawmakers KCPW’s Roger McDonough will be joined by Chase Thomas, Policy and Advocacy Counsel with Alliance for a Better Utah. Today, they discuss the topics expected to dominate this year’s meeting of lawmakers – and about the…

Legislative Update from Chase

Thought you had a nine-month break from the insanity that we call the Utah Legislature? You might not have known, but even though our representatives only formally meet together at the beginning of the year, they also meet almost every month in between to plan for those jam-packed forty-five days. Although some of the meetings…

ABU Update – Final Day of Session

Source: KCPW Today is the last day of the 2016 meeting of state lawmakers. Today on our Better Utah Legislative Update, KCPW’s Roger McDonough speaks with Chase Thomas and Matt Lyon from Alliance for a Better Utah about last-minute funding for various legislative priorities, and at at what happened to measures to reform the so-called…

Utah Legislature OKs Only Bare Bones Medicaid Expansion

Source: Public News Service Public interest groups are disappointed that the Utah state Legislature approved a minimal increase in Medicaid during its recent session, passing up an opportunity to institute full coverage. The bill approved, House Bill 437, funds coverage for about 16,000 people, while Senate Bill 77 would have covered about 80,000 people. Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy…

OpEd: Legislators brought forth the good, the bad and the ugly

Utah survived another 45-day legislative session with more than 1,200 bills considered by legislators. Here are the Alliance for a Better Utah’s views on the good, the bad, and the ugly. To be sure, there was good news. The Clean Air Caucus remains vigilant in the effort to clean Utah’s air. Good thing, after another…

ABU Update – Reviewing the 2016 Utah Legislative Session

Source: KCPW The final gavel fell on the 2016 Utah State Legislative Session late last night. On today’s Better Utah Legislative Update we feature a recap of what got funded, defunded, passed and shelved on the hill this year – from Medicaid to marijuana, coal exports to water pipelines, education to air quality and beyond….

OpEd: How is this expansion? Better Utah weighs in on HB437 and Federal Poverty Levels

This afternoon, the Executive Appropriations Committee voted to fund Rep. Dunnigan’s Medicaid proposal, House Bill 437, at extremely low percentages of the Federal Poverty Level. The Appropriations Committee listed only those who are at 0 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or 55 percent for a parent with a child, are eligible for coverage under…

Better Utah responds to passage of HB437 in Senate committee

Salt Lake City, Utah – The Alliance for a Better Utah responded this morning to House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan’s (R – Taylorsville) bill, HB437, which was passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee by a 5-1 vote. “This vote is the Utah Legislature telling tens of thousands of low-income Utahns…

OpEd: HB437 is not Medicaid expansion

To be clear, Rep. James Dunnigan’s HB437 is not Medicaid expansion. In fact, calling it expansion is both disingenuous and misleading. The Affordable Care Act originally proposed a mechanism to ensure that all Americans have access to health care. For most of us, that is the so-called “individual mandate.” For those earning less than 138…

Limited Medicaid expansion bill advances to Utah House

Source: The Standard Examiner A bill that would expand traditional Medicaid coverage to nearly 16,000 vulnerable adults in Utah advanced out of the House Business and Labor Committee in a 9-4 vote. Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, is sponsor of HB437, a measure that would extend benefits to previously ineligible childless adults. “The intent of this is…

Lawmakers, Advocates Consider Limited Medicaid Expansion Plan

Source: KUER A House committee approved a limited Medicaid expansion bill Monday afternoon, but health care advocates around the state are not all unified in support. House Bill 437 would give Medicaid benefits to those in extreme poverty in Utah. The bill’s sponsor House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan says it would cover a portion of those…

Committee approves bill extending Medicaid to Utahns in the ‘greatest need’

Source: Deseret News A bill backed by Republican House leaders extending Medicaid coverage to Utahns in the “greatest need” because of homelessness, run-ins with the law, substance abuse or mental health issues won committee approval Monday. “We have the opportunity to improve the lives of 16,000 of our fellow Utahns,” House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan,…

House panel OKs bill promoting health care for homeless, mentally ill

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune With backing from advocates for the poor, a House committee approved legislation Monday that would provide health-care coverage to a portion of Utah’s chronically homeless, mentally ill and those recently released from prison. “We have an opportunity to improve the lives of 16,000 of our fellow Utahns. These are people…

Advocates push for Medicaid expansion, but House plan would leave many without

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utahns who could have received health care if the Legislature had expanded Medicaid in the past two years again pleaded with lawmakers to take action — although the action they appear most likely to take would cover only the poorest Utahns while leaving tens of thousands without health coverage. HB437,…

ABU Update: Adoption Language, Death Penalty, Speed Traps

Source: KCPW On today’s Better Utah Legislative Update KCPW’s Roger McDonough is joined by Matt Lyon, Strategic Advisor with Alliance for a Better Utah. Today they discuss a legislative attempt to change language in state code related to adoption, initiatives related to the death penalty, and legislation on city budgets and speed traps. Listen to…

Medicaid expansion to be debated in Utah Senate, but can law pass?

Source: KUTV Full Medicaid expansion passed through a Senate committee Tuesday and is headed to the full floor of the Utah State Senate. The Democrat-backed Senate Bill 77 passed the judiciary committee 5-1. Before you start thinking Medicaid is a done deal after years of wrangling, think again. Several Republicans voting for the bill did…

One Medicaid expansion bill gains favor of leadership, but people still want more

Source: Deseret News Utah’s House speaker has once again put his foot down when it comes to Medicaid expansion, but Utahns are still asking for broader access than what one popular bill would provide. House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Kearns, has proposed HB437 to expand coverage to the poorest in Utah, specifically childless adults who are chronically…

ABU Update: Full Medicaid Expansion Initiative Advances along with Power-Grabs

Source: KCPW A bill by Democratic Senator Gene Davis would return to the governor the power to accept full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. It (somewhat surprisingly) advanced out of committee. Meanwhile, an initiative to upset the balance of two administrative committees passed the House. Alliance for a Better Utah Strategic Advisor Matt…

ABU Update: Big Water Projects Advance as Air Quality Initiatives Stall

Source: KCPW A measure that environmentalists say is designed to fund the Lake Powell and Bear River pipelines is awaiting consideration in committee. Meanwhile, initiatives to address air quality in Utah have stalled. Alliance for a Better Utah Strategic Advisor Matt Lyon joins KCPW’s Roger McDonough for the latest Better Utah Legislative Update. Read KCPW…

ABU Update: Challenge for Hate Crimes Bill, Air Quality Contributions

Source: KCPW St. George Republican Sen. Stephen Urquhart’s measure to strengthen hate crimes legislation in Utah hits a snag – in the form of LDS Church opposition. Plus, a proposal to let residents contribute money to the Utah Division of Air Quality. Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas joins KCPW’s Roger McDonough for another…

ABU Update: Medical Marijuana and Zion Curtains

Source: KCPW For today’s Better Utah Legislative Update, a look at the shifting conversation in Medical Marijuana in Utah. After meeting with opposition from the LDS Church, one lawmaker says he’ll now try to get a measure on the ballot. Also, a look at an effort to eliminate Utah’s so-called “Zion Curtains.” Listen to KCPW…

ABU Update: Proposed Adoption Changes, Hate Crimes, SLC Olympics 2.0

Source: KCPW Alliance for a Better Utah’s Chase Thomas joins Roger McDonough to discuss a contentious hearing over a proposed change to Utah adoption law, a measure to broaden the definition of hate crimes in the state, and a legislative nod to bringing the Winter Olympics back to Utah. Listen to KCPW report here.

ABU Update: Sales Tax Exemption fails, Commission ‘Patronizing to Women’

Source: KCPW Chase Thomas with Alliance for a Better Utah speaks with KCPW’s Roger McDonough about the latest from the 2016 Utah State Legislature. During today’s Better Utah Legislative Update they discuss the failure of an initiative to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax,” and comments by one Senator on the Women in the Economy Commission. Listen…

Lobbyist group prepares to sue the state more school funding

Source: Eleven News One Utah lobbyist group wants more money for public schools and they intend to take the issue to court. The alliance for a better Utah said it’s preparing to sue the state to force lawmakers to increase funding for public education. The group said Utah spends the least amount of money per…

Better Utah Update: Budgeting, SB54 Substitute, Partisan Committee Membership

Source: KCPW On today’s Better Utah Legislative Update we hear from Chase Thomas, Policy and Advocacy Director with Alliance for a Better Utah about the budgeting process, appropriations, an attempt to undo the so-called Count My Vote elections compromise, and an effort to reform the make-up of a couple of legislative committees. Listen to KCPW…

Press Release: Better Utah Launches #NoExcuses, Considers Lawsuit Over Education Funding

Source: Utah Policy The Alliance for a Better Utah announced the launch of #NoExcuses, a campaign aimed at increasing funding for K-12 public school education. While other groups are seeking legislative remedies, the Alliance for a Better Utah has initiated the work necessary to file a lawsuit against the State of Utah in order to…

Better Utah Legislative Update: Efforts to Restore Education Funding, Legislative Endorsements, More

Source: KCPW During this year’s meeting of state lawmakers, KCPW is joined once again by representatives from Alliance for a Better Utah for our Better Utah Legislative Update. Today Matt Lyon, strategic advisor to the group talks about what’s passed so far and about various measures to restore education funding in Utah. Listen to KCPW…

Better Utah Legislative Update: Week 2 Momentum

Source: KCPW Alliance for a Better Utah Strategic Advisor Matt Lyon speaks with KCPW’s Roger McDonough about second-week momentum on the hill. Plus, bills addressing straight-party voting, medicaid expansion, guns and more – on this edition of KCPW’s Better Utah Legislative Recap. Listen to KCPW report here.

Kicking the Healthy Utah can down the road.

The gavel fell at midnight last Thursday marking the end of the 2015 Legislative session. But even though the legislature passed 524 new bills, they left the most important bill sitting on the table–Healthy Utah Medicaid Expansion. Once again, tens of thousands of Utahns are left without coverage, unable to get preventative care and left…

Will Senate stand up to obstructionist House?

Salt Lake City — Through a series of procedural votes, a majority of House members have now gone on record against Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan, despite the plan’s widespread support among a majority of Utahns, the state Senate and the Governor. The Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement in response…

Concealed carry laws could change with new bill

A bill being considered in the Senate would allow those who have been denied concealed carry permits to start legally carrying a concealed weapon. SB256, sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, passed favorably out of committee Tuesday in a 4-1 vote. It’s not the first time the bill has been heard this year. The language is practically…

Anti-Count My Vote bill is throwback to Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed

Salt Lake City — Despite majority support for the electoral reforms enacted through the Count My Vote Compromise, some Utah legislators are continuing their attempts to gut the compromise. The latest attempt, HB313, was heard in the House Government Operations Committee today. The bill would allow party bosses to override the will of the people…

Senator Todd Weiler does good by his constituents, Count My Vote

Senator Jenkins’ attempt to delay the implementation of the Count My Vote compromise is dead as of Tuesday. The Senate voted down a third hearing of SB43 yesterday in a 9-19-1 vote. SB43 bill would have delayed the Count My Vote reforms until 2018. In discussions prior to the vote, Republican Senator Todd Weiler gave a powerful…

Holding Greg Hughes accountable, Better UTAH calls for hearing Healthy Utah

Salt Lake City — In a press conference today, House Speaker Greg Hughes reiterated his opposition to Healthy Utah and confirmed his resolve to hold back any discussion of the bill. In response, Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better UTAH, has released the following statement: “The Healthy Utah plan enjoys overwhelming support…

Utah GOP gets desperate with freshman Fred Cox’s anti-Count My Vote bill

Salt Lake City — The Utah Republican Party is running out of tricks in its efforts to halt the widely backed Count My Vote compromise. A House committee rejected a bill today by Rep. Fred Cox that would have delayed implementation of SB54, the Count My Vote compromise, while the Utah GOP mounts its lawsuit….

Campaign finance reform and Count My Vote

Public oversight plays an important role in government ethics, but the public shouldn’t have to do all the policing. Public officials should enact moral and lawful restrictions that prevent dishonest officials from corrupting the democratic process. As it has been in years past, ethics is a hot topic during the 2015 session. The burner under…

Bad case of deja vu over gun legislation

We’re experiencing a case of deja vu at the legislature.** Two years ago, former Uintah County Representative, John Mathis, proposed HB76, a bill that would allow anyone who legally owned a gun in Utah, to carry that weapon concealed. Regardless of whether or not they had a concealed carry permit. The bill was opposed by the…

Op-ed: Healthy Utah shows Utah GOP’s intraparty struggle

Two legislators are leading the effort to block Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan in what is turning out to be a showdown between Utah’s legislative and executive branches. “Led by committee co-chairs Dunnigan and Christensen, the Health Reform Task Force voted not to endorse the Healthy Utah Plan, much to the astonishment of observers, the…

Legislature plays with fire, ignores mainstream Utahns on Count My Vote

Salt Lake City — The Senate Government Operations Committee met today to hear two controversial bills, both sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, that are aimed at gutting the popular Count My Vote reforms. SJR2 and SB43 passed favorably out of committee along partisan lines, with Republicans voting for the measures. Alliance for a Better UTAH…

Legislators give short shrift to education, again

Education lands near the top of the public’s list of issues every year during the legislative session–for good reason, of course. Economies and societies rely on an educated workforce. So, what is the state of education in our state? The bills being advanced this legislative session offer a few clues. Senator Alvin Jackson is sponsoring…

Secret bills make a mockery of legislative process

For a state that prides itself on being transparent, there sure are a lot of secrets. Among those secrets are over 270 bills with absolutely no text. While some of these bill are still being drafted, many of them are waiting in the aisles, hoping to go undetected until the last minutes of the session, when a seemingly innocuous, but actually…

New campaign to hold legislators accountable for Healthy Utah votes

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH is launching a campaign to hold Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Allen Christensen accountable for their roles in blocking Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan. Herbert’s plan, while still falling short of full Medicaid expansion, would allow access to affordable health insurance for thousands…

With such good polling will Legislature finally listen?

There are about 840 numbered bills during each legislative session. Of those, about 59% ultimately pass. That’s a lot of bills vying for the attention of our legislators. Whether through media coverage or public outcry, there are always a few of those 800+ that really capture our attention. Three of those that we know will be front…

Day 1: Legislative session too important to tune out

As I write this the pomp and circumstance of a new legislative session is just getting underway. Aside from the actual legislative participants and a few observers, many Utahns are only vaguely aware that today marks the beginning of Utah’s 45-day legislative session. A lot will happen over the next few weeks–some of it will be…

Get ready for fireworks over SB54

The Utah State Legislature is set to reconvene next week and, with it, a slew of controversial bills–from marriage and nondiscrimination to medicaid expansion and federal land lawsuits. One such controversial issue is 2014’s SB54, otherwise known as the Count My Vote compromise. While the initial Count My Vote ballot initiative would have completely eliminated…

Moderate voters win session; Lockhart, lungs lose

Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH executive director, made the case in a weekend op-ed that despite a rather lackluster legislative session, there were still some clear winners and losers. Politics will probably always lend itself to a model in which some win and others lose. The winners and losers don’t line up quite how we expect….

Legislative session like a bowl of cold cereal

I don’t like breakfast cereal. Not because it’s not good, it just never satisfies me. I could eat a whole box and still be hungry for more. This is how I feel about the 2014 legislative session. Going into the session there were a number of important issues on the table and sadly, a lot…

Speaker Lockhart Hijacks Utah Public Education

Speaker Lockhart has officially hijacked Utah’s public education in what is being played out like a daytime hit soap opera. There’s been audience, drama, betrayal and suspense. Audience. All of Utah has watched this masquerade unfold. Drama. With Utah ranked last in the nation in per-pupil spending and second highest in the nation in teacher-student…

Fact Checking HB131, the Public Education Modernization Act

In recent interviews and committee hearings, House Speaker Becky Lockhart and HB131’s sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, have declared their massive education-technology expansion plan the future of Utah education. According to the two, it’s the one-size-fits-all solution. Since education-technology expansion is not a new concept–it’s been around for over a decade–I decided to do some fact…

The week in letters: Lockhart, the Legislature and Count My Vote

Disappointment in Lockhart and the legislature, Count My Vote, immigration, and voter fraud in this week’s Letters to the Editors from newspapers across Utah. Resident disappointed in Utah’s legislature It’s disappointing to observe how Utah’s far right-wing legislators, led by Speaker Lockhart, are so extremely eager to grab federal tax dollars whenever they will benefit…

On air quality, legislature sends mixed-signals

Air quality in Utah is among the unhealthiest in the nation. Forbes magazine has ranked Salt Lake City as the ninth most toxic city in the United States, paired along with the American Lung Associations “F” grade of Salt Lake County for the two most important components of air pollution, ozone and particulate matter.¹ Why…

Let’s hope Utah Legislature is over gold fever

Better UTAH founder and board chair, Josh Kanter, took to the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend to talk about the follies of trendy legislation. Specifically, Josh takes to task the legislature’s past attempts at codifying the gold fever of popular conservative radio hosts like Glen Beck. Much of the interest…

Who the Legislature really represents

Maryann Martindale, executive director for Better UTAH, argued in a recent editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune that the state legislature consistently chooses the interests of industry over the interests of individual Utahns. Citizens emerged far from victorious. This year, the subtle divide in the Utah Legislature was between industry and individuals. And, unfortunately, for…

Petition garners thousands of signers, Gov vetoes HB76

Salt Lake City — Utah Governor Gary Herbert exercised his veto power today in agreement with the majority of Utahns who favor responsible second amendment rights. Herbert vetoed the controversial HB76, Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments, Friday morning. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, has issued the following statement: “We applaud…

The Long Last Day

There were exciting highs and disappointing lows on the last day of the 2013 Legislative Session. Better UTAH was the talk of the Capitol on Thursday. Late Wednesday night, Senators Niederhauser, Davis, Dayton, and Knudsen held a press conference to announce an unprecedented suspension of rules to introduce a brand new bill. And when I…

Attorney and petitioner statements regarding SB289, Election Offense Amendments

Salt Lake City — In light of this evening’s passage of SB289, Election Offense Amendments, the following statements have been released: David R. Irvine, Attorney: “Although they don’t have to change the law to act on our petition, the legislature’s move demonstrates their interest in resolving the Swallow matter. It is, of course, essential to…

Petition launched, Statement on HB76 – Changes to concealed carry law

Salt Lake City — The Utah State Legislature voted against the majority of Utahns who favor responsible second amendment rights early Wednesday morning by passing HB76, Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better UTAH, has issued the following statement: “There was never a clearer example of our state…

Education bill passes despite fears of socialism

SB100, Higher Education Scholarship Amendments, sponsored by Senator Jerry W. Stevenson, passed the House this week. Here are three things this bill will amend: This bill will allow the Board of Regents to weight grades earned in the International Baccalaureate program’s courses when selecting the recipients for the Board of Regents Scholarship. This bill raises…

When Transparency isn’t Transparent

In the Princess Bride, after one character repeatedly uses the same word, another character says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Every time a legislator brings up the word transparency I find myself thinking of that quote. HB43 has been touted as a transparency bill…

The One Schmuck Rule

When reviewing all the bills each legislative session, there is a common question I find myself repeating: “What is the point of this bill?” When you dig a little further, speak with the sponsor, or hear the bill presented, you’ll often hear mentioned they “have a constituent who had this problem. . . .” I…

Bill to prevent higher education budgets from hemorrhaging

The highlight of this week is that SB51, substituted as SB51S01, unanimously passed the Senate. SB51, Higher Education Tuition Waivers, was proposed by Sen. Stephen Urquhart this legislative session in response to an expected drop in enrollment in Utah’s colleges and universities as a result of changes in the LDS mission program. The LDS church…

Persistence is key to progress in Utah

There are several bills this legislative session that might sound familiar. That’s because they’ve all been up at the legislature before. They get introduced every year in hopes this might be the year that there is finally a breakthrough. Three such bills this session are the Dating Violence Act, modifications to adoption policy, and a…

Legislators should look up, not down

“We have beautiful roads.” Those were Sen. Margaret Dayton’s comments yesterday in the Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee regarding a bill that would increase speed limits in several sections of the I-15 corridor. And she’s right. The newly finished portion of I-15 in Utah County is pothole free and wide and easy going….

Climate Change is Happening in Utah

Over 50 million dollars were spent fighting wildfires in Utah just last year while thousands were forced to evacuate their homes. And the number of wildfires is expected to increase. It is fitting, then, that the first bill in two years that dares to openly discuss climate change would focus on wildfire suppression efforts. HB…

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Representative Scorned

On Wednesday, the House Government Operations Committee heard testimony on Representative Patrice Arent’s HB 258, that would eliminate the straight party voting option from future ballots. There are several reasons why we supported the bill and why I spoke in favor of it, including the belief that an electorate should be well informed, that there…

June Interim Session Watch + Special Session Review!

The June Interim and Special Session of the Utah Legislature has ended, leaving behind it several noteworthy moments. Check out our topics: Public Lands, Death Penalty, School Funding and Liquor Licenses. Public Lands Although liquor licenses and school funding were the primary topics on the Hill, there were several other issues brought before the Legislature….

Interim Natural Resources Committee – May 2012

Science may or may not be real. That seemed to be the pervasive sentiment as Kathleen Clarke, Director of Governor Herbert’s Public Lands Policy office, spoke before the Interim Natural Resources Committee. Ms. Clarke’s testimony revolved around the expectation that the United States may soon list the Sage Grouse as an endangered species, and the…

Interim Law Enforcement Committee – May 2012

Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel (son of Kane County Representative, Mike Noel), got more than he planned for when he went before the Law Enforcement Committee. He had hoped to simply get permission to deploy and access power for a fixed-site license plate recognition camera on a stretch of I-15 between Beaver and St. George….

Interim Public Utilities Committee – May 2012

Proving, once again, that timing is everything, the public and committee members were left feeling less-than-satisfied with the Health Department’s report on the recent IT security breach. The breach, as you’ll recall, effected as many as 780,000 people’s names, 280,000 of which included social security numbers, when hackers were able to break into the Health…

Interim Education Committee – May 2012

Superintendent Larry Shumway was not having a good day, as lawmakers on the Interim Education Committee questioned him, pointedly, over the Education Department’s $25 Million budgeting “miscalculation,” which may force a special session of the legislature later this year to make up the difference. One of the few legislators to take Shumway’s side was Representative…

Interim Transportation Committee Meeting – May 2012

The Transportation Committee meeting was far more interesting for what happened in the hallway rather than during the actual meeting. The meeting itself was a standard project update from UDOT et al, with no real compelling or controversial topics being discussed…