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 and center also have have polling data to show where Utahns stand on those issues.
First, a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance. Regular polls have shown ever increasing support for a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance. As it now stands, over 65% of Utahns support such a measure. Yet during the 2014 session the legislature refused to even consider the bill or give it a public hearing; there are many calling for the same outcome this year. Religious freedom is protected by the United States Constitution, yet it is still legal to fire or evict someone in Utah simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Second, Campaign Finance Limits. Following the scandals of Attorneys General Swallow and Shurtleff, we all had the hopeful expectation of new laws that would make it harder for politicians to accept dark money, tougher penalties for violating ethics laws and the enactment of campaign finance limits. While the first two have not been addressed, campaign finance limits has been proposed annually, only to be opposed by legislators who would ignore the more than 2/3rds of Utahns who support such limits. Their concern is not with the perception that comes with unlimited donations, or with the wishes of their constituents, but rather their concern lies with their ability to raise as much money from as many well-heeled donors as possible.
And last but certainly not least, Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan. There have been several polls but all have been consistent–Utahns favor the Healthy Utah plan at a rate of at least 70% or greater. Yet, the legislature has already drawn a line in the sand with extreme conservatives voicing total opposition, while others propose a more expensive Frail Utah plan that would cover fewer than 10,000 Utahns. Their hypocrisy is showing with their preference for extreme partisan rhetoric over a compassionate and economically viable solution to a very real and dire situation.
The Legislature has the choice.They can choose to tell their constituents that they hear them, that they are willing to set aside extreme partisan posturing and support issues that are important to us, or they can choose to send the message that they are out of touch with the very people they were elected to represent.
And if they choose the latter, we can choose to replace them with someone who will listen.