Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Appeals Court Ruled in Favor of Payday Loan Borrowers

People in Salt Lake County defaulted on their payday loans, the lenders -- a company called Feria Access LLC as well as others -- sued them in Utah County. The borrowers failed to show up and Feria Access won the lawsuit and had the borrowers' wages garnished -- or automatically docked -- to recover the loan amount, interest and fines.  They got their payday loans in Salt Lake County not Utah County where they were sued.

A decision from the Utah Court of Appeals means the payday loan borrowers may still have a chance to fight a portion of that ruling. After their wages were garnished, the borrowers claimed that too much was taken out of their paychecks and went to court over it. A Fourth District judge initially threw that lawsuit out, but the court of appeals recently ruled that the complaint needs to be considered.

According to the court decision, the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act, UCSPA is designed to protect consumers from dishonest business practices.
"The UCSPA creates a cause of action against a 'seller' who commits either a 'deceptive' or an 'unconscionable' 'act or practice ... in connection with a consumer transaction ... whether it occurs before, during or after the transaction,' " the decision reads. Jim Dalrymple Daily Herald Newspaper

Utah Legislature voted on several payday lender loans this legislative session but they ruled in favor of the payday lenders in every case.

SB110, sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, limited payday lenders in where they can sue delinquent borrowers.  79% of all small-claims cases at the Fourth District Court in Provo are filed by payday lenders.  SB110 required payday lenders to file in the court closest to where the payday loan application was made.  This ruling gives Salt Lake County residents a day in court, however it is still in Utah County Court. February 28, 2012 blog post

The following corporations and PACs donated AT LEAST $113,960.00 to Utah elected officials between 2008 and 2011.  Note this does not include 2012 donations.
Utah Consumer Lending Association                                     2009             $31,000.00
Utah Consumer Lending Association                                     2008             $49,150.00
Cash America International, Inc. Fort Worth Tx                    2011                  7,500.00
Cash America International Ft. Worth Tx                              2008                $7,250.00
Check Into Cash Cleveland TN                                              2008                $7,700.00
Cottonwood Financial Ltd.  Irving  Texas                              2008             $10,000.00
Checksmart Financial Company  Dublin OH                         2011                $1,360.00
                                                                                                     Total       $113,960.00

The following breakdown shows how hard it is to trace who has the money:

Utah Consumer Lending 2009 Expenditures Breakdown
Utah Republican Party  3/5/2009                                                                $6,500.00
Utah Republican Party   12/24/2009                                                            $5,000.00
Republican House Caucus  3/25/09                                                              $2,500.00
Salt Lake County Republican Party 3/25/09                                               $5,000.00
Utah House Republican Party 4/1/09                                                           $4,000.00
House Democrats 5/21/09                                                                               $500.00
Friends of Gary Herbert 11/9/2009                                                           $10,000.00

Note Utah Consumer Lending Association only filed reports in 2008 and 2009.  What PAC had this money in 2010 and 2011?

The Senate Business and Labor Committee defeated this bill on Feb. 1, 2012.
C Bramble, D Hinkins, J Valentine, and K Van Tassell all voted against this bill.
G Davis, K Mayne and T Weiler voted in favor of the bill and S. Urquhart was absent.

HB459 also requires Payday Lenders to register with the state if they want to collect interest and principal on their loans. Evidently, the Payday Lenders that don’t register with the state of Utah also DON’T contribute to the Legislators.  The Senate voted 24-0 for HB459, by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, Senator Curt Bramble is the senate sponsor, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature, because the House already passed it.  Madsen, Morgan, Niederhauser, H Stephenson, and Urquhart did NOT vote for HB 459.

HB 459  modifies the Check Cashing and Deferred Deposit Lending Registration Act to address reporting requirements and the requirement to register.  If the lenders are NOT registered they cannot collect any principal or interest.  HB 459 removes a current requirement that they report how many loans are not paid off before they reach their legal extension limit of 10 weeks. Utah small-claims court records show that payday lenders sue an average of 11,600 loan defaulters a year.  Blog post during legislative session

Payday loans in Utah often charge around 520 percent on an annual basis, or $20 for every $100 loaned for two weeks. Reports last year show some charged up to 2,294 percent annual interest — or $50 on a $100 loan for two weeks.     Lee Davidson Salt Lake Tribune 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Utah County Republican Convention at Salem Hills High School April 14, 2012

The Utah County Republican Convention is at Salem Hills High School, 150 North Skyhawk Blvd. Salem, Utah, on Saturday April 14.
Daily Herald Newspaper

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Senator Hillyard, Senator Madsen, Rep. Sanpei, and David Lifferth are unopposed

David Lifferth House District 2.
Four Republican men running for the Legislature this year already have essentially won their races — because no one bothered to file against them by the deadline last week.
The lucky four are Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan — who has served in the Legislature for 32 years, the longest in the state; Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain; Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo; and newcomer David Lifferth, a Republican also from Eagle Mountain who soon will represent the newly drawn House District 2.Lee Davidson Salt Lake Tribune

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Utah Ranked 36th for Integrity in Government

If you click the categories below or on the link you can see detailed scores and notes.


Corruption Risk Report Card
to your state official
a comment
A new report card ranks Utah 36th among states for integrity in government. As KCPW’s Whittney Evans reports, the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International collaborated on the State Integrity Investigation, which shows Utah has room for improvement in political financing and legislative accountability. . . Utah ranked 36th for Integrity in Government

The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, who conducted the study, gave the best state, New Jersey, a B+. Five states earned a B, 19 earned C's, and 18 D's, including Utah. Eight "flunked", with an F when it comes to transparency, accountability and efforts to weed out corruption.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gary Herbert happy with Foreclosure Funds Placed in State General Fund

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, left, listens as Attorney General Mark Shurtleff talks about the estimated $171 million settlement due the state as part of a $25 billion settlement over abusive foreclosure practices from five major banks during a press conference at the Capitol Thursday. February 9, 2012.
Few foreclosure funds went to help Utah homeowners
Settlement » Most of $22M from deal with banks won’t aid those hurt by the housing crisis.
The $21.9 million was placed into the general fund two days before the annual session of the Legislature ended on March 8 and mingled with other state funds to create a $51 million surplus that was doled out in the final hours.
The Executive Appropriations Committee sent $11 million to the state’s Rainy Day Fund. But Cantrell said the money can’t be traced directly from the foreclosure settlement, as some advocates had suggested.
"It’s true $11 million of the general fund money went into the Rainy Day Fund at the end of the session," he said. "To say that money came directly from the $21.9 million is a stretch." Tom Harvey.  Salt Lake Tribune
Utah received an estimated $171 million in money, reductions in mortgage principals and loan modifications as its portion of a sweeping $25 billion deal struck by 49 states and the federal government with five of the largest U.S. banks. Tom Harvey The Salt Lake Tribune  Salt Lake Tribune

$3.75M of $21.9M to go to housing-related programs
Volunteers of America » $500,000 for Homeless Youth Center
St. Anne’s in Ogden » $500,000 for homeless facility
The Road Home » $500,000 for Wendell Apartments permanent housing
Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund » $250,000
Attorney General’s Office » $2 million for mortgage fraud and white-collar crime prosecution

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

35,000 people have signed online petition against sex education bill HB 363

On Monday, a new Brigham Young University poll showed that 58 percent of 472 voters surveyed agree or strongly agree with the statement, "Public schools in Utah should teach about the use of contraceptives."

The poll, out of BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, also found, however, that the group most opposed to allowing schools to teach about contraceptives was "strong Republicans." Among all 472 responses over the past 10 days, about 30 percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with teaching about contraceptives in school. Among strong Republicans, about 63 percent disagreed with teaching the topic.

The sex education bill, HB363, would prohibit schools from teaching teens about contraceptives and allow school districts to drop sex education classes altogether.

Matthew Burbank, an associate professor of political science at the University of Utah said, "I think this is one of those bills which was not a bill that came about because constituents were dissatisfied and pushing their state legislators to do something," Burbank said. "I think this largely came about because state legislators, for whatever reasons, felt like this was something they wanted to do." Lisa Schnecker Salt Lake Tribune

House Bill 363
House Sponsor: Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden  Senate Sponsor Margaret Dayton R- Orem
Health Education Amendments -- This bill would require all Utah public school districts to teach an abstinence-only sex ed curriculum and allow districts to opt out of teaching sex ed.

 The Senate passed the bill 19-10 and the House passed it by a margin of 45-28.  The bill is now waiting for the Governor to sign it or veto it.

More than 35,000 people have signed an online petition urging Herbert to veto the bill, and various groups have taken sides.  Sign Petition asking Governor to veto the bill.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Utah Open-Carry Gun bill killed in the Senate last night of session

In a voice vote HB49 substitute 3 was circled  in the senate on March 8.  It is now sent back to committee for further study. Vote to circle
 Paul Ray is the House Sponsor and Curt Bramble the Senate Sponsor of the Open-carry gun bill.

HB 49 provides that in the absence of additional threatening behavior, the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed, may not be considered a violation of certain municipal ordinances;. . Text of HB49 third substitute

"The measure sought to strengthen Utah’s open carry gun laws by allowing an individual to pack a weapon in full view without having local ordinances interfere with that right.

"I thought parties had come to an agreement," said Senate sponsor Curt Bramble, R-Provo. "But apparently that fell apart."
Bramble said the measure will be studied by either the Judiciary Committee or the Law Enforcement Committee but, unless Gov. Gary Herbert lifts it to be put in a special session, it can’t be revisited until the next general session in 2013. Bramble said he didn’t foresee Herbert making such a move.
The proposal had passed a second reading in the Senate on Wednesday night by a 22-4 vote, and it had cleared the House 50-21." David Montero Salt Lake Tribune
Edmunds, who is president of the Utah Sheriff's Association, said the group as a whole is against the bill.
Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said he is against the bill as it is currently drafted because it takes away law enforcement's right to enforce disorderly conduct codes if a person carrying a weapon causes shock and alarm to citizens in a public place.
"This bill would limit our ability to confront someone carrying a gun until they performed an aggressive act," Carpenter said. "This bill does cause some concern for public safety and our ability to enforce gun laws in public places."
Rep. Joel Briscoe (D-Salt Lake City) said that he voted against the bill after speaking with the Salt Lake City Police Chief and learning about the concerns that officers from all over Utah had with the bill.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Petition Asking Governor to Veto Sex Education Bill HB 363

Petition Asking Governor to Veto HB363

House Bill 363
House Sponsor: Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden  Senate Sponsor Margaret Dayton R- Orem
Health Education Amendments -- This bill would require all Utah public school districts to teach an abstinence-only sex ed curriculum and allow districts to opt out of teaching sex ed.
HB363 Text

Thousands of people have signed an online petition urging Utah’s governor to veto a bill lawmakers passed this week to prohibit instruction about contraceptive use during sex education classes and allow schools to drop such classes altogether.  As of Thursday evening, the petition had earned more than 15,000 signatures.
Ally Isom, spokeswoman for Herbert, said the Governor’s Office has received more than 900 letters, emails and phone calls from people opposing HB363.  Bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, said the fact that some Utahns oppose the bill is not surprising, given that some lawmakers opposed it, and those lawmakers have constituents. The Senate passed the bill 19-10 and the House passed it by a margin of 45-28.   Lisa Schencker Salt Lake Tribune

A leader in the state Senate is concerned that the sexual education bill that is waiting for the governor's signature has gone too far.
Sen. Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, who serves as the assistant majority whip in the Senate, spoke Wednesday about his opposition to the bill, saying the intention of the bill to encourage abstinence is ideal, but that it isn't realistic.
"You can't just pull the covers over your head and say, 'abstinence only!' And think that is going to do it," Knudson said. "That isn't going to do it."  Billy Hesterman Daily Herald

Thursday, March 8, 2012

HB49 would prohibit disorderly conduct charges for those displaying guns.

Paul Ray is the House Sponsor and Curt Bramble the Senate Sponsor of the Open-carry gun bill.

HB 49 provides that in the absence of additional threatening behavior, the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed, may not be considered a violation of certain municipal ordinances;. . . . .HB49 Text
Local police wouldn’t be able to charge a person with disorderly conduct for openly carrying a gun in public under a bill that moved closer to final passage Wednesday. David Montero Salt Lake Tribune

HB49 third substitute, passed the House on February 21, with only 50 votes, however it passed the senate on March 7, with 22 votes, four voted against it and three did not vote in the senate. HB 49 Bill Status

HB216 exempts lawmakers from “good landlord” programs.

Photo from Senatesite.com

Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork  HB216, is intended to set guidelines on the "good landlord" programs that have been implemented in 11 cities and ensure that landlords who have taken the training in one city don’t have to re-take the training in each city where they rent units. 
The class costs landlords $59 and lasts eight hours, mostly to train them on the applicable tenant law.
But one section of the bill says that legislators and other elected officials whose public service touches on real estate issues are exempt from the landlord program.
More than a third of House members and 11 of the 29 senators are involved in real estate or own rental properties, according to their conflict of interest forms.

Senate Majority Whip Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said he knew the exemption was in the bill, but said it just carries forward the continuing education exception and is "not an unusual thing."
"I don’t see it as a big deal," said Niederhauser, who is a real estate development and management executive. "If you want to be a good landlord, you ought to just take it."
HB216, 2nd substitute, passed the House on a 73-1 vote last Friday, March 2, J. Nielsen voted against it and P. Arent did not vote.  HB 216 was approved 26-0 by the Senate on Wednesday night, March 7, the night before the session ends. A. Christensen, K. Mayne and K. VanTassell did not vote.
It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for signature.