Friday, March 28, 2014

Student-advocated state tree bill signed into law. Quaking Aspen SB41

 Step aside, Colorado blue spruce. Utah has a new state tree.

Gov. Gary Herbert joined students at Monroe Elementary School on Wednesday to sign SB41, which designates the quaking aspen as the state's arboreal symbol.
The event marked the end of an effort that began last year when fourth-grade students from Monroe Elementary appealed to the governor during a visit to Sevier County that the aspen — not the spruce — represents the state's forests.
That conversation led to the drafting of SB41, which was sponsored by Monroe Elementary alumnus Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe.
"It’s just wonderful to see our young people getting involved," Herbert said after the bill signing. "I come away very excited about the future of Utah by having spent some time here in Monroe Elementary."
SB41 was approved relatively quickly by lawmakers during the 2014 Legislature, clearing the Senate unanimously and then securing a 54-19 vote in the House.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Utah Legislature: Stats show wild rush, big hitters 487 bills 1/3 passed on the last day

On that last day, the two houses were in session a combined 26 hours. Members passed 162 bills that day — averaging one every 9.6 minutes in each body.
During this year’s Legislature, leaders reported weekly that members were passing far fewer bills than usual. Then the last week arrived, and lawmakers hit the afterburners.
They ended up approving the third most bills ever: 486. Most of those — 57 percent — passed in the last week — and a third of the total on the harried final day. That may raise questions about how much scrutiny the legislation received in the rush.
» Nine of every 10 bills passed were sponsored by Republicans, showing perhaps how much of a one-party state Utah is. Republicans hold 82 percent of the seats in the Legislature and passed 89 percent of the bills.
» Lawmakers introduced the most bills ever: 784 (two more than the previous record of 782 in 2011). Three of every five bills passed, 62 percent.
» Fifteen lawmakers passed every bill they introduced. Nine failed to
pass any, and four introduced no bills. 

Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan introduced and passed 17 bills, Senator Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe introduced and passed 13 bills, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, introduced and passed 12 bills, and Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville introduced and passed 12 bills.  Senator Stuart Adams, R-Layton, passed 11 bills, Senator Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, passed 10 bills and Senator, Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork passed 10 bills.

Lee Davidson Salt Lake Tribune
Batting average for each legislator

Friday, March 7, 2014

Utah may study daylight saving time HB 197

Utah may study daylight saving time
By Dennis Romboy , Deseret News
Published: Wednesday, March 5 2014 4:33 p.m. MST
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are talking about daylight saving time again but not with an eye toward getting rid of the twice-yearly time switch.
"This is not a bill to change daylight savings time. This is a bill to talk about the issues surrounding daylight savings time," said bill sponsor Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland.
HB197 calls for the Governor's Office of Economic Development to hold a meeting with those interested and report on the outcome to legislative interim committees for possible study.
The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee endorsed the bill Wednesday and moved it to the Senate floor. It passed the House last week.
"I think this is a good way to get into the issue," said Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe.
Menlove said she's running the bill because older residents and young mothers have told her they have difficulty with the time change.
Lawmakers on the committee wondered what could result from the GOED report.
"The most important outcome is to let the people feel like they're heard," Menlove said.
On Sunday, clocks will be moved ahead one hour for daylight saving time. The federal government established daylight saving time, and only Arizona and one county in Indiana opted out.
Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said some of his constituents, particularly farmers and ranchers, sportsmen and car dealers, like the extra evening light and want to keep daylight saving time year around.
The Utah Farm Bureau studied the issue two years ago when it came up in the Legislature but could not agree on a position.
Okerlund said one of the biggest arguments in his family over the years has been about daylight saving time.
"It's really hard to come to any consensus on that," he said.
Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, replied, "In the long history of Dabakis family, this has never, ever come up as an issue. That may be the difference between country folk and city folk. Let's study it. It sounds fun."
                                    Twitter: dennisromboy

Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee
3/5/2014 8:00:00 AM - 415 State Capitol

Senate Comm - Favorable Recommendation
HB0197 - Daylight Saving Time Study

Yeas - 4
    Dabakis, J.
    Knudson, P.
    Okerlund, R.
    Vickers, E.
Nays - 2
    Hinkins, D.
    Jenkins, S.
Absent - 1
    Christensen, A.

HB 60 Banning UTOPIA construction outside member cities NOT Considered in House Committee

The House Operations Committee held and then did NOT consider HB 60.
The members of the committee are:

 Ken Ivory (R), Vice Chair  
Keith Grover  (R)
Kraig Powell (R)


HB60 would ban UTOPIA construction outside member cities
Curt Webb’s HB 60 “ prohibits an interlocal entity that provides telecommunication service through a fiber optic network from constructing infrastructure or providing  telecommunication service in locations outside the boundaries of its members.” 
This bill is still in House Committee and has not been considered.  2/14/2014.

"Lawmakers have struggled with the concept of UTOPIA from the start, unable to determine how much is too much when it comes to allowing the organization to bond in order to pay for expanding infrastructure. To that end, Representative Curt Webb (Republican – Logan) is proposing HB 60 – Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition.
The bill would physically cut off the expansion of UTOPIA by prohibiting the construction of infrastructure outside of member cities. So, for example, if demand for infrastructure increased between member-cities West Valley and Murray, construction could not take place because non-member Taylorsville and Unincorporated Salt Lake County lie between them—despite the fact that a mile separates the two city borders. By not allowing infrastructure growth in non-member cities, HB 60 all but guarantees the death of the project. This concept runs counter to how any network runs. In general, a business would provide service between two points and, along the way, expand service in the areas between.

To contact Representative Webb,  call 435-753-2467."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

HB 192 Initiative and Referendum Petition Amendments

HB 192, is attempting to severely curtail initiatives by requiring that signers state that they have "read, understood, and support" the initiative. This is tremendously unworkable. Some petition signers sign before deciding their actual vote on an issue; they sign because they want the initiative placed on the ballot and want to hear the full debate during the election campaign. Furthermore, ballot initiatives can be long and are written in legalese (just like other legislation) and cannot be read in full in a timely manner. Moreover, legislators themselves seldom are able to read and understand legislation they vote for and must rely on their basic understanding of the legislative intention and on the word of bill sponsors whom they trust.

H.B. 192
Chief Sponsor: Jon E. Stanard
Senate Sponsor: ____________
  This bill makes changes to an initiative petition signature sheet and a referendum
petition signature sheet.
Highlighted Provisions:
This bill:
.    adds a statement to a statewide or local initiative petition signature sheet stating that
a signer has read, understands, and agrees to the law proposed by the petition;
.    adds a statement to a statewide or local referendum petition signature sheet stating
that a signer has read and understands the law the petition seeks to overturn; and

.    makes technical corrections.