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 - 24 February 2014

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Dear Friends:

First, here are some updates on bills mentioned in past GrassRoots updates:

HB77, “Tax Credit for Home Schooling Parent”, would provide a nonrefundable tax credit (up to $500) for a home-schooling parent. HB77 was amended in committee to allow the tax credit for only one home-schooled child (not $500 for each home-schooled child).

HB77 passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee 7-4 on February 18th, and awaits consideration by the full House.

GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB77.

HB223, “School Board Election Provisions” and HB228Substitute, “Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments” would repeal the involvement of the governor and the nominating and recruiting committees in the selection process for the State Board of Education. HB223 would provide for nonpartisan election of Board members, while HB228 would provide for partisan election of State Board members.

HB223 and HB228Substitute are both on the agenda of the next meeting of the House Education Committee, scheduled for February 24th.

Either HB223 or HB228 would make a great improvement in the process for electing State Board of Education.

HB276, “Disorderly Conduct Amendments,” would confirm that “The mere carrying or possession of a holstered or encased firearm, whether visible or concealed . . . does not constitute a violation of this section [disorderly conduct].

HB276 now awaits consideration by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB276.

HB318, “Rights of Parents and Children Amendments” would permit a parent to request a jury trial in a proceeding for termination of parental rights, and would require the court to grant that request.

HB318 passed the House Health and Human Services Committee 5-0 on February 21st, and awaits consideration by the full House.

GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB318.

SB46, “Administrative Subpoena Requirement Modifications,” sponsored by Senator Madsen, was replaced by SB46Sub2, which is significantly different from the original SB46. SB46Sub2 would require a law enforcement agency to receive a court order to collect electronic communication records involving specified crimes, while repealing language that “the prosecutor may issue an administrative subpoena” to an electronic communications system or service provider.

SB46Sub2 passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee 4-0 on February 14th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

The doctrine of separation of powers is stated as follows in the Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1. [Three departments of government.]: “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.”

The exercise of judicial powers by prosecutors should be minimized or eliminated. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB46Sub2.

Here are some more bills that have caught our attention:

HB356, “New Convention Facility Development Incentive Provisions” sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson, would:

  • enact the New Convention Facility Development Incentive Act;
  • establish a tax credit for the owner of a new convention hotel or a local government entity; and
  • establish an independent review committee to review tax credit applications.

The fiscal note for HB356 estimates that “Enactment of this bill may forgo about $2.9 million in FY 2016 sales tax revenue and around $75 million over the life of the tax credit (construction and occupancy). The favored business(es) would be able to avoid that amount of taxes.

Speaker of the House, Rebecca Lockhart, is listed as a cosponsor of HB356.

HB356 passed the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee 9-0 on February 18th, and awaits consideration by the full House.

If taxes are so high, and regulations so intrusive as to discourage investment within Utah’s borders, then we should work to reduce unneeded spending, taxes, and regulations across the board, to the benefit of all.

But the marketplace should be free from government manipulation. HB356, with its 15 sections of proposed new code, and its proposed new bureaucracy, is an incremental expansion of government, and of government manipulation of the marketplace. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB356.

SB42, “Early Childhood Education” sponsored by Senator Osmond, would establish the High Quality Preschool Pilot Program to fund certain preschool programs to serve at-risk students, and appropriate $6 million to the State Board of Education fund the program.

SB42 passed Senate Education Committee 6-0 on Feb 14th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

A $6 million tax cut would be better than another new program to be administered by the (distant) State Board of Education. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB42.

SB57, “Autism Services Amendments” sponsored by Senator Shiozawa, would:

  • require a health benefit plan to provide coverage for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder;
  • grant rulemaking authority to the insurance commissioner;
  • describe minimum coverage amounts and limits for the insurance coverage; and
  • provide an exemption for small employers if premium costs increase by more than a certain percentage.

The fiscal note for SB57 estimates the costs to the state government to be over $2 million, with additional unspecified costs to local governments, and to businesses in the form of increased health insurance premiums.

SB57 passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee 6-1 on February 14th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

Subject to fundamental moral standards against fraud, theft, and other attacks on individual rights, the marketplace should be free from unwarranted regulations and invasions. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB57.

SB134, “Taxation Related Referendum Amendment” sponsored by Senator Valentine and Representative Stratton, would exempt a referendum petition described in this bill (taxation-related) from the voter information pamphlet requirements.

SB134 passed the Senate 25-0 on February 21st, and is now in the House Rules Committee.

The referendum process is the only short-term check on local legislative bodies after they pass an objectionable tax increase. It is inappropriate to reduce debate and discussion of the referendum by eliminating the current requirement for publication of a voter information pamphlet. As currently drafted, GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB134.

Suggested amendments to SB134 that could make it a good bill: To keep the current law on voter information pamphlets in effect for tax-related referenda, line 67 of SB134 needs to be struck out of it.

Also under current law, and under SB134, there is no time limit specified for a local clerk to respond to a request to furnish the necessary referendum materials, so it would be possible for the clerk to “sandbag” signature-gathering efforts by several days simply by sitting on the request. We recommend specifying a time limit of no more than 2 business days for the local clerk to furnish referendum materials.

If you have any questions about 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
Board Member, Bill Review Coordinator, GrassRoots

Don Guymon
President, GrassRoots

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