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 - 1 February 2016

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ first legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature. We hope to be sending a weekly update on legislative happenings during the session, and will be concentrating on bills that we find to be friendly to the principles of limited government on one hand, or, on the other hand, friendly to big, intrusive government. As you may know, the principles of GrassRoots are summarized as Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government, Free Market Economy, Participatory Republic, Family, and Separation of Powers.

We would encourage and challenge you, if you see one or more bills that interest you, contact your representative and/or senator about it/them. We think they usually hear enough from paid lobbyists (some would say more than enough), but they may not hear enough from you.

At this time (one week into the session), there are about 380 numbered bills for this session on the Utah Legislature website, maybe about half of the bills that will be numbered by the end of the session which, under the Utah Constitution, will go for 45 days. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.

The Right of Self-Defense, and 1 good bill

Defense of self and others is an unalienable right, recognized by our state and national constitutions:

“The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the Legislature from defining the lawful use of arms” (Utah State Constitution, Article I, Section 6).

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (United States Constitution, Second Amendment).

Keeping our code consistent with these constitutional provisions is part of each legislator’s duty under his or her oath to uphold our state and national constitutions. And, as implied in the Second Amendment, non-infringement of rights of self-defense is necessary to the maintenance of a free society.

The following bill (HB67) deserves our special attention (and GrassRoots supports passage of this bill):

HB67, “Weapons on Public Transportation”, sponsored by Representative Thurston and Senator Christensen, would eliminate the prohibition of carrying a firearm on a bus, by deleting current language in Utah Code that “A person who boards a bus with a concealed dangerous weapon or firearm upon his person or effects is guilty of a third degree felony.”

HB67 passed the House Transportation Committee 9-1 on January 28th, and awaits consideration on the House 3rd reading calendar.

GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB67.

Qualifications for judges, and 2 bad bills

It is often proposed that certain professional qualifications should be required for various positions in government. Such qualifications may sometimes be helpful but, by eliminating most people, such requirements go against the principle of Representative Government by eliminating from consideration many well-qualified individuals who are respected in their communities. We believe this to be the case with HJR1 (a proposed amendment to our state constitution) and HB160, bills that effectively propose to limit justice court judges to individuals who have been admitted to the practice of law in Utah.

HB160, “Justice Court Judge Qualifications Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Craig Hall:

  • requires justice court judges to be admitted to the practice of law within this state;
  • is companion legislation to a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR1); and
  • contains language making it effective only upon passage of the constitutional amendment.

HB160 awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB160.

HJR1, “Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Judges of Courts Not of Record”, sponsored by Representative Craig Hall, proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to:

  • eliminate a restriction against requiring judges of courts not of record to be admitted to practice law; and
  • provide for qualifications of judges of courts not of record.

HJR1 awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HJR1.

Other bills catching our attention

Here are two more bills catching our attention.

SB12Substitute, “Passenger Carrier Requirements”, sponsored by Senator Mayne, would:

  • define "private passenger carrier"; and
  • prohibit a person from driving a motor vehicle as a private passenger carrier unless the person has a valid taxicab endorsement or a commercial driver license.

SB12Substitute passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee 5-0 on January 26th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

This bill would seem to expand our system of requiring us to have a government-issued license for ever more activities, and to criminalize market behavior that does not go against such standards as "Thou shalt not kill", "Thou shalt not steal", and "Thou shalt not lie." We do not believe there is a compelling need for government to punish people who peacefully give other people rides without a government-issued license.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB12Substitute.

SB43, “Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention in Public Schools”, sponsored by Senator Weiler, would:

  • create a pilot program to provide instruction to public school students in grade 8 on firearm safety and violence prevention;
  • direct the Office of the Attorney General, in collaboration with the State Board of Education, to select a provider to supply materials and curriculum for the instruction to be provided under the pilot program;
  • require the Office of the Attorney General, in collaboration with the State Board of Education, to report on the pilot program to the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee;
  • sunset the pilot program on July 1, 2019; and
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2017, $75,000 to be used for the Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Pilot Program.

SB43 passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee 4-0 on January 27th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

We believe that there is no compelling need to add this kind of instruction into a government school system that already is given too much to do, and already consumes too many tax-dollars and too much parental prerogative. Also, we are concerned that the prescribed instruction is more likely to be politically tainted, than if left to the private sector (including such volunteer organizations as the Boy Scouts of America).

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB43.

SB59, “Antidiscrimination Act Revisions”, sponsored by Senator Weiler, would:

  • modify the Utah Antidiscrimination Act by providing for reasonable accommodations for an employee for the known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions unless it creates an “undue hardship” for the employer;
  • prohibit an employer from claiming “undue hardship for the following accommodations: (i) more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks; or (ii) limits on lifting over 20 pounds”;
  • require that “An employer shall include in an employee handbook, or post in a conspicuous place in the employer's place of business, written notice concerning an employee's rights to reasonable accommodation for a known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions.”

SB59 passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee 5-0 on January 26th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

It is possible that the motivation behind this bill is a desire to help pregnant women and nursing mothers. If so, then we agree with and empathize with this desire.

However we believe that the government force to be imposed on businesses by SB59 is unwarranted and even immoral.

We believe that our government is properly viewed as an agent of the people. As such, it may only honestly claim authority that is delegated to it by its superior, the people . . . and the people may only delegate authority that they themselves have.

With proposals like SB59, we should ask ourselves: “Do I believe that I, or my neighbor across the street, has moral authority (authority in the eyes of God) to employ force in this manner? Would this be a moral use of force by an individual?” If not, then neither is it a moral use of force by the people’s agent, the government.

GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB59.

If you have any questions about these bills, 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
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to and click on “Legislators”.

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to and click on “2016 General Session Page” then click on “2016 Bills”.

Do you have other questions about how to effectively participate in the political process? Please contact us, and we will try to help as appropriate.

Do you have friends that would appreciate this legislative update? Please feel free to forward it to them.

Would you like to help us with review of legislation in a small or large way? Consider taking a special look at bills sponsored by your own representative or senator. Please contact us with your findings and/or with any questions we might be able to help you with.

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