Posts Tagged Utah Legislature
Utah’s 2011 State Legislature comes to a close last night. As I was tethered to many of the pieces of immigration legislation I eventually averted my eyes to other proposed bills that are not in the best interest of the common good of Utah’s society. We are wading in the waters of murky legislation… some pending Governor Herbert’s signature and others like HB 477 signed with little regret by Governor Herbert. HB 477 seeks to limit Utah’s Open Records Law and deny access to Utah public records. Contrary to his comments in the Tribune his veto could’ve prevented HB 477 from becoming law as he needed 50 votes to override his Veto and this tyrannical bill only got 42. Thanks to all of you who made your voice be heard. The Governor made a choice and it was to NOT LISTEN to the will of the people.
Nothing this session has been spared by our political demagogues not immigration, GRAMA requests…not even the wild kitties.
Over a thousand pieces of legislation were considered by the elected members of the Utah House and Senate and many pieces of legislation considered simply appealed to the prejudices, emotions and fears of a select portion of the populous. We should ask ourselves if this is a responsible way to issue policy. Is it really a mark of a good politician to rise to power through appeals to the ethnic and nationalistic prejudices and vanities of people?
It is simply more productive for our society to consider and implement policy that is in the public’s best interest and entirely void of fear based needling. Having an ethical and transparent government is certainly in the public’s best interest and HB 477 seeks to annihilate that piece of morality that benefits Utah’s citizens. Society works BEST, when we consider and implement policies that is in the interest of ALL.
Genuine and sustainable leadership has been absent in this struggle and our country and state has increasingly witnessed a pendulum type swing from democracy into corporatocracy where policy implemented benefits a select few and HB477 only serves but a select few. This is easily demonstrated as our Governor has decided to keep prying eyes away from what we all call a HONEST DEMOCRACY. We found out last year thanks to our open records law which companies our Governor chose to give lucrative state contracts to. Which also lets the public review who the major contributors are, to our Governor and our State Legislators. By the Governor Herbert signing this bill WE can ALL see who benefits from HB-477.
I challenge each of you to amplify your voices and walk courageously into the light and demand a return to democracy. I challenge each of you to create awareness of Utah’s weakening democracy. I also challenge each of you to become delegates and encourage others to become delegates and expedite the return of OUR democracy. Lastly, I challenge each of you to not only vote but to embolden others to do the same.
Working together we can prevent further ATTACKS to our Democracy, like HB 477 from ever being conceived. It’s time to return to the people’s democracy! Please encourage Governor Herbert to Repeal HB 477.
Rachel Maddow does quite a good job with this segment, all about Utah. She brings in Rocky Anderson to explain why, despite some positive moves, the Utah legislature insists on adding some all new wackiness in its liquor laws.
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman says our 40-year old private club law is bad for business and he’d like to see it eliminated. And he’s right. The law, after all, accomplishes nothing related to alcohol consumption. People who want to go to a bar, manage to figure out what they need to do. Then they proceed to drink in the way they will–moderately or excessively. The private club law makes no difference in an individual’s consumption of alcohol.
But the new president of Utah’s Senate, Michael Waddoups, opposes any change in the private club law.
Several senate sources told ABC 4 News that Waddoups doesn’t like doing away with clubs. Specifically, he’s concerned about underage drinking and DUI’s.
In fact, several years ago, Waddoups wife was badly hurt in a car accident. It involved someone driving under the influence. ABC 4’s sources say this is a big reason the senate president will likely fight to keep the club system in place.
One can understand Waddoups’ personal aversion to alcohol consumption due to its impact on his own family. But we have to have some sense about this. Making people have a ‘membership’ just to walk through the door does not address Waddoups’ concerns–does not prevent even one DUI. Any club ‘member’ can get a whole crowd of people in. The club is still responsible for ensuring all who enter are of age. Individuals still must exercise personal responsibility for their consumption. Nothing magic happened because of the way they entered the bar. People who drink excessively and get behind the wheel, will do so regardless of how they got into the bar.
Lawmakers who don’t imbibe think all liquor laws are good laws, period. I would urge Senate President Waddoups and others to try to get past their personal prejudices, understand that alcohol will be consumed, and laws controlling that consumption should have some effect besides simply making people jump through hoops. Think about the real effect of the law. If it doesn’t accomplish its purpose, then let’s get rid of it. Governor Huntsman is right about this.
What pressing matters will take up the valuable time of our busy legislature this session? Taxes? Schools? Roads?
How about war? As in, the war on Christmas.
State Senator Chris Buttars is declaring a war on the ‘War on Christmas’. He’s sponsoring a resolution encouraging retailers to embrace Christmas in their promotions rather than the generic “holidays.”
Sen. Chris Buttars wants Utah’s Legislature to declare its opposition to the “war on Christmas.” [snip]
“It would encourage the use of ‘Merry Christmas,'” Buttars said of the non-binding statement that is still being drafted. “I’m sick of the Christmas wars — we’re a Christian nation and ought to use the word.” [snip]
Now you’re expecting me to make the obvious comment on the “we’re a Christian nation” thing, right? Well, I don’t think I need to. The stupidity of that statement stands all on its own.
Who else thinks it’s a good idea?
“I think Christmas is a wonderful holiday,” said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. [snip]
While Bramble believes that America is grounded in Judeo-Christian beliefs, part of that thinking involves tolerance of other faiths, he said.
“I don’t find it offensive when someone says ‘Happy Holidays,’ ” Bramble added. “What is offensive is if we’re embarrassed to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ “
I’ll be blunt. It pisses me off that our legislators waste time on such ridiculous non-issues. If they are so lacking in serious issues as to have to resort to this, then maybe we can cut back on the legislative session and save some taxpayer money. Yeah, right.
In fact, is pisses me off that I wasted time writing about this! Bah, humbug!
Why would ethics be a problem among Utah politicians? By far, the majority of those in the legislature, and government leadership positions espouse personal commitment to their religious beliefs. This would seem to imply a devotion to moral and ethical conduct. Indeed, they often seem overeager to legislate morality for Utah’s citizens. But this year, it appears our legislators have turned introspective and are now showing concern about their own morality.
SL Trib tells us that up to 14 different ethics-related bills are currently being prepared for introduction in the upcoming January session.
On the heels of a campaign season rocked by allegations of bribery and influence-peddling, Utah lawmakers are crafting a bevy of bills to address campaign-finance reform, lobbyist gifts and the Legislature’s rarely used ethics investigations.
We only have to go back as far as October to be reminded of the ethics investigation into Republican Representative Greg Hughes’ alleged bribery of a fellow legislator. With procedural biases that favored the legislator, the ethics committee was unable to do more than find Hughes guilty of conduct unbecoming a legislator and an admonishment for him to apologize for his wrongdoing.
As to the ethics charges themselves, the committee gave Hughes a pass, not because it found him innocent, but because, in the Committee’s view, the legislature’s current ethics standards were too vague to be applied.
And just this week State Senator Howard Stephenson is being accused of using his senate position to threaten and intimidate employees of the Utah Office of Education for “shabby treatment of ProCert Labs, an Orem-based company whose services Stephenson had been advocating for years.”
In a series of heated e-mails and phone calls, Stephenson, who heads the committee that sets the public education budget, threatened to withhold support from the Utah Office of Education, suggested it be downsized and have work outsourced and that the malcontents mistreating ProCert could be fired. [snip]
[State Superintendent Patti] Harrington said Stephenson is the “singular example” of a legislator who has weighed in with the education office and, as the senator who controls the education budget, his wishes are hard to ignore.
Also this week, the state Lieutenant Governor’s office is looking into the possible misuse of the State seal on a letter of endorsement by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for DigitalBridge of Orem, just days before receiving a campaign contribution of $10,000 from the company. This just adds to the AG’s previous admitted misuse of official stationery for political purposes, as well as personally beneficial relationships with Ameriquest, payday lenders, and others.
And then there is state representative Aaron Tilton whose company Transition Power Development LLC, wants to build a 1,500-megawatt nuclear power plant, and representative Michael Noel, executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, who wants to provide the water needed for the project. These two men are vice chairman and chairman, respectively, of the legislature’s Public Utilities and Technology Committee. Yet both claim no conflict of interest.
Certainly the laws are not designed to keep our public servants honest. We sort of leave it up to them to walk that line. And they know exactly where the line is, and they’ll walk right up and kiss it without stepping over. Seemingly moral and ethical individuals don’t always ‘choose the right’.
Let’s see if the next legislative session produces meaningful ethics laws or simply more fluff.