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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Death of a Bill

McCoy Amendment

The Senate amended SB 70 to incorporate a delayed effective date of July 1, 2007. Current applications will run their course under current law

Hopefully this will help people understand that this bill is more about political theory and restoring an historic balance of power than it is to impact any particular business or class of businesses.

We appreciate all those who weighed in on the issue.

Restoring the Appropriate Balance of Power

We might recycle the title to this posting. It seems to fit severalof the issues currently before us (SB 156 and SB 70, maybe even SB 170).

This particular blog, however, concerns the bill restoring a piece of the historic balance of power between the Legislature and the Governor’s Office.

Joe Bauman of the Deseret News cut to the heart of the issue at the very end of his article last week. Envirocare has withdrawn its bid to expand their waste facility (good for them!) but the core issue remains.
"My effort at reinstating the constitutional prerogative of the Legislature to override the governor's veto by a two-thirds majority" was not aimed at helping Envirocare, [Senator Stephenson] said.

When he heard Huntsman's statement, Stephenson added, he wondered "how is it possible for the governor to have that much power?"

He learned that the Legislature had abandoned what he called its constitutional prerogative and its constitutional mandate to override a veto. "And," he added, "I think that's wrong."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Audit Reports

For those of you who appreciate the value of original source documents, here are two recent audit reports.
1. A Performance Audit of Utah's Jail Reimbursement Program

2. Performance Audit of SITLA (School & Institutional Trust Land Administration

Enjoy!

Driving Privilege Card

A significant impetus behind last year’s driving privilege compromise was the need to disallow non-citizens the rights of citizenship (voting, etc.) but not abdicate the state's responsibility to provide for traffic safety.

We asked the Office of the Legislative Auditor General to do a little research and give us a progress report.

Here it is: Letter from the Legislative Auditor.

Matt Canham, in the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote:
The auditor's office . . . studied a sample of 2,500 holders of driving privilege cards and found that three out of four had insurance. That rate was only slightly smaller than among those who have the standard-issue driver license.
A similar look at 2,500 licensed Utah drivers found that 81 percent had insurance.
Senate President John Valentine said the auditor's examination shows "the driving privilege card is working."
It appears that last year’s compromise solution is working as intended.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

You still might want to think twice . . .

From Alan Choate (in the Daily Herald):

Calling a woman unchaste would no longer be a crime if legislation that moved forward Friday becomes law.

... Lawmakers wanted to retain, however, a law that makes it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly communicate false information that will "tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule."

Edward Carter, a lawyer and communications professor at Brigham Young University, said laws criminalizing speech have a chilling effect on discourse and subvert the purpose of having free speech guarantees. Furthermore, he said such laws are "selectively applied" against political opponents and "disfavored voices in society" -- when they're applied at all.

Read more about this bill on Senator Scott McCoy's November Blog.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We Know More

By Pete Knudson
Utah Senate Majority Leader

Despite what approaches a retraction in the Trib, the word seems to have spread that the President of the Senate proclaimed ‘we know more’ than the public.

I was sitting in the room when that comment was made.

In a conversation about SB 156 , President Valentine was asked if legislators feel they are smarter than voters. I recall President Valentine said, 'We are NOT smarter than the voters, but we know more.' Meaning, of course, legislators have access to more information and are more actively engaged in the process.

President Valentine was mischaracterized. I wish some reporters weren’t so quick to twist our words.

The Evans Allocation: Grant Tower Track Realignment

It appears we may have a viable solution to an issue that has plagued West Salt Lake for years.

See Heather May’s article.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Removing the Tax on Food

By John Valentine
President of the Senate

Before charges of "gamesmanship” get too out of hand, let me explain the Senate Majority’s position as clearly as I can.
1. The Utah Senate wants to remove sales tax from food.

2. Everyone is aware the state has many desperate needs and vital priorities, such as funding education, transportation, and economic development. All these priorities compete for dollars.

3. There is a slim chance February revenue estimates will come in higher than expected. If that happens we can re-evaluate. Given the reality of current numbers, however, we don’t see how every vital demand can be funded.

4. If the numbers don’t allow us to remove the sales tax on food this year we should - at the very LEAST - remove the sales tax on food for the poorest among us.

5. At this point, it appears that the best mechanism to accomplish this is probably a food tax refund.

In Case You Missed it

From an editorial in Sunday’s Tribune:
… the sales tax on food should be evaluated within the larger context of state spending and tax reform.

The ideal solution might be to exempt only people in poverty from paying the food tax. Trouble is, that is difficult to administer. The most practical way may be to provide an annual rebate to low-income people that would offset what they pay in food tax.
Read the entire editorial here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The United STATES

By Howard Stephenson
Utah State Senator, District 11

SB 156 is a soft repeal of the 17th amendment, which ended the election of U.S. Senators by local legislative action.

The nation's founders understood that an essential element in the balance of powers was that the Senate represented the states while the House represented the citizens of each the various congressional districts.

Part of the reason the Constitution gives each state two U.S. Senators, regardless of the population of the state, was the Founder’s recognition that the states were equal; in the beginning the senators represented state interests and were naturally elected by the legislatures of their respective states. With the advent of the direct election of senators, the sensitivity of the U.S. Senate to the problems faced by states was severely diminished.

SB 156 provides for the legislature to give direction to the U.S. Senators from Utah and to require periodic reporting from them on their progress in carrying out the directives received. It would also allow political parties to nominate U.S. Senate candidates by sending two names to the legislature and asking their political party's legislative caucus to pare the candidates down to one for the November ballot.

What would be different if the U.S. Senate were more attuned to the desires of their respective elected state legislatures?
  • At least one chamber of Congress would be much more likely to advocate for the sovereignty of the states and states' rights;
  • Medicare and Medicaid funding would not have so many costly requirements; Transportation funding wouldn't have so many strings attached;
  • The federal gas tax would be small or non-existent;
  • No Child Left Behind would have failed or would look very different;
  • Federal land policy would respect the needs of the states; and
  • The National Environmental Protection Act would look entirely different today if the 50 states had more influence over the United States Senate.
  • Etcetera.

Good Old Fashioned Federalism

Here's a question for all the students of federalism out there (there are a few left,aren't there?).

What would be the effect of this addition to state law?
(1) A political party may elect to include a provision in its bylaws that permits the political party to submit the names of two recommended candidates for the office of United States Senator to those members of the Legislature that are members of the political party.

(2) The provision in the political party's bylaws may permit those members of the Legislature that are members of the political party to select, by a majority vote, one of the two candidates submitted under Subsection (1) to be the party's candidate for the office of United States Senator.
See the full text of SB 156 here.

Senator Howard Stephenson will post a blog later this morning. In the meantime, you can read Burr and Bernick.

You may also want to dust off your copy of the Federalist Papers.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Incoming Torpedo

On Friday, our counsel notified us that any significant changes in Utah’s sales tax structure could have a negative effect on bonds issued by the State’s political subdivisions.
Executive Summary

Letter from Bond Counsel

Official Press Release
This has serious ramifications for how we go about removing Utah’s sales tax on food. It also impacts any large business sales tax cut.

Further, it has implications for the state’s flexibility to lower taxes.

The first step is to make sure the problem doesn’t get worse. Senator Hillyard's bill, SB 166, imposes an immediate moratorium on issuance of new bonds guaranteed by sales tax revenue collected by political subdivisions, pending further analysis of the situation.

The next step is to get creative and figure out a way to provide effective tax relief without endangering Utah's phenomenal credit rating or reputation as one of the best financially managed states in the nation.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Audio Blog: $100 Million Dollars

How did the Senate Majority arrive at their tax cut target?

Majority Leader Pete Knudson shares some insight on yesterday's caucus decision.

Click here to listen to the MP3.

It's Your Government. Listen in.

You can listen to the debate (ANY debate) by going to the Official Senate Site.
  • Click on 'Sound From Session'
  • Choose the 2006 Legislative Session (or any other session)
  • Select the day of session (or the bill number).
If, for example, you want to listen to today's debate on Senator Buttars' SB 69, you could go to the sound page, select the 2006 General Legislative Session option from the first drop-down menu, then select Day 5 (1/20/2006), and click on SB 96 - Buttars.

Evolution of a Bill

Senator Buttars’ Evolution Bill (SB 96) just passed the Second Reading Calendar in the Senate, (it will need to pass the Third Reading Calendar before being sent to the House).

Join the discussion by leaving comments here or here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tax Cut Position

The Senate Majority just voted to support a series of tax cuts in the neighborhood of $100 million, in a combination of income tax and sales tax adjustments. The caucus expressed general support for the idea of a refundable credit for sales tax on food.

The decision followed a lengthy discussion on the state budget - the money we’ve committed, the amount we have left over, and the obvious budget demands such as education, transportation, and economic development.

Given compelling state needs, the caucus felt that a tax cut in the neighborhood of $100 million struck an appropriate balance. If the mid-February tax estimates indicate higher revenues, we would probably consider a larger tax cut.

The Right to Breathe Clean Air

The smoking ban just passed the Senate. Track it here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Smokin' Issue

By Michael Waddoups
State Senator, District 6

My Amendments to the Indoor Clean Air Act moved out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with a 4-2 vote.

I am pleased the bill is moving to a larger forum of debate. Second hand smoke in private clubs, taverns, fraternal clubs and country clubs is just as lethal as second hand smoke anywhere else; I believe protecting the right of patrons and employees to breathe clean air is the right thing to do.

Some feel this is unnecessary government intervention. I feel the right to act as you choose only exists as long as you don't cause harm to others. You may drink alcohol in your own home, for example, but get behind the wheel of a car and you become a danger to those around you. At that point government has the responsibility to step in.

People killed by second-hand smoke are just as innocent - and just as dead - as those killed by drunk drivers.

We need to set some reasonable protections.

You can find more information at www.smokefreeutah.com.

Ambush Alley

By Tom Hatch
State Senator, District 28

This piece was written by Keith Rounds, cowboy poet, and doorman for the Wyoming House of Representatives.

As we get down to business here, the blue notes start flowing and the hallways fill up with people who want to speak with us. I thought this poem fit just right.
Ambush Alley

The lobby has to be renamed,
Its use just ain’t the same.
It’s no longer just a place to loiter
Now folks come to reconnoiter.

Here they come to lie in wait
To catch a Representative at the gate.
Or they send in lots of notes
Hoping to get ‘em to change their votes.

Constituents, lobbyists and PACs
Have lots of questions and favors to ask.
There’s lots of special and individual needs,
“Vote for it, or against it, Please!”

All this goes on outside the door
‘Cause they can’t get in here on the floor.
So we pack ‘em in and they shove and push,
And they lie in wait, ready to ambush.

Representatives maneuver through the crowd
And folks holler their names out loud.
Because our members run through that gauntlet,
“Ambush Alley” is what we’ll call it!

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Trib Blog

Planet Legislature:
"... because a lot of interesting, quirky and personal stuff will get left on the editing room floor, we are starting this legislative blog to give an additional window on Capitol happenings."
Welcome to the neighborhood.

Tom Barberi Hearts the Senate

The Barberi Show treated the entire Senate to a bottle of beer. Wasatch Brewery's Evolution Ale to be exact.

In honor, we guess, of the current debate on Senator Buttars' Bill.

The bottles were empty.

So what happened to the beer? More importantly, where's Tom?

Probably sleeping it off somewhere in his studio.

When some of the senators removed the bottles from the tops of their desks. Someone commented, "They must be offended."

Senator Dmitrich shot back, "I am too. They're empty."

So, It Begins


From the President of the Utah Senate - John Valentine - in his opening remarks today:
"The Iroquois Confederacy dealt with the politics of abundance by insisting that every decision must regard the seventh generation coming.

". . . I am asking Senators to take the long view. To make careful decisions based on the facts and merits of an issue, not short term political expediency. When Rosa Lee Parks kept the seat that was rightfully hers, she did not do what was easy, popular or comfortable. I am asking you to be equally faithful to your values and the values of those you represent."
Much of today's activity is ceremonial.

Chief Justice Durham will deliver the State of the Judiciary Address today at 2:30 p.m.

You can find live audio links on our official site.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Calm Before the Storm


It’s quiet here in the halls of the West Building, temporary home of the Utah State Legislature.

The plaza is quiet too, except for construction and renovation noise from the historic capitol building next door.

The Senate Chamber is deserted.

It won't be on Monday.

Legislative staff have been working at a superhuman level of intensity for some time to prepare for the upcoming session. Interns are starting to show up, as are session staff – a seasonal change as reliable and welcome as when the swallows return to Capistrano.

The Senate will open at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning with an invocation and posting of the colors. We expect the pledge will be led by a man from Honduras who served in Afghanistan and was recently given US citizenship.

The Bear River High School Madrigals will perform, followed by opening remarks from the President of the Senate.

The morning session will end with a presentation by the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission.

Anyone can watch or listen live by going to the audio or video links on the Legislature’s web page.

Hanging Up The Wrench . . . For Now

By Parley Hellewell
Senate District 15: Provo

I'm going to send out a press release today announcing I will not be seeking a third term.

I appreciate and admire the people in my district and know they will elect someone capable and worthy of the trust they have given to me.

Of course, this was not an easy decision. My business is growing exponentially and I’ve come to a point where I can’t balance work and family with public service and be successful in all three.

I think it is appropriate to announce my decision now - rather than after the Legislative Session. This will give people in my district the opportunity to assess their willingness and ability to act as our next senator, and give them time to prepare.

I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to work for people in Provo and throughout the state - and to serve with so many great men and women in the Utah Legislature. I will miss the privilege of associating with them.

At some point I may re-enter public service, but I feel this is the right decision for now.

A Few Thoughts

By Lyle Hillyard
State Senator: Cache and Rich Counties

I can tell the legislature is about to begin by the number of telephone calls I am receiving and the number of meetings that are being scheduled. A court hearing took most of one morning last week and when I returned I had 16 new voice mails. It is hard to listen to all the messages, let alone meet with everyone who calls.

Serving in a part-time legislature is not a part time job. I find I spend over 50 percent of my time year-round doing legislative work. I have the added burden with serving while living in Logan which is 82 miles (1 hour and 18 minutes) from the Capitol, but who’s counting?

While it is well worth my time, it bothers me when I hear about how much we make, or how many freebies we get. In truth, the cost of serving far exceeds the compensation.

I am often asked how I manage to keep up with all I do in the legislature. I try not to take any new clients after October 1, so I can finish up all the matters that require a court hearing before I leave. I do this because court hearings aren’t easily handled over the telephone and can’t wait until March. Also, my law office purchased an 800 number so I can call from Salt Lake without any wrongful use of state funds. I usually spend every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. with clients and my secretary preparing everything for the upcoming week. I also have great partners who fill in for me when needed.

So why do I do it? A couple of reasons. First, I believe I have and can continue to make a difference. My rural background and the practice of law bring a perspective that is needed in the debate and discussion about public policy. Second, the timing has worked out better with no committee meetings in December; the session begins the third and not the second week in January; and the internet access many people have to give me input. Third, I have always been involved in public service and have found it to be rewarding.

Generally speaking, the people with whom I work - staff, fellow legislators, and the public (including the press) - are motivated by doing the best thing for the public. I hope that we never become a full-time legislature because it will deny many people the chance to serve as is currently being done. I believe we can still survive as a people and a state without laws being passed for everything we think needs to be done. We just need to rely a little less on government to solve our problems.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Undecided

From an article in yesterday's paper:
"As for the proposed tax cut, which House Republicans have put at $230 million tax cut and Huntsman has settled on $60 million, Senate Republicans remained undecided after a Tuesday lunch caucus."
We keep reading that the Senate is undecided as to how much they will recommend for a tax cut. It ain't indecision, folks. It's a commitment to responsible decision-making.

The budget surplus is not government money. It is your money, taken by force. We think we owe it to you to do our homework, take time to understand competing priorities, and make as wise a series of decisions as we are able. We will make decisions when it is appropriate to make them, and not before.

We're talking about a sudden infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars. If you came into that kind of money (which you have) you would, hopefully, be very thoughtful about the best way to use it. You should expect the same from your elected leaders.

Of course you pay too much tax. We'd love to give it all back. You also have expressed desperate needs in areas like education, transportation, and economic development. How should we balance that? We have a massive surplus this year but how much of that can we count on next year - and the year after that?

A public fistfight would sell a lot more papers, but you're not going to find that here. Probably. If you want drama go to a movie. If you want responsible decision making done in a careful, deliberative manner, grab a Diet Coke and come visit us.

The Senate will come out with a series of decisions and recommendations soon enough - and in plenty of time for a robust democratic debate.

Base Budgets?

Josh Loftin and Co. wrote a tutorial on the new base budget approval process.

Legislators Get First Look At Budget

Executive Summary:
Base Budget Approval (SB 1 and SB 3) take the non-controversial budget decisions out of play early in the session so we can focus more intently on the hard stuff.
"These are the issues when, if we were to vote on them separately, everybody votes for without really discussing," Bigelow said. "Anything that people want to debate is not included."

... Politically, approving a base budget has advantages. For one, any bill passed during the session has to be vetoed by the governor within 10 days, which would allow legislators to override a veto during the regular session. It also means that the entire budget cannot be held hostage because of disagreements over how to spend new money, Senate Budget Manager Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Responsibilities of Parenthood

Darin Peterson
State Senator, District 24

I am the Senate sponsor of a bill that would require parental notification and consent before a minor can receive an abortion.

Decisions of this magnitude need to be made by people who have the child’s best interest at heart. Families - parents counseling with their children in living rooms- should make the decision, not administrators and doctors in clinic waiting rooms.

This state has always been clear that there are certain things you can’t do as a minor, such as smoking or drinking. Most medical procedures – and even body piercing - require parental consent if you are a minor. Choosing an abortion is a significant life-altering decision. I don’t believe children should be making that choice without their parents’ consent.

Utahhas always looked out for its children - I want to make sure that continues.

The Budgeting Process

Senator Lyle Hillyard
State Senator, Cache and Rich Counties

As the budgeting process began, I thought about the changes I have seen during my service in the legislature.

I remember my first year in the Legislature - 1981 - when Scott Matheson was beginning his second term as Governor. The session lasted 60 days and began the second Monday in January. Governor Matheson gave his State of the State Address on the first morning. There was a great lobbying effort to have him mention your bill or project in his speech because it would help passage.

The morning following his State of the State, the Governor would present his budget message. That was the first time the legislature knew exactly what revenue figures he was using. His figures were usually different than ours (it seemed to me that the Governor always had higher figures so he could always spend more). By the end of the session, we would all have to come to agreement.

Twenty-five years later – 2006 - the Governor must announce his budget recommendations by December 15 so the legislature has a month to prepare. We also have a plan in place so the Governor’s and the legislature’s revenue figures are the same. The State of the State is now given in the early evening on primetime TV. There are no longer two separate speeches.

The Governor has always faced the challenge of making the first initiative before much of the economic information is finalized. He can only guess how Christmas sales will impact the ultimate picture, along with other factors that ending an old year and beginning a new one bring. During the session, he can have some input but must really wait until the legislative process has worked itself out and he sees exactly which of his priorities are not being properly funded. Anyone who follows the legislature knows things can change quickly. If the governor had to react to every idea and proposal, he would need several more full-time staffers just to issue press releases. It is truly marvelous how well the process works.

This session is quite typical. The Governor proposed his priorities. Because of the substantial revenue this year, everyone has suggestions (many quite good) on how best to allocate or spend the money. New revenue figures in mid-February could change the outlook significantly.

I believe the legislature has shown wisdom in putting in place an early approval of last year’s budget with add-on’s. Most people can agree that funding the new growth in public education including charter schools and the federal mandated programs need money. The tension between the Governor’s plan and the various goals of the two legislative bodies, however, will cause us to consider a diversity of views and finally reach a consensus that works unbelievably well every year. There is truly a diversity of views and priorities held by legislators that will be carefully considered and become part of the final budget picture.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Jail Funding Crisis

David L. Thomas
State Senator, District 18 and
Co-chair of Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations

As widely reported in Utah’s newspapers, the State of Utah officially ran out of space to incarcerate State prisoners in December 2005. That not only includes the State correctional facilities, but also the 1,000 or more county jail beds the State uses under contract with counties.

The jail and prison populations for State inmates continue to climb at a rate of more than 250 new inmates per year. Adding to this crisis is the fact that many counties are no longer willing to contract with the State because the State does not pay the full housing rate. Instead, counties are expected to subsidize the State. If the State lost all county inmate facilities it would cost over $102 million in capital investment and another $23, million in ongoing operation expenses to meet the demand.

So what are our options?

Option #1:

We can spend $132 million of the surplus on permanent State facilities and forego contracting with county jails. We can also add on an additional $100 million in capital expenditures to build an additional correctional facility to keep up with the growth in inmate population.

Option # 2:

We can pay counties what it actually costs to house State inmates, which includes the depreciated capital costs of jail structures. This may amount to $5 million to $10 million per year. At the same time we can contract with county jails for additional space and implement a long range plan to build another large State correctional facility, which may eventually cost $100 million, but would buy us some time.

Our appropriations committee picked option #2.

I have opened up a bill file on Jail Funding Amendments, SB 50, to accomplish the wishes of the committee. It’s simply a case of pay me now or pay me later. Because later is going to be expensive, I think we should solve this now. I welcome your comments.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On The Record with Chris Vanocur

'Tis the season for legislative previews and conversations about the upcoming session. You can catch Senate President John Valentine, Speaker Greg Curtis, Senator Scott McCoy, and Representative Roz McGee on Sunday's “On the Record” with Chris Vanocur.

9:30 a.m., Sunday morning, on Channel 4.

Topics worth waking up for: The Budget, Education, Evolution, Elections, Food Tax and Property Tax, The Governor, and the Role of the legislature.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another Reason to Scrutinize NCLB

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What the media hasn’t told you about the GRAMA Task Force

David L. Thomas
Senator, District 18 , and
Co-chair of the GRAMA Task Force

Notwithstanding my best efforts, I have been unable to convince the news media to write about the actual public policy considerations on GRAMA. Instead they just offer scathing articles and self-serving propaganda.

There is, however, one notable exception. Scott Schwebke wrote a fair story in the Ogden Standard Examiner about the public policy issues facing the Task Force. Although the editorial board blasted the Task Force, I applaud them for their even-handed treatment, as I believe the issues are important for all Utahns to consider.

Here is what most media outlets have not told you:

Public Policy Issue #1:

Should the original intent of GRAMA (embodied in UCA 63-2-101) be changed?

The Task Force says no- while the media says yes.

The intent language of the statute allows access to information “concerning the conduct of the public’s business.” The Task Force wants to keep that provision and place it into the body of the statute, while the media wants it stricken. The media tends to offer a one-sided report, saying the Task Force is adding this provision as a restriction on access when just the opposite is true.

Public Policy Issue #2:

Should citizens of the State of Utah continue to have the constitutional right to petition their elected officials on personal and confidential matters without losing their right to privacy?

The Task Force says yes. The media says no.

This is where e-mails, correspondence and other means of communicating with elected officials come into play. The media believes that all citizen correspondence should be open for media inspection. The Task Force believes that citizens have a right of privacy in personal and confidential correspondence and that without such, their constitutional right to petition their government would be negatively impacted. No right to privacy means no whistleblowers. It appears strange that the media would oppose this public policy at the exact same time they are advocating for a media shield law in order to protect their sources of information. The Task Force wants citizens to feel secure in contacting their elected representatives without the fear that someone is spying on them.

Public Policy #3:

Should legislators be able to have candid and confidential discussions with their staffs on legislative matters?

The Task Force says yes, while the media says no.

We have an open, public process for legislation. However, the vast majority of states, as well as the federal government, recognize that the system works better when legislator/staff discussions have some form of protection.

Public Policy #4:

Should parties to GRAMA disputes be allowed to forum shop (i.e. shop around to a judge they think would be favorable to their claims) or should parties be required to present their disputes to a seasoned panel of unbiased experts on GRAMA (the State Records Committee) before going to court?

The Task Force advocates the panel of experts at the State Records Committee, while the media advocates forum shopping. I think this speaks for itself.

Public Policy #5:

Should the citizens of the State of Utah subsidize private business in the compilation of commercial data bases from the public record?

The Task Force says no, while the media says yes.

If government requires its citizens to produce personal data, why should private industry get the benefit of that information without paying a fair price for it? The Task Force believes that the citizens should benefit from the use of their information.

I hope that this brings some sense of balance to the ongoing debate. I believe it is important for Utah citizens to know what is at stake. Most people I have talked to about this have sided with the Task Force once they understood the public policy choices.
I would call upon the media to allow the public to see the full debate so that they can give input to their legislators on these important policy issues.

A Glance Toward November

Looking toward elections later this year, here's an exerpt from Utah Policy Daily:
Fourteen Utah senators face re-election this year, including a disproportionate number of Democrats. In fact, six of the seven Salt Lake County Democrats must defend their seats this year. Democrats currently hold eight Senate seats, all but one of them (Sen. Mike Dmitrich in Carbon County) based mostly in Salt Lake City and County. The only Democrats not up this year are Dmitrich and Fred Fife in Salt Lake City.

Democrats hold seven Salt Lake County seats, while Republicans have only five.

Democrats whose seats are up for grabs include Scott McCoy (District 2), Gene Davis, (District 3), Patrice Arent (District 4), Ed Mayne (District 5), Karen Hale (District 7) and Brent Goodfellow (District 12). Goodfellow was appointed to replace Sen. Ron Allen and his district covers part of Tooele County.

The eight Republicans up in 2006 are Al Mansell (District 9), Howard Stephenson (District 11), Parley Hellewell (District 15), Peter Knudson (District 17), David Thomas (District 18), Greg Bell (District 22), Beverly Evans (District 26) and Tom Hatch (District 28).

Already, some interesting intra-party battles are shaping up, with Rep. Margaret Dayton poised to take on Sen. Parley Hellewell in Utah County, and Sen. Scott McCoy possibly facing an intra-party challenge. All 75 Utah House seats are up this year.

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