Welcome to The Senate Site

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No Override

The Senate decided not to override any of the governor’s vetoes this year.

We completed our poll yesterday. Nine senators voted for an override Session.

20 voted against.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ABCs of a Veto Override

Last night, the governor vetoed three bills (and four budget line items).

So, what’s the plan?

A. The President of the Senate will send a copy of the governor’s explanation letters (linked below) to each Utah Senator along with a veto-override form. Those packets will go out today.

B. Senators will consider the information available and indicate whether or not they favor a veto override session. If applicable, they will also indicate which bill or bills they want to override. They will sign the form and fax it back to the President over the next several days. The House of Representatives will do something similar for their members.

C. If two-thirds of both legislative bodies vote to override, the President and Speaker will schedule a Veto Override Session, which must take place prior to May 1st (60 days after the end of the session).

Here are the letters from Governor Huntsman, explaining his actions.
House Bill 151: Concurrent Enrollment Funding Adjustments

House Bill 100: Environmental Litigation Bond

House Bill 148: Parent and Child Amendments

Line Items 15, 133, and 134 of HB 3

Line Item 163 of SB 4

All over but the shouting

From today's Daily Herald:
"My wife wondered why was I was going -- 'Where are you going? Caucus what?' " [Ron] Gardner said. "I told her why. It affects my family and my well-being, so I want to be involved."
THANK YOU to everyone who participated in Neighborhood Caucus Meetings last night.

Next steps:

County conventions, State Convention, a few primaries, the late summer campaign trail and Election Day on November 7, 2006.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Forget bowling, you have other plans tonight

Most governments pay careful attention to gatherings of individuals that want to reform, reshape, guide, and hold government accountable to founding principles.

Some places put you in jail for it. In America - and particularly in Utah – we tend to encourage it.

Tonight, friends, enemies and neighbors throughout the state will gather, discuss issues, elect representatives and start shaping the future of politics and government in Utah.

We hope you will make time to attend.

Need to find a caucus location? Start by checking your party’s website:
Republicans

Democrats

Want more information?
Weber County Forum: Get Thee To The Caucuses

Daily Herald: You have an appointment

Deseret Morning News: Attend your mass meeting:

Salt Lake Tribune: Elect your delegates (includes links to other political parties)
And from today’s Deseret Morning News:
. . . representative government cannot long survive if the links between the people and their representatives disappear.

Tonight offers a perfect opportunity to end this destructive trend. Party caucuses, also known as mass meetings, are taking place throughout the state. They are open to all comers. The poll found that only 19 percent are very likely to attend. Make it a point to raise that percentage.

Who knows? You might even get to know the people who represent you.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Freeze Begins

This afternoon the Governor signed Carlene Walker’s Credit Freeze Bill, one of the crown jewels of the 2006 Legislative Session.

Effective September 2008, Utah consumers will be able to stop unauthorized viewers from accessing their credit records.

More at the ID Theft Secrets Blog.

From ConsumerAffairs.com:
"Utah now leads the nation with this innovative approach to protect consumers. We've hammered out a solution that is friendly to consumers and hostile to identity thieves," [Attorney General Mark] Shurtleff said.
From the Insurer’s Association:
"Utah legislators -- and especially Sen. Carlene Walker -- showed great leadership in approving measures that provide strong protection for consumers from illegal access to their personal information without needlessly interfering in relationships between consumers and the businesses that serve them."
The Governor also signed Senator Walker's SB 18, SB 51, SB 69, and SB 184.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hatch Moving On

"Too many irons in the fire and too little time to give justice to them." - Senator Tom Hatch in today's Trib.

Here’s the press release.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Deadline: 5:00

Three hours to go.

Still thinking about running for office? Think fast.

Candidates need to file by 5:00 p.m., today, at the State Elections Office (3rd floor of the East Building, here on Capitol Hill) or your County Clerk's Office.

If you're running for Senate, it will cost you $32.40 to file (the fee for a House race is $16.20).

How to become a candidate for state office

How to become a candidate for federal office

2006 Candidate List (hit refresh to keep the list current)

The Lt. Governor's office will stay as late as it takes to get all the candidate info posted on their website. Of course it may take a little while for all the county clerks to fax in their information. Tonight's list will be reasonably complete, but look for a final list by the end of the day, Monday.

The Unsung Heroes:
Stephen MacDonald: the bright guy chained to his desk until all the available candidate information is posted online.

Fran Fish, Spencer Hadley, and Dorian Ashton - who's notary stamps have overheated, helping candidates get their declarations in on time.

Ashley Cutler: guiding candidates through their on-line financial disclosure accounts.

Michael Cragun: trouble shooter, legal expert, team captain, and diplomat.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Back in the race

By Parley Hellewell
State Senator, District 15

I will seek re-election as a Utah State Senator this year.

The people in my district are phenomenal - quiet, sincere, dedicated patriots. Many of them have called and ask that I reconsider my earlier decision to hang up the wrench. I appreciate their calls and have done a lot of thinking.

On the business front, the workload has decreased. I decided not to build that extra building because I don’t feel comfortable with that much debt. In addition, we divested one of the companies I bought, and hired someone to do a share of the work previously left to me. I have more time now.

On the legislative front, there is too much unfinished business. People think I need to be there to offer stability to the institution, and stand up for moral values and moral issues. Now is not the time to leave.

Moreover, although my area has no shortage of fully qualified people who could run for the office, I am not fully comfortable with any of the other candidates. I believe I offer my district, and the Utah State Senate, what they need at this moment in time.

My wife and family are fully supportive of me serving again.

I feel blessed and grateful for our freedom and the opportunity to serve my state and country.

I’ll be filing for the office around noon today.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Home

Curtis S. Bramble
Utah State Senator, District 16

Using eminent domain to seize private property and give it to Wal-Mart is wrong. In 2005, the Utah State Legislature protected private property by ending the use of condemnation for economic development and placed a moratorium on new RDAs until the legislature completed the reform process. During the 2006 legislative session, we completed the reform process. Under the new provisions, Ogden has three different options for development projects. None of these options, however, allow them to take someone's home and offer it to a private entity they like better.

A Utah city can still condemn property for a road or some other public need. However, no city should be able to condemn homes in order to give them to a company like Wal-Mart. That kind of thinking is wrong.

My RDA reform bills are consistent with that very simple principle.

Ogden's proposal is not.

Every property owner in Ogden should get nervous when their city government is willing to do what Mayor Godfrey has proposed. If he would do it to your neighbors, he would do it to you.

A recent editorial in the Standard Examiner understated, "Some cities have abused the [RDA] process."

I would submit that Ogden's plan is the poster child for such abuse.

The real problem is not the technical definition of blight (although that is included in SB 196). The abuse begins to occur the moment any government organization, anywhere, presumes they have the rightful authority to seize one person's home and give it to someone they like better.

Utah's new law prohibits such irresponsible behavior.

I sponsored RDA reform bills in the 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions based on careful consensus, solid fact and sound principle.

Our RDA reforms were the collective product of the Utah League of Cities & Towns (of which Ogden is a member), the Utah Association of Counties, the Utah Taxpayers' Association, and the public education establishment (the UEA, School Boards Association, State Office of Education, Superintendents' Association, etc). It took over two years to reach consensus. All parties agreed to a moratorium last year so we could continue reform discussions without the distraction and pressure of a "run on the state" in terms of new RDAs under the former system.

RDA reform protects the budgets of school districts, counties, and special service districts. Cities should not be able to spend someone else's money without their approval. Taxing entities should only make decisions on money over which they have stewardship. Because of the old laws, over $100,000,000, including millions of public education dollars, are diverted each year to private developers through existing RDAs.

The Standard Examiner characterized me as a hypocrite and accused me of shifting principles. That is not true for any of my RDA bills, including SB 245.

It's true that SB 245 is a solution to a specific problem in my county (but not my district). It was agreed to by all stakeholders. I fail to see how that action violates my principles or harms Ogden in any way. In fact, the City of Ogden benefited from targeted legislation to accommodate the Ogden depot, and the Standard Examiner did not cry foul at that time. Readers can decide for themselves where the real inconsistency lies.

RDA reform promotes private property rights, local control, and limited government. It defends education and affirmatively states, in terms any city official can understand, that no government should be in the business of forcibly removing you from your home to give it to a private developer.

These are clear principles for which I have always stood, and am proud to own and defend.


[Originally published in The Standard Examiner.]

Weber County Forum

Two Weber County Blogs react to Senator Bramble's op-ed piece in the Standard Examiner:

Weber County Forum

and

The Good In Ogden

One loves him, the other hates him. You’ll have to decide for yourself where you stand on the Government-Needs-Your-Home-More-Than-You issue.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Launching USTAR

By Al Mansell
Senator, District 9

USTAR promises to be some of the best money we have ever spent.

If implemented correctly, this initiative will be one of Utah’s prime drivers for economic growth and high paying jobs over the next twenty years.

As my day job has given me the opportunity to travel and visit so many of our sister states, one of my growing concerns is that Utah is losing many of our high-paying, high tech jobs. There is absolutely no reason for that. Utah has the best educated, most dedicated, tech-savvy workforces on earth. We should be the destination of choice for technology and research-based initiatives worldwide.

However, unless we get serious about getting back into the arena and increase our competitiveness and participation, we are destined to be nothing more than the finest call center on the planet.

USTAR puts us back into the game.

I’m grateful to the Governor for his diligent discussion of this initiative and I’m grateful for my colleagues in the Senate for their vision and unwavering support.

I’m glad Rep. Dave Clark along with the rank and file of the House are aware of the situation we find ourselves in and caught the vision for how this initiative will positively impact our state.

Here are links to more information, of which you may want to be aware:
How it works (PDF)

USTAR Website

UPD Updates on USTAR

Innovate America

What happened to the money?

Record surplus. Tough budget decisions.

Crave more detail?

Examine the State Budget Overview, produced by the dedicated, competent economists at the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wow, his hand must be tired

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Good Neighbor

The legislature doesn’t pass every bill, authorize every expenditure, or give every tax break that everyone seems to want, but at least the Idaho State Journal appreciates us

. . . for ending the session on time.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Election Year

"People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing." - Walter H. Judd

"To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers." - Louis L'Amour
Eight months from today, Utah voters will fill sixteen of our 29 senate offices. Eleven current state senators will seek re-election. Five will not.

[Note: This list was updated throughout the filing season. The list you see now is final.]


Seeking Re-election:
Scott McCoy – District 2

Gene Davis – District 3

Ed Mayne – District 5

Howard Stephenson – District 11

Brent Goodfellow – District 12

Parley Hellewell – District 15

Pete Knudson – District 17

Dave Thomas – District 18

Sheldon Killpack – District 21

Greg Bell – District 22

Darin Peterson - District 24

Retiring from Senate service at the end of this year:
Patrice Arent – District 4 - read the press release

Karen Hale – District 7

Al Mansell – District 9

Beverly Evans – District 26

Tom Hatch – District 28

View the growing list of official candidates

UPD Candidate Tracking

Elections.utah.gov carries a wealth of information. You might want to bookmark it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

3rd District Decision

By Curt Bramble
Senator, District 16: Provo

I am not going to run for Congress this year.

Hundreds of variables play into a decision of this nature. Chief among these, for me, is the need to see tax reform through to an acceptable conclusion. No one is indispensable, and Utah has more than its share of talent in public service, but there are too many irons in the fire for me to feel good about ending my local political work.

As a father, I also need consider the needs of my family; D.C. isn’t the right place for us now. I have not lost any of my passion for public service at a national level; it's just a matter of timing.

My wife and I would like to convey our sincere appreciation to all of our friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers who have expressed support for a possible congressional run.

We didn't pay her to write this

A letter to the editor in this weekend's Tribune:
As someone who has closely followed the past legislative session, I would like to thank whoever is responsible for the Utah Legislature's Web site, recognized as the best in the nation.

It is not necessary to leave the comfort of your home or office to listen to committee debates, or to watch the discussion and voting on the floor of the House or Senate. You can communicate with your legislators via e-mail - directly to their desks. You can easily track the progress of bills you are interested in, as well as receive e-mail alerts any time a change occurs in a bill.

This is an amazing service to the public and one that allows us to easily become involved in the process and to be informed citizens.

Pauline Fontaine
Salt Lake City
Thank you, Ms. Fontaine, for the compliment and encouragement. Kudos to Shelley Day, Mark Allred, Brooke Anderson, Glen Johnson, Cassandra Bauman, Joe Wade, and the other team members who have worked so hard to make the legislative site run like it does. Keep up the good work.

New to our legislative site? Click here for a quick tutorial.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

2006 Session

By Peter Knudson
Senate Majority Leader

The 2006 Session was a mixed bag. We were blessed with extensive resources, which we allocated to the best of our collective ability.

I’m glad we decided to substantially increase education funding, transportation funding, and agree on important initiatives like the Western States Primary, and USTAR.

The disappointing part is adjourning before the work was done. Last Thursday the House, Senate, and Governor’s office came to a significant and hard-won agreement. We held up our end of the agreement and expected that the House would do the same. I’m disappointed it didn’t come together.

We did, however, agree on a framework - and we're committed to bringing the work of the State to a successful conclusion.

I suppose we will continue where we left off in a special session.

Midnight

Sine Die - ADVERB: abbr. s.d. Without a day specified for a future meeting; indefinitely: The Senate adjourned sine die.

The final hours of Senate debate are available on-line.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

USTAR APPROVED

The USTAR Initiative was approved by the House, 63-7, with one amendment. It now goes back to the Senate for concurrance.

More on USTAR.

Final Hours

Three hours to go.

Need a lullaby to help your children sleep? Listen live.

Clean Air

Amendments to the Indoor Clean Air Act was just approved in the Senate. Again.

Food tax drops by 2%

The Utah Senate voted to lower the food tax by two percent. It now goes to the House for further consideration.

Bill status

Hate Crimes

The Senate just passed Criminal Penalty Enhancements, a.k.a. the Hate Crimes Bill.

The vote was 29 to 0.

Restoring the Perogative to Override

Article VII, Section 8, of the Utah Constitution:
If the bill is disapproved, it shall be returned with the governor’s objections to the house in which it originated. That house shall then enter the objections upon its journal and proceed to reconsider the bill.
SB 70 was vetoed last night. Today is the last day of session. The Constitution dictates that the legislature “shall …reconsider the bill.” Our counsel advised that the legislature did not have the option to not "reconsider" and that we were required to do so before midnight.

Read Section Eight of the Utah Constitution here.

We were concerned that a protracted debate would eat up too much time - one precious resource we lack tonight- so we moved quickly. Listen to the floor discussion here.

Senator Stephenson’s quote of the day in the UPD:
"Now, the Legislature gets to decide how strongly it feels about retaining its constitutional prerogative to override the veto of the governor."
It’s ironic that it will take a veto override to do that.

The Senate voted 21 – 8 in favor of the override.

Final Nine Hours

The Legislature will be going strong until midnight.
Listen live

Streaming video
You can find most of the information you need on our award winning website: http://www.le.utah.gov .

If you have questions, just give us a call. We'll be here all night.

Senate Tour

Need a tour of the Senate?

Click here (requres Windows Media Player).

Intern Sam was a graphics design major before he saw a light and found political science. Senator Eastman released him from his other duties long enough to film this quick walkabout in the West Building.

Your tour guide is Courtney Nay, Senator Hatch's niece and current intern.

[UPDATE: Here's the Blooper version.]

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