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Friday, November 30, 2007

State Farewell to the Senator

Thursday evening was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the Utah State Capitol as hundreds of friends and family members gathered to pay respect to Senator Ed Mayne.

The Honor Guard, led by the Senate President, escorts the Senator.

Senator Mayne is received in the Senate Chamber.

Friends and family members from throughout the state and from all points of the political spectrum pay respect to Senator Mayne.

NCSL: States pick up where feds have failed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Viewing Tonight

Senator Ed Mayne will lie in state in the Senate Chambers at the Utah State Capitol from 6:00-8:00 pm tonight. A Utah Highway Patrol Honor Guard will accompany the casket into the chambers at 5:30 p.m. All citizens are invited to pay their respects to our distinguished friend and colleague.

The funeral will be held tomorrow. Here is a link to Eddie Mayne's obituary..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Call to the People back to the People's House

After three and a half years of historic renovation work, the Utah State Capitol will open again soon.

The exact date is January 5th, 2008.

We plan to host thousands of people in a week-long celebration that showcases the incredible Utah State Capitol Building. You are invited and you'll hear a lot more about that in the weeks to come.

We are going to need some volunteer help with the events, tours and traffic. As of this moment, 871 volunteers have signed up. We need about 2000.

Want to join the fun?

Click here to volunteer.

Winter Wonderland

Monday, November 26, 2007

Funeral Service Information

Funeral service information for Senator Mayne:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Viewing / Visitation
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Union Labor Center
2261 South Redwood Road

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Viewing / Visitation
Utah State Senate Chambers
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
West Building
Utah State Capitol Campus
Salt Lake City

Visitors to the Capitol may park in available employee parking stalls during the viewing.

Friday, November 30, 2007
Funeral Services
11:00 a.m.
Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South
West Valley City
Please call the Utah State Senate for more information: 801-538-1035.

The December 4th event in honor of Senator Mayne is still on. More information here.

Farewell Senator Mayne

By John Valentine
Senate President

We are saddened to have lost our good friend and colleague, Senator Ed Mayne. Our thoughts and prayers are with Karen and the rest of the family. Ed was a giant of a man, not only in physical stature, but in his passion for the working men and women of this nation. Ed's humor, life, and work touched so many people on both sides of the aisle and throughout the state.

My introduction to Ed occurred as a freshman in the Utah House of Representatives. There was a "Union Guy" who often sat on the back row. It was clear that he was not a Representative, but seemed to commanded significant respect. I asked one of the more senior members of the House (Frank Knowleton) who the big guy was, sitting in the back on the Democratic side of the aisle and why did he have so much power. Frank said: "That’s Ed. You probably won't agree with him all the time, but you will develop great respect for his ability to know an issue."

Now, nearly twenty years later my early impression of Ed has not changed. Ed Mayne, now Senator Mayne, mastered the art of being a gentleman, while arguing forcefully for what he believed.

Ed has been an absolute blessing to the Utah State Senate. We all have Ed stories that make us laugh, or cry, or just serve to emphasize his courage and dignity. One thing worth mentioning is the unique friendship that developed between Senator Mayne and the current Senate Majority Leader. Both men are strong willed and able advocates of their often opposing positions. Yet, as the debates on the floor often intensified, I noted from the dais a fair and honest approach develop between them. This is true of his relationship with many if not all of his senate colleagues. Ed truly had mastered the art of being a gentleman senator, while not backing down on his core beliefs. That kind of respect and insightful discussion is exactly what we need to craft sensible policy. We need to hang on to that aspect of Ed Mayne's legacy.

The friendship between Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Ed Mayne is also noteworthy. On visits to the state senate, Senator Hatch would sometimes comment about his respect for Ed. Senator Mayne seemed to take it personally (in a good way) when Senator Hatch made references to the fact that he was once a union card holding member. I was too, for that matter, and walked picket lines in the summer of 1971. Of course Ed would never pass up a chance to scold Senator Hatch and me for leaving the true faith and becoming Republicans.

Ed Mayne leaves us a legacy of effective public service and commitment to principle.

We love you, Eddie, and we will miss you.

[Update:] The flag will be flown at half mast on the day of Senator Mayne's interment.

Paul Mayne's blog post.

Senator Mayne's website.

Steve Urquhart.

Utah Amicus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Linus Van Pelt: "In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: 'We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice."

Peppermint Patty: "Amen."

This blog post completely pirates the hard work of the Hawaii House Blog, for which we are very thankful.

Moving Day is Approaching

The doors to the historic and newly renovated Capitol are almost open (see the live version on our webcam)

Even President Valentine is packed and ready. Almost.

All boxed up. Don't worry, the gavel comes with us.

We are even moving the hay bales.

Clean and Safe

Senators Allen Christensen and Pat Jones each have a bill highlighted in Land Line Magazine (The Business Magazine for Professional Truckers).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Something to chew on

The Spending Cap, since it's creation in 1989, has inhabited a remote realm of legal and intellectual abstraction.

Until now.

If you want to understand the unique budgeting landscape of the 2008 legislative session, this article would be a good place to start.

Hat tip to Frank Staheli for reminding us this article was out there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dealing with Illegal Immigration

Immigration promises to be one of the more emotional policy debates in the upcoming legislative session. The feds have failed their responsibility, leaving action up to the states. Here is Sunday's AP article.

Senator Hickman and others are in the early stages of formulating this piece of legislation and would appreciate any thoughtful input.
Utah Senator Gearing Up for Immigration Fight in '08

Associated Press Writer

A state senator is pledging to pursue illegal immigrants with new legislation that would cut off public benefits, deny in-state college tuition rates and give police more freedom to work with federal authorities.

Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, said he also wants Utah to copy an Oklahoma law that prohibits transporting illegal immigrants.

Utah is the only state that issues a driving card to illegal immigrants, which allows them to buy insurance and travel freely throughout the state. It cannot be used to buy guns or board an airplane.

Hispanic advocates say Hickman's proposal will push illegal immigrants underground and render Utah's driving card, used by 34,000 people, useless.

"Does this mean I have to start asking my own friends their legal status in case I get pulled?" said Tony Yapias, former director of the State Office of Hispanic Affairs.

"All the sudden I'm facing charges because I failed to ask a friend his legal status. I think this is going beyond the issue of immigration. This is going straight into pure and simple racism," he said.

Utah's driving card was intended to end voter fraud among illegal immigrants who were receiving regular licenses. The law was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

Bramble said the cards have worked as intended and are not an incentive for illegal immigrants to flock to Utah.

"The driver license has become a de facto document showing validation in our community. Those have all been eliminated," he said.

"Utah is not giving them anything that they're not already taking. ... It provides a mechanism to give them driving records and insurance," Bramble said of the driving card. "It doesn't prohibit police from enforcing immigration laws."

A 2006 audit showed that 75 percent of people with driver cards had insurance after they were first issued in 2005. That's compared to about 85 percent of Utah drivers who had a regular driver's license.

While Hickman's bill isn't in final form, Bramble said he's seen the highlights and is generally supportive.

Children of illegal immigrants wouldn't get the in-state rate on college tuition. Police, under Hickman's plan, could work with the Department of Homeland Security in identifying illegal immigrants who have been arrested.

Bramble is one of Utah's loudest voices when it comes criticizing federal immigration policy -- a "dismal, abject failure."

Bramble said he doesn't want to repeal the driver card but would be willing if the House goes along.

Hickman said he wants to end large-scale trafficking of illegal immigrants in Utah. But he acknowledged that anyone driving a vehicle with an illegal immigrant would be in hot water, if Utah approves a policy like Oklahoma's.

Trips to the grocery store, doctor's office or school would be illegal if an illegal immigrant were present.

"It would please me mightily," said Eli Cawley, chairman of the Utah Minuteman Project, which wants a crackdown on illegal immigration. "But those kind of things rely on the enforcement and identification of illegal aliens. To date, because Utah is a sanctuary state, police never ask someone if they're an illegal alien unless they committed an infraction of the law."

Yapias, too, is frustrated with federal immigration policy but doesn't see Hickman's bill as the solution.

"I will work with him. Let's have a real debate at the national level. That's where the pressure would need to be," he said. "Enough going after these defenseless people who have nothing to do with this issue."

But for Hickman, there's little room for debate over illegal immigration.

"We are creating two distinct segments of our society: Those of us who are citizens who live here and respect the law, and those who come here illegally who have no reason to obey the law," he said.

Primary Option

Trey Grason, Kentucky's Secretary of State, offers an alternative to the 35-state Campaign-A-Palooza set for February 5th.

How about four rotating regional primaries?

Find the article on page 25 and 26 of this month's State News.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mmmmmmm. . . Oreos

Aaron Taylor:

Also - Representative Dougall proposed a resolution that would make the Oreo the Official Utah State Cookie. Unfortunately, it was only a joke. Read it here and here.

Word from Texas

This does not happen here.

We cast roll-call votes, one senator at a time, with a vocal yes or no.

Word from Oregon

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Raising Arizona

The Arizona House Republicans have launched a new blog site.

And once again we experience the wonder and cheer of watching a new star being born in a not-so-distant corner of the legislative blogosphere.

Welcome, Arizona. Barrett Marsden is doing a great job humanizing his caucus and injecting personality into what, up to the advent of Web 2.0, had been the exclusive domain of bloodless text and dehumanized caricatures.

In the words of an old cranky man both the Utah and Arizona legislatures loved to hate: "The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy." Blogging is just a little bit more democracy.

Best of luck.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Guv's Appointments

Today the Senate confirmed the following gubernatorial appointments:
David M. Connors as a Judge of the Second District Court.

Reed R. Erickson as a member of the Quality Growth Commission.

Jerry Michael Houghton as a member of the Title and Escrow Commission.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News Release: Utah to Allow Sunset of Navajo Trust Fund

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2007

Utah to Allow Sunset of Navajo Trust Fund

Salt Lake City - Since Utah’s Navajo Trust Fund statute is set to sunset in 2008, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Legislative Leadership have joined together in asking Congress to create a new disbursement system for the royalties.

Currently, 37½ percent of oil and gas royalties derived from the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation are administered by the State of Utah for the benefit of the Utah Navajos. The State of Utah is the only state in the Nation administering a trust fund for the benefit of American Indians whose lands are within state boundaries.

“The State of Utah has worked to administer this fund in the best interest of Utah Navajos,” Governor Huntsman said. “We are committed to helping the federal government and the Navajos find a more suitable way to distribute the royalties.”

“The people of the Navajo Nation deserve to actively create their own future without the interference and oversight of the State,” House Minority Leader Brad King said. “Congress will now have the opportunity to recreate the trust fund in a manner which recognizes their right to self-determination with respect to the Utah Navajo Trust Fund.”

The Utah Navajos have sought to have a more active role in the distribution of the royalties and this would present that opportunity. Legislative leadership has committed to provide a way to make the transition process as seamless as possible for the beneficiaries.

“We have been locked into a uniquely awkward relationship since 1933 but I know it can be better," Senate President John Valentine said. “By resigning our stewardship we are inviting Congress, the Navajo Nation, and San Juan Navajos to create a new distribution mechanism for those royalties. We look forward to a new relationship with our citizens and friends on Navajo lands.”

“The Utah Navajos should be in control of these royalties,” Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich said. “Our congressional delegation must create a vehicle to distribute these monies in a way that all of the Chapter Houses have input.”

“We have a unique opportunity to support the creation of a more appropriate system that will assign the rights and responsibilities of the royalties to the beneficiaries,” Speaker Greg Curtis said. “The commitments made by the trust fund will be fulfilled and we’re hopeful the Navajos’ best interests will be served by this change.”

# # #

New Leadership Downstairs

The House Minority elected new leadership last night:
Minority Leader - Brad King (replacing Ralph Becker)
Minority Whip - David Litvack (replacing Brad King)
Asst. Minority Whip - Carol Moss (stays the same)
Caucus Manager - Phil Riesen (replacing David Litvack)
Salt Lake Tribune


Best of luck to the new team.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day 2007

Dave Fletcher

Green Jello

The Utah Amicus

Ronald Reagan:
"Our liberties, our values, all for which America stands is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom’s front. And we thank God for them."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Arbitrary and Capricious: NCLB in the States

Interestingly, the Senate Education Chair for the reddest of states and the Senate Education Chair from the bluest states have co-authored an article that scrutinizes NCLB.

This unusual co-authorship (GOP Senator Margaret Dayton from Utah and Democratic Senator Tom Gaffey of Connecticut) demonstrates that there is something in NCLB for everyone to reject. One of the places where the article can be found is in the American Association of School Administrators' newsletter.

Read it here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

CNN: Utah's Driving Privilege Cards

CNN broadcast this report by Deborah Feyerick on Utah's Driving Privilege Card. Featuring Senator Curt Bramble. Plus Merrill Cook and a dude named Lleandro. And Park City Police Chief Lloyd Evans.

Senator Bramble also discussed the card at the Nightside Project last night. Here's the MP3.

Winter already?

Bare trees in the plaza that were so full only 2 weeks ago.

Is it really going to snow this weekend?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

SteveU.com: Vouchers

Representative -- and voucher bill sponsor -- Urquhart posted a blog on the referendum discussion and where we might focus now that the referendum is behind us.
". . . Such discussions form a potential basis for significant improvement – if we can figure out how to keep the discussions going and how to collaborate on possible approaches and solutions. I would hope we have broad agreement that (1) parents need to be more involved in their children’s education, (2) Utah’s educational system needs to adequately (and, some day, exceptionally) prepare our children for college, the workforce, and the world, (3) incentives need to be in place to attract/retain great teachers and encourage bad teachers to improve or, if not, leave, and (4) public education needs greater funding.

"I’m not sure the Legislature can do much about Point 1. I’m confident that the Legislature will take care of Point 4.

"Points 2 and 3 are the wildcards. Without the serious involvement of informed citizens, nothing will happen on points 2 and 3."
Read the full blog here.

Steve Urquhart shows some real class under frustrating circumstances, and what he says makes sense. We found it interesting and heartening the Trib poll that projected the voucher vote also indicated "Utahns overwhelmingly support exploring education reforms other than vouchers. Seventy-seven percent like the idea of merit pay for teachers, 70 percent would like to see full-fledged open enrollment in public schools and 61 percent like the idea of charter schools."

We have some work to do. Keep paying attention.

Referendum Results

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Referendum One

By John Valentine
President of the Utah State Senate

Today marks the end of a long emotional chapter for those who are concerned about the future of education in Utah.

I am sincerely grateful for people who have worked to educate and enlighten voters in their role as citizen legislators. Of course I am disappointed by the actions of those on both sides who turned the policymaking arena into a negative shouting match. Had this occurred in the Senate Chamber, vitriolic partisans on both sides would have been ruled out of order and asked to modify the way in which they communicate their opinions. Contention is far easier than statesmanship but friendship suffers and the results are never as good as they could have been.

That's not to say elements of nobility did not abound during this statewide debate. We have witnessed many. Specifically: the workers and volunteers on both sides who have given so much of themselves to the issue, and the citizens of Utah (you, me, all of us) with curiosity and concern for the future that runs deeper than a campaign slogan. Thank you for your research and work to make Utah better. I think we're united in that desire.

Three hours until the polls close.

No one likes to be served humble pie but, whatever the outcome, I believe it's healthy for government to be reminded that voters are citizens, not subjects. They are the final decision makers on this bill and bear the final responsibility for what occurs as a consequence of their vote.

If vouchers are taken off the table we will need to start looking at other tools to tackle the problems that vouchers were designed to address. And by "we" I mean all of us.

Larry H. Miller

John Dougall rounds third and is headed for home

Monday, November 05, 2007

How the Governor is going to vote

Governor Huntsman's endorsement of Utah's voucher program has been sliced and diced and chucked around like a political football. Opponents said it was lukewarm. Others thought it was honest and appropriate.

Here is the audio. Judge for yourself.


Audio of the 10/17/07 press conference, beginning to end, unedited.

A few highlights:
1:45 - Speaker Curtis asks citizens to do one simple thing before voting.
5:20 - Senator Killpack: "There are three kinds of people in this state . . ."
6:20 - The essential question.
7:10 - Representative Brad Dee outlines the history of the voucher bills.
8:48 - Governor Huntsman offers his reasons for supporting the program.
18:08 - Response to a KSL question re: polls and campaigning.

A word about the cost of private schools in Utah.

Representative Dougall: Averages don't matter.

Friday, November 02, 2007

BYU professor urges: Educate, don't brainwash

Phil Windley on Utah Politics:

Clayne Pope, a BYU Economic Professor, has the best op-ed on vouchers I’ve seen.
" . . . Referendum 1 is the most important vote of recent memory. Our decision should be based on rational, fair arguments. If you doubt the ability of parents to act in the best interest of their children, you may want to vote against vouchers. If you believe the increase in private schools will further fragment Utah society, you may consider a negative vote. But if you do vote against Referendum 1, you should be aware that you are voting for the status quo in Utah education as well as a somewhat higher future tax burden. But please ignore the bogus arguments that educational resources will decline with vouchers or that increased competition will harm Utah education. Even in a political campaign, educators have a moral duty to educate rather than brainwash."

It's worth a read.

Hoping for a less political prioritization process

"[Senator] Killpack said he just wants Salt Lake County elected officials to follow the law. A legislative audit last month said the expanded Salt Lake County Council of Governments used a flawed process and faulty math last year when the council promised tax money to the rail lines, reconstruction of Interstate 80 and land purchases for the future Mountain View Corridor."

Read the article.

Little bit of good news

From the Trib article that said school vouchers may not to survive Tuesday's referendum:
"But the poll found Utahns overwhelmingly support exploring education reforms other than vouchers.

"Seventy-seven percent like the idea of merit pay for teachers, 70 percent would like to see full-fledged open enrollment in public schools and 61 percent like the idea of charter schools."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

National attention on our quiet little voucher discussion

George F. Will: Utah's Schools Showdown
". . . Intellectually bankrupt but flush with cash, the teachers unions continue to push their threadbare arguments, undeterred by the fact that Utah's vouchers will increase per-pupil spending and will lower class sizes in public schools. Why the perverse perseverance? There are two large, banal reasons -- fear of competition and desire for the maximum number of dues-paying public school teachers."
Published on page A21 of the today's Washington Post. Here are the comments.

A few more . . .

John Stossel in Real Clear Politics: Utahns Can Vote for School Choice Tuesday (comments).
"For over 40 years, the government's system has been dominated by a protectionist teachers' union that puts itself ahead of the children entrusted to its members. The results are what we should expect from a monopoly financed with money extracted from taxpayers: poor quality, lack of innovation and bored children."


". . . The answer to mediocre public schooling isn't to give a government monopoly more "teacher development programs." The answer is competition. Bureaucrats and unions tremble at the thought."
And Richard D. Kahlenberg in Politico: Balkanizing Utah's schools (comments).
"The contest has drawn the involvement of groups across the nation, from pro-voucher conservatives to anti-voucher teachers unions.

The vote has national implications not only for education but also for presidential politics.

Ironically, a win for the conservative proposal could put pro-voucher Republican presidential candidates, such as Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, in a tough political position, exposing strains in their political philosophy."

Hat tip: Golden at Utah Policy Daily.

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