Welcome to The Senate Site

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life After Vouchers, Part II

The Deseret Morning News published an article on our call for solutions to our top public education challenges. The citizen response has been encouraging and informative. Inspirational, even.

Here's a thought: what if one of your suggestions ended up becoming law? Government 2.0 in action. Thank you for engaging.

Want to take it a step further? Send us a suggestion as a YouTube video. Just E-mail your link.

Moving Mountains (of paper)

Lots of bills this session.

Here's ninja staffer Jerry Howe as quoted in today's UPD:
“It comes as only a slight exaggeration when legislators compare a general session to drinking water from a fire hose! At this point in the session, the Legislature has more bill files opened (1,029), more bills numbered (434), and more bills assigned to committee (409), than it has had in any session in recent memory, and perhaps even in the history of the State.”
1) We want to give each bill due consideration, and 2) We need to finish our work by the stroke of midnight on the 45th day of session (March 5th).

So President Valentine asked the senate to work late tonight. All parties agreed. We got a lot done.

Audio and video of evening floor time are archived here (see "Part Two" on the bottom half of the page).

Senate Workout: Thursday

  1. CQ: A state of emergency might be the exact time you need those guns. DNews on the same issue.
  2. Senator Ross Romero blogs on SB 60.
  3. Medicaid Vision passes the Senate. Podcast with Senator Christensen on Senate Radio.
  4. Voice of Utah disses Fox News.
  5. Shurtleff innovating with neighborhood crime reports.
  6. Senator Wayne Niederhauser = Friend of the Taxpayers.
  7. Our Life After Vouchers blog caught some attention. Need your input.
  8. Senator Jon Greiner's SB 65 and SB 75 fights gang recruitment and activity.
  9. Not doing this again. Banks and Credit Unions need to find some common ground.
  10. Obama v. Clinton at the state capitol.
  11. Warchol on fighting crime. Senator Howard Stephenson gets a mention.
  12. Junipers.
  13. Warchol on Senator Allen Christensen's confidential reporting bill.
  14. Tobacco tax?
  15. Dave Fletcher: The success of eGov initiatives is critically founded on the concept of trust. And a tutorial slideshow...that we're going to look at when session is over.
  16. The LDS Church included President Valentine's YouTube on the passing of Gordon B. Hinckley on their web site. Is that a first? You can still see clips of senate leaders from both sides of the aisle here. And you can watch the moment of silence in the Senate Chamber and reflections from state senators from all points of the political spectrum here.
  17. Robert Gehrke: Good clean fun.
  18. Utah Policy Daily.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Smoking in the Car

Senators Scott McCoy and Michael Waddoups discuss SB 14: Smoking Ban in Motor Vehicles.

Senate Morning Workout: Wednesday

  1. McCain wins.
  2. Normal American checks and balances: Guv can sign "treaties" but they need to be ratified.
  3. Senator Fred Fife on the Minority Site.
  4. Timeless: The heat of a thousand suns.
  5. Human Victories: Drug Courts.
  6. Capitol worker was electrocuted.
  7. Radar: in-state tuition bill passes house committee and goes to the full House of Reps. SLTrib. DNews.
  8. Utah Policy Daily.
  9. Health care takes center stage. Again. DNews. Davis County Clipper. KCPW.
  10. Health care 2: A Trib reporter, dressed in a cheer squad outfit, gives a holler for the Governor. No hint of any other viewpoint on the issue. If she had called us her readers would have learned President Valentine thinks the executive and legislative branches need to hammer this out together.
  11. KSL pens a nice editorial about President Gordon B. Hinckley.
  12. The Boston Globe gives Rep. Jim Matheson some love.
  13. Senator Pat Jones: still wanna throw trash out your window? Highway littering fine will increase from $100 to $250. You're welcome.
  14. Senate committee approves funding for a Vets Home. Not because we know the Feds will come through for vets, but because vets need it, and we're not sure the feds will come through for vets. DNews. SLTrib.
  15. Nontraditional relationships bill passes senate committee.
  16. Senator Scott McCoy: Don't smoke with kids in your car. Duh. Now the bill goes to the house.
  17. Senator Mark Madsen: the right to defend yourself vs. property rights.
  18. Senator Madsen's other bill re: the right to self protection in your car: Trib. Daily Herald.
  19. Utah's Jessica's law will be best in the nation.
  20. The Power of Trout: first time Mike Noel has voted in favor of a bill supported by the Sierra Club.
  21. Senator Jon Greiner: Two bills to fight gang-related crime.
  22. The Deseret News editorial board opines on USTAR funding.
  23. The Senate clarifies tax code for vets' families.
  24. Stephenson for Obama.
  25. David J. Miller says charter school kids are going to kick your trash.
  26. Senator Sheldon Killpack wants stiffer penalties for mortgage fraud violators. And world peace.
  27. Tom Grover cuts his hair.
[Update @ 4:00 p.m.] Paul Rolly just called with concerns about #10, above. So . . . for Mr. Rolly and anyone out there who may have missed it: The cheer squad outfit mentioned above was figurative.* We were saying – at sixish a.m. – that this article seemed to be cheering for the Guv.

* Of course it was figurative. It's a printed article. How would we know what the reporter was wearing when the article was written? I was wearing an Echo & the Bunnymen T-shirt when I pounded out the blog. Now, if I were talking about TV Reporter Rod DECKER wearing a cheerleading outfit, THAT would be another story. (Apologies for planting that visual in your minds.)


The Senate Site

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Intern Radio

Senate Interns.

Senate Workout: Tuesday

  1. Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich's statement on the passing of President Hinckley.
  2. NPR: Cash-strapped states impose strange taxes.
  3. Delta News. And here.
  4. HB 466 - Incorporation reform grinds through the process.
  5. Immigration issues grind through the process.
  6. ID Theft issues grind through the process.
  7. The smoking-in-the-car bill grinds through the process. And passes the senate. Also here, here, and here.
  8. How about we lower tuition?
  9. The Oxbow idea.
  10. Rolly: the spirit of Mother Theresa visits the Legislature.
  11. WCForum: Ticket quota ban is on it's way upstairs.
  12. Savings bill grinds through the process.
  13. Lauren Mueller opines here.
  14. Home schooled athletes are going to kick your trash. And here.
  15. Moms for clean air reprint HEAL & the Sierra Club's ridiculous E-mail. More here.
  16. Hindu prayers in five state senates.
  17. The NRA has their eye on this bill.
  18. Someone told Paul Rolly that Senate Leadership put the kibosh on Health System Reform. We were there. We don't remember it that way. We're set to discuss it in caucus.
  19. Word from India.
  20. Protect yourself from ID Theft.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winning friends and influencing people

By Curtis S. Bramble
Senate Majority Leader

So, the Sierra Club and HEAL Utah have decided to oppose something else. They seem to have worked themselves into a degree of outrage over a bogeyman of an energy bill they say is "nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing that could stall renewable energy development in Utah for decades." They say it is full of "handouts, caveats, and loopholes." And so on, and so on.

Problem is, the bill has yet to be written.

All we have is a draft that will serve as a starting point for a stakeholders meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

A meeting to which they have been invited.

Why not join the discussion? If there is something in the draft bill they think will be less than effective, why not roll up the sleeves and assist with the real work of getting the bill right?

Taking to the streets when others are willing to engage doesn't seem to indicate a real desire to solve problems.

Utah Senate honors the passing of a great leader

A few from the YouTube Senate Channel:

Senate President John L. Valentine called for a moment of silence during morning floor time. Afterward, senators shared memories and thoughts in honor of Gordon B. Hinckley.

You can watch it unedited as recorded and archived on our official website.

Dr. Capecchi

The Utah State Senate was honored this morning by a visit from Nobel Prize recipient Dr.Mario Capecchi.

Listen in or watch the video.

Senate Remembers Gordon B. Hinckley

In today's society, some good is called evil and some evil is called good, but we all knew him to be great.
- Senator Darin Peterson

The Senate took some time this morning to remember and honor the passing of Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The audio and video are archived here. You'll see a long list. Go to the second line: Moment of Silence and Remarks.

Monday Morning

Community leaders offer condolences on the passing of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley. That was KSL. Here is ABC4.com, and FOX13.

More articles at the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret Morning News, Daily Herald, CNN, MSNBC, and LDS.org.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Statement on the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley

John Valentine
President of the Utah State Senate

Karen and I were heartbroken to hear of the passing of this great leader, wonderful man, and servant of God. He inspired us to be kinder and more compassionate in our daily lives. We will remember him not only as a man of God but as a world leader. His words and his legacy will continue to bless and encourage all of us for generations to come.

As Utahns, we were incredibly fortunate to hear one of President Hinckley's final public addresses when he rededicated the newly restored State Capitol Building on January 4th. May we all rededicate ourselves to all the good he left us by word and example.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Coming: Life After Vouchers, Part I

Because vouchers have been taken off the table, we need to find other solutions to the challenges vouchers were meant to help address:
  • An unprecedented influx of new students,
  • Teacher pay,
  • Class size,
  • Accountability,
  • Etc.
We've asked all of our readers to help find ways we can make good on our commitment to education. Some have. Stay tuned for a roll out of proposals next week.

The Second Week of the Legislative Session

Drink from the source

The legislature needs to increase teacher pay. Lots of people work in our education system. So . . . define teacher. This audit should help.

How is the Carson Smith Scholarship doing? Here's the audit.

The Utah Transit Authority Audit.

The Utah State Hospital Audit.

The Driving Privilege Card Audit.

Saturday Workout

  1. Legislators fund $2500 teacher raises (we told you we were gonna).
  2. And more is on the way.
  3. We passed the two Base Budgets on Friday.
  4. Deseret Morning News on the Driving Privilege Card And here.
  5. So the $11B base budgets are done. Now what? Trucker bombs!
  6. Audit finds most undocumented drivers buy insurance.
  7. UTA Audit: changes necessary?
  8. Liquor laws.
  9. KUER on the State of the State and Education in Utah
  10. How about we lower the tax rate to five percent?
  11. President Bush visited the Legislature?
  12. Et tu Brute?
  13. A whole new level of swag (But is it worth more than $50 bucks?)
  14. Home Education Magazine tracks SB 37.
  15. Senator Greg Bell moves to protect U of U researchers.
  16. President John Valentine will work to enhance CHIP Funding.
  17. Senator Mark Madsen says Let Charter Schools play sports.
  18. Senator Howard Stephenson's changes in corporate income tax approved in committee.
  19. Homeless boys home seeks help. And here.
  20. Ye old Senate Gavel.
  21. Senator Wayne Niederhauser promotes greater transparency in government.
  22. James L. Sorenson honored in the Utah Senate.
  23. More ideas to solve Utah's education problems.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hostile Takeover

It is constituent survey time.

So last week, Senator Sheldon Killpack sent 7,654 surveys to citizens living in . . . Senator Bell's district.

Yep. Computer glitch. Maybe.

The response has been great. District 22 citizens are filling them out and sending them back by the bucketful.

Next stop: Jenkins' District.

No tax dollars or animals were harmed by this survey episode.

Base Budgets

We passed the base budget bills.

Details here.

And here.


The Senate is probably going to pass the Education Base Budget Bill today. If so, Senate Leadership will talk details with reporters right after floor time.

This little shindig will also serve as a test run for our live streaming video page: SenateTube. If you watch, help us work out the glitches by letting me know how it goes.

Senate Morning Workout: Friday

  1. Utah Policy Daily.
  2. Audit says Driving Cards work.
  3. Is this the Death Knell for SB14 and HB10?
  4. Om in the Senate
  5. Word from San Diego (re: Utah)
  6. Senator Carlene Walker continues the war on Identity Fraud
  7. The Ocho!
  8. The cost of meth on children and families
  9. Senator Scott McCoy featured on Amicus
  10. Phil Windley gazes into his crystal ball and predicts Utah's political future.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

EU Ambassador Visits Senate

Ambassador John Bruton, the European Union’s Ambassador to the United States, visited the Utah State Senate today. Feeling “at home” on the Senate floor, Ambassador Bruton analogized the feelings of loss and opportunity associated with Irish emigration to Utah’s pioneer heritage. He said the same feelings of loss and opportunity accompany the United States’ and the European Union’s challenges regarding energy consumption and global climate change.

Ambassador Bruton also discussed how his visit to Utah was a reminder of the European Union’s and Utah’s interdependence. In 2005, $11 billion of the $12 billion invested in Utah came from the European Union, while in 2006, Utah exported three times more goods and services to the European Union than it did to China, Japan, India, and Korea combined. Check out some pictures of Ambassador Bruton below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How about . . . a 40 percent raise for teachers?

Plus even more pay for teachers highly qualified in math and science.

Michael Castner talks with Senator Howard Stephenson on Senate Radio. Here's the MP3.


Just received this E-mail from the Tax Commission:
The Tax Commission has received concerns the Jan. 1, 2008 withholding schedules result in over withholding for some taxpayers. The Tax Commission is researching the situation and will determine in the next two weeks if modifications to the tables need to be made.
The glitch doesn't include all state employees - just a subset of those with a higher-than-average number of allowances. The Tax Commission is analyzing their schedules to see if they can fine tune them and issue more accurate tables. Word on the street is that the numbers are off in this article.

Utah Now

Still getting used to the idea that the 2008 Session is underway? Orient yourself with this thoughtful piece about representation and leadership in our little mountain republic.

  • A handful of legislative leaders,
  • A handful of citizens,
  • Paul Rolly,
  • Josh Loftin,
  • and, of course, Doug Fabrizio.
Insightful program.

Senate Morning Workout: Wednesday

  1. Our clock is ticking.
  2. Senate Committee passes two bills to help ease the teacher shortage.
  3. Democratic senators react to Guv's speech (and here).
  4. Senator Ross Romero on immigration.
  5. Warchol wants us to run as Wobblies
  6. Warchol fears for the time space continuum
  7. Utah Policy Daily. Have you subscribed yet?
  8. Coming soon: Sanskrit mantras on the Senate Floor
  9. Word from Wyoming
  10. Senator Allen Christensen's confidential reporting bill progresses.
  11. Senator Kevin VanTassell's bill would allow Utah's first nations to incorporate.
  12. Putting a little money in savings = good. Senator Wayne Niederhauser sponsors the bill.
  13. Reduce the markup on heavy beer? Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich sponsors that bill.
  14. Sticker shock! Even in high budget years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

State of the State [of Utah]

Governor Huntsman provided a healthy dose of optimism, energy and vision tonight in his State of the State speech. Here's the text. Watch it here.

Rich Piatt records a post-speech reaction from the Senate President and Speaker of the House.


What we sent via Senate Mobile this afternoon:
------ SMS ext ------
From: 83043
Sent: Jan 22, 2008 12:25 PM
SENATEMOBILE: Senate passes cost of living & pension increases for state public safety officers. Also passes compensation for those exonerated of crimes.

Senate Morning Workout: Tuesday

  1. Session begins, and the MSM weighs in the SL Trib, DNews, Herald Journal, KCPW, Daily Herald, and The Spectrum.
  2. Sharing the historic Supreme Court Chambers with overlapping Senate Space.
  3. "Feelings are facts." Probably the last thing you want to hear a Supreme Court Justice say.
  4. Chief Justice Christine Durham wants to reform Justice Courts and fund Deputy Court Clerks.
  5. Vouchers? Not soon. Maybe never. So what now?
  6. Senator Wayne Niederhauser: "Spikes in tax revenues are unacceptable"
  7. Getting to work: 318 Bills read Monday.
  8. Glenden Brown shares insight on the legislative session: And so the fun begins, Is this any way to make laws? , and Hope for the legislature (Thanks GB - Senator Bell is a class act).
  9. KCPW: Discussion on Porn
  10. Does trash talk have a place in politics? Frank Staheli gets it right. We're listening.
  11. Hurricane Valley Journal preps folks for the Feb 5th Presidential Primary
  12. Session preview from Cougar Country.
  13. Beehives and Buffalo Chips galore
  14. Senate SMS
  15. Mayor and Guv try to get in front
  16. LDS leaders ask Legislators to remember the element of humanity
  17. Higher education budget plans for session
  18. A South Ogden perspective
  19. Hurry and get in front of this one! So, a day after the DNews reported on legislative solutions for our airlines and while three of our legislative leaders were actually in Atlanta talking to Delta, the Air Transportation Promotion Alliance suddenly blossoms into existence. On the other hand, the really cool thing about all this is that it is the first time in memory the Gov's Office, the Legislature and the Mayor of Salt Lake are working together on . . . anything. If we unite our efforts we really should be able to maximize Utah's opportunities.
  20. Kathy of the Utah Clean Air Alliance picks Senator VanTassell's bill as one of the top two priority bills for 2008.
  21. Pay math and science teachers more?
  22. House leadership goes out on a limb and proposes teacher raises. Just messing with you Chris - you're the only one who is going to read this far.
  23. Who knew the State Senate was cool?

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Creation of New School Districts

By Chris Buttars
Utah State Senator, District 10: South Jordan, West Jordan, and Herriman

I believe the plan to create new school districts was formed with good intentions by those wishing to improve communication and cooperation between school districts and parents.
Unintended consequences, however, are common in even the most well-thought proposals. In the case of creating new school districts, the unintended consequences are significant.

Though there are several major problems, I am most alarmed by the lack of definition for the term "equalization." If "equalization" is not realized prior to the new districts' commencement of services, then I believe we will have a disaster.


We can avoid this tragedy if we successfully and equitably define "equalization." This definition must consider and resolve the following issues:
1. Property Tax: "Equalization" must level the playing field regarding districts in harm’s way. Depending upon whose research you consider, in the present split, the property tax in southwest districts could increase over 300%. I believe "equalization" must address this issue to the point that Property Tax could not be allowed to increase more than 50% in a given year, and no more than 150% over a five-year cycle.

2. Asset Distribution: All assets, including approved but not yet allocated bonding balances, must be distributed on an equitable and balanced basis.

3. Statewide School Building Priority List: A process whereby the funding of new school facilities are prioritized must be encompassed by the definition of "equalization."

4. Funding of a Yearly Base: This minimum base would be used to build and fund prioritized school facilities. I believe this base must be, at least, one hundred million dollars yearly.

5. Base Funding Primary Source: I believe the majority of the base funding must be supplied through State Income Taxes.

6. Equalization Plan MUST be resolved in the 2008 Session: In the event that "equalization" as described is not achieved in the 2008 session, I consider it a priority that legislation be signed by the Governor delaying new school districts from offering services until "equalization" is realized.


Martin Luther King's birthday is celebrated on the same day the Utah Constitution mandates we begin the legislative session: the third Monday of January. Until the voters amend the constitution this November. Or not. But we expect they will.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was among this nation's foremost orators and the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He championed the concepts embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dr. King practiced and advocated non-violence, despite the violence that often surrounded the Civil Right Movement. Violence would eventually claim his life, but violence will never extinguish the spirit of human equality his life stood for.

Today, the Senate remembered Dr. King, by hearing from Trystan Smith, Chair of the MLK Human Rights Commission, and Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake.

We hope his message rings throughout the session, if not the year.

From his speech at Alabama's State Capital Building:

"Somebody’s asking, 'How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?' Somebody’s asking, 'When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets ... be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?' Somebody’s asking, 'When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, ... plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, ... and truth bear it?'

"I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, ... however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, ... because 'truth crushed to earth will rise again.'

"How long? Not long, ... because 'no lie can live forever.'

"How long? Not long, ... because 'you shall reap what you sow.'"

Session begins with a Storm

And it begins. Watch or listen live from your computer. Or come visit. Here is the senate schedule for the first week of the legislative session (and here's the schedule for the House of Represenatatives).

You can find both on this page, throughout the session.

Senate Morning Warmup

  1. Session begins today - the final year we start on Martin Luther King Day (assuming citizens ratify the constitutional amendment in November).
  2. Immigration: Old and New Bills this year.
  3. Domestic Violence not welcome in Utah.
  4. Utah College Students fight for lower textbook costs.
  5. One word to describe Salt Lake City? Can you do better than: Jell-O, Procreate, and Heck?
  6. Hurricane Valley Journal preps folks for the Feb 5th Presidential Primary.
  7. Session Preview from BYU.
  8. Beehives and Buffalo Chips galore.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

If you do it right it looks like this . . .

Senate Mobile

You love the senate, but blog prose can be so text-heavy. Well . . . now you can sign up for short daily updates on your cell phone.

Senate Mobile. Here's how:
1. Text the word Senate to 83043.

2. You'll receive a confirmation message.

3. You'll start receiving periodic (daily?) updates from the Senate.

4. You can get those updates immediately, anytime, by resending the word 'Senate' to 83043.

5. Media reps can text the word News to the same number (83043) to get breaking news and last-minute minutiae on media availability, press conferences, etc.

6. To opt out just text the word Stop to the same number.
Easy as pie,

thanks to revolutionaries Jeremy Po and Hugh Bryant Plautz at Vox Partners, Inc. who caught the vision and threw gasoline on the Government 2.0 fire.

Side Note: We're excited about Senate Mobile and planned to send a media notice early Friday afternoon, but then the phone rang a hundred times, Capitol renovation workers kept walking in and out getting everything ship shape, and a thousand miscellaneous tasks had to be checked off before session starts. And then there was the bubble wrap. We just didn't get it done. Best laid plans . . .

But Dave Fletcher noticed anyway.

So did Kirk Yuhnke.

Tyler Riggs broke the news in Cache Valley (he called while we were working on it), and the AP wired a tiny fraction of the story.

So maybe Friday wasn't a total loss. We'll send official notice on Monday, just as soon as the phone stops ringing.

Castner explains more on Radio Free Senate and YouTube.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Confidential Reporting and Animal Cruelty

By Allen Christensen
Utah State Senator, District 19

I'll be running a bill entitled Confidentiality of Reports to Drivers License Division.

We've discussed this on the Senate Site after too many bitterly tragic cases of senior-caused car fatalities. It's not anonymous reporting, it is reporting that will be kept confidential. There is a big difference. This bill will save lives.

Another of my controversial bills – the Animal Cruelty Amendment - was brought before the Senate in the Special Session in August. We're almost finished ironing out the text. Essentially, it will make the second animal cruelty offense a felony if it occurs within 5 years of a first offense.

Surviving Spouse Benefits

By Jon Greiner
Utah State Senator representing [parts of] Davis and Weber Counties

The Retirement Committee was unanimous in approval of the Surviving Spouse Bill. It raises the cap on death benefits for the spouse of a member of the police public safety retirement systems. This bill is of special importance to me because I work for the public outside of the Legislature, have seen firsthand the needs of this group of people. If anyone out there has anything to add, I would like to hear it.

Firefighting Authority

By Margaret Dayton
Utah State Senator: Provo

The State Fire Chief has requested legislation that would permit him to have increased decision making authority on small fires and fire on private lands. It makes sense to me. So I'm running this bill.

Senate Morning Workout: Friday

  1. DY wnt txt msgs frm d sen8?
  2. Nicole Warburton talks base budgets.
  3. Most folks want another pay raise for teachers. We agree. It's going to happen.
  4. SteveU.com: The House Rules Chair explains the House Rules Committee.
  5. Word from Charleston (about Utah).
  6. Don't smoke with kids in your car. Duh. The question is should there be a law?
  7. Speaking of Senator Scott McCoy - here's some high praise from NYC.
  8. A teacher blogs about the Cherry Hill town meeting.
  9. 3 legislators overcoming health challenges to serve.
  10. Speaking of health challenges, here's the text of the Health Care Reform Bill.
  11. Re: Health Care reform. Advocates and KCPW get what the Trib didn't.
  12. Simple Utah Mormon Politics asks if a tax break for Delta a good thing?
  13. Bob Knew. (and here from Warchol).
  14. Legislature gives Extended Day Kindergarten a scrutinizing squint.
  15. Hawaii posts a cool slide show of their first day of session. Maybe we should do something like that?
  16. Audio: Session preview at the Hinckley with Senators Howard Stephenson and Pat Jones and Representatives Jim Dunnigan and Carol Spackman Moss. (And on EveryZing.com.)
  17. Sutherland Institute supports Senator Wayne Niederhauser's transparency bill.
  18. More on Alcopops from Dawn House.
  19. Shurtleff is safe, says Stateline.org.
  20. DNews opines on Drivers Privilege Cards.
  21. Abusive educators will lose their license to teach forever.
  22. Internet hunting is bad. Obviously. But we are going to attach cross-hairs and a BB gun to the Senate webcam.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Compensation for the Innocent

By Greg Bell
Utah State Senator, District 22

One bill I'm running this session deals with compensation of exonerees (those in prison later found innocent by other than DNA evidence). Those proven factually--not just technically--innocent will receive financial assistance.

Many states have been settling or paying damages in such cases. This bill provides limited, but clearly stated compensation and cuts off further claim against the state.

I think it's the right thing to do, but I would be interested in public input, here or in committee.


Senate Morning Workout: Thursday

  1. John Dougall still can't afford a pair of pants.
  2. KCPW Session Preview, with Senate President John Valentine.
  3. The Payson-Dixon Line.
  4. Bernick: A Brief History of the Rules Committee.
  5. R.O.U.S.? I don't think they exist.
  6. Should illegal immigrant drivers be required to carry auto insurance? Movements are afoot to end that.
  7. All Day K evaluated.
  8. Health Care: "Oh, it's broken all right," says Senator Christensen.
  9. Town meeting: Saratoga Springs (Senator Mark Madsen's district).
  10. Tax break for Delta? The article forgot to mention early modeling, which indicates we'd get all the revenue back through income and sales tax.
  11. Class size reduction money. Time for more accountability.
  12. Immigration bills to watch this session.
  13. Town Meeting: Cherry Hill (Senators Margaret Dayton and Curtis S. Bramble).
  14. Heather May outlines United Way's priority list for 2008.
  15. ParentsEmpowered.org: funded by your friendly Utah Legislature.
  16. Former Senator Karen Hale gets credit for leadership, skill, and consensus-building ability in Mayor Becker's State of the City speech.
  17. Senator Gene Davis sponsors a teacher-home-loan bill.
  18. Sheena MacFarland reports on tax cut possibilities for the session.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Senator Karen Mayne

Karen Mayne took the oath of office and became Utah's newest state senator this morning. (Rebecca Chavez-Houck was also sworn in in the Utah House of Representatives.)

[UPDATE:] We just added the video to the Senate Channel on YouTube:

And here are some good picts on the other Senate Site.

Senate Morning Workout: Wednesday

  1. Chris Vanocur breaks a story on Alcopops. (And, a little history on the issue.)
  2. Apparently, we're about to get some new penpals.
  3. Utah State, Hey, Aggies all the way!
  4. More about Web Wise Kids, with a quote from Senate President John Valentine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beer and Alcopops Controversy

By Chris Buttars
Utah State Senator, District 10: South Jordan, West Jordan, and Herriman

There seems to be a major rush to convince Law Enforcement Agencies and the public, that because beer and Alcopops both have an alcohol content of 3.2, they are essentially the same and therefore can be sold or marketed in the same manner. One argument is, "3.2 is 3.2 is 3.2…so what’s the big deal?"

It’s a great sound bite. But it is just flat wrong. To put it simply, the facts are this:

BEER is a product produced by fermentation of any malted grain. And under Utah Law, can be licensed and sold in grocery stores and convenience stores.

ALCOPOPS, under Utah Law, are classified as liquor. And liquor products, again under Utah Law, can only be sold in State Liquor stores and approved package agencies.

Details from the Utah Code:

(5) (a) "Beer" means any product that:
(i) contains 63/100 of 1% of alcohol by volume or 1/2 of 1% of alcohol by weight, but not more than 4% of alcohol by volume or 3.2% by weight; and
(ii) is obtained by fermentation, infusion, or decoction of any malted grain.
(b) Beer may or may not contain hops or other vegetable products.
(c) Beer includes a product that:
(i) contains alcohol in the percentages described in Subsection (5)(a); and
(ii) is referred to as:
(A) malt liquor;
(B) malted beverages; or
(C) malt coolers.


(24) (a) "Liquor" means alcohol, or any alcoholic, spirituous, vinous, fermented, malt, or other liquid, or combination of liquids, a part of which is spirituous, vinous, or fermented, and all other drinks, or drinkable liquids that contain more than 1/2 of 1% of alcohol by volume and is suitable to use for beverage purposes.
(b) "Liquor" does not include any beverage defined as a beer, malt liquor, or malted beverage that has an alcohol content of less than 4% alcohol by volume.

My view:
1. Alcopops are currently being marketed in the same manner as Beer, which is illegal under Utah Law.

2. Alcopops need to be classified and taxed under Utah Law as “Liquor”.

3. Selling or promoting Alcopops in retail stores represents nothing less than an insidious ploy to introduce our kids into the liquor industry and their products.

Senate Morning Workout: Tuesday

  1. The very best place in the United States for jobs? Salt Lake City. Says Forbes.
  2. The State of the State Address will be delivered in the new State Capitol Building one week from tonight. The State of the City (that's Salt Lake City) is tonight.
  3. Melinda Rogers reports on Jessica's Law.
  4. Senators Curt Bramble and Margaret Dayton and Rep. Keith Grover will discuss education issues with the Cherry Hill PTA tonight.
  5. Howard Stephenson doesn't want students rolled under the bus to support high-end development.

Monday, January 14, 2008

You may have noticed

As some have noticed (we’re looking at you Dave Fletcher, and Utah Policy Daily), the Utah Senate launched a YouTube channel.

We're just beginning, but we'll add video throughout the session. Got suggestions? We're all ears.

For now, you can listen to Senate President John Valentine’s Capitol Speech and welcome message or explore the newly renovated Senate offices with file-cabinet thief Michael Castner.

The latest video is a conversation with former Senate President Lane Beattie on Utah legislative technology innovations back in the day.

Stay tuned for more.

Parking on the Hill

If you've been here during session you know parking can be a beast. Here are a few sweet public parking spots:
The East Lot. It is reserved exclusively for public parking.

The Northeast Lot. We have 180 new spots in the Northeast Lot for employees and the public to share. First come, first served.

The Streets. 450 construction workers have parked on the streets around the Capitol for the past few years. This year, the number is closer to 50. The streets are fair game. Respect the signage in the neighborhoods. Some streets have signs posted with 1 hour parking or no parking at all.
If you don't want to mess with it, UTA sends a bus to Capitol Hill every 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake. We are part of the downtown "Free Zone."

Snowfall in Cache Valley

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

The other evening, I was outside shoveling my driveway and walks (for the third time in 24 hours) when a neighbor came over and asked if I wanted to borrow their snow blower. I told her that I have always loved to shovel walks and doing so reminded me of my youth when I grew up on a small farm in Northern Cache Valley. Whenever there was a big snow storm, my father would awaken me early and the boys would all go out and work shoveling paths to the various pens, barns, and driveways so the vehicles could get out. We often went to help neighbors just because they needed it. When we arrived home, we could smell the hot chocolate that my mother made (none of this instant stuff) as we entered the house. My mother had a job so most mornings, breakfast was just eggs and bacon with toast.

After shoveling the walks I love to see that I have accomplished something and while I don’t drink hot chocolate any more, a bowl of hot cereal with a handful of raisins really hits the spot. I am sure if I had a snow blower, I would be tinkering to make it work and be done so fast that there would be no silent contemplation that being alone in the outdoors can accommodate.

Senate Morning Workout: Monday

  1. Senate President John Valentine previews the session for the Daily Herald.
  2. Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich lends his expertise on Mine Safety.
  3. Senator Scott McCoy says an Obama Candidacy could help Democrats in Utah.
  4. DNews pens an editorial so incisive it sounds like Howard Stephenson wrote it.
  5. Daily Herald: Voice of KSL's Nightside Project goes to senate.
  6. Will pulling state investments encourage reform?
  7. CA and MA are reforming their healthcare systems too.
  8. Lobbyist disclosure reports set off a firestorm in the press and blog world.
  9. Blogging. Dangerous for children?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Utah Public Radio :: Legislative Preview

Access Utah: Lee Austin hosted a wide-ranging discussion of the ALMOST-HERE Legislative session with Senate President John Valentine and Senate Minority Whip Gene Davis.

Here's the MP3.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Senator Karen Mayne

Karen Mayne will become Utah's newest state senator on Wednesday, January 16, at 9:00 a.m. The short swearing-in ceremony will be the first official function in our/your new Senate Chambers. You are invited.

Friday Morning Workout

  1. The Minnesotans at True North picked up on yesterday's workout. They're paying attention. Hurry up and move here already!
  2. Utah's economy is the strongest in the nation.
  3. &@%#!
  4. Utah Policy Daily (subscribe) gave us a mention today in the left column. The only thing I would add is that we're trying to enhance/add dimension to, not circumvent, traditional media. Web 2.0 helps, but can't do it alone.
  5. Mr. Bernick opines on campaign financing.
  6. Jason Lee Miller gives Utah some love in WebProNews. Just kidding. It's not love. But we appreciate him, regardless.
  7. The Salt Lake Chamber published their 2008 Legislative Priorities. And the press release.
  8. More on Utah's Web Wise Kids
  9. Health care reform takes center stage: here, here, here and here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Welcome Back. Welcome Home."

Senate President John Valentine at the 2008 dedication of the Utah State Capitol Building.

"This new building can withstand an earthquake but she cannot withstand citizen neglect.... To all of us: Re-engage. Rededicate ourselves along with this building...."

Senate Morning Workout: Thursday

  1. Dave Fletcher posted Citizen Superhero's and Government 2.0. Excellent slideshow.
  2. Senator Pat Jones will run a Financial Literacy Education Bill.
  3. Glenn Warchol now has his own blog. Swimmingly Warcholesque.
  4. The DNews editorializes on state spending and Utah's Jessica's Law proposal.
  5. Justin Ball caught us on the radio yesterday morning and shuddered. "And it wasn't from the cold."
  6. Utah #1: The Beacon Hill Institute's State Competitiveness Report for 2007 and the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index rated Utah the most economically competitive state in the nation.
  7. And - five Utah school districts are now using video games to save kids' lives.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Senator Karen Mayne

We received this from the Governor's Office. The Senate Minority Leader posted this.

The new senator will be sworn in on the first day of the legislative session.

[UDATE:] We moved Senator Mayne's swear-in date to Wednesday, January 16th, so her district would have a vote in appropriations sub-committee meetings that day. It will be the first official action in the newly restored and remodeled and restored Senate Chamber. Call us if you need more information.

Senate Radio: Breaking in a new building

Michael Castner breaks in the new Utah Capitol Building. Literally.

Click here to listen (or find it on Senate Radio).

Senate Morning Workout

  1. Senator Wayne Niederhauser's transparency bill gets a mention at KVNU For The People and ATR (more detail in the Deseret Morning News article).
  2. Senator Lyle Hillyard sponsors a bill giving a modest scholarship to students who complete a college-prep curriculum in High School.
  3. Senator Sheldon Killpack does a pre-session discussion with the Davis County Clipper.
  4. KSL opines on health care reform. The stars are aligning. Maybe.
  5. Rep. Sandstrom snags an opponent because of his voucher vote. Problem is, vouchers passed in his legislative district. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I'm not that old!

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25

Someone asked me how this Capitol dedication compared to the first one. Well, I've been here for a few years, but not THAT long!

Here is a short budget presentation I made last Friday.

Leave a comment if you have any questions and I'll try to answer you.

[Update:] Here is the same presentation with my speaking notes attached, which might make it easier to understand.

Senate Morning Workout

  1. KSL says be careful when tweaking the property tax system. Makes sense.
  2. Senators filed financial reports yesterday, you can search the database here. Read Bernick's analysis here.
  3. State expenditures have grown in the past few years.
  4. LandLine Magazine spotlights the bill that would allow CONFIDENTIAL (not anonymous!) reporting of drivers who have become dangerous.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Listen in. Reconnect. Reengage.

We invited Michael Castner to help tell the story of the 2008 Legislative Session.

You know Michael. He led the Nightside Project from a gleam in KSL's eye to Utah's number one show on evening radio. His team was smart, funny, human and independent. They broke the mold, pioneering radio interaction with listeners. More about Michael here.

On our side, the Senate Site and the Utah Legislature Site have broken some new ground in providing citizens the opportunity to connect with the government they elected and for which they are accountable. We think Michael can help bring that to a new level.

It's a good fit. Might even be fun. Listen in.

Senate Morning Workout

  1. Senator Kevin VanTassell previews the upcoming session (audio) for KPCW.
  2. Pig & Webb: Politicians' wish list for 2008
  3. Schencker: New union in town
  4. Bulkeley: Repeal in-state tuition? Senator Hickman's bill doesn't. Rep. Donnelson's does.
  5. Benson: Presidentials tough on LDS Candidates
  6. The Trib: No problem. Someone did everything right and the paper noticed. That's refreshing.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Capitol Rededication 2008

Photo by Scott Sommerdorf of The Salt Lake Tribune

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Elvis is IN the building

Specifically, on a table in what will be the Senate Reception Area.

[Update, 1/4/08:] The SenateCam is now in the new caucus room - currently a staging area for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The dedication begins at 2:00 p.m.!

Back in the day

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