Welcome to The Senate Site

Monday, March 31, 2008

Proposal: Solution to School Board Issue

March 31, 2008


SALT LAKE - Representative Greg Hughes (R - Draper) delivered a proposal to the Salt Lake County Council that could resolve concern with recent legislation on the Jordan School District split. The letter, signed by Senate President John Valentine and Speaker of the House Greg Curtis, asks the council to designate a shorter 17-month term for current Jordan School District Board members who will serve in the newly created districts.

An amendment to Senator Carlene Walker's (R - Cottonwood Heights) SB 71 ensured continuity for the new districts by allowing members of the Jordan School District Board to continue to serve in the new Jordan East or Jordan West Districts. The inadvertent potential consequence of the amendment is that a school board member might serve up to eight years instead of a four year term.

After the session Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) and Representative Greg Hughes worked with Legislative Leadership to offer a simple fix that preserves continuity while ensuring board members are accountable to the public through the election process.

The county council has added this item to their 4/1/2008 agenda.

# # #


1. A PDF copy of the letter is attached.

2. Find information on SB 71, including bill text, here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your tax return: 2007 vs. 2008

April 15th is fast approaching.

Over the last two years we cut taxes by almost $400 million and revamped the system (you remember that, right?). You'll file under the new system in 2009 but this is a transition year.

So, will you pay more income tax this year or next?

Here's the calculator. Fill it in and compare for yourself.

And here's a fact sheet posted by the Utah State Tax Commission.

And an op-ed piece by Senator Wayne Niederhauser.

Task Force Work 2008

On Wednesday the Legislative Management Committee assigned additional work this year in four specific areas.
1. Immigration

2. Performance Pay for Teachers

3. Property Tax Reform

4. ATC and Higher Ed Governance
The House and Senate will create new committees to handle work immigration and performance pay and authorize two existing interim committees to work on property tax and ATC governance.

Bernick, Ziegler, Bulkeley and Gehrke reported.

Local Boy Makes Good

Picture by Danny Chan La, Deseret Morning News. Chris Bleak, elected as chairman of Lehi's Precinct 10, helps count other positions up for election. Several precincts held caucuses Tuesday at Lehi High School.

The Blessings of Boring Government, Part 347

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Neighborhood Caucus Tonight

Found this on the Amicus:

[Update:] I disappeared the TV window because it kept auto-playing everytime we opened the site. You can still find it on the Utah Amicus.


Throughout history, government has watched gatherings of free-thinking individuals who want to take power, guide policy, or hold rulers accountable to fundamental principles.

Lots of those folks ended up in jail. Or worse.

But not here.

Your neighbors are meeting to discuss issues and elect delegates tonight (Tuesday) at 7:00 p.m. It will take about an hour. You really ought to be there.

Need the address? Click here (GOP). Or here (Democrats).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Health System Reform

Work on Health System Reform has begun (Trib, DesNews, KCPW). The following senators will serve on Utah's Health System Reform Task Force:
Sheldon Killpack, Senate Chair

Peter Knudson

Greg Bell

Gene Davis

Elizbeth Ziegler reports on the people and reasoning at KCPW. The task force link will be posted here, eventually.

Ghost Town

March is a quiet month at the Utah State Legislature.

Happens every year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Morning News

  1. Senator Darin Peterson is hanging up the spurs.
  2. More on Dan Eastman's retirement.
  3. Education legislation.
  4. Supreme Court denies Aspen Utah's petition.
  5. The Governor signs a truckload of bills - find the lists here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Morning Workout

  1. Here's the list of candidates from the Lt. Guv's Office. (Love this list and what it represents.)
  2. Stan Lockhart wants you to make a difference. So do we. Neighborhood caucus meetings on March 25th.
  3. The Guv makes Veepwatch.
  4. Trends in the DNews: Working with the Millennial Generation.
  5. Bernick: Candidates abound.
  6. Pyrah: Candidates abound. Except for a few.
  7. McFarland and McKitrick: Candidates abound.
  8. Ziegler: Study items abound.
  9. America! No shortage of good people willing to serve. Especially on the school board following the school district split.
  10. Tiffany Erickson on school board races.
  11. Beth Young on Charter schools.
  12. The indispensable UPD.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dan Eastman


  1. As the economy falters, so do state budgets. But not in Utah.
  2. Campaign pep talk from the Daily Herald.
  3. KCPW: Rotating regional presidential primaries?
  4. Tom isn't running for State Board of Education.
  5. The Lt. Guv's roster of candidates so far. Filing deadline is today at 5:00 p.m.
  6. What will legislative interim committees be studying? Here's the list.
  7. March Madness: Pig & Webb
  8. The Spectrum gives the legislature some credit on immigration.
  9. Fattah: District Court decision on the Navajo Trust Fund issue.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Balanced Budget

Last year the state budget was $12,022,354,299.

This year it’s $11,459,984,010.

Details here.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A look at the last day

Senate Morning Workout: Thursday

  1. Gehkre: A session of confrontation and compromise
  2. Warburton: the budget
  3. Daily Herald: Session ends in cooperation
  4. Lisa Roche: The Guv's perspective
  5. Bernick's uniquely House-oriented review of the session
  6. Legislators announce retirement
  7. Minority blog site: Senator Dmitrich to retire
  8. Senator Hickman to retire
  9. Warchol: More on Senator Dmitrich's retirement
  10. Michael Castner gets a standing ovation in the Utah Senate
  11. Today's UPD
  12. Animal cruelty bills
  13. Airport TRAX funding
  14. House and Senate fail to agree on task force bill
  15. Critical languages program to continue
  16. Bulkeley: Immigration
  17. Sanchez: Immigration
  18. The Spectrum on Senator Hickman's Immigration Bill
  19. Lisa Schencker: Education Money here, and here
  20. Lyon: Money for disabled Utahns
  21. Something akin to applause from the Trib's editorial board
  22. Same thing from the Daily Herald
  23. DesNews: A few pet projects
  24. Health System Reform is in motion
  25. The best thing to happen this session
  26. A new leaf for Senator Dmitrich
  27. Who's counting?
  28. Financial Education
  29. KVNU: A Tale of Two Government Sites
  30. The end of HB 466
  31. DNews: Domestic Partner Registry
  32. Trib: The Registry
  33. Privatize more services?
  34. KUER 90.1 Audio
  35. KCPW's EZiegler: Session Ends
  36. KCPW: $25 Million for Teacher Incentives
  37. McFarland: Education is the biggest winner
  38. Trib: Bill cocktail
  39. Trib: Roads funding
  40. Public access to records
  41. Trib: Mobile home owners win protection
  42. Schencker: Public Education Spending Plan
  43. Trib: Wins for military and vets

# # #

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

The final day is on-line.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I-15 Reconstruction (Phase I)

Senate President John Valentine
Utah State Senator, District 14

Tonight the Utah Legislature had the vision to approve reconstruction of I-15 in Utah County. We'll undertake this project without any new state tax increases.

The I-15 upgrade, along with the addition of Frontrunner commuter rail, is exactly what the heart of Utah needs right now. I appreciate the county for stepping forward to do their part. Thanks also to so many others who did their part to make this happen, including the Transportation Committee, the Utah Department of Transportation, Senate and House members, Governor Huntsman, and the Speaker of the House, Greg Curtis.

3 hours to go

The session ends at midnight tonight. Watch or listen LIVE. (Requires RealPlayer.)

If/when we do our final informal Media Q & A well broadcast it live right here.

You picked NOW to test the fire alarms?

Action on... Oh forget it

This has been exhausting. You get the picture. Here are all the bills we passed this year.

We will be working into the night, so keep up with our audio or video here.


More Action on Workers' Comp

The Senate just passed 1SHB384, Employee Obligations Related to Workers' Compensation.

Action on Open Enrollment

The Senate just passed HB349, Open Enrollment Revisions.

Action on Workers' Comp

The Senate just passed HB380, Workers' Compensation Amendments.

Action on Licensure

The Senate just passed HB443, Membership of Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee.

Action on Ag and Industrial Protection Areas

The Senate just passed HB221, Agriculture and Industrial Protection Area Amendments.

Action on Scholarship Program

The Senate just passed HB66, Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program.

Action on School District Amendments

The Senate concurred with House amendments to 2SSB71, School District Amendments.

Action on Anti-flow Control

The Senate just passed 3SSB46, Anti-flow Control Amendments.

Action on the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry

The Senate just passed 3SSB17, Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.

Action on Health Care

The Senate just passed Second Substitute House Bill 264, Promotion of Health Care Coverage.
The Senate just passed SCR6, The Concurrent Resolution on the Reconstruction of I-15 through the Second and Third Reading Calendars. It now goes to the House.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2 4

Wednesday, March 5th, will be lived in crescendo. The Senate will work on House Bills. The House will work on Senate Bills. The Senate will concur (or not) to House amendments to Senate Bills. The House will concur (or not) to Senate amendments to House Bills.

Watch for conference committees throughout the day. A conference committee is the negotiating team that attempts to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a bill. If you don’t know where they're meeting just listen for shouting.

Senate Leadership will prioritize senate bills for the House to consider. House Leadership will prioritize house bills for the Senate to consider. Leadership of both bodies will trade lists.

Bills are debated and acted on much faster than earlier in the session. You’ll see hopes (and possibly tempers) rise and fall as the clock hurtles toward midnight. All interested parties will realize the final success or failure of their aspirations this session.

We may finish early this year. We may not. The latest we could go is the stroke of midnight when our voting machine locks up. You can watch or listen live on our official site.

It's been a long session, but a good one. We hope you've found it engaging.

Utah State Senate: Tuesday

Education Funding (1st Substitute Senate Bill 2)

Here's the sheet they're discussing right now. Chart progress on our bill browser.

Update: Now we're debating SB 281, Part II of the education funding package.

[Update: Here are the talking points.]

Education Omnibus Funding Package

The Education Omnibus Bill (Substitute Senate Bill 2) passed the Senate today. Here is copy (pending) of Senator Howard Stephenson’s talking points.

• $60 million ($1700 per qualifying teacher) increase in teachers’ salaries
• $6.9 million to USTAR Centers (Year-round math and science)
• $5 million differentiated pay increase for qualifying math and science teachers
• $5 million to English Language Learner Family Literacy Centers
All in all, the bill appropriated over $3 billion in state funding. Or, written with the zeros, it appropriated over $3,000,000,000. That’s a lot of money.

Senate Live

We'll live stream the Media Q & A around noon today, and again for the press conference at 2:00 p.m.

The 2:00 press conference will be a gathering of citizens and officials to discuss solutions to last year's HB 466.

Senate Survey

Which comfort animal would you prefer? Take the survey and let us know!

No animals were harmed in the taking of these pictures.

Senators Howard Stephenson and Senator Scott McCoy's dogs are both named Cooper. Go figure.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Registry Bill

Today, the Senate approved The Registry Bill (SB 299), sponsored by Senator Greg Bell.

Listen in.

Education Press Conference

President Valentine, Senator Stephenson, and Senator Dayton held a quick press conference today to clear up potential misconceptions about education funding that seemed to be swimming around.

Listen to the audio here.

Noon Media Q & A

We'll live stream today around noon.

Senate Morning Workout: Monday

  1. Daily Herald: Senator Margaret Dayton
  2. Trib: Senator Margaret Dayton
  3. Warburton: Legislature gliding to a quiet finish
  4. Bill ending in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants is dead
  5. DesNews: SB 162 says we approve new ed programs
  6. Unintended consequences: HB 466
  7. IB funding restored
  8. Evenson on taxes in Utah
  9. Ouch
  10. Equalizing funding for our school buildings: Trib and DesNews
  11. The Registry Bill dances through the process. Here too.
  12. The Guv vetoes a bill
  13. Another animal cruelty bill starts through the process. Trib. Daily Herald.
  14. Barnyard Bill
  15. Farmers help trout
  16. Nursing home for vets
  17. Warburton: Budgets are almost done

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Best Managed State

Utah is the best managed state in the nation. Again.

So says Governing Magazine's 2008 Grading the States: a Management Report Card. Utah is on page 88.

From the report:
Utah manages itself with savvy business acumen. Financial decisions are made wisely, with an eye toward return on investment and long-term performance in all facets of state government.
Re: the Corrections Audit:
Recently,a performance audit turned up hints of favoritism among managers in the Department of Corrections. That wasn’t good news, but it showed that Utah had the tools in place to uncover the situation. In many states, the top executive leadership wouldn’t even have known the problem existed.
One more little nugget:
. . . Similarly, Utah has a good idea of what its infrastructure requires in the way of maintenance. And unlike most states, Utah actually budgets for it each year . . . .
Etcetera. Utah's report card is on page 88. Information on categories, criteria, and how they grade is on pages 26 to 34.

The three top contenders were Utah, Virginia, and Washington State. We had three A's (Money, Infrastructure, and Information) and one B+ (Human Resources). Virginia had two A's, an A-, and a B+. Washington had one A, two A-'s, and one B+.

Congrats and thank you to the dedicated state employees and public servants who work so hard for the people of this state.

Click here for more information on the Pew Center on the States' Government Information Project.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Governor Vetoes SB144 - Part II

Governor Huntsman vetoed SB 144 but agreed to consult with Legislative Leaders before signing interstate compacts.

That's smart.

It's a good move to build consensus before making commitments that are dependent on the actions of others. The legislature sets policy via statute. Governors can't appropriate state dollars nor can they change the law. A compact that purports to do either of those two things would have no binding legal authority.

Here's the PDF of Governor Huntsman's veto letter.

The section on 'veto power' is mysterious to us. When was this bill ever about veto power? Doesn't that assume the legislature passed a bill to veto in the first place? Senator Jenkin's bill was about preventing future executives from trying to wield legislative power. The final paragraph is the operative section for us - it says we'll talk.

Both sides are a little touchy on this issue – both want to preserve the historic checks and balances from what we see as an encroachment by the other branch.

Working together will help. We're probably not going to override.

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