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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This just in: Curt and Susie Bramble are the proud grandparents of a new baby girl – six pounds, 3 ounces, 18 inches. All parties are doing fine.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New North African Blog Sites

By Ric Cantrell
Chief Deputy of the Senate

Want to make history today? A few fledgling blog sites have emerged in Algeria (a little background here). If you are reading this you likely have healthy interest & perspective from Utah's unique bloghive. Any insight, encouragement, questions, and positive interaction with these new bloggers could make a lasting impact.
Voice of the People by Deputy Filali Ghouini (elected member of parliament from the El Islah Party)

L'Arme Rose by Karima B (caucus staff for the RCD Party)

Assima 2008 by Fatma Zohra (legislative IT staffer)

K.Eliad by Deputy Elaid (elected member of parliament)
You can use Alta Vista's Babel Fish to translate the French or Google's Translator to get the Arabic and French. Check them out and give them the benefit of your thoughts.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Time Commitments

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25

The other day, while speaking to the Estate Planning Council for Weber-Davis County about the legislature’s actions this past session, I was asked a very interesting question: How much time does it really take to serve in the legislature? As I tried to answer that question, I realized that it is not the same for everyone. For example, I live 82 miles away from the Capitol, giving me the added burden of travel time and finding a place to stay while in Salt Lake City (it is even worse for those legislators from down south, such as St. George!).

My assignment as Co-Chair of Executive Appropriations is extremely demanding during the session but does not take as much time during the rest of the year. Most were surprised to learn that during the session, most of my days begin before 6:00 am and end after 8:00 pm. I personally would rather spend my evenings with my wife and son, Matt, when he is here. I usually spend all day Saturday working on my legal files to try to stay up with my work at the law office. When we are not in session, there are still numerous meetings to attend throughout the year.

Thank goodness as I get older and want to slow down, I can do so. I don't need to spend as much time studying the issues because the old ones just keep coming back.

Most people who decide to run for this office have no idea the time and work commitment required to be effective. Best of luck to all would-be legislators. May you have the time you need to do the job right.

Discipline pays off

Jennifer Toomer-Cook in the Deseret News: Utah in good fiscal health compared to other states

Is it a recession or just a period of slower growth? Either way, Utah is set to weather the storm. Here's the NCSL release, and a little piece of the DNews article:
Utah anticipates a 0.4 percent growth in revenues in the 2009 fiscal year, much less than in past years, but growth nonetheless, said Steve Allred, deputy director of the Utah Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.

Anticipating a revenue shortfall, the Legislature earlier this year socked away $100 million in a savings account of sorts for public schools and colleges, and left $15 million unspent in the fiscal 2009 budget, which goes into effect July 1, according to the Utah section in the report. That money is in addition to $414 million lawmakers put in "rainy day funds" over the years. The Utah data in the report is based on information compiled by the Utah fiscal analyst's office.

The Legislature "approached future revenue growth with caution, and that's one thing the state's been fairly good at," Allred said. "It does require some fiscal discipline up front."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

States Innovate / Feds ... not so much

Good old-fashioned federalism seems to inspire innovation. From Brookings:
The design of a more robust federal innovation policy must consider, respect, and complement the plethora of energetic state and local initiatives now underway. While the federal government has taken only very limited steps to promote innovation, state governments and state- and metropolitan level organizations have done much more.
Hat tip to Dave Fletcher's Blog.

Bud Bowman

Thank you Representative Bowman, from the Spectrum.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

JayCee Carroll

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25

For the past 4 years it has been fun to watch JayCee Carroll show us all that hard work does pay off and locals can make good. I remember first seeing JayCee and thinking he must still be in high school but in fact he had returned from his LDS mission. Every game would start with often two players guarding him but by the end of the game, he would still be running and those guarding him could not keep up. He was always friendly with the kids who watched his every action and set an example of what athletics was all about. I will always be glad that I could see him play. It makes me wonder - when I heard that many schools were not willing to give him a chance at first - how many other JayCee Carroll’s are there waiting for their opportunity. Watching him play basketball as coached by Stu Morrill reminds me that there are lots of things that bring success and enjoyment in life.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Lions are here

This just in from the Capitol Preservation Board . . .
Lions Arrive at the Utah State Capitol

Many Utahns remember the four lions posted at the east and west entrances to the Utah State Capitol. The Capitol Preservation Board is pleased to announce the arrival of the first two new lions sculptures specifically commissioned as part of the Utah State Capitol restoration and base isolation project. After spending over a year in Ohio, the two new marble symbolic guardians of Utah’s Capitol, a pair of beautifully sculpted lions, are heading toward their new home in Salt Lake City.

Following a thorough examination during the beginning days of the restoration project, it was concluded that weather had deteriorated the original creatures enough to require commissioning new sculptures. Although, the originals had already been restored once before, a second restoration was not feasible.

The original lions were created in 1915, by sculptor Gavin Jack and later repaired in 1977, by local artist Ralphael Plescia. The new lions were sculpted in Italian carrera marble by Nick Fairplay, British master carver. Italian marble is a very durable material, was chosen in order to extend the life of the Capitol’s new lions. The originals were sculpted in cement, a material much more conducive to erosion.

Installation of the incoming lions atop the stairs of the east entrance to the Capitol will begin Monday, April 21st. It will end the following day, Tuesday, April 22nd. These lions have been given names symbolic of the virtues they represent. The arriving lions are called Fortitude and Integrity. Their counterparts, named Honor and Patience, will join them when they are placed at the west entrance sometime this autumn. In addition to the symbolism of their names, each lion represents a different stage of life.

“I know many Utahns fondly remember the old lions at the Capitol. We hope all visitors young and old are able to create new and lasting memories along side the Capitol’s new lions,” David H. Hart, AIA, Architect of the Capitol.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Their flag to April's breeze unfurled"

April 19th, 1775. The inscription on the monument near the Concord Bridge reminds us


On the 19 of April 1775 was made the first forcible resistance to British aggression

On the opposite Bank stood the American Militia

Here stood the Invading Army and on this spot the first of the Enemy fell in the War of that Revolution which gave Independence to these United States

In gratitude to GOD and In the love of Freedom this Monument was erected
AD 1836

Here's a picture of the bridge you can see in the background from the other side, taken by Martine Smith (makes great desktop wallpaper).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Algeria 2008

By Ric Cantrell
Chief Deputy of the Senate

NCSL invited Utah to join the faculty of an intense four-day workshop with the Algerian Parliament - part of an initiative created by Colin Powell's State Department to build partnerships with North Africa and the Middle East.

I had the honor of spending a memorable week in Algiers working on web 2.0 tools & techniques with members of parliament and their staff. Here's the workshop agenda translated, as everything was, into Arabic, French, and English.

My teammates on the NCSL delegation were an impressive collection of talent from around the United States. Our Algerian hosts were equally gifted and soon became good friends. Workshop discussions were intense, informative, hopeful and rewarding for all parties, I believe. And on the morning of our final day we visited the Casbah, which I treasured for obvious historical reasons.

We built a demonstration site for workshop participants. Check it out: www.algiers2008.com

The Thicket published a brief report, as did the National Association of Government Communicators.

I have great hopes for the people of Algeria and their budding democracy. Where guns and bombs have proven less effective perhaps communication and citizen engagement will have an impact.

New Judge

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Kevin K. Allen as Utah's newest judge. First District Court.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Delta Merger

By Curt Bramble
Senate Majority Leader

Good news.

Add your candlepower to Health System Reform

The newly formed Health System Reform Task Force will hold their first meeting this Thursday. 8:00 a.m. W020.

Find official info (agenda, committee membership, etc.) here.

Pig & Webb make predictions in the DMNews.

Senator Killpack and Representative Clark talk about the road ahead in the Trib:
The currently accepted practice of employer-sponsored health care has existed for so long many of us have never known any other system. To imagine a better system will take everyone working together.

To that end, we have put together five working groups that will help funnel innovative ideas and solutions to the task force. We are looking for members to fill those work groups.
Read the entire op-ed here, and contact us for more info.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tax Changes Made Simple

By Wayne Niederhauser
Utah State Senator, District 9

A recent Tribune article ("Many Utahns see taxes jump with new flat rate," April 2) highlighted concerns among some taxpayers about the impact of recent changes to the state individual income tax. Unfortunately, the article did little to clarify for taxpayers the changes that will actually be taking place. As sponsor of the bill enacting many of these changes, I believe it's important that taxpayers have accurate information.

The Utah Legislature has been working hard the past two years to reduce taxes. Taxes have been reduced by nearly $400 million, including significant cuts and changes to the state individual income tax. Taxpayers will likely notice these changes when completing their state individual income tax returns for tax year 2007 (generally filed by April 2008) and tax year 2008 (generally filed by April 2009).

For tax year 2007, Utahns will choose to pay their individual income tax either under a "flat tax" option at the rate of 5.35 percent with no deductions or under the traditional multi-rate system with various deductions. Taxpayers calculate their taxes under both methods, but only pay the lesser of the two amounts.

It's easy to understand that some taxpayers assume that the "flat tax" calculation for tax year 2007 will be the same as the new nonoptional "single-rate" system in place for tax years beginning in 2008. But this is not the case. The elective "flat tax" calculation for tax year 2007 is different than the new "single-rate" system.

The new "single-rate" system will tax income at a reduced rate of 5 percent and at the same time allow various tax credits to be subtracted from the amount of tax owed. Most filers will be able to claim one or more of the new nonrefundable credits, including: (a) a taxpayer tax credit that is calculated using federal personal exemptions and standard or itemized deductions, and (b) a retirement tax credit.

At the same time, Utah will abandon the traditional multi-rate system. Examining the single rate component of the new system without also considering the enacted tax credits provides a flawed view of actual tax amounts to be expected for tax year 2008.

The overall goal of the recent tax changes is to reduce income taxes for the people of Utah. Experts calculated that more than 90 percent of the taxpayers should see some degree of tax relief.

The changes also make Utah more economically competitive with some of our neighboring states. For example, Nevada and Wyoming have no income tax, while the top tax rates in Colorado (4.63 percent), Arizona (4.54 percent), and New Mexico (5.30 percent) are significantly below the top rate of nearly 7 percent with Utah's traditional multi-rate system.

In addition, the recent tax changes help reduce the volatility of income tax revenues, allowing for better year-to-year budgeting and providing a more stable revenue source for education.
More detailed information regarding the income tax changes (including links to sample tax calculations under the new system, a tax calculator, and a more detailed analysis of the tax changes) is available at the Legislature's Web site, www.le.utah.gov.

[This was first published as an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune.]

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