Welcome to The Senate Site

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009

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Shurtleff on Post-Conviction Relief

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff sat down with Senate Radio after Senator Bramble's S.J.R. 14 - "Challenging the Legality of a Conviction or Sentence" passed the Senate on second reading.

Click here to listen.

The AG hopes for this Constitutional Amendment to pass the Legislature and head to the voters to - in effect - restore Justice to the justice system.

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Interior Decorating Survey

As part of the Capitol renovation, we now have blue curtains in the Senate Chamber. Some say they class the place up and are very appropriate for the state Capitol. One influential senator who shall remain nameless feels they do NOT add class. In fact, they make the chamber look like a house of ill-repute.

Let's call on the wisdom of the crowd.



The pre-curtain chamber:




Senate Chamber, post-curtain:




Closer shot:


More curtain pics.

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Ethics Bills

By Megan Robinson

Two significant bills were discussed and passed by the Senate. Senator Valentine's SB 162 prohibits retired state politicians from using leftover campaign cash for personal expenses. The Bill permits that a candidate or office holder to hold the account open for a future state campaign, or permits him or her to give it to a PAC, a PIC, a political party, another state candidate, or to a non-profit charity. The bill also permits the candidate or office holder to withdraw the funds, pay federal and state income taxes, and then use the remaining amount for a federal election candidacy.

Senator Bell's ethic bill is SB 156, which requires lobbyists to specifically report any gift over $10 and any meal over $25. It eliminates the exemption for sporting events, but excludes big events to which the entire legislature is invited.

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Debt

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Amelia has

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Friday Morning Workout

  1. KVNU FTP: New PTA Bill
  2. The Sidetrack: Bramble Drops Anti-PTA Bill
  3. KSL: Senate gives OK to anti-abortion legal fund
  4. Mississippi Brew Blog (who knew there were so many blogs about brewing?)
  5. Vocab lesson from Holly on the Hill
  6. Becky Edwards: Knowledge is Power
  7. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  8. KVNU: Lawmakers: Should we take the money?
  9. KSL: Bill would change role of utilities panel
  10. DNews: Autism bill watered down by Senate amendment
  11. Gehrke: Hike taxes? Utah waiting to see how stimulus plays out
  12. KCPW: Lawmakers Could Close Budget Shortfall Without Federal Stimulus Dollars
  13. Daily Herald: Lawmakers look at stimulus, budget cuts
  14. DNews: Utah will get $1.7B in stimulus
  15. Don't be a butthead: City, County square off; Hatch calls Becker a 'butthead.'
  16. SLTrib: Legislators targeting $67 million fee increase, most likely on cars
  17. DNews: Legislature may expand furloughs for state workers
  18. KUER: Health Care Reform Bills Moving Through Utah Legislature
  19. SLTrib: Huntsman: I'll use stimulus cash to bring Hollywood to Utah
  20. Ziegler: Senate Passes Two Ethics Reform Bills
  21. SLTrib: Mobile home relocation bill passes
  22. Davis County Clipper: Worrisome issues may perplex lawmakers
  23. SLTrib: Grants OK'd for teaching math Singapore way
  24. Davis County Clipper: Centerville safe from RDA/UTOPIA bill
  25. James Thalman: Why dead languages should stay dead
  26. SLTrib: Metal theft bill advances
  27. KUER: State employees may have furlough; lawmakers struggle to roll back cuts
  28. DNews: Senate approves private donations to defend state abortion laws
  29. Warchol: Banning barnyard homicide
  30. SLTrib: Three-strike lewdness measure advances
  31. Aagard: Holly Mullen leaves City Weekly
  32. Wow! That's a big sting-ray!
  33. That's what I'm talkin' about yo.
  34. Senator Mayne: Work Zone Safety campaign
  35. UPD Today
  36. Results are in

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009

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Utah's 4th Seat, Episode 3297

The U.S. Senate just passed the bill to give Utah a 4th congressmen. 61 to 37.

Now it goes to the House.

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Federal Stimulus Impact

At the fifteen percent cut level, our budget is balanced. But it hurts. The question now is, does it hurt enough to raise fees or taxes to try and backfill some essential areas?

Also - how does the federal spending/stimulus bill factor in? Senator Hillyard talked about it briefly on the floor this morning. Click here to watch.

Here's the Stimulus PDF Senator Hillyard handed out to the senators.

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Trade

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Thursday Morning Workout

  1. UPD Today
  2. Confused how things work up here? Holly on the Hill explains.
  3. Forget Vegas. Come to Utah. Seriously.
  4. Senator Robles on The Pulse
  5. SLTrib: PTA backs changes to school access bill
  6. Good Compromise
  7. Re: The Guv
  8. Gehrke was just in time
  9. Hey, Don't blame us
  10. Pyrah's Stream of Thought on the Stimulus
  11. Senator Killpack: "Businesses in California, Utah is open for business"
  12. Roche: Senate weighs $385M tax hike
  13. Utah Beer: Home Brewing passes Senate
  14. KCPW: Film Incentive Wins Unanimous Support in First Senate Vote
  15. SLTrib: Senate panel throws USTAR a lifeline
  16. KCPW: $10 Million USTAR Bill Sails Through Committee
  17. Daily Herald: Senators OK bill to limit use of excess campaign funds
  18. McKitrick waxes poetic: Two ethics bills complete journey through Senate
  19. DNews: 2 ethics bills pass Senate
  20. SLTrib: SB214 » Lawmaker wants the director to be picked by the governor.
  21. KCPW: Legal Immigrants Could Be Waived of CHIP Five Year Residency Requirement
  22. DNews: Group rallies for cleaner air
  23. SLTrib: Non-Utahn gun permit fee bill abandoned
  24. Gehrke: Senate: Keep hands on wheel
  25. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  26. Word from the Speaker: Week 4 update

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 25, 2009

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NASA Math Initiative

By Megan Robinson
Senate Intern

Successful and accessible education is one of Utah’s top priorities. Today I was able to speak with Senator Stephenson about SB159-Math Education Initiative, a bill he’s hoping will address the areas of crisis we have in our mathematics classes for elementary and secondary grades. Senator Stephenson pointed out that Utah has a lagging performance in math which has contributed to the The United State’s low educational performance in comparison to other industrialized nations.

A main concern of many individuals is that we are not producing the engineers, mathematicians and scientists that America needs, especially in critical areas such as national defense and NASA. Those areas require that we hire American citizens. When our American citizens are not eligible to fill these positions as they would like to and as the country requires them to, we find ourselves with a crisis. SB159 seeks to resolve this crisis.

This change in the math curriculum will be done by allowing schools to request grant money so they can begin practicing a curriculum that is world renowned. This curriculum is known as the Singapore Primary Math Series and has been successful in helping students and staff become more effective in their math classes. Senator Stephenson has great expectations for this bill and hopes to see it, “catapult our performance in mathematics to a much higher level than it is right now.”

To listen to the interview click here.

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Governor's Appointees

The Senate voted on a bunch of the Governor's Appointees today.

Here is the official list.

Listen to the introduction on the floor here.

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Over my dead body

If you have a dead body you need to dispose of, you better do it before June...

Senator Christensen just passed SB142.

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Wednesday Morning Workout

  1. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  2. Share your voice on the Senate Site - Vote for your favorite bill here
  3. One Utah: CAN we all just get along? (We think so...)
  4. KNVU: More Education Legislation: HB381
  5. Utah Education Issues: Start the calling for HB122
  6. KNVU: House backs school board election changes
  7. From Where I Sit: Internet Usage vs. Newspaper Subscribers
  8. The Crawler: Getting the 'tone' at the DNews
  9. ...Also on SLTrib
  10. Rep. Holdaway: The update
  11. The City Cafe: Rating the Stimulus
  12. Sausage Grinding: I think I've seen this episode before
  13. KCPW: Senate Democrats Want Buttars Removed from Two More Key Positions
  14. By Deseret News staff: Democrats seek more penalties against Buttars
  15. Utah Moms Care: A Carrot or a Stick
  16. By Deseret News staff: Tax hikes likely after $1B in cuts
  17. Daily Herald: Lawmakers talking about tax increases
  18. SLTrib: Legislators may shake up foreign-waste profit-sharing deal
  19. Herald Journal: Texting bill advances in Senate
  20. KCPW: Lawmakers Hold Bill to Require Cell Phone Hands-Free Adapter When Driving
  21. SLTrib: U.S. Supreme Court ruling a loss for Utah's unions
  22. DNews: Top court decision backs Utah payroll law
  23. Singapore math bill passes second reading in the Senate
  24. Rosetta: Bills: Open CHIP to legal immigrant children
  25. KUER Roundup
  26. Daily Herald: Bramble opposes $50K in new funding for West Valley theater
  27. Roche: Utah lawmakers may turn down stimulus
  28. UPD Today

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Hour

By Macey Matthews
Senate Session Staff

Alcohol is one of the hot topics during this year’s legislative session. Right now, Representative Hughes and Senator Valentine each have liquor-related bills that are being debated. We thought it would be good to get your input.

Here is the low down on each bill as well as an endorsement from the sponsor. Answer the survey and let us know what you think.

House Bill 347-Alcoholic Beverage Control Act Modifications
Rep. Hughes classifies HB 347 as more of a private club bill than an alcohol bill. Utah currently has a unique private club law which requires every patron to purchase either a temporary or annual membership in order to enter the establishment. This bill would eliminate private clubs and in turn, require everyone under the age of 30 to have an electronic verification where their ID (either a drivers license, military ID, or passport) is scanned in order to make sure that it is valid and that they are who they say they are.

Along with private clubs, this bill will also reshape the way restaurants handle liquor purchases. Many restaurants have bar-like structure where guests can dine. The law currently allows this seating option to be open to anyone; however, this bill would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 to sit in the bar area. In return, the bartender would now be able to serve a drink across a bar top instead of walking around to the other side like they are currently required to do.

The main goal that this bill is trying to accomplish is to keep anyone underage out of bars and away from alcohol. Rep. Hughes says he has a bag of fake IDs that were collected by a downtown private club after they began using an electronic verification machine.

Many opponents are afraid that this bill would loosen Utah’s liquor laws, but Rep. Hughes says it does just the opposite. “We are honing in on underage potential patrons to make sure that they are not getting into these establishments,” he says.



Senate Bill 187-Alcohol Amendments
Sen. Valentine's bill is designed to keep up the high standards that Utah liquor laws have had in the past. His goal is to prohibit underage drinking, to prevent over consumption, and to protect the public and their safety.

The first thing that the bill will do is create more of a distinction between a restaurant and a bar. Restaurants will be required to prepare alcoholic beverages away from where the customer can see. The bill will give restaurants financial assistance to help them restructure they existing layout if it does not fit the requirements of the bill.

The bill will also increase the dram shop liability, which is the responsibility that private clubs and other establishments serving liquor have when they serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated patrons who subsequently cause death or third-party injuries. Utah’s current fine of $500,000 would be increased to $1 million with this bill.

Other portions of the bill include defining exactly what constitutes a person as being intoxicated as well as consolidating the licenses that a resort must obtain in order to serve alcohol.



VOTE HERE:

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Harvesting Your Rainwater

In our media briefing today, Senators McCoy and Jenkins discussed their similar bills:




This is a casual conversation in the Senate President's Office. Listen to the Floor Debates on Jenkins' SB128 -
Rainwater Harvesting and McCoy's SB58 - Collection and Use of Precipitation by clicking HERE.

Check out all of our videos on the Utah Senate Channel on YouTube.

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Honest Abe

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The Guv



Hat tip: One Utah.

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February 24, 2009

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Word from Mitt Romney

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Senate Radio: Senator Valentine

Tune in to Senate Radio!

Senator Valentine introduced his Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 - A Call to Civility on the Senate floor yesterday.

Listen to his presentation here (MP3).

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Tuesday Morning Workout

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Monday, February 23, 2009

A Call to Civility

By John Valentine
Senator, District 14

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 - A Call to Civility, is the first resolution of this kind I’ve presented in my 21 years in the legislature. This Resolution calls upon all citizens in the state of Utah, including members of the Senate and House, to act civilly when engaged in our communications, thoughts, and actions. However, this idea goes back further than you and I. The founders of our state included into our Constitution a provision that allows the freedom to enjoy and defend our lives and liberties and to communicate our thoughts and opinions freely. They also added that with that freedom, comes responsibility.

My hope for this resolution is to remind members of the Legislature, as well as members of the public, of our duty to get along, and to engage in respectful debate, focusing on the issues.

Click here to listen to my presentation on the floor.

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February 23, 2009

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Lesson Learned on Courtesy

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

Friday night, as I was leaving my Senate office, I was called by a local reporter for the Logan newspaper, The Herald Journal. This reporter’s publisher had been informed by a fellow publisher that I was frustrated with his paper and he wanted to know why. As we discussed the problem, I found out that the report resulted from my short interaction with the publisher of the Tremonton paper. He had come to the Capitol to visit with legislators about a bill that would change how legal notices are published and how it impacted his small rural paper. I had seen the note he left me during my time on the floor and when I had gone outside, I ran into my good friend Bonnie Miller who publishes The Record in Salt Lake, which carries an abundance of legal notices. She explained her concerns with the bill.

I had never met the Tremonton publisher, and therefore did not recognize anyone else outside waiting for me so I went to an event in the Rotunda. As I was walking back to the Senate for an appointment (for which I was late), I ran into Rep. Ronda Menlove from the Tremonton area. She happened to be talking to the publisher who had been looking for me earlier in the day. Because I was late, I did not take adequate time to discuss with him but listened quickly as he told me his problem. Unfortunately, I am prone to make snide remarks and I made the comment, meant in jest, that when the newspapers are always beating up legislators, it is not easy for us to grant them what they want. This comment troubled the publisher, and he passed the word along to the Herald Journal publisher, and thus the call to me was made.

As I drove home, I thought about that call. Here a man, even though not in my district, had taken the time and trouble to come to Salt Lake to talk about an issue that was very important to his work and, I expect, important to many of the rural newspapers. I was ashamed that I had not respected that effort and vowed that I would change.

That night, I received several calls about issues that were likewise rather minor for the overall work we are doing. But as I changed my approach and began to respect them for taking the time and often overcoming the fear of calling a State Senator, I found that they had valuable information that I found helpful.

Thanks to Charles of the Herald Journal and his call, I will really try to be more considerate and less busy. I think we all need to be considerate to our constituents and more accessible to the general public.

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Word from the Wall Street Journal

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Cowboys and Indians

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So far this session . . .

616 bills have been introduced so far. We passed 108 of them. Three weeks to go.

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Monday Morning Workout

  1. Utah Education Issues: Teacher opinions on the budget cuts
  2. Out of Context: Irresistible -- like a car wreck
  3. Utah Moms Care about the legislature
  4. Jim Tynen's Blog: Discussing layoffs
  5. Pyrah picture: The scene before the scene
  6. Utah Moms Care about homeschoolers
  7. SLTrib gives updates on the Legislature midway, Transportation and Immigration
  8. McFarland: Resolution praising Latin American league clears Utah Senate panel
  9. DNews: Bennett, lawmakers spar over 'stimulus
  10. SLTrib: Two GOP ethics measures advance to Senate
  11. KCPW: Politics Up Close: Todd Weiler & James Evans
  12. SLTrib: Eliminating liquor stickers could save $1 million
  13. UPD Weekend
  14. DNews: Proposed legislation would keep comfort animals out of stores
  15. Falk: Is Buttars' speech public, or private?
  16. Trib Editorial: Setting budget table
  17. More vacationing closer to home
  18. Speaker Clark's Ethics Update
  19. Dr. Jarvis is blogging on Health Reform
  20. KUER: Survey says...
  21. Pyrah's Weekend Roundup
  22. Fortune: How Facebook is taking over our lives
  23. UPD Today

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Budget Review

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Exec Approps

It was again very difficult and time consuming to spend the final part of last week to sit down and review the work of the subcommittees that identified 15% in budget cuts on the reduced base after September special session and their prioritized list of back fill.

I sincerely believe that this has been a very good process both from the aspect of finding areas where government can be cut back and the services that are truly needed be more efficiently delivered and from the view of forcing the public to think what they want government to provide and how to pay for that service. Even with using the federal spending package, there will be budget cuts. The main question will be how deep and whether there is enough on-going money to avoid the reductions or just postpone them.

We hope to know before too long this next week just exactly what money is available, when and what strings are attached. There is some sentiment not to take the federal money and where the funds are lacking, to raise our own taxes to cover them. Others justify it, saying the money is ours; someone else will be happy to spend it if we don’t.

It is a little like dieting. Most of us know that we need to lose weight and there are three things we must do: 1) eat less and better food, 2) exercise, and 3) change our attitude about eating. I believe the same is true for our current budget crisis.

We know that to solve the problem we must:1) work and add to the wealth of our economy, 2) avoid unnecessary borrowing especially for the things we cannot afford, and 3) change our attitude about the proper spending patterns we should be following. Both with dieting and controlling the current spiral of lack of confidence in the economy, some people look for the quick fix like a pill or new plan or a bail out from Washington where they don’t have to balance the budget and can just print money. As we look at the long term impact of both of those decisions, any thinking person should know that they don’t work. The fall of confidence in the Stock Market tells me that the quick fix pill being offered by the Federal Government won’t work. It suggests that we should toughen up and do the right thing for our children and grandchildren. I hope that I can convince my fellow legislators to look long term and not on what we need to do to just balance this budget and go home feeling the easy 'joy' a quick fix and avoiding work creates.

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Word from Pignanelli & Webb

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Word from the ACLU

In today's press release from the American Civil Liberties Union:
". . . While we disagree vehemently with Senator Buttars’ views, we strongly support the Constitution’s free speech protections. Free speech rights are indivisible. Restricting the speech of one group or individual jeopardizes everyone's rights because the same laws or regulations used to silence unpopular and controversial speech can be used to silence valid discourse . . . .

"Having heard Senator Buttars’ recent comments, the public can decide if these comments are representative of its views and take appropriate action with regards to Senator Buttars’ position as a public, elected official. They also can and should exercise their own Constitutionally-protected freedoms to respond as they deem appropriate."

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Word from the LDS Church

ABC 4:

"From the outset, the Church’s position has always been to engage in civil and respectful dialogue on this issue. Senator Buttars does not speak for the Church."

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February 20, 2009

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For the Record

By Chris Buttars
State Senator, District 10

I was disappointed to learn of the Utah State Senate’s censure on Feb. 20, 2009. However, this action will not discourage me from defending marriage from an increasingly vocal and radical segment of the homosexual community.

In recent years, registering opposition to the homosexual agenda has become almost impossible. Political correctness has replaced open and energetic debate. Those who dare to disagree with the homosexual agenda are labeled "haters," and "bigots," and are censured by their peers. The media contributes to the problem. Increasingly, individuals with conservative beliefs are targeted by a left-leaning media that uses their position of public trust as a bully pulpit. This pattern of intimidation suppresses free speech.

For the record, I do not agree with the censure I see it as an attempt to shy away from controversy. In particular, I disagree with my removal as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, since my work there is entirely unrelated to my opposition to the homosexual agenda.

Still, I’m a grown man and I can take my knocks. When it comes right down to it, I would rather be censured for doing what I think is right, than be honored by my colleagues for bowing to the pressure of a special interest group that has been allowed to act with impunity.

Thanks to the many citizens who have written and called to express their support. Please know that I’ll live through this to fight another day. In years to come, we’ll all look back at this point in history and see it as a crossroads. I have no intention of resigning.

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Press Conference Today

[UPDATE]: Listen to the podcast here

We will be Live Streaming the Press Conference Today at 9:30 a.m. Stay Tuned.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 19, 2009

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Tomorrow morning

Rumors abound.

What's going to happen is we'll hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow to discuss recent decisions regarding one of our Senators.

If you can't be here we'll live stream it here on the Senate Site.

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Health Reform Press Conference TODAY

[Update:] If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here. And here's a clip of Speaker Clark:


The Senate will not be holding our usual Media Availability and will be live-streaming this Press Conference from the Gold Room

H.B. 188 outlines specific steps towards Health System Reform; Bill will be heard on the House floor tomorrow


WHAT: H.B. 188 House of Representatives vote, press conference and photo op.


WHO: Speaker David Clark, House of Representatives
Senator Sheldon Killpack, Senate Majority Leader
Representative Litvack, House Minority Leader
Representatives Newbold and Dunnigan
Community and Business leaders


WHEN: Thursday, February 19th
House vote: Time certain 10:15 a.m.
Press conference: 12:00 p.m. (or directly after floor time)


WHERE: Capitol Gold Room (2nd floor of Capitol Building)

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Thursday Morning Workout

  1. Matt Canham- White House: Utah a top job gainer under stimulus
  2. SLTrib: Tentative OK for autism bill
  3. Stan-Ex, Guest Commentator, Senator Christensen: Autism -- who pays?
  4. Daily Herald: Supporters hope lawmakers OK mandates for health insurance
  5. DNews: Committee approves bill on proof of citizenship
  6. KCPW: Senate Committee Passes Resolution Supporting Nuclear Power
  7. SLTrib: Huntsman readies veto for proposed foreign-waste deal
  8. DNews: EnergySolutions details 10-year N-waste plan
  9. KCPW: Bill Outlaws Jobs for Undocumented Students with Tuition Break
  10. DNews: Bonding becoming attractive to legislative leaders
  11. Pyrah video: Ron Mortensen on Immigration
  12. Reach Upward: Democracy or Republic?
  13. Steve U: People gotta eat
  14. Pyrah: Why the Senate rocks (emphasis ours)
  15. Senator Buttars stirs up some intense discussion. You can google that one yourself.
  16. UPD Today

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Clay's Law

SB43 - Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders - Clay's Law passed second reading in the Senate today (it still needs to be read for the 3rd time before it goes to the House).

A lengthy floor debate ensued this afternoon. Listen here. Or watch here.

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February 18, 2009

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Position on Traditional Marriage

By Chris Buttars
State Senator: District 10

Sometime in January, I talked with Reed Cowan for over an hour. I felt it was a friendly interview and we covered a lot of ground.

Reed assured me that he would treat both sides of the issue fairly and that I would be treated fairly. He told me the interview would be public in about a year and I would be allowed to see his work and approve my part before he released it.

I took Reed at his word and am disappointed.

I believe traditional marriage is the foundation of our civilization and I'll continue to support public policy that strengthens traditional marriage. I will also continue to oppose policy that undermines that foundation.

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-201-3813.

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Wednesday Morning Workout

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Citizens Making an Impact

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February 17, 2009

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Word from Harvard

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Talking Numbers

I tracked down Senator Hillyard to discuss the revenue estimates for the 2010 budget.

Look at the document here whilst listening to the Senator explain it here. (Senate Radio)

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Final Revenue Forecast

Bottom line:

It's bad but not as bad as we anticipated.

We're an additional $171 M short in 2009, and $235 M short in 2010. ($235 M + $85 M already calculated = $320 M total).

We're proposing NOT using the Rainy Day Fund to bridge the $171 M for 2009. Instead we'll try to use stimulus money and 1-time money and save those vital reserves for 2010 or 2011.

Next year's 15 percent overall reduction that subcommittees have prioritized will cover the $320 M shortfall in 2010.

We're still wrapping our heads around the federal stimulus money: how much is there, where it goes, when it can be spent, and what strings are attached. We also need to chart out the revenue impact these changes to federal tax policy will have on the state.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday Morning Workout

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Monday, February 16, 2009

New Revenue Figures

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator & Senate Chair of Exec Approps

Tuesday morning, we will announce the new revenue figures based on the consensus work of the Governor’s and legislative economists. I am fearful that they will continue to show the slide in our economy. As upsetting as the proposed cuts appear from the work of the committees, they may not be enough and further reductions may be necessary.

Something new that is becoming more clear is the spending package which should be signed by Pres. Obama this week. From the preliminary figures we have there will be about $400.0 M for education (both Higher and Public) and $213.0 M for transportation infrastructure. Our staff is working as hard as they can to get more definite figures including any strings and timing schedules. It will probably be more difficult to measure the indirect impacts of the tax cuts and any new requirements for existing programs that are not funded within the bill. Everyone should remember that the stimulus spending package is basically only one-time money so unless the spending really picks up the economy, we will be right back at this again next year.

I was not pleased to see that the stock market fell almost 400 points the day the new Secretary of the Treasury announced the final payments under the bank bail out. I would have expected the stock market to rally if they thought the spending package was really going to do what was promised. What a tragedy it will be if the economy continues to slide after this big spending package. I expect that unless the economy completely collapses that Congress’s only solution will be to spend more money on say bullet trains from San Francisco to Las Vegas.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Local Police

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator: Cache Valley

I met with the chiefs of police last week for lunch, including the leaders of the police forces here in Cache County. As a boy growing up in Smithfield, I did not have much to do with our town marshal as we called him. His name was Oz Low (not from Sweden). He was well liked and I don’t think ever had a serious crime to investigate or handle. I was probably in my teens when I was playing in the large weeping willow tree that grew just west of our family home. Oz came by to talk with my dad and as I was playing, I fell about 8 feet from the tree and landed in a rose bush which knocked out my wind. Dad and Oz ran over to see how I was and I was OK except I could not talk and lay there groaning trying to get my wind back. Oz looked at me and said to my dad, “I guess I should just shoot him and end his misery.” I still remember how panicked I was and, try as I may, I could not say a word - just groan. After a few minutes I had regained my breathing and could explain that I would be OK and he did not need to shoot me. He and dad laughed about my concern. I am just glad he did not pull out his gun. His words were enough to keep me focused.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

ABC4: Painful Anniversary

Chris Vanocur interviewed Senate President and Anna Kay Waddoups on the anniversary of the crash.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Teacher Bill moves on

SB48 - Teacher Licensing by Competency Amendments, passed the Senate today and is headed to the house. This bill changes the requirements to obtain a competency-based license to teach. During the debate on the floor, Senator Goodfellow successfully amended the bill to apply only to those who wish to teach middle school and high school.

Senator Buttars, the bill's sponsor, answered reporters' questions about the bill in today's Media Briefing.


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February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day! (tomorrow)

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Friday Morning Workout

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Twitterpresser

Turns out the bloggerpresser was also a Twitterpresser. Who knew?

@scottyriding (read bottom to top):
  1. ...in a creepy, online stauker sort of way.
  2. Fun to see some of the people whose blogs I read. For example, @sausagegrinder.
  3. @dfletcher r u watching the briefing? You would have the expertise on what Sen. Urquhart is saying. Is that an easy service to provide?
  4. Loving the blogger briefing. Honestly, I'm not super interested in the bill, but love the conference.
  5. http://bit.ly/2een0P VERY excited for the Utah Legislature's first ever blogger press conference. I'm technically not a blogger. Twitterer?
Some tweets from Pyrah:
  1. @scottyriding The Web cam puts on 20 pounds and ages you 10 years.
  2. Bloggerpresser, take 1. Wi-Fi cruising at the speed of 28.8
And @dfletcher:
  1. A response from the Daily Herald to SB208, announced at the initial bloggers press conference http://bit.ly/sRR8z #utpolitics
  2. RT @padmasree Mobile traffic will increase 66X by 2013 http://tinyurl.com/dey4g4
  3. @scottyriding providing the legal notice site will not be quite as easy as suggested, and storage is not quite free
  4. 21 bloggers participated in today's Utah Senate blogger press conference
  5. Senator Niederauser now discussing Transparency in Government on Utah Senate bloggers conference http://senatesite.com/blog/...
  6. I am expecting that the bill # of Senator Urquhart's bill will be SB208 at http://tinyurl.com/b36vwy
  7. the Public Meeting Notice website being discussed by Sen. Urquhart is best found at http://pmn.utah.gov rather than http://archives.utah.gov
  8. Senator Urquhart discusses bill on legal notices on Utah.gov at Blogger's press conf. wants online by July 09

What is cool and interesting to me is how each person adds value to the discussion in real time. We just need to find a way to tie the disparate sources together so the legislator has easy access to all the info. Any suggestions?

Next steps: Another bloggerpresser where we specifically invite Twitter friends too. @eseta, @saintless, @gurkman, @weisjohn, @castner, et. al. r u ready?

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Thursday February 12, 2009

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Thursday Morning Workout

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Repealing the Reappointment Register

By Dan Liljenquist
Senator, District 23

SB 126 - State Personnel Management Act Amendments is the repeal of the reappointment register. This is a portion of state law that says when there’s a reduction of state employees, they’re put on the reappointment register. When a job opens up in state government, if an individual meets the minimum qualifications on their resume, then the person on top of that list automatically gets that job.

The challenge is that the departments realize that resumes don’t pick up all the skills and interpersonal abilities of an individual. The concern has been that as people have been put on this list and reappointed to other areas of state government, the departments are saddled with people that they didn’t choose, which results in the people coming in feeling that they’re not wanted because they weren’t chosen.

This doesn’t make sense in modern times. We realize that people have different skills that won’t be shown on a resume. SB 126 repeals the reappointment register so there’s no longer the right to automatically reappoint to a job. Reappointment register is limited to one year. We worked with UPEA and came up with a compromise solution. This solution states that anybody who ends up on the will automatically get preference points*. SB 126 gives about 5-10% additional preference points to former state employees. The practical effect is that this puts them on the top of the interview list, as they should be. It still offers employers the choice to choose which of those people to hire. UPEA is excited about the fact that these rights are permanent and they don’t expire after one year. Because we don’t know how long this economic downturn will last, we don’t know how long until we’ll be hiring state employees again. However, down the road, departments will have a preference when they interview for a position.

I’m pleased to see this bill pass unanimously out of the Senate yesterday. It is now in the House and I believe we have a broad based support for the change. The governor and his public employee associations are on board. This is a great bill and I’m excited to see the positive changes it will bring to our state.


*Preference Points: When you apply for a state job, you take a Proficiency Test. When graded, you receive points that add up as your final score. The people who get the highest points total are the ones that usually get the interviews.

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Wednesday February 11, 2009

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Wednesday Morning Workout

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BloggerPresser: SB 208

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February 10, 2009

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Protecting the Bald Eagle - HB34

"We need to do all we can to ensure the bald eagle, a symbol of our nation, is here for future generations to enjoy."
-Robin Thomas, DWR’s Marketing Coordinator.


On Monday February 9th, lawmakers passed a bill to increase the fine for killing a bald eagle. HB 34 was first presented by Representative Roger Barrus. After passing the House, Senator Margaret Dayton sponsored the bill in the Senate where it passed unanimously. The bill is on its way to Governor Jon Huntsman to be signed.

The history of HB 34 dates back to 2003 when the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered species list. Since being withdrawn from the list, there have been 24 cases of illegal killings of bald eagles and six citations. When de-listed, the restitution value for killing a Bald Eagle dropped to $100. HB 34 sets the fine to $1000, which is the same as before it was taken off the list. “The bald eagle is so rare because it came off the endangered species list. It still needs protecting,” Robin said.

The bill came across a few questions regarding livestock depredation which have already been covered by the DWR. Rules have been set in place that enables the livestock owners to be paid back for any animals they may have lost.

The Utah Division of Wildlife is very appreciative of Rep. Barrus and Sen. Dayton for sponsoring SB 34.

When asked about her bill, Senator Dayton said,
“I’d like the state to do all they can to keep every animal off the endangered species list. I was pleased to support a bill that helped achieve that common goal that many of us share.”

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Bloggerpresser: Tuesday at 4:00

So. We're going to host a press conference for bloggers today. 4:00 p.m. Senate Rules Room. Come, if you can. Or watch it right here on the Senate Site.

Dial-in number
: 1-800-511-7983
Access code: 740434
Call Laura if you have any problems: 801-201-3813

Senator Steve Urquhart, the oldest living politician who blogs, will discuss an issue that is not at all partisan but is incredibly thought-provoking, a little controversial, and could very well mark a fundamental milestone in the way we communicate as a nation and society. Did you feel a wave of patriotic vertigo? Good.

See you at 4:00.

Special thanks to Jason, Jesse, and Marshall for their suggestions on Friday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[UPDATE, 2/10/09 @ 10:44 p.m.:]

To Utah bloggers: Respect! Thanks to those of you who were able to drop in and make the event worthwhile. Here are some links.

Stats:
13 people joined in person
21 people watched on-line.
10 people joined the conference call (even though only two of you spoke up and introduced yourselves!).
Refreshingly low-key. Let's do it again before session ends.

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.


We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Tuesday Morning Workout

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Measure would Make E-harassment a Crime

In the Trib:
A bill that would make menacing electronic communications illegal stalled on the Senate floor Monday, because of two words: annoy and offend.

"I'm annoying to people all the time," said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper.

Ogden's Sen. Jon Greiner, sponsor of SB91, said the measure simply updates a statute to include cell phones, PDAs and other means of electronic communication and would be useful in domestic violence situations where protective orders were in place.

Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights argued that people typically do not get prosecuted for annoying and offending words.

"It would criminalize all legislators," Bell said.

- Cathy McKitrick

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February 9, 2009

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Heads Up: New Revenue Forecasts

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Executive Appropriations Chair

As of now, the current plans for the budget are to complete the new revenue forecast by Tuesday morning, February 17th. These new figures will be announced on the floor that morning as the session begins. The next step will be to integrate this information into what we have and then ask each appropriation subcommittee to review the information and change, if necessary, their recommended reductions and their prioritized list of back fill. The back fill is rapidly being used up to get us through the 09 budget. Even using a substantial amount of the rainy day fund will leave us with sizable reductions in current programs, which will only get us by for the 2010 budget because it is only one-time money. The spending package, depending on the money received, may also help but it is, again, only one-time money. The reductions we are now facing are in the on-going base. Stay tuned.

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Word from ESPN

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Monday Morning Workout

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Utah Wastebusters

Got a cost-saving idea?

Representative John Dougall, Senator Steve Urquhart, and Senator Dan Liljenquist created Utah Wastebusters so that you can speak out and help evaluate potentially wasteful uses of your tax revenues. Here's KCPW.

Check it out
.

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Not in Kansas anymore?

3.2 beer. Complaints about "archaic" laws. Rich collision of culture and history. For a second I thought they were talking about Utah.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Mark McKnight Oroszi

Dawn House reports on the drunk driver who hit the Senate President's wife.


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Measure twice . . .

Sheena McFarland:

As state leaders face the possibility of laying off hundreds, and potentially thousands, of public employees, lawmakers have convened a six-member bipartisan committee to look at the options of unpaid furloughs, pay cuts and other alternatives.

Legislative leaders formed the group as various committees have been trying to piecemeal together a 15 percent across-the-board budget cut.

"Everyone came with different approaches with state personnel, and we want a well-rounded approach," said Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse.

"We've tasked some senators and representatives to at least bring ideas on how to deal with some of those state employees," Killpack said. "We want them to come up with a list of items to consider as a Legislature."

That list could include furloughing "non-essential" personnel, which could save $2.7 million per day, or "essential" personnel, saving $800,000 a day. The group also could look at cutting instruction or training days for public school teachers, which would save millions, and assess the effects of cutting salaries or benefits for employees.

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, says that he prefers a furlough to other options, but wants to assess the committee's ideas.

"I'd say that a furlough seems to make a lot of sense in case things turned around quicker rather than slower," he said. "I think it's good to give the executive branch some latitude."

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Text driving ban advances

Text driving ban advances
Unanimous vote » The proposal treats violations just like a DUI.

[This was posted from my BlackBerry at 58 MPH on I-15.]

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Immigration Bills

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

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Singapore Math!

SB 159 was approved in committee and is headed for the Senate Floor. Here's Lisa Schencker @ the Tribune:
In Singapore, math students are encouraged to think visually and develop mental strategies to solve problems. They're discouraged from using paper to compute math problems.

"We seek to create a school system that will produce a significant percentage of the scientists and engineers needed by our country," said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, who is sponsoring the bill.

SB 159 would offer competitive grants to districts that come up with plans for teaching Singapore math in kindergarten through sixth grade and some secondary school classes.

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Dirt

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Bargain

From Lee Benson:

"Utah legislators get called lots of names. Opportunists. Freeloaders. Power brokers. Fat cats. And if you want to get real nasty, politicians.

But how about this one? A bargain.

According to information on the National Conference of State Legislatures Web site, you can travel the United States of America from one end to the other and not find legislators who cost taxpayers less than ours cost us."

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Video Games

Video gamers seem a little stressed by Rep. Morley's bill.

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Friday Morning Workout

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Utah Transparency Advisory Board Amendments

By Wayne Niederhauser
Senator, District 9

Last year, my bill SB 38 - Transparency in Government was passed as the state transparency act. Through that act being in place, a Transparency Board has been formed which has led to the creation of a website for taxpayers and citizens. This website allows citizens with the ability to go online and see where their tax dollars are being spent; meaning every check written by the state, every deposit and any financial information that’s “subject to a government access request will be available online.” I have seen the prototype for the website and I think it is excellent and user friendly. The website will be online May 15, 2009.

The purpose of SB 18 is to build on the success of SB 38. First year plans for the bill include bringing together the political subdivisions of the state (school districts, transit districts and charter schools) to help them be a part of the website created by last year’s transparency bill. Whether or not the political subdivisions have their own website, they will be able to post their finances on the state site. They won’t have to go to the expense of creating their own search system.

The second year plans are to follow the same structure by providing cities, towns and counties with the same ability to post their finances online.

As of now the bill is in the House Government Operations Committee and will be heard in the morning.

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February 5, 2009

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What does a bloggerpresser look like?

Question:

If we hand-crafted a press conference for bloggers -- what would it look like?

Brainstorming . . . a high-speed wireless connection, six or seven chairs in a circle. Livestreaming video. Podcast?

Help us out here.

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Thursday Morning Workout

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President Waddoups on Nightside

Last night, President Waddoups joined KSL's The Nightside Project to discuss private clubs and scanning ID's. Listen to the podcast here.

He also killed on "Bill or No Bill".

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Senator Christensen on the proposed tobacco tax

From KSL:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


"Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is taking on a bill to raise Utah's tobacco tax. "I would love it to go away. That means nobody's using tobacco anymore," he said."

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February 4, 2009

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Answering the Email

"You're pulled in a lot of directions, but what your constituents want is paramount," [Representative] Edwards said.

[Rep.] Wilcox agrees. He will read e-mails from a constituent before he reads the ones that are "blasted to everyone," he said.

Edwards and [Senator] Liljenquist said if they don't answer the e-mails during the day, they usually will in the evening.

"I get an e-mail and I'll respond, and then I get a reply from my constituent saying they appreciate the answer, but what am I doing up at 1:15 a.m.?" Edwards said. "This is the time I can answer the e-mails."
From today's Standard Examiner.

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Wednesday Morning Workout

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Front Burner

Gehrke highlights four ethics bills.

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Tuesday February 3, 2009

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.


We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Tuesday Morning Workout

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Monday, February 02, 2009

February 2, 2009

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A Word from MADD





From UPD:
Changing private clubs to open bars will harm the social and fiscal well-being of the state, for it will increase alcohol availability and DUIs. "Studies find a direct relationship between alcohol consumption across the population and specific alcohol-related social problems. . . . These translate into more deaths, higher health care costs, higher costs of enforcement, higher costs of production, property loss, and lost jobs. . . . As alcohol becomes more available, consumption and problems increase. In fact, these increases are so predictable that it is possible to put a price tag on the impact on public health and safety…. " (Effects of Privatization of Alcohol Control Systems, Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, pp.7,2.)

Private clubs are only 10% of alcohol outlets in Utah; yet bars are our leading source of DUIs in this country. High-risk binge drinkers who frequent Clubs are 7% of the population but consume 45% of the alcohol and contribute to 2,600 DUI crashes in Utah annually-costing $433 million per year. Changing Clubs to open bars will also increase underage drinking. "Research suggests that a 'wetter' environment may provide adolescents with more social occasions to drink, more positive attitudes about drinking, more advertising and outlets. . . . In short, such environments have an enabling effect on underage drinking" (Reducing Underage Drinking, p.81; National Academies of Science). "The younger adolescents are when they start to drink, the more likely they are to engage in risky behaviors, including using drugs. having sex with six or more partners, and earning grades that are mostly Ds and Fs in school" (NIH Alcohol Alert, Jan. 2006, p.1). Why put youth at risk when research shows "for most Americans, alcohol is an unimportant product" (OJJDP: Drinking in America: Myths, Realities, and Prevention Policy). Visitors can receive a Welcome Pass to Private Clubs.
Read entire article here.

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Balanced

Happy to report that the House and Senate passed a series of bills this morning that brought the state budget back into balance.

FYI - the total state budget was $11.5 Billion last March. In September, we "right-sized" it to $11.3 billion. Now we're at $11.1 billion.

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The Rules

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The Utah Spirit

Jazz players show support for Larry Miller.

This is the kind of thing that makes Utah great.

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Senate Live

Audio and video of Senate floor debates are always live streamed and then archived. Don't be too critical of the video. We're using senate pages instead of professional production engineers (saving the state $17K).

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LIVESTREAM today: 11:45 a.m. Media Briefing

Catch the 11:45 a.m. Media Q & A right here. We'll go to a live stream immediately after morning floor time.

We'll talk about the bills we discussed on the floor this morning. If you have a question but can't be there in person, call 801-647-8944.

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Week #2

In today's UPD:

Welcome to February, the shortest month of the year, featuring romance, slowly warming temperatures, and fast action on Capitol Hill. Week 2 of the 58th Legislature will highlight the fiscal 2010 budget with plenty of tribulation. Appropriations subcommittees will meet from 2-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to the House and Senate weekly schedules. Floor time is scheduled from 10-noon each day. See the legislative calendar for meeting notices and agendas. For other political events this week, see the Utah Policy.com calendar.

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Monday Morning Workout

  1. Senate Schedule for the week
  2. DNews: Cigarette tax hike still breathing
  3. Vanocur: Senate Holds Off on new TVs and Furniture
  4. SLTrib: Last year's immigration reform back in spotlight
  5. DNews: Utah County legislators say I-15 project is moving forward
  6. Utah Policy Daily
  7. DNews: Photos capture the many moods of past lawmakers
  8. Holly Richardson blogs on Under the Dome
  9. Michael Otterson opines: LDS Church defends its annual meetings with legislative leaders
  10. Standard-Examiner: Technology: Benefits add up / Teachers hope stimulus plan helps more Utah students
  11. Reach Upward: Legislators cut their own pay
  12. DNews: Health bosses fighting hard to keep department alive
  13. From UPD: A Message from MADD
  14. John Florez in DNews: Honesty much more important than transparency
  15. Stan-Ex Opinion: TOP OF UTAH VOICES: Democracy thrives in sunshine: Let the sun shine in
  16. The Vatican is now on YouTube (Hat tip: egovblog)
  17. "M" or "F"?

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I-15 Rebuild Moving Forward

By John Valentine
Senator, District 14

The Utah County Legislative Caucus, Mayors, and Commissioners, hosted a press conference Saturday urging the State of Utah to renew its commitment to I-15 in Utah County and issue bonds that will allow the project to move into the construction phase. UDOT has completed the engineering phase in accordance with the Concurrent Resolution on the Reconstruction of Interstate 15 (S.C.R 6), which passed during the 2008 General Session.

In order to clarify a misunderstanding from Governor Huntsman’s State of the State address, I spoke with UDOT Executive Director John Njord. He assured me that the I-15 rebuild is moving forward. The project now awaits legislative approval to issue bonds.

Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn explained that the current economic situation will drive down the cost of this project. Now is the time to rebuild I-15. The Utah County Legislative Caucus calls on the Senate and House to authorize bonding for this vital project.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Winter Garden

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator: Cache Valley

You may be under the opinion that a garden can not grow in Cache Valley in the winter. Let me correct that notion. We always plant far more carrots than we can eat during the summer and then when we prepare the garden for winter, we take the carrots that are still in the ground and cover them with leaves and cucumber vines. After it snows and they have a chance to age, we dig them up as needed this time of the year. They are so sweet and good. Once the snow melts, they have to be dug fast because they will spoil fast.

My wife and I were out to dinner the other evening and they had parsnips on the side. They were very good and that reminded my wife of the parsnips she enjoyed growing up from her father’s garden. They are planted and then left in the ground during the winter to be dug up in the spring. I'm going to try that next year.

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