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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Utah Ranked #1 in Economic Competitiveness

ALEC's second edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index ranked Utah #1 in Economic Competitiveness.

From the ALEC Press Release:
"As legislators, we know that we are in direct competition with other states for human and investment capital," said Utah Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman, Senator Wayne Niederhauser. "Rich States, Poor States has provided invaluable information to strengthen our efforts to reduce tax burdens in Utah and we are happy to again be ranked as the most competitive state in the nation."
(Here is our previous post)

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The Governor has until tomorrow to sign or veto the bills we passed this session.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Trib: Light on the Horizon?

Tom Harvey reported on the Guv's Economic Summit today. First paragraph :
Though challenges remain, the nation's recession shows signs of bottoming out, while Utah's economy is poised by the end of the year to see a return of high rates of growth, an economist told the Governor's Utah Economic Summit today.
Heartening news. Read the rest.

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Navajo Nation

Today, the Navajo Nation thanked the Utah Legislature for the passage of HJR 5 - Joint Resolution Supporting Needed Improvement in the Navajo Nation's Ability to Collect and Track Child Support Payments.

Click here to listen to the podcast or here at Senate Radio.

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New Senate Website

Ye old senate website was rugged and reliable, but we've been carving a fresh site out of the internets.

Here's a preview.

Yeah, it's a work in progress. When it's finished, visitors will find all the functionality of the old site, plus RSS-fired postings from both senate blog sites and upcoming public meetings. We added pics, audio & video archives and links to Senate 3.0 accessory sites like Twitter and Facebook and a new webcam visitors can steer around the Senate Chambers. Etcetera.

We're still working out the bugs, but would sincerely appreciate insight and thoughtful suggestions from our technology superheroes and political gurus. Respond here or by Email.

Thanks in advance for your help.

And thanks to the bright folk at Utah Interactive for being so cool to work with.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Arnold Christensen

Arnold Christensen
1936 - 2009

Our loving husband, father and grandfather, Arnold Christensen, passed away Wednesday, March 25, 2009 due to complications with diabetes.

He was born July 26, 1 936 in Salt Lake City to Walter A. Christensen and Joyce Pierce Christensen. He was a graduate of Granite High School where he was later inducted into their Hall of Fame. He attended the University of Utah and also received various honorary degrees from institutions throughout the state.

Arnold's greatest love is his family. He married his eternal sweetheart Necia Ann Larsen in the Salt Lake City Temple on May 10, 1956. They raised three daughters and one son. He shared many fond memories with his family including golfing, fishing, hunting, ball games and family vacations. He set an example for all who knew him. His life was filled with service and love.

He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he served in many capacities, including Bishop, Stake President and Mission President in Raleigh, North Carolina. He owned and operated Christensen Electric and served on the Cottonwood Hospital Board of Directors. He was elected to the Utah State Senate where he served for 17 years; 10 years as President. He also served as President of the National Congress of State Legislators.

Arnold is survived by his loving wife, Ann; children, Valerie (Jeff) Cutrer, Cheryl (Kraig) Berrett, Kathy (Lowell) Hansen, Bruce (Tara) Christensen; 1 6 grandchildren and 1 6 great grandchildren; brother, Walter R. (Zada) Christensen; sisters. Joy (George) Batty and Jeanne (Lee) Eyre. Preceded in death by his pa rents and sister, Bonnie Christensen.

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, March 28th at 1 2 noon at the Draper 6th Ward, 12870 So. 1300 E., Draper. Visitations will be held Friday, March 27th from 6-8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Gardens Mortuary, 1950 E. 10600 So., Sandy, and one hour prior to services at the Ward on Saturday.

(Also see articles in SLTrib and DNews)

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Truman Scholar

Local boy makes good. Congrats Patrick.

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Ghost Town

As per usual, March is a quiet month here at the Legislature.

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Greatest danger facing society?

By Greg Bell
Senate Majority Assistant Whip

A college student wrote to ask me for her class assignment what the most pressing issue facing our society. I decided not to speak to moral issues but said the following:

The most pressing governmental policy issue is the expansion of the federal government into areas I believe are unconstitutional. And whether or not these actions are unconstitutional, the funding for the federal government's programs and bail-out packages is unsustainable. The government has shouldered staggering debt to finance programs and the bail-outs. The massive expenditure of funds in the bail-out/stimulus packages will, by almost everyone's admission, cause serious inflation. Moreover, taxes will have to be increased, jobs and company expansions will be curtailed with higher taxes, and more and more people will become dependent on the federal government for income, health care and food.

The taxpaying sector of our economy is shrinking as the entitlement programs expand. We will reach a breaking point unless we retrench. Even if we ratchet back federal expenditures, it will take years of surpluses to repay the debt created in the last year. I don't know if the federal government can continue to borrow the money in the bond market which it will need to fund the spending required by its programs and to carry the trillions of dollars of ongoing national debt. If foreign countries like China should cease buying our bonds (for 0% yield) simply as a safe harbor for their capital and to keep the giant US economy going so that we will buy its consumer products, our country will become insolvent.

Generally, I will say that we can no longer afford all the government we are getting.

At the state level many of our sister states have not acted prudently. California and New York are glaring examples of state governments that have taxed heavily to provide many social benefits and aggressive government programs. Utah has sometimes been looked down on as a state that didn't provide the level of benefits of these other more "progressive" states. However, in this downturn we see that states like NY and CA simply cannot sustain the revenue needed to pay the very high-cost public programs. They are raising taxes and consequently losing companies and jobs and people. By contrast, this week Utah was named the most competitive business state in the nation because of our stable, low-tax, business-friendly environment. See the report here.

Utah has balanced its budget, kept taxes low and lived within its means. Yes, we do not fund education and higher education at levels thought of as normal in other states. But we have not had the number of high income jobs necessary to finance such tax revenues. So we will do our best with what we have and continue to attract businesses from other highly-taxed, highly-regulated states. And we will continue to do more with less as we always have.

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ABC's of a Veto Override

The Governor vetoed two bills today (HB 156 and HB 353).

So, what next?
A. The President of the Senate will send a copy of the governor’s explanation letters (linked below) to each Utah Senator along with a veto-override form. Those packets will go out April 2nd. (The Guv has until April 1st to sign or veto our bills.)

B. Senators will consider the information available and indicate whether or not they favor a veto override session and which bills, if any they want to override. They will sign the form and send it back to the President. The House of Representatives will do something similar for their members.

C. If two-thirds of both legislative bodies vote to override, the President and Speaker will schedule a Veto Override Session, which must take place within 60 days of the end of the session.
Each vetoed bill will start in the house of its origin (these are House Bills, so they would start in the House). Vetoed bills need two-thirds of the members of both houses to pass the bill before they become law. Exact rules are outlined in JR2-2-201.

Here are the letters from Governor Huntsman, explaining his actions.

The Guv also signed another 98 bills today. Here's the list.

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Utah State Aggies Basketball

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

Two Sundays ago, I was excited to hear that USU would be playing their first game of the NCAA playoff Friday in Boise, which is a comfortable drive from Logan. Tip-off would be at 10:30 a.m. I knew my calendar that day included a legal hearing that morning, which had been long set, and a speaking engagement in Ogden at noon. Then I got a call from my teenage granddaughter, who lives in Davis County and became a solid Aggie fan when she first saw JayCee Carroll make a series of three-point shots. She asked me if there was any way we could go to their game in Boise.

I began rearranging my schedule first thing Monday morning. I found an associate who could cover the hearing (with the client’s consent) and my good friend, Sen. Greg Bell, was willing and able to cover the speaking engagement in Ogden. I then checked with USU about getting tickets and they were sold out. Luckily, I was able to get 3 tickets from President Stan Albrecht’s Office (of which I paid for in full).

Friday morning, I got up at 4:00 a.m. and met my family just off the Tremonton exit on I-15 at 5:00 a.m. We headed to Boise, arriving there about 9:00 a.m. It was fun to see all the Utah cars along the freeway with the Aggie blue paraphernalia. The Boise State arena was practically full. I guessed about 15,000 people in attendance, with, by far, the majority cheering on the Aggies. Unfortunately, there was not much to cheer about the first half. The second half was a different story. Although, as you already know, we fell short, losing the game by one point.

This team has won some tight games this year and has always been exciting to watch. Four of the starters grew up in Utah and have made the state proud. As I visited with fans after the game, many felt the same way.

USU played a great game and made up for a bad first half with a great second half. I give tremendous credit to a great coach, Stew Morrill, who has proven himself not only a great coach but a great teacher of young men. We can always look forward to next season!

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Thursday Morning Workout

  1. Senator Gene Davis on the Stimulus Package
  2. KVNU: Bigotry in Utah
  3. Non-profit Papers?
  4. KVNU: Mero Moment
  5. Ladies Logic: Founder's Quote
  6. KVNU: Economic Outlook
  7. Daily Herald: Supporting the Legislature
  8. DNews: 91% of Utahns support texting law
  9. SLTrib: Bill to require meth contamination disclosure to buyers, renters
  10. Video Game Bill Veto
  11. Pyrah on the Veto
  12. Herald Journal: USU feels the sting
  13. Although, Logan has one of the best unemployment rates in the nation (according to WSJ)

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

97 More

Governor Huntsman signed 97 bills into law on Tuesday (yes, home brewers, you can start brewing May 12).

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jenkins on Leno

Headlines: Last night this article featuring Senator Scott Jenkins and "some guy" appeared on The Tonight Show.

Here is the show
in its entirety (go to 17:38 for the Senator's big moment).

[Hat Tip: Pyrah's Sausage Grinder and DNews' Political Notebook]

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Hollywood in Utah

Hoping to lure big-budget films to Utah, Governor Huntsman signed the film incentive bill on Monday (along with about 3 dozen other bills).
"Jason Perry, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the state's film incentive lagged behind its neighbors and, because of a $500,000 cap in place, big-budget films that expressed interest in the state -- like Transformers or G.I. Joe -- wouldn't shoot here. And there hasn't been a television series filming in the state since 2006."

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Watch the Road

The idea is to serve notice that texting while driving is not acceptable. AP's Rette Speight reports on various reactions.

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Ratings are up

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Friday, March 20, 2009

News Alert: Federal Deficit Soars

Washington Post:
. . . the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the administration's agenda would generate deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion a year over the next decade -- $2.3 trillion more than the president predicted when he unveiled his spending plan just one month ago.

And while Obama would come close to meeting his goal of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term, the CBO predicts that the nation's annual operating deficit would never drop below 4 percent of the overall economy over the next decade, a level administration officials have said is unsustainable because the national debt would grow too rapidly.

By the CBO's estimate, for example, the nation's debt would grow to 82 percent of the overall economy by 2019 under Obama's policies, compared with a pre-recession average of 40 percent.

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Missed a word. Bill was invalidated.

Here's the Trib. And KCPW.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No to part of the Stimulus Spending Package

In the Trib:
"Any time you have to run legislation and change your state policy and code for one-time money, that doesn't make a lot of sense," said Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse. Lawmakers have to either kill the program when the money is gone or find a way to fund a benefit "you don't want in the first place."

Legislators explored whether they could include a sunset date in the revisions, to have the expanded benefits expire when the federal money runs out, and were told they could not. It was unclear whether they could come back and just repeal the program later on, so they did nothing this session.

"Unless you fully understand what you're doing," Killpack said, "you're better to leave the money on the table than put a new program into code that you're not planning to keep."

[Update:] Marc at KVNU For the People gets it:
What needs to be acknowledged is that when the flow of federal money stops, this state will be required by the provisions established through acceptance of the stimulus money, to continue funding these expanded benefits.

. . . . What happens when the money stops coming in? Will different states be able to handle paying for these benefits? I think that it is worth investigation.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Economic Competitiveness: Utah ranks #1

The ALEC - Laffer State Economic Competitive Index just rated Utah #1 for the second year in a row.

Source material:
The full PDF (164 pages)

Utah's page (page 135 only)

Information on the ALEC Site
KCPW: Utah Tops National List for Economic Outlook

KSL: Utah poised to rebound from recession quickly

Stateline.org: Utah first in "Economic Competitiveness"

Ladies Logic: And the 2009 Winner is . . .

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

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Good to be home: What does a legislator do when session ends?

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator: Cache Valley

We stayed in Salt Lake City Friday after the session ended so we could take our grandchildren to Disney on Ice. It also gave us a chance to visit Arnold Christensen who served so long as the President of the Senate. He is recovering from a fall. Driving home, I tried to listen to the Aggie basketball game on the radio with New Mexico State. As we arrived home, I had to stay in my van the last 10 seconds to hear Tyler Newbold score the winning basket.

I have found over the years that when I listen or watch the Aggies or the Jazz play, they always lose so I was pleased that my listening did not have that effect this time.

I got up early the next morning and went for my usual walk. It was very dark and cold. I then realized that another great difference this year is that day light savings time began three weeks early. I have found over the years that when I get home from the session, it is time for spring to begin. Logan is so cold this year that spring may never come. It sure felt that way Saturday morning. I did take time to drive by my garden to see if I could begin the caning of the raspberries only to discover that it is covered with at least a foot of snow. Alice found plenty of work in the garage and around the house when I complained about not being able to work outside.

I enjoyed watching the Aggies win Saturday night. I hope that my curse of watching or listening to the Aggies has been removed. I was not so fortunate with the Jazz. I only listened to the first part and the ending of the third overtime. Maybe I should have watched or listened to the whole game. My curse is so bad that my children say that when the Jazz begin to lose they know that I have just tuned in.

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New Blog

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What's Twitter?

What's twitter? Maybe this tutorial will help.

Follow the senate here.

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Caffeine Tax: the Rest of the Story

Remember what happened last time the government tried to tax caffeine?

Representative Craig Frank tells us what's up with the most recent proposal.

Hat tip: Gehrke and Gehrke.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Word from the Tribune

Tax soda pop:

Sodas, like smokes, are a luxury. You can tax them without depriving anyone of a necessity of life. Because diet sodas create their own metabolic problems that have been tied to obesity and heart disease, even though they don't contain sugar, there's no reason not to tax them, too. Ditto for the energy drinks.

Since it's OK to tax tobacco in the name of public health, Utah should be all over a soda tax. That would spread the tax burden to many more people, and like smokers, if they wanted to opt out, they could.

We're not kidding.

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Word from Illinois

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Post-Session Thoughts

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Exec Approps

Now the session has ended, it is interesting to hear all the comments about what a good job was done in so many areas where the concerns at the beginning were so great. Let me reflect on what I spent most of my time doing – that was the budget.

The process we used seemed to work well. We knew that we were going to need budget reductions in face of the falling revenue collections. The first week was like the last week because it was full time for me to complete the changes on the 09 budget.

After February 17th when the new revenues were announced, it was full time again completing the 2010 budget. Many were concerned that our goal of cutting 15% was way too high but it turned out that this amount was correct when we added in the money needed for growth items such as public education and Medicaid.

We did not need to use our Rainy Day fund or the Education set aside because of the federal spending package. We used about $400.0 M for that and saved the $514.0 M in the two state funds. That will give us cushion if the revenues continue to slide between now and June 30th when the 09 budget year ends. It will also protect us if we need more help during the 2010 year and as we begin the budget for 2011. Hopefully the economy will rebound before then but that is hard to predict.

We are stretched but I believe the investment into infrastructure of roads and buildings will help alleviate some of the problems we have allow to build in those areas and will immediately put our construction workers to work. The reduction in construction costs is remarkable. For instance, we had planned on the widening of the freeway through Utah County from American Fork to Spanish Fork to cost $2.6 B. The latest projection is $1.725 B. Building costs have gone down by 10% in the last 6 months.

We have also back filled the education and human services budgets so that Public Ed’s cut is 5.2 % (even less than the 6% we originally targeted) and Higher Ed at 9%. Health and Human Services will have a net cut of about 11%. This is a little misleading because their base cuts are about 16% and if the revenues don’t pick up and our reserves are used up, it could be ugly for 2011. We are a lot better positioned than any other state that we have discovered. The bond rating companies continue to rank us as Triple A and are astounded by the fact that we still have not used any of our rainy day funds.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

A little Schoolhouse Rock for your post-session Saturday

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Weathering the Storm

We took a picture every day (almost) from the front steps of the Capitol. Check out how the weather changed throughout the 2009 Legislative Session.

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Friday Post-Session Workout

  1. Gehrke: Substantive session
  2. KUER: Lawmakers Wrap Up 45 Day Session
  3. DNews: 'Smooth' session ends
  4. Roche: Broad changes for liquor laws
  5. KCPW: Quiet Night on Capitol Hill?
  6. Raymond: Lawmakers finalize state budget at $10.6 billion
  7. SLTrib: Budget 'doomsday' averted
  8. DNews: Budget capsules
  9. KCPW: North Temple Viaduct Project Snags $20 Million from State
  10. DNews: State sees biggest drop in revenue
  11. Immigration strike force approved
  12. Herald Journal: Measure could attract big-budget films to Utah
  13. KCPW: Constitutional Amendment Limiting Death Row Appeals Gets Shot Down in House
  14. SLTrib: Utah lawmakers approve sweeping liquor law changes
  15. KCPW: Alcohol Reform Passes House
  16. Transportation spending bill is brought back and passes the House
  17. The Spectrum raises their glasses: Toast the Legislature
  18. KCPW: Compromise Reached on Texting Penalties
  19. DNews: Session is a roller-coaster for public-education issues
  20. Schencker: Singapore math doesn't add up for lawmakers
  21. DNews: Higher education breathes a sigh of relief, offers a B+
  22. SLTrib: House kills school-access bill
  23. 5 Ethics Reform Bill pass the legislature
  24. Gun owners get more leeway
  25. Holly on the Hill: PTA / PTO Bill
  26. SLTrib: Truth-in-advertising bill bolsters goodwill for participating retailers
  27. Sherlock Holmes of the Game World figures out that we read books
  28. DNews: Lawmakers send a message with environmental bills
  29. SLTrib: Funding offer for hot waste gets cold shoulder
  30. S. Gehrke: Bills aim at victims' rights, gangs, sex offenders
  31. SLTrib: Despite setbacks, session 'pretty good' for immigrants
  32. KCPW: Lawmakers Approve $2.4 Billion for Public Education
  33. Schencker: Lawmakers use scalpel, not ax, on education budget
  34. SLTrib: Lawmakers pass performance pay bill
  35. EZiegler: The Leonardo Could Get $800,000 from Tobacco Settlement Money
  36. SLTrib: Lawmakers OK abortion curbs, shun gay-rights bills
  37. Servatius: Senate confirms a judge and a regent
  38. SLTrib: Township protections passed
  39. KCPW: Lawmakers Vote to Regulate Townships
  40. SLTrib: New homebuyers could get grant of $6,000
  41. DNews: Newspapers win one, lose one this year
  42. SLTrib: Consumer advocacy group survives power struggle
  43. KCPW: "Sexting" Penalties Reduced for Minors
  44. AP: Booze, Budget, Buttars
  45. Davis County Clipper: Health reforms become law
  46. Thalman: Lawmakers gave 4 health-care bills their solid support
  47. KCPW: Lawmakers Give Money to USTAR, Homeowners
  48. DNews: Huntsman thanks lawmakers as session ends
  49. Help/hurt at the Capitol
  50. KNVU's Tailgate Party
  51. Holly on the Hill: Musings from Day 45
  52. Under the Dome breaks out with HD Video: What next? . . . Water?
  53. Pursuit of Liberty: End of the Session
  54. J.M. Bell has a new arch enemy - Who's the old one?
  55. Out of Context: Who has the biggest bill stack?
  56. Senate Demo interns
  57. UPD Today

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Horizon Line

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Sine Die

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

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March 12, 2009 :: Night falls and session ends

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twitter Updates from the Senate

I have been "twittering" the action happening in the Senate all day. Keep up right here.


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March 12, 2009 Afternoon

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State of the Budget

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Exec Approps

I've been getting a lot of calls about the budget. Here are some numbers to give you a sense of where we are.

Click here for a quick audio explaination as you look.
FY 2009:
$5.6 billion General & Education Funds (State Money)
$11.5 billion total from all sources (State + Federal Money).

FY 2009 - after the Special Session in September:
$5.1 billion General & Education Funds
$12.4 Billion total, including $538 million from the stimulus spending bill.

$4.4 billion General & Education Funds
$11.3 billion total from all funds, including $600 million from the stimulus spending package.

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March 2009: End of Session Snapshot

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Word from the Old World

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Word from South Ogden

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March 12, 2009 Morning

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Countdown Clock

The 2009 Legislative Session ends in . . .

Hat tip: BenJoe

E-mail me if you want to embed the doomsday clock on your site. I'll send you the code.

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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 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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Today is the final day of session. 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.) In prior years you could find them by listening for shouting. This year - not so much.

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 rise and fall as the clock hurtles toward midnight.

We're hoping to finish early this year. We'll see. The latest we can continue work is the stroke of midnight when the voting machine locks up. You can watch or listen live on our official site.

It's been a tough but productive session. Beneficial, I hope. Thanks for paying attention.

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Thursday Morning Workout

  1. UPD Today
  2. SLTrib: Guv: Health reform bills put Utah at forefront
  3. Speaker Clark's take on the Health Reform bills
  4. DNews: Utah Legislature winds down
  5. KUER: Lawmakers Tackle Ethics and Budget Cuts in Session's Final Days
  6. Standard Ex Editorial: Lawmakers make tough calls
  7. Utah is a leader in wireless
  8. SLTrib: Rail on archaeological site gets final approval
  9. KCPW: Land Swap for Draper Transit-Oriented Development Heads to Governor
  10. Roche: Liquor reform is close
  11. SLTrib: Watered-down autism bill loses support of community
  12. KCPW: Utah Legislature Stops "Revolving Door"
  13. Ziegler: Senate Considers Last Three Ethics Bills
  14. SLTrib: Senate takes cap off charter school growth
  15. KCPW: Lawmakers Shoot Down $2.4 Billion Transportation Bond
  16. Gehrke: Budget blowup: $2.2B transportation budget trashed, for now
  17. KCPW: Legislature Expands Gun Rights
  18. SLTrib: Bill moving legal notices online passes House
  19. What, are you trying to kill us?
  20. SLTrib: Senate alters climate-change bill
  21. Sidetrack: Thoughts on Blogger Presser and Government 2.0
  22. Holly on the Hill: Moving forward with technology
  23. SLTrib: Legislature eases penalties on 'sexting'
  24. Congrats to Joe Pyrah! We wish you luck with your twins.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009

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Blogger Conference: Wednesday Night

Utah political bloggers push the envelope again Wednesday night. New media paradigm. I need my bosses to understand who you are, and what you do and I want you -- gentle bloggers -- to get to know the senators and become more frequent fliers up here on the Hill.

Nuts and bolts:
Blogger meeting with Senate Leadership, on
Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at
6:00 p.m., in the
Senate President's Office.
Five ways you can join in:
1. Be there in person. State Capitol, third floor. Here's where to park. Tell the Sergeants-at-Arms you are here for The Blog Thing.

2. Watch the live stream here on the Senate Site.

3. Dial 1-800-511-7983 to join the conference call. Access code: 740434

4. Text your questions to Laura: 801-201-3813

5. Leave questions and comments right here. As long as Blogger is working we'll pick them up in a few seconds. (If not, please adapt and overcome.)
If you're blogging or tweeting the event, fire me a quick Email. I read most of you but have been known to miss a few. On busy days. Like these.

Can't wait to see everyone again. Call me if you have any questions: 801-647-8944.

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Happy Place

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Governor Signs Health System Reform Bills

Today, the Governor signed 4 Health System Reform bills into law:
  • SB 79 -- Health Reform - Medical Malpractice Amendments, Senator Peter Knudson
  • HB 188 -- Health System Reform - Insurance Market, Speaker David Clark
  • HB 165 -- Health Reform - Administrative Simplification, Representative Merlynn Newbold
  • HB 331 -- Health Reform - Health Insurance Coverage in State Contracts, Representative James Dunnigan
Here is a run-down of the bills.

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Judge DeCaria

The Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee backed the Guv's nomination of Mark DeCaria as the newest 2nd District Court judge.

Here's the Gurrister Report.

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Wednesday Morning Workout

  1. Blogger Meeting TONIGHT
  2. UPD Today
  3. UtahPulse: Creating Jobs in Green Energy- Oriented Economy
  4. The Spectrum: Compromise expected on bill
  5. Davis County Clipper's Capitol Beat
  6. KCPW: Legislators Approve 2010 Budget
  7. SLTrib: Bill would streamline access to secret info on judges
  8. DNews: Home school win
  9. KCPW: Minors Will Soon Lose Licenses for Using Fake IDs
  10. SLTrib: Senate approves charter board bill
  11. DNews: Gun rights bill OK'd
  12. SLTrib: Bills would ease gun-toting limits
  13. KCPW: Legislature Poised for Pay Cut
  14. DNews: Senate OKs 10% pay cut
  15. Daily Herald: Bill would allow industrial waste to be used in construction
  16. SLTrib: Bill would set barrier to climate change actions
  17. Gehrke: Senate OKs transfer of archaeological site to UTA
  18. SLTrib: Mining bill one word away from S.L. County support
  19. DNews: Hard choices await education: Charter schools facing new limits
  20. KCPW: Lawmakers Prohibit Expansion of Charter Schools
  21. SLTrib: Utah House passes $2.4B budget, but freezes charter schools
  22. Herald Journal: Majority of 2010 budget approved
  23. Park City Record: Bill would empower officers to arrest illegals
  24. KCPW: Bill Requiring Emergency Contraceptives for Sexual Assault Victims Passes First Senate Vote
  25. DNews: Math made fun: Singapore system hits Utah school
  26. Thalman: Protesters urge lawmakers to fund Medicaid dental benefits
  27. Pyrah and the Big Chill
  28. Gehrke buying a vowel

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10, 2009

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Tuesday Morning Workout

  1. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  2. Aggregate Alcohol Articles (following the Presser yesterday)
  3. ABC4 on Alcohol
  4. DNews: Lawmakers OK liquor reforms
  5. Standard Ex: Members only? Not for long
  6. KUER: Compromise on Liquor Reform
  7. Daily Herald: Private clubs out, tougher DUI laws in
  8. Pyrah: More Booze
  9. KNVU: Alcohol law compromise to House and Senate for approval
  10. Saintless: Utah's New Alcohol Laws
  11. Bekkieann on Bar Codes: Utah Liquor Law Reform: the new meaning of "Bar" Code
  12. Tyler Riggs' alcohol proposal
  13. Kory Holdaway: The end is near
  14. Pyrah's Monday Morning Roundup
  15. Senator Steve Urquhart: Online Legal Notices
  16. KCPW: Legal Notices May Only Be Available on Internet, not Newspapers
  17. Pyrah on Turnabout
  18. KCPW: Budget Framework Approved by Committee Friday
  19. DNews: Senate OKs measure to restrict release of some public records
  20. SLTrib: Revisions to GRAMA bill clear Senate
  21. Standard Ex: Senate OKs home buyers bill
  22. KCPW: Senate Republicans Shoot Down Carbon Credits Bill
  23. SLTrib: Bill to strip consumer panel of power advances
  24. KCPW: Compromise Medical Malpractice Bill Passes Senate
  25. SLTrib: Bill stripping local zoning authority clears Utah Senate
  26. SB68 Passes Senate
  27. Schencker: School funding formula plan shot down in Senate
  28. McFarland: Utah Senate OKs gang-prevention bill
  29. SLTrib: Bill requiring ID at polls passes Senate
  30. UPD Today

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Bloggerpresser: Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

Heads up: We're going to host Blogger Press Conference #2 this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. here at the State Capitol.

Last time (here and here) we focused on a specific bill. This time we'll cast the net a little wider. Should be fun.

Email or call for details.


[Update:] More details.

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March 9, 2009

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Alcohol Articles

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AlcoPresser: The Twitter Chronicles

Here's today's alcopresser in Twitter bursts of 140 characters or less:
9:47 a.m.
sausagegrinder: I’ll try and tweet the alcohol presser. Most important legislation of the decade, says President Waddoups.

10:00 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: At the Capitol. A press conference on Utah liquor law reform is set to start any minute.

10:04 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: 3 minutes after officials aren’t here, still compromising?

10:05 a.m.
gwarchol: I’m in the Gold Room at the Capitol waiting for the announcement on the liquor law club compromise.

10:06 a.m.
hollyonthehill: Waiting to find out what sweeping changes there will be to Utah’s alcohol laws

10:07 a.m.
utahsenate: Presser in the Gold Room. About to start. Live stream at www.senatesite.com

10:08 a.m.
gwarchol: All the usual suspects, including Pamela Atkinson, so-called “Queen Mother” of the poor.

10:12 a.m.
gwarchol: Don’t joke, it’s happened before. Fortunately, Rod Decker will drown me out.

10:12 a.m.
RobertGehrke: is waiting for the big announcement on utah’s liquor law deal. The tension is almost too much.

10:12 a.m.
gwarchol: I assume they’ll offer champagne?

10:12 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Valentine and Hughes both have on light blue ties, proving that there’s nothing I won’t tweet.

10:12 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: Senators and Reps showing up. About to start. Gov is here.

10:12 a.m.
gwarchol: And here’s Jonny!

10:13 a.m.
gwarchol: Notes it’s all pasty-faced white guys - as usual.

10:13 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: Gov is speaking now.

10:15 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Warchol’s phone just went off at volume 11.

10:15 a.m.
sausagegrinder: “We’ve accomplished a lot in a very challenging environment.” - Huntsman

10:16 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Only one other incident in his life this complex and sensitive and that was getting China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization

10:17 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: “complex and sensitive issue” -gov

10:18 a.m.
gwarchol: the WALL comes down!

10:18 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: gov says membership fees and zion curtain will go

10:18 a.m.
sausagegrinder: this reform is something “We all knew we would have to achieve at some point.” - Huntsman

10:18 a.m.
gwarchol: Someday, someday - perhaps hard lemonade will return to 7-Eleven.

10:19 a.m.
gwarchol: I like the way everyone uses the term “Zion Curtain” without irony.

10:20 a.m.
RobertGehrke: Gov. says many thought liquor deal was “quite impossible,” but thanks to collaboration they will eliminate private clubs and Zion curtain.

10:21 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Utah will be the first state to mandate the scanning of IDs at clubs.

10:21 a.m.
gwarchol: “Modernizing,” not liberalizing Utah’s liquor laws. Hughes is a wordsmith.

10:23 a.m.
hollyonthehill: Greg Hughes: “We did not let perfect get in the way of good.”

10:23 a.m.
sausagegrinder: This bill tears down the walls - Valentine

10:23 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: bill is online if you want to look at it

10:24 a.m.
hollyonthehill: Senator Valentine “This bill tears down that wall,” referring to the Zion Curtain

10:24 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Main bill eliminate the requirement for a membership or fee, but keep the ability

10:24 a.m.
sausagegrinder: requires electronic verification for those under 35, kept for 7 days by club

10:25 a.m.
sausagegrinder: restaurant cannot have a bar in it for future construction but grandfathers in current restaurants

10:27 a.m.
sausagegrinder: New definition of intoxication for purpose of serving that person

10:28 a.m.
RobertGehrke: Sen. Valentine: “Tear down this wall.” No more private clubs, eliminate zion curtain, no more bars in restaurants but those in place ok.

10:29 a.m.
gwarchol: I just realized that Gayle Ruzicka isn’t here.

10:30 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: wow, lots of changes. Lots of new restrictions on restaurants

10:30 a.m.
sausagegrinder: “You’ve rescued us.” - Valentine to the Governor

10:30 a.m.
gwarchol: At least I don’t see her and she’s pretty hard to miss.

10:31 a.m.
sausagegrinder: “That’s the type of culture we’re trying to bring back to Utah” - Herrod, lots of drinking, no driving. (Did I say that?)

10:31 a.m.
gwarchol: OMG - Gayle and Buttars are absent for a bill that will change UT’s moral landscape? Sorry guv, it ain’t over til the Ruzicka lady sings.

10:32 a.m.
sausagegrinder: minors get caught, they’ve lost their license for 90 days or one year, now it’s until 21 - Jenkins

10:32 a.m.
hollyonthehill: Jenkins: If you get caught driving under the influence, you will pay a heavy fine. Lose license until age 21 if a minor

10:33 a.m.
utahsenate: Now doing Q&A. We'll post an outline of these five alcohol policy bills at www.senatesite.com . Give me half an hour.

10:33 a.m.
sausagegrinder: “Thanks for the punt, John.” Governor to Valentine about not answering what kind of message this sends to the nation.

10:36 a.m.
gwarchol: this bill is strangely rational for Utah.

10:37 a.m.
sausagegrinder: Restaurants will be required to prepare drinks in a separate area

10:37 a.m.
sausagegrinder: No 10-foot wall, but some sort of “opaque permanent structure”

10:39 a.m.
gwarchol: The 10-foot wall should be forever known as “Val’s Bluff.”

10:39 a.m.
gwarchol: I can hear a sigh of relief from restaurant owners across Utah

10:41 a.m.
gwarchol: The LDS church, “Just like all the other stakeholders.” Gimme a break.

10:41 a.m.
sausagegrinder: valentine says that the LDS church has focused on underage drinking, over-consumption and enforcement of DUI laws.

10:41 a.m.
sausagegrinder: over

10:42 a.m.
gwarchol: Will grog be served at the USS Utah exhibit?

10:47 a.m.
KirkYuhnke: Press conf. is over. Big changes for sure. Bars become more normal and restaurants get restrictions on their bars.

10:56 a.m.
gwarchol: Guess I’ll go lookin' for Gayle Ruzicka. See what’s really up.

Update: Saintless gave us some of the most detailed Twitter coverage, dropping in via the live-stream. (Gracias @calanan for the heads-up.)

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Alcohol Compromise Update

The press conference is over. Click here for a PDF of the details. Click here to listen to the press conference in its entirety.

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Press Conference Today: Alcohol Compromise


WHO: Governor Jon Huntsman, Senator John Valentine, Representative Greg Hughes, and other legislators

WHAT: Press Conference to unveil proposed new alcohol policy for the State of Utah

WHEN: Monday, March 9th, 2009, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Gold Room, Utah State Capitol

# # #


This press conference will be live-streamed.

We will post the audio of the press conference at its conclusion.

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Monday Morning Workout

  1. SLTrib: Legislators wrap up $1 B in budget cuts
  2. DNews: Legislature hits the home stretch
  3. Daily Herald: State Legislature enters the home stretch
  4. Park Record: Lawmakers pass brewing bill
  5. SLTrib: Liquor stickers cost Utah $1M a year
  6. DH: Senate passes bill to remove beer sticker law
  7. KCPW: Politics Up Close: Lawmaker Says Getting Rid of Private Clubs Imminent
  8. SLTrib Editorial: S.L. sales tax
  9. DNews: Access to records may change
  10. SLTrib: Changes weighed on records access
  11. Gehrke: Utah lawmakers take another stab at regulating Web commerce
  12. SLTrib: 2 bills expand power of development body
  13. Pig & Webb: Big issues have yet to be resolved at Legislature
  14. SLTrib: Anti-smoking efforts losing big in Legislature
  15. Herald Journal: Utah House OKs legacy tuition bill
  16. The Spectrum: Road work to provide Utahns jobs
  17. Gehrke: Waddoups: Liquor bill biggest legislation in a decade
  18. McFarland: Labor-ballot bill stirs confusion
  19. Spectrum: Lawmakers aim to minimize cuts to public education
  20. SLTrib: Bill thins concurrent enrollment choices
  21. KCPW: Concealment of a Loaded Gun Approved by House Legislators
  22. DNews: Stimulus rescues budget
  23. Park Record: Movie execs eye Park City for studio

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sign of the Times

Breaking news from everyone's favorite 80s rockers, in The Onion:
NEW YORK—In a stunning reversal of their long-stated reluctance to take it, members of heavy-metal band Twisted Sister announced Monday that, after 24 years of fervent refusal, they are now willing to take it. "I acknowledge that we promised not to take it anymore, but things change. The world is a different place today, and with that in mind, we would like to go on record as saying that, starting right now, we are going to take it," read a statement released by the band's lead singer, Dee Snider. "To clarify, we would still prefer not to take it, but as of now, taking it is an option that we would be open to. That is all."

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Friday, March 06, 2009

March 6, 2009

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Utah Public Notice Website

By Megan Robinson

Senator Urquhart’s SB 208 passed the second reading on the Senate floor this afternoon. This bill deals with how the state is going to provide legal notices. Right now, a lot of legal notices have to be posted in the newspaper as well as three public places. SB 208 would move legal notices from newspapers and put them instead on a state-controlled website. The point of these notices is to keep the public informed. Senator Urquhart said that, “The best way to do this is to have a central repository. All Government entities, consumers and individuals that have to publish a legal notice will benefit from this bill.” Listen to the floor debate here.

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Executive Appropriations today

Heads Up: Executive Appropriations is scheduled for 4:00 PM today.

Click here for the committee page (with a link to the live audio).

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P of Liberty on SB 208

David Miller scrutinizes the newspaper industry's predictable response to SB 208.

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Reach Upward

"To me, a true American is one that loves this country with his eyes wide open."

Read the rest.

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Don't miss the U.S.S. Utah

What: Exhibition from the U.S.S. Utah, Defender of Liberty (to celebrate the 100th Anniversary)

When: Monday, March 9th, 2009, 5:00-6:30 PM

Where: Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol (and exhibition on the 4th floor)

View the official invitation here.

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Friday Morning Workout

  1. Gehrke: Extra week is a lifesaver
  2. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  3. Davis County Clipper: Harried Davis legislators in battle to beat the clock
  4. Daily Herald: Utah won't take part of the federal stimulus money
  5. DNews: 'Craziest' school bill moves to House
  6. SLTrib: Liquor deal imminent amid intense negotiations
  7. DNews: Senate still plans liquor reform bill
  8. KUER: Beer on Tap, Pay Day Lending and Access to Streams
  9. SLTrib: Senate passes health insurance reform bill
  10. DNews: Senators serenaded and skewered by one of their own
  11. Raymond: Demos push for tax hike on tobacco
  12. SLTrib: Senate passes bill mandating 'fetal pain' abortion warnings
  13. KCPW: Amended Abortion Pain Bill Heads Back to House
  14. DNews: Fee hikes loom on Legislature's agenda
  15. KUER: Movie Makers Will Get a Bigger Tax Break in Utah
  16. DH: Senate approves state health insurance program
  17. KCPW: Lawmakers Vote for Constitutional Amendment Requiring All Elections to Be Held By Secret Ballot
  18. KCPW: Lawmakers Tighten Restrictions for Lobbyists
  19. SLTrib: House OKs bill to allow UTA station on archaeological site
  20. Schencker: Home schoolers activity bill given second chance
  21. Just steal the gas and you won't need a car
  22. Get Gephardt on Legislative survey
  23. UPD Today

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 5, 2009

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Senate Man

Senator Liljenquist's performance on the Senate floor is a must-see.

Here's Joe Pyrah's video.

And the recording in the Senate Archive.

And Holly on the Hill.

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That extra week

makes a big difference.

But it feels like we've been in session f o r e v e r.

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Unborn Child Pain Prevention

By Megan Robinson
Rock Star-in-training

This morning I spoke with Senator Buttars about the House Bill he's sponsoring, HB 222 - Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act. This bill says that before an abortion is to take place, the mother should be informed of any anesthetic that would eliminate or alleviate pain to the unborn child. This bill passed the third reading in the Senate today and has been sent to the Governor for further approval. To listen to our discussion about the bill, click here.

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Thursday Morning Workout

One Week to go!
  1. UPD Today
  2. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  3. Gehrke: Liquor law reform: Deal to end private clubs near
  4. DNews: Compromise near on liquor reform
  5. SLTrib: Bill could bring back open bars at business gatherings
  6. Herald Journal: House clears movie studio bill
  7. DNews: Film bill lauded for big-budget possibilities
  8. KSL: Stealing gas could mean losing driver's license
  9. AP: Senate vote to take cars from repeat DUI offenders
  10. KCPW: Bill Requires Proof Climate Change Initiaitves are Cost-Effective
  11. SLTrib: House backs amendment on labor organizing
  12. DNews: HJR8 targets union voting
  13. SLTrib: Records bill close to final passage
  14. Thalman: Fetal-pain measure clears state Senate
  15. KCPW: Constitutional Right to Carry Firearms Protected Under Senate Bill
  16. SLTrib: Utah lawmakers give renewable energy a boost
  17. KCPW: Illegal Immigration Strike Force Approved by Legislative Committee
  18. DNews: Ethics-reform efforts nearing finish line
  19. Roche: And for lunch: snails.
  20. Senator Robles on Gang Legislation
  21. Utah Amicus: Lookin' sharp
  22. Gehrke on Red Meat Radio

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March 4, 2009

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Nuclear Power

By Megan Robinson
Senate Intern

There are a number of countries that have adopted nuclear energy for power generation; notably France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The availability is not completely global, but is continuing to be a more desired energy source. This morning the Senate approved Senator Hinkins’ Senate Joint Resolution 16, which is in support of the development of nuclear power plants in the state of Utah.

Because there is a ban facing some states for nuclear power plants, this bill gives the green light for companies to use nuclear power as an alternative energy source.

Senator Hinkins says that the main benefit of nuclear power is the fact that it’s a “good base load generator.” With nuclear power as the main energy source or “base load”, we could easily supplement the other types of energy sources such as wind generation, hydro and geothermal wind, and solar power etc. This bill also supports the development of alternative sources like advance coal combustion technologies. The bill has been sent to the House for further approval.

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Senator Killpack: Discussing budget options

Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack went on the Doug Wright Show this morning to discuss budget options.

Listen here.

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Capitol Facilities

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Red Meat

Senator Scott McCoy was the first openly-Democrat guest on Saturday's Red Meat Radio.

Listen in here.

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Wednesday Morning Workout

  1. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  2. DNews: Budget proposal nears final draft
  3. SLTrib: Education funding: Cuts still loom, but stimulus funds helping
  4. DNews: Guns in cars gets protection
  5. McFarland: Utah Senate OKs bill allowing guns in private lots
  6. Servatius: Senate approves option to opt out of fluoridated water systems
  7. Winslow: Lawmakers pass bill shifting burden of proof in homicides
  8. DNews: Malpractice measure gets tentative OK
  9. SLTrib: Bill would make bogus bids a felony
  10. Daily Herald: I-15 project moving forward, for less
  11. SLTrib: Bill outlawing texting while driving passes panel
  12. Davis County Clipper: It’s official: Billboards won’t rise on Legacy
  13. Emery County Progress: Rep. McIff report from the Legislature
  14. KCPW: Implementation of Controversial Immigration Bill Will Not be Delayed Further
  15. Gehrke: Bill would open Utah stores to suits over selling kids graphic video games
  16. SLTrib: Bill increasing requirements for malpractice suits gets nod
  17. From Where I Sit: Standard Examiner and SB 208 - Editorial
  18. Frank Staheli: Why Utah Should Reject $1.7B Stimulus Money
  19. AP: Requiring calories on menus state issue
  20. SLTrib: Voter-registration bill: Unconstitutional?
  21. Holly on the Hill Photo Album
  22. UPD today

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Firearms in Parking Lots

By Mark Madsen
Senator, District 13

SB 78 - Protection of Constitutionally Guaranteed Activities in Certain Private Venues would protect the rights of employees to keep firearms in their private vehicles parked in an employers parking lot. Under this bill, private employers have the option of providing alternative parking or a secure monitored gun locker for employees who wish to have a firearm in their car for sporting, self-protection or other purposes on their way to and/or from work.

Businesses, other than those governed by Federal law (that specifically prohibits employees from keeping firearms in their personal cars parked in the business' parking lots), can prohibit employees from exercising their second amendment rights only if they can demonstrate that providing alternative parking or a secured gun locker for employees places an undue burden on the employer.

Oil refineries have a special unconditional exemption from abiding by this law and do not have to consider providing alternative parking or lockers under the terms of an amendment added to the bill at the request of the oil refinery lobby prior to passage in the Senate.

SB 78 passed the Senate today and moves to the House.

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March 3, 2009

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Medical Malpractice Amendments

SB 79 - Medical Malpractice Amendments passed second reading today (needs to be passed in the Senate once more before it heads to the House).

Click here to listen to the introduction from the bill sponsor, Senator Knudson, as well as the floor debate that ensued.

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Word on I-15

Here's Joe Pyrah, standing figuratively on the I-15 corridor in Utah County.

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LIVESTREAM: Technical Difficulties

*We are having a few technical difficulties with our LiveStreaming today, but stay tuned. We may get it fixed in the next few minutes. (The full podcast of the briefing will be available this afternoon)

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Stimulus Spending

Might use it all. Might not.

Here's Chris Vanocur on ABC 4.

SimpleMormonUtahPolitics says Reject stimulus. The Sidetrack disagrees.

We're looking at it.

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Word from Senator Robles

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Two Senate Presidents

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Tuesday Morning Workout

  1. UPD Today
  2. Pyrah's Morning Roundup
  3. McFarland: Bill limiting conviction appeals passes Senate
  4. SLTrib: House panel approves 'civility' resolution
  5. ABC4: Utah: Giving stimulus money back?
  6. KCPW on Clay's Law
  7. AP: Senate passes bill to prohibit fringe gambling
  8. Daily Herald: Air Force wants to build resort in Summit County
  9. DNews: Bicycle license plate bill headed to House floor
  10. SLTrib: Bill to let small water companies opt of fluoridation advances
  11. BYU: Legislature tries to settle fluoridation of drinking water
  12. KCPW: Council Chairman Joe Hatch Explains "Butthead" Remark
  13. DNews: Cigarette tax hike not quite snuffed out
  14. Daily Herald: House approves $20 increase in vehicle registration fees
  15. Gehrke: GOP agrees to $20 increase on car registration fee
  16. BYU: Utah lawmakers aim to crack down on gang crime
  17. McFarland: Proposal to delay immigration reform bill fails in committee
  18. DNews: Delay on immigration law dies in committee
  19. SLTrib: Bill to aid large-lot owners fails
  20. Herald Journal: School board election bill nixed
  21. KUER: Progress on Ethics Reform?
  22. KCPW: Lawmakers Vote to Completely Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving
  23. Servatius: Senate committee OKs bill opening liquor stores on Election Day
  24. Rep. Frank's photo album
  25. Pyrah's waste of time

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Monday, March 02, 2009

March 2, 2009

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Word from the 1930s

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Blog Responses

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

I was so busy this past week that I did not have time to review any comments on the blogs I had posted. (Here and here and here) Laura printed them for me to review, but I did not have time to reply until the quiet of a Sunday afternoon. So here it is:

My concern that the stock market had not responded favorably to the spending package was probably not expressed clearly. I am not concerned about the Wall Street bankers but about what I feel and hear to be the lack of consumer confidence, those who choose to invest and where. From what I have been reading, there are an abundance of financial advisers who are no longer working. Until people feel that we have the economy under control, they will not invest and the stock market will remain down. I received a better breakdown of where the federal spending money is targeted and I don’t see a lot of stimulus to encourage private enterprise to begin hiring and thus restore confidence.

Click here to see the handout prepared by the joint efforts of our exceptional staff, the staff from the Governor’s office and the agencies, outlining the federal spending package. I would love your input on how to incorporate this money into the jigsaw puzzle called the state budget. I also enjoyed reading this opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal that used an analogy similar to my diet analogy.

Next, let me respond to the suggestion that if I don’t like the strings on the federal spending package, I should simply reject the money. That solution would be an easy sell to the majority caucus if there are serious strings attached to this money. The problem is that no one can determine with certainty what strings are in place. My plan is to recommend (and that is all I can do) that we use as much of the federal money as we can in clearly one-time projects like education building and equipment. The more we use in on-going programs, the bigger cliff we build if the economy is still down at the end of FY 2010. We can still have the rainy day fund and the $100.0 M in one-time set asides for FY 2011. We could still balance the budget for this year (down $171.0 M) as per our latest revenue projections two weeks ago.

Because the spending package is one-time money it does not solve the real problem of finding on-going revenue. The Governor wants to take the on-going from the Transportation Fund and bond for the shortfall but that has serious problems too extensive to discuss in this blog. The legislature is waiting for him to recommend some other source of funding. An increase in the tobacco tax would not raise enough money. The Governor does not favor reinstating part of the sales tax on food, increasing the gas tax or working with EnergySolutions. Those will be the points of discussion this week.

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Death Penalty

This morning SJR 14 passed the third reading. On Friday Attorney General Mark Shurtleff explained this bill. Click here to listen.

Sen. Bramble on SJR 14:

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The League on SB 208

The Utah League of Cities & Towns comes out in support of SB 208.

From Lincoln's blog:
"We surveyed several cities and towns and on average, most cities were spending between $10,000 and $50,000 on notice postings. In light on the economic climate as well as diminishing public resources, it is our opinion that a move in this direction is both fiscal responsible and prudent.

". . . In light of some of the concern raised about Internet access in rural parts of the state, Sen. Urquhart has also intended to limit the scope of the bill to counties of the first and second class, where Internet access is not a concern."
Read the rest here.

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Guest Blog: Math Education Initiative

Oak Norton

SB 159, Math Education Initiative, is an important milestone in the efforts of a number of people to bring better math to Utah. Over the past few decades, Utah, and our country, has continued to fall behind other high achieving countries in our math education. There are a number of reasons for this, but primarily it is low standards, poor curriculum, and poor teacher preparation to teach math.

This bill starts a process which has led other schools and districts to see dramatic improvements in math education. In Los Angeles for example, in one year, Ramona Elementary increased their students grade level passing scores from 45% to 76% (a 69% increase).

At Benchmark charter school in Arizona, students there have become the top scoring math students in the state passing up Saxon math schools that have held the title for several years. Benchmark also has the notable distinction of 94% of the student body declaring math as their favorite subject! Not only to the kids do well in math, they love it! Is there another school in America let alone Utah where that has happened?

Singapore's math advantage is in the fact that they have only 15-20 standards to master each year, where Utah has 50-70 (thus the term "mile wide and inch deep"). This gives Singapore students about 9-10 days per subject to master it deeply, while American counterparts are changing subjects every 2-3 days. Singapore also has a curriculum structured such that you don't touch a subject and not master it. Their plan is to approach a subject completely and let the student master it and then move on to new subjects (while always using what they've learned). In American curriculum, we often see subjects being touched multiple times which leads to frustration and a lack of mastery from our students.

There are a number of misconceptions floating around concerning this bill. Most of those concerns can be easily resolved by reading the bill, but we have also set up a FAQ which further explains some of these issues. For example, concerns about cultural differences have been shown to be a non-issue when you look at how American schools have implemented the program retaining our lifestyle just fine, while asking students to think deeply about the subject matter.

The basic concept behind the bill is to allow schools to request grant money to adopt the world's most effective known curriculum (Singapore's Primary Math Series), and then educate teachers in the content and pedagogy that produce these amazing results.

Wide support has been shown for this bill from legislators, educators, state and district school board members, directors of curriculum in Utah districts, and many, many parents who have seen the need for such a program.

As one who has worked on this project for several years with a number of very talented and committed individuals, I am pleased at the growing support and potential this bill will provide to Utah's math future.

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CPAC met

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Monday Morning Workout

  1. UPD Weekend
  2. Forbes: Universal bar membership card proposed in Utah
  3. Daily Herald: Another alcohol reform bill passes in legislative committee
  4. DNews: Panel OKs bill calling for separate booze room
  5. SLTrib: Senate passes PTA bill
  6. DH: PTA bill passes though Senate after amendments
  7. KCPW: Tuition Tax Credit Gains Support in Senate
  8. SLTrib: Lawmakers pass two health insurance mandates
  9. Stettler: Measure favors mining over property rights
  10. DH: Eggs and Issues: Lawmakers talk about budget woes
  11. Holly on the Hill: Eggs, Pancakes and the budget
  12. Roche: Senators pull cigarette tax off table
  13. Gehrke: Buttheads Unite!
  14. DNews: Bill offers mobile-home residents financial help for relocation
  15. Gehrke: Killpack: No EnergySolutions bill this session
  16. SLTrib: Utah's 'Zion Curtain'
  17. DNews: Malpractice lawyers flay emergency room bill
  18. Stan Ex: OUR VIEW: Utah Legislature takes baby steps
  19. Servatius: Senate gives amendment to speed executions a preliminary OK
  20. DNews: 2009 legislative session 'kinder and gentler'
  21. UPD Today

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