April 30th, 2009
Interim Committee Assignments
Luz Robles: Exporting to Fight Recession
Utah: An example for health reform
Special Session – to have or not to have
By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25
I always get a cold chill whenever I hear talk of a special session. First, a special session must be called by the Governor and the legislature is limited to the items placed on the call. Once we are in the session, we can take no more than 30 days to do the business. There can be some interesting debates on what is covered during the special session. If the Governor places on the call an item of correcting an error made with regards to the immediate effect of a budget item, so that it can be done in this fiscal year (before June 30th), does that mean the whole budget then becomes fair game for modifications?
Second, the call invites the lobbyists and others to descend upon us with requests for “this simple thing” or appropriations that “must be done” or the world, as we know it, will “come to an end”. This year will be especially difficult because many of the agencies are now seeing the impact of the budget cuts as they plan their programs for FY 2010. With the hope that the economy is turning around, as shown by revenues not being below what was projected for this fiscal year, each area will seek more money. I don’t think the good news from the last TC-23 is that we will have more money to spend. I think the good news is that we won’t have to cut anymore for FY 09.
Third, there may even be pressure to raise a tax to avoid the projected cuts for FY 2010 or FY 2011; but that should not happen in a special session where time and public access and information is so limited.
I hope that if we do have a special session on May 20th, we will have the legislation agreed to before the call and it will be technical in nature so we can finish in one day. If we can wait, let’s fix the problems during the first part of the next regular session.
The Voluntary Contributions Act is now the law in Utah
A quiet tectonic shift occurred this week. Given the hullabaloo on this issue back in the day, media attention to the latest episode seems surprisingly scant.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated its earlier adverse decision
and reversed the district court in light of the SCOTUS decision in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association
Bottom line: the 2001 Voluntary Contributions Act
is now the law in Utah.
From the Utah Taxpayers Association
website (sharp new site, BTW):
As the Justices saw the issue . . . the legal issue is really pretty simple. A state does not have to subsidize the collection of political donations. The question was, “Does the Constitution require local governments, like school districts, to subsidize the collection of political donations, or can a state prohibit local governments from providing this subsidy?
The Supremes held that a ban on government-administered political payroll deductions does not infringe a union's First Amendment rights.
. Worth a read.Here's the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals document
Stimulating food for thought: Is all spending created equal?
Good food for thought. This thought from Mario Rizzo comes by way of Royce Van Tassell's Facebook page
.Is all spending created equal?
. . . when DeLong, among others, says that government spending is as good as private in restoring employment, he is speaking against the whole thrust of the principle of efficient resource allocation.
. . . When government adds to investment as a result of fiscal stimulus or directed monetary expansion (like buying mortgage-backed securities, student loans, etc) it does not act as a super-entrepreneur who is trying to determine the efficient and sustainable direction of resources, including the allocation of capital goods. It spends according to economically irrelevant criteria of job creation, propping up over-expanded sectors, and preventing politically painful adjustments.
Rizzo's original is worth a read.
State Budget Comparison
Word from the DNews
"... a new report shows that Utah legislators have placed this state in a better financial situation than most of their lawmaking colleagues in the 49 other states."
The State Budget Update
for April 2009, prepared by the National Conference of State Legislatures, summarizes Utah's fiscal situation:
"Faced with more than $1 billion in revenue shortfalls, Utah's legislature used a combination of budget cuts, modest revenue enhancement, bonding, and federal funds to balance the state's FY 2009, FY 2010, and FY 2011 budgets in the 2009 annual Legislative General Session. The Legislature preserved more than $500 million (11%) in rainy day funds and set-asides for use in future sessions."
Orrin the Funny Man
Happy Earth Day!
In March, someone
described the state budget process as "a complex, mind-numbing process."
Special sessions to fix technical glitches sometimes answer to description too but they are much shorter (one hour vs. 45 days), and thus more endurable.
The Senate Leadership team believes it would be prudent to meet on the day of our regular committee meetings on May 20th to fix some of the budget language. This would include the line item the Governor had to veto for technical reasons. E-mail me
if you want more detail.
To do this the Governor would have to call us into Special Session; he is considering the request.
Here's Gehrke in the Trib
Word from Jaclyn Olsen
Word from Library Square
Step in the right direction
Week of April 13-17
News from an alternate universe
Gardening time begins
By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25
I finally had time, in light of the many spring activities that are going on, to begin my garden work. I was able to cane the raspberries and begin the first good weeding. My raspberries do not begin to produce until about Labor Day and then keep producing until Halloween (as long as I cover them when it freezes). It seems small to look at, but when on my hands and knees trying to get out the weeds before the stems grow too large, it can be mighty difficult. We had raspberries that produced about the 4th of July but they developed a virus that killed all the fruit.
I need to get my potatoes and corn planted this Saturday. I can’t remember a time that I have waited this long to plant the potatoes, but it has just been too wet. My dad taught me that corn will not grow until it reaches 70 degrees and the weatherman (who is never wrong) says that will occur next week. The rhubarb, however, always grows well even without any attention.
From the DNews:
"Utah GOP legislative leaders are actually pleased that a new Tax Commission report shows the state's general and education funds are down 8.9 percent over the first nine months of the current fiscal year.
"We budgeted for a 12 percent drop," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, the state Senate chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, which puts together the state's $10.6 billion budget.
The "good news" — if any dramatic drop in revenue can be called that — means that most likely the Utah's 104-member part-time Legislature won't have to come back into special session in May or June to further trim the current year's spending plan."
See the latest revenue summary here
What to title this one?
sends a lot of Email.
At 6:00 a.m. on Easter Sunday he sent another Email message to a group of contacts and highlighted a picture that, if not legally pornographic, was certainly offensive.*
President Waddoups was on the recipient list. He sent a polite but direct request back to Mr. Thompson:
OK, I've had enough. Please remove me from your Email list.
Jack Thompson wrote back:
Sir, did you look at the material being sold to minors in Utah that I sent you?
President Waddoups responded with a second request to be removed:
Yes, I read them all and I got the picture. No more please.
Well . . . a few days went by with no relief. This morning Michael Waddoups – probably a little bugged - sent a third request to be removed from Thompson's Email list.
The exact words were
I asked you before to remove me from your mailing list. I supported your bill but because of the harassment will not again. If I am not removed I will turn you over to the AG for legal action.
So Jack Thompson issued a press release.
Sheena McFarland at the Trib wrote about it
Jack Thompson might be right
. He might be totally, completely, dead-on right on his video game issue. He might not (smart people can disagree). Either way, this behavior doesn't help his cause.
If anyone is interested, I'll try to post the source docs in the a.m.
[Update, 4/15:] Here are the three requests
to be left alone and two relevant follow-up messages from Mr. Thompson. We continue to receive his Email: five yesterday and four today, as of noon.
* Especially if you opened it up, say, at church, on your BlackBerry, like I did. Yes, I get it: don't read Email in church.
Utah County Legislative Wrap-up
Tea Time for the Feds
By Margaret Dayton
Senator, District 15
I had to laugh when Tommy Burr told me the Federal government felt "threatened"
by the tea I sent them. I'm pretty sure the increasing tax burdens from the federal government are far more threatening to me than is my harmless green-tea bag to them!
Honestly, I am much more concerned for the tax payers than the tax spenders. I have always felt that money in the hands of the taxpayers was better spent than money in the hands of the government. The Federal Government seems to have an insatiable appetite for spending U.S. citizens’ money.
My three concerns:
Heavy tax burdens are unsustainable.
Heavy tax burdens reduce our freedoms.
Heavy tax burdens empower the federal government to function outside its Constitutional limits.
It is encouraging to see grassroots efforts around the nation generating support for Tea Parties on April 15. Hopefully, the message will be heard in Washington.
I hope you will join the party here in Utah
. A few more links:
P.S. It is a Dayton family tradition to support freedom. We have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. Jonathan Dayton was, indeed, the youngest signer of the Constitution. He was 26 at the time. Hope to see you on the 15th.
Word from CNN
On the CNN site
Women older than 55 make up the fastest-growing age group on Facebook, and one mother says the social network site has become her family's "living room." While online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are known hangouts for younger folks, older generations have been taking to the medium at a faster rate than any other age group, industry reports say.
Wikipedia for Spies: The CIA Discovers Web 2.0
. . . Intellipedia is not just a sign of change at the agency, but that it is also producing results. The first time chlorine was used in an improvised explosive device in Iraq, someone created a wiki page asking what intelligence officers and others in the field should do to collect evidence of the usage. "Twenty-three people at 18 or 19 locations around the world chimed in on this thing, and we got a perfectly serviceable set of instructions in two days," says Tom Fingar, who headed the National Intelligence Council from 2005 to 2008. "Nobody called a meeting, there was no elaborate 'Gotta go back and check with Mom to see if this is the view of my organization.'
Senator Dayton poses threat to the federal government
Ethics Team & Interim Work
decided to take the Senate Ethics Committee
and the House Ethics Committee
and form a Joint Interim Ethics Team
to rework the complaint process. Here are the Trib
(Chair of the House Ethics Committee) said
the complaint process needs to 1) meet the public's needs, 2) be fair to lawmakers and 3) ensure that justice is served.
Key quote (highlighted in today's UPD
Nuts & Bolts:
"Last year's October surprise was a clear example of a kangaroo court," [Senate Majority Leader] Killpack said of the drama that ensued when Riesen leaked allegations against Hughes to the media.
"By state constitution, the Legislature is responsible to deal with their own," Killpack said, "As such, we need things in place where you can quantify and legitimize a complaint before tarnishing somebody in the press."
This year our interim committees will meet on the third Wednesday of each month, starting in May, skipping July, and ending in November.
The President of the Senate should finalize assignments over the next week or two. A few committees will be consolidated to make room for the Ethics Process Committee to meet in the morning and the Health System Reform Task Force to meet in the afternoon on interim days. That way we'll cover the ground without incurring extra costs.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Utah and Taxes
Making the Grade
Seen on KCPW
"Researchers at Colorado College have released their annual State of the Rockies report card, examining crime, political influence, population growth and environmental issues facing the region. Program Coordinator Liz Kolbe says the eight-state area has grown 2.6 times faster than the overall U.S. population, presenting many challenges, including rising crime. However, she says Salt Lake County is doing better than many other counties in that regard."
To see the full 2009 Colorado College State of the Rockies Report Card
, click here
The Senate has received a few of these
Last In, First Out
Utah: one of the last states to be sucked into the recession; positioned to be one of the first states out.
"The ability of our businesses to expand their customer base to include much of the world is one of the reasons Utah is poised to be the first state in the nation to climb out of the recession," said Jason Perry, GOED executive director.
Here's the Standard Examiner article
, by way of UtahPulse
The Guv finished his work a day early. No more vetoes, except for Line Item 175 in SB3
due to the need to make technical corrections.
Here is the final list
We'll poll senators today or tomorrow to measure fire in the belly for a veto override.Next steps
Slow news day
Deseret News and KSL took a poll
about how the Senate President dealt with some guy who had some problem with the way he said something.