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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 1981

Ronald Reagan, November 12, 1981:
America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America's heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to god for all of His blessings. On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the Native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.

In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks. As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Media credentials for bloggers?

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
- Alan Kay

Question: Should the Utah Legislature issue some kind of credential to citizen reporters?

If so, what privileges should a citizen media credential imply? What responsibilities would it imply? What would differentiate a "citizen journalist" from a random dude with a blog? Is the distinction important?

What policies should we have in place?

Utah has a thoughtful, fairly cohesive New Media community. Let's flesh out a proposal that 1) makes sense to Utah's citizen journalists and 2) is palatable to Utah lawmakers.

Or not. It's possible that any added freedom of movement would fail to mitigate the bureaucratic hassle of credentialing.

Is anyone interested in the discussion? Leave your thoughts here. Or Email me.

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Senate seeks public comment on Judicial Nominee

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 23, 2009


Senate to Consider Confirmation of Mr. Keith A. Kelly as a Judge of the Third District Court

The governor has appointed Mr. Keith A. Kelly as a Judge of the Third District Court.

Senate Rule 24.04.1 establishes the procedures of the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee. That rule requires the committee to hold public meetings prior to full Senate action. To assist in determining the scope of that public hearing, Senator Scott K. Jenkins, Chair of the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee, is seeking public comment regarding the appointment of Mr. Kelly.

Anyone desiring to submit comment on this appointee is invited to contact Mr. Jerry D. Howe at the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah State Capitol Complex, House Building, Suite W210, P.O. Box 145210, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-5210, by 5:00 p.m., Friday, December, 18, 2009. Statements from the public should include the presenter's name, telephone number, and mailing address.

In addition to Chair Jenkins (R-Plain City), the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee is comprised of four other members: Senator Jon J. Greiner (R-Ogden), Senator Lyle W. Hillyard (R-Logan), Senator Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City), and Senator Michael G. Waddoups (R-West Jordan).

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PDF of press release

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Night football in Logan in November?

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

When I heard that USU would be playing Boise State on the Friday night before Thanksgiving in Logan, I thought some one was crazy or they did not know what the weather can be like here at that time. I was absolutely amazed when I sat in the stands and watched that game in what was quite comfortable weather. I heard on KVNU during the broadcast that the temperature was 32 degrees when the game started at 7:30 but was 47 degrees when the game ended about 11:00 pm which I suspected was caused by the warming that usually precedes a storm. The crowd was about 19,000 and this time was about balanced between Boise State fans and Aggies. I am sure the Logan merchants enjoyed the Bronco fans who drove to Logan and spent some time here in our motels and restaurants. Boise State has a great team and it was fun for the Aggies to stay with them for the first and half of the second quarter. I fully expect that Coach Gary Anderson will have us on par with the Bronco’s within a few years.

While this has not been the luckiest year for the Aggie football team, the weather on Friday night proves that heaven can smile down, even on a reviving program in a remote place like Cache Valley. Go Aggies!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Morning Red Meat

From UPD:
Red Meat Radio welcomes Tribune columnist Paul Rolly to the program (Saturday, 8-10 am, 630 AM KTKK).

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interim Workout

  1. DNews: Cragun confirmed by Senate ; Senate OKs ed board nominee
  2. Gehrke: Senate confirms nominees to tax, education judicial slots
  3. DNews: Utah, video gaming industry launch Web safety initiative
  4. KSL: Lawmakers advance abortion bill, look at smokeless tobacco ban
  5. SLTrib: Gun proposal would defy feds
  6. Fox13: Abortion Bill Approved by Legislative Committee
  7. ABC4: Abortion bill passes Utah legislative committee
  8. SLTrib: Utah lawmakers seek tougher tools for cyber crime
  9. Gehrke: Legislator wants to ban nicotine candy
  10. SLTrib: Year-round schools pitch fails -- for now
  11. KCPW: Lawmakers Hear Grim Reality of Budget Cuts
  12. Gehrke: Lawmakers see few ways to avoid impending cuts
  13. SLTrib: New rules for New Century Scholarships?
  14. KSL: Interim committee moves to eliminate restaurant tax
  15. SLTrib: Plan would give districts more time to judge teachers
  16. KCPW: Budget Cuts for Child Services Could Lead to Lawsuits

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interim Wednesday

You can see a list of all upcoming meetings at utahsenate.org. Bottom left.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Raise Taxes or Cut Services?

LaVarr Webb on This Year's Question.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Retirement Challenge

By Dan Liljenquist
Utah State Senator, District 23

Here is the 28 page PDF from the Actuaries for the URS system presented to the Retirement & Independent Entities interim committee.

Based on this data, if we keep the retirement system exactly the same the State will be required to ramp Defined Benefit contribution rates from 13.25% to 23.10% over the next 5 years and the rates will stay at 23.10% for the next 25 years to pay for the current $6.5 Billion unfunded liability that opened up due to the market crash of 2008. To put this in dollars, the State will have to pay $400 Million (plus 4% growth) per year for the next 25 years to pay for the current promised benefits.

We need to get serious about other options.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yesterday's Legislative Audit Reports

Yesterday, the Legislative Audit Subcommittee met to discuss the following reports from the Legislative Auditor General (you can listen to the audio here):
  1. A Performance Audit of the Cost of Benefits for Reemployed Retirees and Part-Time Employees
  2. A Performance Audit of the 9-1-1 System in Salt Lake County
  3. A Performance Audit of Career and Technical Education Costs
  4. Association Leave in Utah’s School Districts

Round-up of articles on the audits:
  1. DNews: Audit calls Salt Lake County 911 system inefficient
  2. SLTrib: Audit: 911 emergency calls taking too long
  3. 2News: Salt Lake County 911 System Inefficient
  4. ABC4: Audit: Salt Lake County 911 system inefficient
  5. KSL: Salt Lake County 911 system inefficient
  6. SLTrib: Double dippers may cost retirement system $900 million in coming decade
  7. DNews: Audit calls for end to rehiring retirees
  8. 2News: Audit: State Workers Should Stop Double-Dipping

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Budget Talk from the Chamber

Lane Beattie, former Senate President and current president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce:
"Anyone can balance the budget, I guarantee it. The challenge is to balance it in a manner that propels our economy forward."
DNews article by Lois Collins

Paul Beebe in the Trib

Chamber press release

[Update:]
Video conversation between UPD's Bryan Schott and the Chamber's Natale Gochnour:

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Senator Hillyard on Ethics

Senator Lyle Hillyard, along with Representative Brad Dee, spoke with KCPW about their concerns with the Utahns for Ethical Government voter initiative.

Click here for the story.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Senator Adams

The Salt Lake Tribune on our newest senator, Stuart Adams:
"As the new face in the state Senate, Stuart Adams enters with a distinct advantage -- colleagues already view him as an effective policymaker who can bring people together."
Click here to read the whole article.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

More thoughts on today's Ethics Discussion

By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator

As I read Bob Bernick’s report of the debate Tuesday morning at the Hinckley Institute, I realized that some reading it may mistakenly think that the reason I would be concerned about opening the records of the law firm that I helped found 42 years ago (and where I still work every day) is that by subpoenaing the company records they might discover some ethics violation. I hope that's not the case.

Let me take a moment to share more detail than the short debate format allowed. Because my legal work involves very sensitive matters for which a strict privilege is granted, I and my firm could not risk any thing that may compromise that protection.

Under Section 5 of the initiative, any three persons can complain to the commissions that I have committed an ethics violation. The executive director then must investigate and report his preliminary findings back to the commission. The section clearly provides that the three complainants can be involved in this initial investigation and at their direction, the executive director *shall* issue these subpoenas. They cannot go back more than 6 years so as worded, I (and others) read that they would be able to subpoena all the business records of the firm for 6 years. My attorney fees would be paid for by the State, there is no allowance for accountant or employees costs to respond to such a request. The section provides that these records are confidential but there is no penalty given if that provision is violated.

As the Section is now written, a competitor or disgruntled opponent in an emotional court case could file a complaint against me alleging, say, that that I am taking money under the table from business in the form of fees that are not related to actual legal work but to influence my vote. The complainants could then demand that the executive director subpoena all of the income records of the law firm for the past 6 years. They could also go to the press 31 days before the election (with early voting it could be just before people began to vote) and tell them that an ethics complaint has been filed against me for taking money under the table. After I had gone through this ordeal, when nothing is found, the commission would give an opinion that the allegations were without merit but, under the wording of the initiative, there is no way for that to be released.

In my opinion (and I am only one of 104), the complainant should file any allegation under oath based on first hand knowledge with all the supporting information attached. The Executive Director should then be able to contact the legislator and share the information with him or her and let them also respond under oath with any documentation to support the legislator’s position. Then the matter should be referred to the commission for their vote as to whether to continue. If they do, then both the complainant and the legislator should be able to use the power of subpoena subject to the unanimous approval of the commission. If there is no merit found to the allegation, the commission should have the power to order that the complainant pay for the costs incurred by the commission and the legislator. If the complainant violates the confidentiality provision, there should be a serious sanction such as the complaint is dismissed or even a criminal charge.

The issues raised by this 20+ page initiative are complex. Even though I was reassured by two initiative supporters that we could correct these problems, I maintain that we are already in process of correcting most of the problems that have been raised and will continue to do so. We have always had crimes for bribery or extortion which catches most of the acts complained of, if they really exist. The work of the legislature will be very difficult for the next few years trying to balance the budget and save the state sponsored programs that our citizens want. I hope we don’t have to use valuable time trying to correct the many flaws in the actual wording of this initiative.

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The Chief is Back

NEWS ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2009

Chief Massasoit returns to the Utah State Capitol

Salt Lake City, Utah - At 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2009, the monumental bronze sculpture of Massasoit, created by nationally recognized sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin, will return to the Utah State Capitol Grounds. The sculpture will greet visitors as they enter the Capitol Hill Complex from the east side of the Capitol. A brief press conference related to the re-installation will take place at the foot of the statue at the time of installation.

Massasoit is famously known as the Wampanoags Nation Chief who first welcomed the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock after they disembarked from the Mayflower. Dallin created the sculpture in the 1920s. He was born and raised in Springville, Utah, and is known internationally for his realistic rendering of Chief Massasoit as well as the Angel Moroni statue that sits on top of the Salt Lake City Temple.

Dallins sculpture was first unveiled at the Utah State Capitol on July 31, 1922, at a time when Utah struggled economically. The State graciously accepted the generous gift from one of its most famous sons, adding to the Capitol beautiful artwork they could not have otherwise afforded.

During the first unveiling, Dallin expressed his desire that the state accept the gift as a token of his love for his native state of Utah. These mountains are linked with the story of the Indian, he said. In setting up this man of peace, who saved the Plymouth Colony, I have a hope…that I might model the old Chief Washakie of the Shoshones, who, too, was a man of peace; and he wielded as potent and saving an influence over the first Pioneers…as ever did Massasoit over the Pilgrims.

Classically trained in Paris, Dallin practiced sculpting during a period in art history which was a flowering of classical architecture and sculpture.

Capitol Curator Judith McConkie, PhD, noting that Massasoit is often compared to famous European sculptures, states that The pose and the idealized body are a direct homage to Michelangelos David.

Massasoit originally stood in the center of the Capitols Rotunda from 1923 until 1957, when it was moved outside to the South entrance of the Capitol Hill Complex. Now, complete with a new platform, Dallins beloved sculpture will be able to once again call Utahs Capitol home.

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Voter Information

Click here to find out where you are supposed to vote today. Then get out and vote!

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Municipal Election Day

By Lyle Hillyard
Senator, District 25

On Tuesday, our residents will go to the polls to elect local officials and vote on various bonds. I always appreciate our rights to vote and make our wishes known by the people we elect. Time and again we see that just a few votes can mean the difference between being elected and not. It is so disappointing when we saw the very low turnout in these Primary elections earlier this year. When I see the drop in State revenues and know that most local governments rely on the same sources, I wonder why we have so many good candidates running. Maybe they don’t realize the challenges they will face with growing demands from the public for more governmental services, dropping revenues, and a reluctance of the public to accept tax increases. Some must think there is no connection between what can be provided and what that service will cost.

Here in Cache Valley, there are many good candidates running for city and town offices. I was surprised to read in the newspaper this morning that there had been so few early voters here in Logan. That was not true last year with the huge national election. I wonder if the voters are still making up their minds with such good candidates. Maybe last year, the voters made up their minds earlier or just felt that by voting they could bring the entire hubbub to an end early.

I will be voting and I hope that we have a large turnout. I like to tell people who don’t have time to vote that they lose their right to complain. I can only wish that was true.

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