Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature
(Contains ratings charts and rankings)
How Did Your Representatives Represent
You in 2007?
Government Continues Growth in 2007
The 2007 legislative session started with great promise as
legislators passed a voucher bill after years of debate. While the
legislation is not ideal, it is a step in the right direction. Our
legislators and governor should be commended for its passage.
Unfortunately, shortly after passing H.B. 148 lawmakers passed H.B.
174 which modifies H.B. 148 and puts strict restrictions on private
schools robbing parents of true choice.
H.B. 202 which prevented teachers from recommending students take
psychotropic drugs was passed and signed. This bill had also been
debated for many prior sessions and is a victory for families.
While several good pieces of legislation were passed including some
tax relief, the rate of government spending continued to increase.
Spending in the recent administration exceeds that of the two prior
administrations. This year citizens are left paying for a soccer
stadium, $30 million for full day kindergarten, and a host of other
programs in a budget that exceeded $10 billion.
Lawmakers failed to address the illegal immigration issue as a bill
which would have allowed law enforcement officers to enforce
immigration laws went down to defeat. A second amendment bill which
would guarantee this right during emergencies also failed to pass. On
the positive side a bill which would have banned guns on university
campuses was watered down so citizens can still exercise this right
while on the state’s college campuses.
Tilton Leads House Scores
Dayton Receives Top Score in Senate
House Summary: Aaron Tilton (R-UT) received the top score from
GrassRoots in the House with a 91%, while Mike Morley (R-UT) followed close
behind with a 90% . This year House members scores averaged 45% slightly
below the House lifetime score of 47%.
Overall 11 representatives scored above 70 on the report. In addition
to Tilton and Morley they were: Craig Frank, John Dougall, Curt Oda, Carl
Wimmer, Becky Lockhart, Glen Donnellson, Christopher Herrod, Kenneth
Summison and Bradley Daw. All members receiving above 70 were
Senate Summary: In her first year in the Senate, Margaret Dayton (R-UT)
received the top score in the Senate with a 76%. Last year’s top senator,
Howard Stephenson (R-SL) received a 72%. Also scoring above 70 was Scott
Jenkins (R-WB). This year the Senate received a 46% which tops its
lifetime score of 45%.
Governor: Governor Huntsman received a 38% on this year’s report card
below his lifetime score of 39%.
What is GrassRoots?
GrassRoots has been issuing an annual legislative report card since
1992. The Constitutions of the nation and state are the guides which
GrassRoots uses in picking issues for its legislative report card. Bills
are picked without regard to any particular individual.
Analysis of Bills for 2007
Bills are listed by number with house bills listed first. The sponsor
of the bill is in parentheses. The tally on bills from each house is
listed by yeas, nays and those absent or not voting. Text of all bills can
be found at http://www.le.state.ut.us/.
A) H.B. 38 (M. Newbold) The “Real Salt Lake
Bill” amends the transient
room tax. Bill allows funds to be sent to build a soccer stadium after the
Salt Lake County Council voted it down because it was not financially
viable. According to the fiscal note up to $2.25 million will be allocated
annually or up to $35 million. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed
the House (48-24-3), Senate (20-8-1) was signed into law by the
B) H.B. 84 (J. Gowans) Bill creates the traumatic brain injury fund by
increasing the DUI fine. While GrassRoots does not approve of DUI’s and
believes those who drive drunk should be punished, this bill is a step
towards socialized medicine. If the government feels it should create a
fund for head injuries what other medical issues should it cover?
GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (63-8-4), Senate
(23-4-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
C) H.B. 105 (G. Donnelson) Allows state and local law enforcement
officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Protecting our borders is a
proper role of government, and citizens should expect their law enforcement
officers to protect our borders and enforce all of our laws. GrassRoots
approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (43-30-2) but did not come up for
a vote in the Senate.
D) H.B. 148 (S. Urquhart) Creates program to award vouchers to parents
who send their children to private schools. While the bill was not
perfect, this will create competition in our education system which just as
it has in the free market will improve the education our children receive
by bringing true accountability to our educational system. GrassRoots
approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (38-37-0), Senate (19-10-0) and
was signed into law by the governor.
E) H.B. 174 (B. Last) Bill modifies the education voucher bill. Bill
imposes requirements on schools that choose to receive the scholarships
such that it reduces the benefits of vouchers and the choices available to
parents and students. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House
(54-11-10), Senate (23-5-1) and was signed into law by the governor.
F) H.B. 193 (G. Hughes) One of the complaints made by proponents of
increased spending in our public schools is that not enough money is spent
on classroom instruction. This bill would have required that 65% of school
expenditures be spent on classroom instruction. GrassRoots approves of a
yes vote. Failed in the House (24-49-2).
G) H.B. 202 (M. Morley) Bill prohibits school personnel from making
certain medical recommendations for a student, including the use of
psychotropic medications, and it prohibits removal of a child from parental
custody based on a parent's refusal to consent to the administration of
psychotropic medications. Bill strengthens parental rights. GrassRoots
approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (45-22-8), Senate (20-9-0) and
was signed into law by the governor.
H) H.B. 209 (T. Cosgrove) Bill intrudes on parental rights by imposing
regulations on how parents protect their children in a motor vehicle.
GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Failed in the House (31-38-6).
I) H.B. 224 (G. Donnelson) Repeals Utah law which allowed illegal
immigrants to receive in state tuition to Utah’s institutions of higher
learning. Individuals who break our laws should have consequences for
their actions, not be rewarded as Utah law currently allows. GrassRoots
approves of a yes vote. Failed in the House (37-37-1).
J) H.B. 235 (P. Ray) Our nation was founded under the premise that
government should protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. As
originally introduced this bill would have directly challenged Roe V. Wade.
As passed, in the event the Supreme Court overrides Roe v. Wade which
deprived the unborn of this right, this bill will outlaw abortion in the
state. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (62-12-1),
Senate (20-7-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
K) H.B. 258 (B. Dee) Imposes additional continuing education
requirements on architects to renew their license. Increases the role of
government and makes it more difficult for individuals to provide for their
families. Ultimately the free market regulates better than government.
GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (59-15-1), Senate
(22-1-6) and was signed into law by the governor.
L) H.B. 273 (C. Oda) Permits smoking in certain fraternal organizations
until 2009 which a previous law had banned. While smoking may not be good
for an individual’s health, individuals still have property rights whether
they will allow smoking on their property. Individuals also have the right
to decide if they want to go to a business which may allow smoking.
GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House (58-12-5), Senate
(23-3-3) and was signed into law by the governor.
M) H.B. 300 (R. Menlove) Increases fees for fireworks display licenses
by 300% which allows the governments budget to continue to grow. GrassRoots
approves of a no vote. Passed the House (55-17-3), Senate (26-0-3) and was
signed into law by the governor.
N) H.B. 334 (A. Tilton) The right to property is one of our most basic
rights. Eminent domain deprives citizens of this right. This bill makes
it more difficult for government to use eminent domain for the purposes of
creating parks and paths. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the
House (44-20-11) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
O) H.B. 365 (S. Urquhart) Two years ago the Utah Legislature passed
legislation which limited the power of government to use eminent domain for
purposes such as for creating new retail complexes. As noted earlier, the
right to property is one of our most basic rights. Since passing
legislation which protected property rights two years ago, the legislature
has begun to unravel that legislation each year. This bill makes it easier
to deprive citizens of their right to property. GrassRoots approves of a
no vote. Passed the House (64-7-4), Senate (26-0-3) and was signed into
law by the governor.
P) H.J.R. 7 (S. Sandstrom) Bill urges the Unites States to withdraw
from the Security and Property Partnership Act and any other activity which
would seek to create a North American Union. Such an agreement endangers
United State’s constitutionally protected rights. GrassRoots approves of a
yes vote. Passed the House (47-24-4) but did not come up for a vote in the
Q) S.B. 31 (C. Bramble) Reauthorizes 49 state entities and programs
within one bill. The purpose of sunset laws is for a program to end at a
certain date. Reauthorizing a large number of unrelated programs in one
bill is poor government. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the
House (67-7-1), Senate (25-2-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
R) S.B. 36 (P. Jones) As originally written bill made it a primary
offense for not wearing a seat belt. While wearing seat belts may be a
good idea, an individual should still have the right to decide if they want
to wear a seat belt. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the Senate
(16-13-0) but failed in the House (33-39-3).
S) S.B. 43 (S. McCoy) Bans smoking in a vehicle while a child is
present. While smoking may be harmful, parents still have the right to
raise their children as they see fit. GrassRoots approves of a no vote.
Passed the Senate (20-7-2) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
T) S.B. 49 (L. Hillyard) Creates an optional extended-day kindergarten.
The program comes with an initial $30 million price tag. While government
should only take away parental rights when a child is at risk, they also
should not take away parental responsibility which this program does.
GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the House (57-13-5), Senate
(18-5-6) and was signed into law by the governor.
U) S.B. 56 (M. Madsen) Allows access for all employee education
associates (such as unions and fraternal organizations) to all public
schools. The foundation of our free enterprise system is competition.
This bill guarantees competition amongst employee associations who would
want to compete to represent educators. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote.
Passed the House (39-31-5), Senate (20-8-1) and was signed into law by the
V) S.B. 78 (M. Madsen) Recently employees have been fired for having
firearms in their vehicles. This bill guarantees that an individual will
not be denied their second amendment rights when their firearms are stored
in their personal property such as a car. GrassRoots approves of a yes
vote. Passed the Senate (19-8-2) but did not come up for a vote in the
W) S.B. 81 (M. Madsen) Allows students who are home schooled to
participate in extracurricular activities at public schools. Currently
parents who home school their children not only pay for the cost of
educating their children but also are paying for children to be taught in
the public schools. It is only fair that their children be able to benefit
from their tax dollars by being allowed to participate in activities at
public schools. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House
(40-32-3), Senate (26-2-1) and was signed into law by the governor.
X) S.B. 112 (C. Buttars) Regulates the sale of certain over the counter
cough and cold medicines by requiring a person to show photo identification
and for the business to keep a record of these transactions for one year.
In the name of fighting methamphetamines, this bill violates a person’s
fourth amendment rights by attempting to punish any individual who goes to
the store to buy medicine to relieve them from their suffering from a cold
but also expands the role of government by putting undue burdens on stores
which sell such products. GrassRoots approves of a no vote. Passed the
House (64-0-11), Senate (28-0-1) and was signed into law by the
Y) S.B. 183 (S. Killpack) One of the threats to the right to own
property is the ability of government to declare the property a wetland.
This bill prohibits counties and municipalities from declaring a wetland
unless the property has already been designated a wetland by the federal
government. GrassRoots approves of a yes vote. Passed the House
(52-16-7), Senate (23-4-2) and was signed into law by the governor.
Z) S.B. 190 (G. Davis) Under this bill if a government entity felt that
an animal owner was not properly caring for their animal that citizen could
be charged with a felony. Often such judgments are arbitrary, and a felony
conviction causes a citizen to lose voting and second amendment rights.
For example, some extremists believe trapping a mouse is animal cruelty.
While animals should be treated with proper care, the bill is vague on
several definitions it puts to many citizens’ rights at risk. Passed the
House (54-18-3), Senate (18-9-2) but because the two chambers passed
different versions the bill did not go to the governor. Hence the bill did
not become law.
AA) S.B. 201 (M. Madsen) During Hurricane Katrina some citizens were
denied their second amendment rights; this bill guaranteed that citizen’s
in the state of Utah would not be denied this right in an emergency.
Passed the Senate (19-8-2) but did not come up for a vote in the House.
GrassRoots approves of a yes vote.
By Don Guymon
If we could achieve this one word in Utah politics, it would be a great
day for this state.
Opponents of H.B. 148 which introduced educational vouchers to the state
lamented the cost. Yet 30 of the 48 House and Senate members who voted
against vouchers had no problem giving at least $35 million for a soccer
If sending every dollar possible to educate our children is the real
reason to oppose vouchers why is the $35 million soccer stadium an
If it is so important that every possible dollar be spent on classroom
spending, why did 34 of the 37 representatives who voted against vouchers
oppose insuring more money was funneled into the classroom? H.B. 193 would
have required that 65% of school funding be spent on instruction. The bill
was defeated in the House 24-49-2.
One would think that if the state was not spending enough money to teach
its children then we would be attempting to finance the system we currently
have. Yet S.B 49, which creates extended day kindergarten in the state,
passed overwhelmingly. The bill carries a $30 million price tag for the
Many of our politicians proclaim the pro-life mantle and talk about the
importance of protecting the unborn. H.B. 235 would have been a test case
to challenge Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion. Yet in a year of record
spending increases the state would not spend money to defend this bill in
court but gave millions of dollars to a millionaire to fund a soccer
Being consistent when it comes to principals is not easy. This year
H.B. 84 which created the Traumatic Brain Injury Fund passed both chambers
by large margins. The money comes from increased fines for those convicted
of DUI’s. Certainly those who commit this crime should be punished, but is
creating another government program the way to go? What happens if we are
ever able to rid the society of drunk driving? How will this continue to
be funded? For those who decry socialized medicine, isn’t such a bill a
step in the direction of a government run system?
This year it became more difficult to purchase cough and cold medicines.
Yet nothing was done to curb the attack on our borders of illegal
Of course, the lack of consistency is not only absent in our state
politics. On a national level, conservatives are falling all over
themselves to support candidates who only recently were pro-abortion and
Our lack of consistency will eventually hurt this state. Currently our
economy is growing and unemployment is very low. Government, however, has
grown larger than the rate of inflation and according to the Utah Taxpayers
Association has grown on average 9% over the past two years.
What will happen to this state when the economic good times end? It may
not be a popular notion but every Economics 101 class in college teaches of
economic cycles with times of growth such as we are in now, but times of
correction when the economy does not fair as well.
When the economy goes bad, as it inevitably will, who will pay for the
increased state spending? How will we fund full day kindergarten or a
soccer stadium and the myriad of other programs which have been recently
While our lawmakers should be praised for recent tax cuts, ultimately
the lack of fiscal restraint will ultimately lead to an increased tax
burden. Instead of increasing spending, more money should have been given
back to those who paid the taxes to keep the economic pump primed.
When faced with cutting spending or raising taxes, unfortunately our
elected officials have been remarkably consistent. Please hold onto
your wallets as that will be the price all taxpayers will pay for
inconsistency in our state government.
Don Guymon is the chairman of GrassRoots