Grass Roots
Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers

Legislative Updates - 10 February 2014

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Dear Friends:

First, here are some updates on bills mentioned in last week’s GrassRoots update:

HB33, “Reauthorization of Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism,” would eliminate the sunset date (currently July 1, 2014) for the sections of Utah Code authorizing the continued existence of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism, thus making this Commission into a more permanent fixture in our government.

HB33 has passed the House 58-11, has received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee by a 3-0 vote (4 senators absent), and now awaits consideration by the full Senate. Senator Osmond is the sponsor of HB33 in the Senate.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB33.

HB73, “Living Wage Amendments,” would increase Utah’s “minimum wage” to $10.25/hour.

HB73 has now been assigned to, and awaits consideration by, the House Health and Human Services Committee.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB73.

Here are some more bills that have caught our attention:

HB96, “Utah School Readiness Initiative” sponsored by Representative Gregory Hughes:

  • would create the School Readiness Special Revenue Fund, and appropriate to this fund $5 million.
  • would create the School Readiness Board, within the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, to negotiate contracts with private entities to fund certain early childhood education programs and award grants to certain early childhood education programs; (maybe mention membership terms, who appoints)
  • would require the State Board of Education and the Department of Workforce Services to: a) solicit proposals from qualifying early childhood education programs for quality school readiness grants; b) make recommendations to the School Readiness Board to award grants to qualifying early childhood education programs; c) monitor and evaluate the programs; and d) develop policies and enact rules; and
  • would require the Governor's Office of Management and Budget to staff the School Readiness Board.
  • The newly created School Readiness Board would consist of: “(a) the director of the Department of Workforces Services or the director's designee; (b) one member appointed by the State Board of Education; (c) one member appointed by the chair of the State Charter School Board; (d) one member appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; and (e) one member appointed by the president of the Senate.

    HB96 passed the House Education Committee 13-3 on Feb 6th, and awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

    HB96 would enlarge government, would enlarge Utah Code by enacting 11 new sections, and would spend more money. It would take more power over the education of children away from individual parents (where the power belongs), and put it into the hands of government.

    The membership of this newly created, obscure-yet-powerful board also raises questions about who can be considered accountable for its performance. The answer, as with so many such appointed boards and commissions is probably “nobody”&emdash;certainly not the Governor, since he does not appoint a majority of its membership.

    GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB96.

    We have also noticed the following bills, which are still in either the House or Senate Rules Committee:

    HB38Substitute, “Resource Stewardship Amendments” sponsored by Representative Arent and Senator Okerlund:

    • would require the governor to appoint a state director of resource stewardship, to serve within the Department of Administrative Services;
    • describes the duties of the director of resource stewardship as follows: “(a) work with agencies to implement best practices and stewardship measures; (b) make an annual report on best practices and stewardship efforts to the Business and Labor and Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committees.”

    There is no reference in HB38 to the section of Utah Code that defines what would be the approved stewardship measures and efforts, or even what the objectives of such measures should be. Such a definition should not be left to a sustainability director in the Department of Administrative Services; rather, if there is a need for the government to pursue stewardship measures, then this definition should be provided by the Legislature. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB38Substitute as currently drafted.

    HB318, “Rights of Parents and Children Amendments” sponsored by Representative LaVar Christensen and Senator Howard Stephenson:

    • would permit a parent to request a jury trial in a proceeding for termination of parental rights; and
    • would require the court to grant a parent's request for a jury trial in a proceeding for termination of parental rights.

    Government should avoid unwarranted interference in the functioning of families and with the prerogatives of parents. Termination of parental rights is a major consequence—no less significant than deprivation of other rights such as liberty and property—and should never happen without due process of law. From the founding of our country, and even earlier, the right to jury trial has been central to our idea of due process of law. Parents facing allegations of unfitness should be able to obtain a jury trial before parental rights are terminated. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB318 as currently drafted.

    SJR3, “Joint Resolution Regarding Attorney General,” sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler, proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to:

    • change the office of Attorney General from an elected office to an appointed office;
    • provide for the Attorney General to be appointed to a single six-year term by the Governor from a list of nominees provided by a nominating commission and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

    GrassRoots is not taking a position at this time as to whether the position of Attorney General ought to be an elective or appointive office. However, if the executive office of Attorney General is to be filled by appointment by the Governor, then the Governor should be made more accountable for his choice by not limiting his choices to those nominees provided by a nominating commission. Also a six-year term for the appointed Attorney General would further insulate this important officer from accountability to the people. This new system for appointing the Attorney General would be a poor replacement for the current system of election by the people. GrassRoots favors of “no” vote on SJR3 as currently drafted.

    If you have any questions about GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.


    Steve Stromness
    Board Member, Bill Review Coordinator, GrassRoots

    Don Guymon
    President, GrassRoots

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