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 - 16 February 2015

<< All 2015 updates

Dear Friends,

Here are some more bills that have caught our attention in the 2015 General Session of the Utah State Legislature:

SB43Substitute, “Closed Primary Amendments”, sponsored by Senator Jenkins and Representative Fred Cox, would provide that, for the 2016 primary elections only, a registered political party that chooses to become a qualified political party will select the party's nominees using, initially, only the convention process and will participate in the primary process only to the extent that the qualified political party designates more than one nominee for one office to participate in the primary process.

In other words, it would largely continue to allow the caucus/convention system that has existed for years to continue through the 2016 primary elections, SB54 of the 2014 General Legislative Session (hereafter “2014-SB54), notwithstanding.  (2014-SB54 prescribed that a “qualified political party” must allow certain candidates to appear as its candidates on a primary ballot, regardless of the results of its caucus/convention process.)  Under SB43Substitute, the most controversial provisions of 2014-SB54 would not become effective until 2017.

SB43Substitute passed the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee 4-1, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

2014-SB54 is being challenged in the courts, and the results of this challenge are not yet known.  Meeting the requirements of 2014-SB54 in such a short time poses significant challenges to various party organizations (both state and county).  And, as we at GrassRoots argued last year concerning 2014-SB54, government interference in the workings of a political party, to prescribe who will be that party’s candidate(s), is unwarranted.  We stand by our opposition to 2014-SB54.  GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB43Substitute.

(Note:  There is also a very similar, if not identical, bill to SB43Substitute originating in the House of Representatives.  HB281, “Revisions to Elections Law”, also sponsored by Representative Fred Cox and Senator Jenkins, would likewise delay the most controversial provisions of 2014-SB54 until 2017.  HB281 awaits consideration by the House Government Operations Committee.  GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB281.)

SB48, “Evaluating Federal Land”, sponsored by Senator Osmond, would:

  • direct the State Tax Commission to:  (a) identify parcels of federal land in Utah (excluding land within national parks); (b) determine the fair market value of each such parcel and, based on these determinations, calculate the cumulative fair market value of all identified parcels; and (c) make calculations of property tax and other revenues that would be generated if that land were privately owned; and
  • require the State Tax Commission to report to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee of the Legislature and to provide a copy of the report to specified federal officers (each member of Utah’s congressional delegation, the Secretary of Interior, the Secretary of Education, and the President).

The State Tax Commission would be directed to complete the first study and report to the specified appropriations subcommittee by January 15, 2016, and then repeat the process every 3 years.

SB48 awaits consideration by Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Except where there is an established need and constitutional justification for federal control of lands within Utah's borders, federal lands should be released from federal control.  Completion of the study specified by SB48 would likely provide more accurate data than is now available to state and federal decision-makers as we seek to take control of lands under federal control.  GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB48.

SB52Substitute, “Asset Forfeiture Amendments,” sponsored by Senator Stephenson, would:

  • establish detailed requirements for law enforcement agencies to prepare reports providing information regarding any forfeiture actions the agencies have taken;
  • require agency reports regarding any awards received under the State Asset Forfeiture Grant Program; and
  • establish a procedure for the compilation of the annual agency reports, the preparation of the reports by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, and distribution of the reports to the Legislature.

It is envisioned that the required reports will facilitate effective legislative oversight of asset forfeiture practices, and of the uses of the proceeds of forfeitures, in Utah.

SB52Substitute passed the Senate 26-0 on February 11th, and has been sent to the House.

To the extent that asset forfeiture is practiced in Utah and to the extent that forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement agencies in Utah, effective legislative oversight of these practices is essential.  GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB52 Substitute.

SB106, “Class Size Reduction Program Amendments”, sponsored by Senator Harper and Representative Edwards, would:

  • amend the distribution formula for the Class Size Reduction Program (Program) to distribute certain program money to qualifying local education agencies;
  • appropriate an additional $10 million, aimed at class size reduction, to the State Board of Education - Minimum School Program as an ongoing appropriation.

SB106 passed the Senate Education Committee 5-0 on February 3rd, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

We would prefer a $10 million tax cut to this appropriation, thus leaving private individuals, families, and associations, and local communities with greater resources to deal with the variety of challenges that exist.  GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB106.

And here are updates on bills mentioned in earlier GrassRoots updates:

HB41Substitute, “Local Economic Development Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Snow and Senator Okerlund, would streamline/reduce the notice and public hearing requirements prerequisite to amending or adopting certain “community development project area plans” under which special tax treatment is given to (politically) favored businesses and industries.

HB41Substitute passed the House 62-7 on January 29th, and passed the Senate 26-1 on February 13th.  The version passing the Senate was slightly different from the version passing the House, so the Senate version of the bill awaits consideration by the House.

HB41Substitute would appear to facilitate the creation of tax increment incentives (special tax treatment for favored businesses and industries).  GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB41Substitute.

HB163, “Student Data Breach Requirements”, sponsored by Representative Knotwell and Senator Adams, would require an “education entity” to “notify the parent or guardian of a student if there is a release of the student's personally identifiable student data due to a security breach.”

HB163 passed House 71-0 on February 12th, and has been sent to the Senate, where it awaits action by the Senate Rules Committee.

GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB163.

HB193, “Continuing Education for General Contractor Licensing”, sponsored by Representative Gibson, would end continuing education requirements for certain contractor licensees.

HB193 passed the House 72-1 on February 11th, and awaits consideration by the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

HB193 would be a welcome (even if small) loosening of government licensing requirements.  GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB193.

If you have any questions about these bills, 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, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

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