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 2020

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ second weekly legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.

At this time (two weeks into the session), there are about 440 numbered bills for this session. Read on for coverage of some bills that we consider noteworthy.

Separation of Powers, and one bad-looking bill:

In our American tradition, Separation of Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Powers, has been an essential principle in preserving the liberty of the people. Of the importance of Separation of Powers, James Madison wrote:

"The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. . . . [And, quoting Montesquieu, Madison continues:] When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body . . . there can be no liberty because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarch or senate [or, we might add, administrative board] should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner." Again “Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it [the power of judging] joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor.” (Federalist No. 47, 3rd and 8th paragraphs).

Here in Utah, we have also written the principle of Separation of Powers into our state constitution: "The powers of the government of the State of Utah shall be divided into three distinct departments, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted" (Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1).

But we frequently fail to adhere strictly to this principle. In our legislative update of February 3rd, we complained of the blurring of separation of powers between judicial and executive entities that could be expected from HB100, “Veterans Treatment Court Act”, which would prescribe “continuous judicial supervision using a cooperative approach with prosecutors, defense counsel, corrections, substance abuse treatment services, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Justice Outreach Program.”

We also frequently see bills proposed and passed that prescribe “rule-making authority” for various executive department agencies. We believe this practice compromises the Separation of Powers that is so important to the preservation of our liberty.

Here is one bill that, we believe, merits additional scrutiny and skepticism this year:

*SB62, “Reauthorization of Administrative Rules”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg and Representative Roberts, states: “All rules of Utah state agencies are reauthorized.”

SB62 passed the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee 5-0 on January 30th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

To the extent that any administrative rule is legislative in its nature, this would seem to be contrary to Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1 (see above quotation).

To the extent that any administrative rule is executive in its nature, the need for the Legislature to authorize it seems nonexistent. After all, "The executive power of the state shall be vested in the Governor who shall see that the laws are faithfully executed" (Utah State Constitution, Article VII, Section 5). If anyone needs to authorize administrative rules that are executive in their nature, it is the Governor—not the Legislature.

We have not yet finished reading all of the administrative rules that are proposed to be “re-authorized.” (And we doubt if most of our legislators have done so either.) Still, we would ask: Is there any sound reason for passing SB62? GrassRoots tentatively favors a “no” vote on SB62.

Another bill catching our attention this week

HB114Sub2, “Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Waldrip, would:

  • require the State Board of Education (the state board) to: a) make rules regarding, and requires local education agencies (LEAs), to establish an early learning plan that includes early literacy and early mathematics components; b) select a mathematics benchmark assessment that LEAs administer in certain grades; c) administer a grant for professional learning and job-embedded coaching support for elementary educators; and d) administer a grant for license applicants taking a certain examination;
  • amend provisions regarding an examination required to obtain a license to teach;
  • allow for LEAs in certain circumstances to hire implementation support coaches or otherwise obtain funding to support job-embedded coaching;
  • require certain annual reporting; and
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2021: a) to the State Board of Education - Minimum School Program - Related to Basic School Programs, as an ongoing appropriation: from the Education Fund, $16,480,000; and b) to the State Board of Education - MSP Categorical Program Administration, as an ongoing appropriation: from the Education Fund, $45,000.

HB114Sub2 passed the House Education Committee 11-2 on February 6th, and awaits consideration by the full House.

This looks like a prescription for more top-down management of our schools by the (distant) State Board of Education and for more spending. We would prefer more local control of our schools. Also, we would prefer a $16 million tax cut to the spending prescribed by HB114Sub2. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB114Sub2.


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
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to and click on “Legislators”.

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to and click on “2020 General Session Page” then click on “2020 Bills”.

Do you have other questions about how to effectively participate in the political process? Please contact us, and we will try to help as appropriate.

Do you have friends that would appreciate this legislative update? Please feel free to forward it to them.

Would you like to help us with review of legislation in a small or large way? Consider taking a special look at bills sponsored by your own representative or senator. Please contact us with your findings and/or with any questions we might be able to help you with.

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