Daily Buzz: February 3, 2017

Daily Buzz: February 3, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Today is the twelfth day of the 2017 Legislative Session. The House prayer was offered by Haven J. Barlow and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Zacharch Haruch, Representative Stewart Barlow’s intern.

Representative Merrill Nelson introduced a joint resolution (HJR 3)  on the House floor today calling for a convention of the states to amend the Constitution of the United States. This convention of states requires support from 38 states according to Article V of the Constitution. The passing of this joint resolution would signify the Utah’s support for the convention of states.

After an hour an hour of debate, the bill passed with 45 yay votes and 29 nay votes. The bill will now be sent to the Senate to be discussed, debated, and voted upon.

Meet a New Representative: Cory Maloy

Representative Cory Maloy now represents District 6 in Lehi. He received his B.A. degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. He is currently the Executive Vice President at Snapp Conner PR. Prior to being elected as a state representative, Rep. Maloy has had many roles in the Republican Party; most recently, Rep. Maloy was the District 6 Legislative Chair. He is married with three children and two grandchildren. When asked why the House of Representatives is better than the Senate, he jokingly replied, “Because I’m in the House.” Rep. Maloy will be a great addition the House this term.

 

Tweets of the Day:

https://twitter.com/McKenzieForbes4/status/827645093355991040

https://twitter.com/FireIcePhotos/status/827641049686306816

https://twitter.com/utahhousedems/status/827608035086344192

https://twitter.com/BenWinslow/status/827545936284962816

 

Monday’s Legislative Schedule:

8:00 AM: Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee
11:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
12:15 PM: Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee
1:00 PM: House Retirement and Independent Entities Committee
2:00 PM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
6:00 PM: Commission on Federalism

House Business and Labor Committee advances H.B. 446

House Business and Labor Committee advances H.B. 446

House Business and Labor Committee advances H.B. 446

 

SALT LAKE CITY (03/04/2015) On Wednesday night the House Business and Labor Committee heard testimony on the merits of both Healthy Utah, S.B. 164 and Utah Cares, H.B. 446. After thoughtful deliberation, the committee voted to advance H.B. 446 to the House floor reaffirming the House’s commitment to a responsible and sustainable approach to Medicaid.

 

“We appreciate the committee and their recommendation, and look forward to a robust floor debate. Anyone monitoring tonight’s hearings had to come away impressed knowing that House members have a firm grasp on this complicated issue and their decision was not rendered in an information vacuum,” said House Speaker Greg Hughes.

 

“Members of the Utah House of Representatives showed their long-term commitment to their constituents,” said Hughes. “The Utah Cares proposal is a responsible, sustainable generational decision that covers all those in the gap created by the ACA, without expanding into Obamacare.”

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Veto override poll results

Veto override poll results

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart announced today in conjunction with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser that there will not be a veto override session in 2014.

“The House of Representatives feels that the issues at hand can be addressed in the next general session. We appreciate that the governor evaluated and agreed with 99.5 percent of the legislation we passed this year,” the Speaker said.

The House poll returned a result of 40 opposed to an override session and 34 in favor. There is currently a vacancy in House District 7, accounting for the short count.

Thoughts about House Bill 414

After reading through the governor’s veto letter, and talking to legislative legal counsel, here a few thoughts from Rep. Jim Dunnigan about House Bill 414.

1. The veto letter claims that HB414 “demands information from anyone, at any time, on any subject, for any purpose.”
This is not an accurate characterization of what the bill does. Under current law, the Legislature’s subpoena power is already broad in order to allow the Legislature to gather the information needed to enact good law. HB414 only deals with the process for enforcing a legislative subpoena. It does not expand the Legislature’s subpoena power.

2. The veto letter claims that HB414 “criminalizes any attempt by an individual to seek relief from anyone other than the legislative body itself. . . ”
That is incorrect. The bill simply states that if someone tries to challenge a legislative subpoena in a forum other than the legislative forum provided in HB414, the person is not excused from the obligation to comply with the subpoena and is subject to criminal penalties for failure to comply with the subpoena. HB414 does not criminalize anything other than failure to comply with a legislative subpoena.

3. The governor’s veto letter expresses concerns that the “final version of HB 414 did not have a committee hearing in either the House or the Senate . . . “
While this is technically correct, the reason for this is that changes were made to the bill, after committee hearings, in response to concerns raised by interested parties, including the governor’s office. The process used in the passage of HB414 is common and resulted in changes being made to address concerns raised during the time that the bill was being considered.

4. The veto letter claims that HB414 “denies our citizens their fundamental constitutional rights of defense and due process” and “violates the open courts provision of the Utah Constitution by denying citizens the ability to seek redress in the courts.”
We respectfully disagree. Due process essentially requires that a person be given notice (of government action and hearings relating to that action) and an opportunity to have the person’s position heard. The open courts provision of the Utah Constitution has been interpreted to prohibit the government from taking away the right of a person to pursue certain matters in court. This provision is not violated if an adequate alternative method for hearing a grievance is provided. HB414 provides an alternative method by allowing a subpoena to be challenged before a bi-partisan legislative review committee. This helps protect against a subpoena being issued for political reasons. Under HB414, the due process rights of a person who challenges a subpoena are preserved because the person has an absolute right to have their objections heard before a bi-partisan committee.

Though, under HB414, a person who challenges a legislative subpoena does not have the right to appeal the decision of a legislative review committee to a court, a legislative subpoena can only be enforced in court. HB414 provides two avenues to enforce a subpoena. One is criminal in nature and one is civil.

A person is guilty of a crime under HB414 only if the person refuses to comply with a legislative subpoena after the person has an opportunity to exercise the person’s due process rights before a legislative review committee. In that event, the matter would still need to be brought before a criminal court where the defendant would be able to raise any claim that the subpoena violated the defendant’s constitutional or legal rights.

In order to enforce a legislative subpoena civilly, the Legislature would be required to file an action in court and the person who is subject to the subpoena could then challenge the subpoena as part of that court action.

Thus, under HB414, it is impossible for a legislative subpoena to be enforced without the involvement of a court.

Rep. Dunnigan is the sponsor of House Bill 414, and was the chairman of the House special investigative committee that delved into allegations against now-former attorney general John Swallow.

2014 Session Recap

Despite what Pat Bagley says, we actually get stuff done here. Here’s just a few things we did.

Air quality:

HB121, sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, would have allowed the Utah Department of Air Quality to implement standards higher than federal guidelines. This bill passed the House, midway through the Session, but got stuck in the Senate. You can probably expect this one to come back.

HB31, Pollution Control Amendments by Rep. Ryan Wilcox adds pollution control devices to the list of business inputs exempt from sales tax. It passed the full Legislature and is now on its way to the governor.

House Joint Resolution 6 grants Stericycle the required legislative approval it needs to move from its current location in North Salt Lake. This resolution also provides support for the move after many of the citizens in the North Salt Lake area reached out for help. The plant is likely to move to Tooele County. The resolution is sponsored by Rep. Greg Hughes.

HB61, Clean Air Programs, sponsored by Rep. Arent, now allows the state to provide loans to individuals or businesses to replace certain maintenance equipment with high efficiency models. This bill passed on the final day of the Session.

Education:

You’ve probably heard all about the Public Education Modernization Act. HB131 would create a statewide one-to-one initiative, placing a device into each of the public education students in the state. Rep. Gibson told the committee it was time to start being more competitive. “It’s time to take the first steps”. We have an in-depth analysis to explain more about the one-to-one initiative. The bill was left on the House floor, due to a lack of funding. However, the Education Task Force is looking to study the concept during the interim.

The Legislature did, however, continue to fully fund public education. The weighted pupil unit (WPU) was increased by 2.5%, and the 2015 budget accounts for all new students moving into the public education system. By the numbers:

  • $65 million was added in order to fund the roughly 10,000 new students expected in the upcoming fiscal year, to fund an additional 10,300 students expected in Utah schools this fall.
  • $62.5 million added towards the weight pupil unit for the upcoming school year. That’s about a 2.5% increase.

Rep. Hughes’ Utah School Readiness Initiative, HB96, passed the full Legislature late in the Session. This bill creates a program for at-risk children to attend quality preschool programs. Grants would be made available for preschools that meet certain criteria and allow children access to their programs. These grants would be funded by private investors, with the state as a backer.

Personal Privacy:

A few weeks ago, we talked about House Bill 70, Forcible Entry Amendments, by Rep. Roberts. This bill takes steps to mitigate risk to officers and people who may be subject to a search warrant. The bill was substituted to address some concerns within the law enforcement community. The bill requires, with some exemptions, that officers identify themselves and must wait a reasonable amount of time before entering a specific premise. This bill has passed the full Legislature.

HB128, Electronic Device Location Amendments, now protects individual’s private data from being scooped up by a state or local law enforcement entity. The bill would allow law enforcement officials to request a search warrant to gather data, but any additional data gathered outside the scope of the search warrant would need to be deleted within a 24 hour period, and would not allow that data to be held against any person. We have more information about the bill from earlier in the Session.

Health care:

HB105, the bill that would allow cannibas oil to treat those suffering from epilepsy and other neuro-related illnesses, passed the Legislature overwhelmingly. The bill creates stipulations for those sufferers to get cannibas oil, which has been shown to help those suffering with some neurological disorders. The Department of Health will issue waivers to those deemed in need by a board-certified neurologist.

HB88, helps additional people covered under PEHP and low-income families that have children with autism. The bill would continue a pilot program, started in 2012, allowing children to receive Applied Behavioral Analysis treatment under these conditions.

Another autism bill made its way through the House. Senate Bill 57, would require insurance companies to provide autism treatment to suffering children ages 2-9.

The big move and build:

Moving the state prison from its current location in Draper has been an idea the Legislature has been dealing with for years. Progress is being made this session. The Legislature took the position to support the move. HCR8, now moves onto the governor.

Salt Lake is getting a new hotel. HB356 establishes tax credits for a hotelier to build a hotel along with meeting space near the Salt Palace Convention Center. The bill also calls for advertising all corners of Utah, encouraging conventioners to stay and explore all that we have to offer.

Investigative Committee:

The House Special Investigative Committee wrapped up their work late in the Session. The final report has been presented, and is available for the public to view. The report itself is over 200 pages, and exhibits add another 3,700 pages. Enjoy.

Part of that report included suggestions that could be made to Utah’s campaign finance laws. House Bill 394  is one of those. This bill, now that it’s passed the Legislature, would require candidates to report expenses made by third parties that work with a campaign.  This bill was sponsored by Rep. James Dunnigan, chair of the Investigative Committee.

HB390, sponsored by Rep. Chavez-Houck, is another bill that came from the Investigative Committee. HB390 would add additional penalties for those who try to obstruct legislative committees by tampering or falsifying evidence.

Public lands:

The fight to gain control of Utah’s public lands continued during 2014. HB151 will create a commission to work with many different stakeholders to advise the state how best to access and manage the federally-controlled lands. The Daily Herald was there. This bill also passed the full Legislature.

Alcohol:

A bill to add stipulations and other requirements to bars that voluntary install breathalyzers moved through the Legislature and moves to become law. HB190,, sponsored by Rep. Greg Hughes, would ensure that those who opt to install breathalyzers are kept to standard, including monthly inspections and ensuring data collected is not used for any other purpose besides calibration.

HB376, makes some modifications to the Alcohol Abuse Tracking Committee studies. The annual study shows trends regarding alcohol consumption across the state. You can read last year’s study while you wait for the next report, which will arrive in July.

A bill to remove the more popularly known “Zion Curtain” did not make it through the Legislature this year. The bill, HB285, would in return of the Zion Curtain removal, replace it with notices on certain restaurants letting patrons know that alcohol is poured openly. Safe bet we’ll see this one again too.

Additional miscellaneous stuff:

HB286, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, creates an education program to help children understand what abuse is, and how to prevent and/or stop it. The education program is left up to the districts to decide how to implement it, whether that be via a parent/guardian, or through an educator.

Minority Leader Jen Seelig sponsored HB157, Rape Kit Processing Amendments, gives victims of sexual assault more information about the assailant. The victim is now kept up to date on the processing of the assailant’s DNA and the continued investigation.

Rep. Lee Perry and Becky Edwards teamed up with Sen. Karen Mayne to protect voter data from being sold by the state. SB36, protects many pieces of a voter’s information, including birth date from being sold. The bill also protects data from being sold to those who look to sell products or services.

Did we miss any? Tell us what you think.

2SB54: Election Amendments

This hasn’t been an easy process. After months of tough negotiations, members of Utah Legislature and founding members of Count My Vote have reached an agreement to create a dual-track system in Utah.

This dual-track system agreement would preserve Utah’s caucus-convention system, while granting the option for candidates to gather signatures in order to have their name placed on a primary ballot.

The legislation for this agreement is found in the 2nd substitute of Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCay and Sen. Curt Bramble.

If the legislation passes, beginning in 2016, a candidate has the option to move forward in the caucus-convention system, or to collect signatures to reach a primary ballot. That candidate can begin collecting signatures on January 1st of the election year up to two weeks before the relevant convention.

If a candidate opts for the direct primary, the candidate must receive a specific number of registered voter signatures in order to be placed in a direct primary. It is broken down as follows:

Statewide office: 28,000,
Congressional district: 7,000,
State Senate: 2,000,
State House: 1,000, and
County position: 3% of registered voters within the county.

Under terms of the agreement, unaffiliated voters will be eligible to vote in the primary election.

In addition, political parties would be required to enact absentee ballot provisions for conventions.

The substituted Senate Bill 54 strikes a balance between holding true to the many supporters of the caucus-convention system, while allowing for alternative routes to help Utah progress with our united goal of higher participation.

Greater involvement is a laudable goal, this agreement contained in Senate Bill 54 aims for increased understanding of Utah’s election process and ideally, turnout.

With something as delicate as Utah’s election system, the greatest care must be taken. That’s what we’ve done in 2nd substitute of Senate Bill 54.

The House Government Operations Committee unanimously approved 2SB54, and sent it to the House floor this morning. Listen to the committee hearing here.

If you missed Sunday’s news conference with legislative leaders and members of Count My Vote, you can re-watch the video here.