Morning Buzz

Things to follow on the hill today: Congressman Jim Matheson will join the Utah House of Representatives on the House floor at 11:30 AM. Utah Tribal Leaders are being honored on the House floor at 10:30 AM.

This isn’t in the House but it is one of the education bills stirring up the buzz this morning, Sen. Wayne Niederhauser will introduce his grading school bill at 2:15 PM in the Senate Education Committee. Here’s the link to SB 59 School Grading System. Look for the audio of the Senate Education Committee on le.utah.gov

Following House Committees:

* HB250 The House Government Operations Committee voted 10-0 to endorse HB250 by Rep. Merlynn Newbold, R-South Jordan, to designate an official flag to honor military members killed in the line of duty. The flag was designed by Virginia’s George Lutz, who lost his son in Iraq in 2005. He has been asking states and Congress to adopt it as an official symbol to honor fallen soldiers. The flag is mostly red, with a white strip along the bottom containing the words “honor” and “remember.”

* HB240 Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, is sponsoring legislation that would require three government agencies to make a priority of helping the disabled obtain “meaningful and gainful” employment. Menlove hopes her legislation sends a message to budget cutters and others that they should protect programs aimed at bettering the chances for the disabled to find a job. A prime example, she says, is the supported employment project within the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD).

HB195 was approved by the House Education Committee, property owners in school districts that split after approving a bond would have to continue to pay off the bond at a uniform tax rate. That would be a change from what happened when the Canyons district split off from Jordan in 2009. In that split, Canyons was required to pay off 58 percent of what was left of a $281 million bond approved in 2003, while Jordan pays off the rest, based on property values at the time.

“I’m hoping that if another district chooses to do this that we can take some of the anger out of it,” said bill sponsor Kenneth Sumsion, R-American Fork. He said he’s also working on other bills intended to add more specificity to the law should other districts split in the future.

* HCR3 Utah legislators by law must pass a balanced budget every year. And a House committee endorsed a resolution Wednesday calling for a constitutional amendment to require Congress to do the same. That came as the House Government Operations Committee voted 8-2 to endorse HCR3 by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman.

The resolution complains that the national debt of about $14 trillion “has increased by over $3 trillion in the last two years alone.” “We are speeding toward the cliff of bankruptcy,” Wimmer said. “… It’s beyond time to pass a balanced budget in Congress, and I think it’s time to put pressure on.”