Report on the defining legislation of 2014 Session: HB97, HB96, SB54, HB77, HB81, HB257, SB72

Top Bills

HB97 Limitation on Local Govt. “Dog Bill,” passed the house 41-30. I voted NO. This was an interesting bill that had all of the Democrats vote for it and then the Republicans split 50-50. For me this was a local control issue that bound the hands of Local City Officials and removed authority to set local ordinances.  Here is my blog with my public statement about this issue: http://davidlifferth.ning.com/profiles/blogs/my-statements-in-oppos...

 

HB96 Readiness Initiative by Rep. Hughes passed the house by a vote of 49-24. I voted YES. This bill addressed preschool students that have learning disabilities and other factors that would prohibit them from reading at a 3rd grade level by the time they were in 3rd grade. This was a complicated bill that required more than a bumper sticker to understand it. I think that many that opposed it never took the time to read it much less understand it. There was a memo that went around to explain how this was a conservative attempt to solve a problem. I described it similar to the Carson Smith Scholarship bill from a few years ago.  For whatever reason, many conservatives did not see the big picture on this. Even more disappointing for me is how some people who are typically conservative were re-cycling traditional liberal talking points to demonstrate their opposition to HB96. 

 

SB54 Elections Amendments This was the bill to address the Count My Vote (CMV) initiative that passed 49-20. I voted YES. Count My Vote is the initiative to allow candidates that couldn’t successfully pass the established Caucus and Convention Vetting process. Well known examples are former Senator Bob Bennett and former interim Governor Olene Walker. Both of whom governed very different in office than they campaigned as. This may not have been a problem with the less engaged voter, but the Long Term Memories of the active and engaged caucus participants was too much for their million dollar campaigns to over come. But I digress.  However, one thing to remember when discussing SB54 is the poison pill that was in the Count My Vote wording was to outlaw the Caucus and Convention System. So if the CMV initiative had garnered the required number of signatures to go on the ballot, every scientific survey indicated that it would pass at the ballot box. Think of the survey question that I asked: “Would you rather elect the Utah State Attorney General or should Governor appoint one?” That is how the wording on the ballot would have felt to the average voter.

As a result of that eventuality, SB54 was a negotiated compromise that allowed the current Caucus and Convention system to work while allowing for candidates that don’t expect to do well among the state and county delegates elected in neighborhood elections to get signatures to get onto the ballot.  There were many that were upset with the result and vote. I heard from a voter that someone sent an email to voters in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain that I vote for Count My Vote.  What the sender of this email didn’t point out is that the Attorney that successfully defended Idaho against a similar ballot initiative and will probably be hired by the Utah State GOP to defend against CMV said that Utah is in a better position to defend our Caucus and Convention system by passing SB54 than by letting it go unchallenged by the legislature.  I would say that 95% of the state legislature wants to defend the Caucus and Convention System, and this difficult situation cause many, like myself, to vote for the compromise rather than lose the Caucus and Convention System.

 

HB77 Tax Credits for Home Schooling parents failed in the house 32-37. This was my legislation and I voted YES.  This was a true conservative versus moderate and liberal legislation. Of course all of the Teacher Union backed Democrats voted against it. All of the Liberal and Moderate Republicans (primarily from Salt Lake and Davis County) voted against it. I even heard of at least 2 Republicans were threatened with primary opponents by the UEA if they voted for HB77.

However, typically conservative rural Republicans voted against it because they heard from rural home schoolers that they didn’t want any additional government scrutiny that would come if HB77 was passed.  The interesting development was that Senator Osmond’s SB39 which further de-regulated home schooling later passed by a sizable margin. In conversation with others legislators, I learned that if SB39 had passed before my HB77 had been voted on, that they would have more confortable in voting for HB77.

There was also a technical glitch from staff that didn’t update the fiscal note to reflect an amendment that would have significantly reduced the cost. For that reason, I get to bring back the bill with a dynamic fiscal note that will accurately reflect the significant savings to the state of Utah that home schoolers represent.

 

HB81 Parental Review of Statewide tests passed 66-4 and I voted YES. This bill expanded the group of parents that can review statewide tests and decrease the time so that more parents can participate.

HB257 Parental Review of Curriculum passed 38-37 and I voted YES. This was a follow up bill to HB81 that allows parents to review and object to questionable curriculum.  This was another obvious response to the the state’s unorthodox adoption of Common Core. This was a complex vote that split Republicans and required a “Call of the House” to get enough votes to pass. The last and deciding vote was cast by Majority Leader Brad Dee in favor of allowing parents to review the curriculum that it being taught to their children. To me that is a no brainer, but there was almost enough opposition to defeat the bill.

SB72 Uninsured Motorists passed 38-31, I voted NO. This bill allowed the driver of an uninsured vehicle to be confiscated on the first offense. I agree that uninsured motorists are a huge burden on society. I heard dozens of horror stories about insured and law-abiding drivers having to pay thousands of their own dollars as a result of being hit and injured by an uninsured motorist. I am aware of people in my district that this has happened to.  However, there were also given examples of abuses where vehicles were taken away for technical reasons if a check had been deposited in a wrong account or arrived late due to a holiday, or a family member accidentally driving the wrong car.  I would probably be OK with having the govt take away a vehicle on the 2nd offense, but I will always side on the rights of property owners.

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