Utah Senate: Senator Howard Stephenson veto override statement

Dear Colleagues, I write for the purpose of providing you with context and information related to the Governor’s veto of SB 2, Item 6 (found on lines 205-220). I strongly believe that we should exercise our Constitutional authority to override this veto. This veto significantly impacts funding for important educational programs in our state which we had carefully studied and vetted through the legislative process. In his veto letters, the Governor explains his reasoning for vetoing this item – but I don’t believe he had complete context, or accurate data,…

How well did Utah taxpayers and economy do in the 2016 session?

By Derek Monson From the Sutherland Institute perspective, the 2016 legislative session was a good one for both taxpayers and the economy. Taxpayers were spared from varied attempts to extract more money from their wallets, including a proposal from some in the business community to take 20 percent more of Utah taxpayers’ income by hiking income tax rates from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, and legislation to force collection of sales taxes on Internet purchases. Coming a year after state policymakers increased both state property taxes and gas taxes, the…

Utah’s online sales tax bill died because it had serious flaws

The Salt Lake Tribune carried an op-ed this week bemoaning Utah’s Legislature caving-in to Amazon by failing to enact an online sales tax this legislative session. While I certainly agree that the price differential is hurting Utah businesses, this bill was the wrong way to level the playing field. The primary obstacle to this bill was in its implementation. The bill declared that if internet companies advertised on a website owned by a resident or corporation (commonly called an affiliate link) that is incorporated in the state of Utah, that is enough…

Reflecting on conservatism as Legislature winds down

By Derek Monson Although the 2016 Utah Legislative Session is winding down this week, two proposals – namely, legalizing medical marijuana and banning so-called “non-compete agreements” – are forcing Utahns and policymakers to re-examine their core beliefs. Because we are in Utah, that means forcing Utahns to decide what it really means to be conservative. Just this week, the sponsor of the more expansive medical marijuana bill, SB 73, was quoted in a news story saying that he plans to move out of the country. He has been planning the…

Testimony in opposition to HB 264 (End of Life Options Act) [UPH Wire]

Testimony presented by Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland Institute director of public affairs, on Feb. 25, 2016, before the House Health and Human Services Committee of the Utah Legislature, in opposition to HB 264 (End of Life Options Act).   Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning, representatives. Stan Rasmussen representing Sutherland Institute. We appreciate and commend to you many of the points made others who have presented and who will present concerns today about the impacts and consequences of physician-assisted suicide. Abetting individuals wishing to terminate their own lives by means…

Medical marijuana in Utah: an analysis of Senator Mark Madsen’s SB73

The ongoing battle between supporters and detractors of Sen. Madsen’s SB73 “Medical Cannabis Act”, or medical marijuana, seems to be always framed as ‘those who support medical treatment’ versus ‘people who hate sick people’.  While there are the zealots in every campaign, this axis is a mere distraction from the real issue.  The bill, as drafted, is riddled throughout with inaccuracies, mistakes, and unintended consequence to the extent that the bill should not be supported; not because of its subject matter or aim, but rather because of its legislative inadequacies.…

Sen. Daniel Thatcher: To vote yes on medical marijuana, we need reliable data

To vote yes on medical marijuana, we need reliable data. We won’t have that until the Federal Government reclassifies marijuana and the FDA can properly research it, including what conditions are helped, dosage, potential side-effects, and warnings against drug interactions, just like any other drug. Throughout this process, I have seen individuals being shamed and attacked for holding differing opinions. These tactics are causing many good people who hold strong and valid opinions to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. This does not make for good policy. I…

Can electronic driver licenses work? Some considerations.

Rep. Craig Hall is sponsoring HB227 asking the Driver License Division and Department of Technology Services to advise the legislature on the feasibility of allowing electronic driver licenses. I’ll admit, there’s a lot of things in your wallet now that you can store on a phone including credit cards and membership cards. Moving to a driver license, though, gives me some pause. Similar to the discussion we had with electronic voting last year, any digital ID must obtain parity with existing physical ID. This means it must be universally accepted…

10 Tips for easily following the Utah Legislature

The Utah legislature ranks among the best in the nation for state legislative transparency and ease of following the goings-on on Capitol Hill. Here are 10 easy ways you can follow along with the legislative session, which also gives you info for some awesome small talk at dinner parties. Go to the award-winning legislative site: le.utah.gov You can search for bills by topic, number or legislator. Track bills electronically.  Each time there is a change to the wording and each time it is scheduled to be discussed in committee or on the floor, you…

Nonbinding nonsense

By Derek Monson Groups that have had their political and ideological agendas frustrated by Utah’s constitutional order and the conservative instincts of state policymakers have recently begun pursuing a new tactic in their crusade to moderate and “sophisticate” the state’s prudent management of taxpayer resources. They have proposed statewide “nonbinding votes” of the people. The idea of the “nonbinding vote” is to put an opinion question on the ballot for the public to vote on, without requiring any policy changes based on the outcomes of the vote. For instance, the…