It’s time: The public deserves open caucuses in the Utah State Legislature

In 1981, I was in my 2nd year as a member of the Utah House of Representatives.  Although the experience had many positive aspects, one feature greatly troubled me: holding the Legislative political caucuses in closed session.  My frustration boiled, and in March near the end of the legislative session I addressed the Capitol rotunda full of educators about my frustration. My objection to closed caucuses focused on five faults which– ·       Avoids public scrutiny by allowing decision-making in a setting where the public cannot be present ·       Disenfranchises voters…

Rep. Jeremy Peterson: HB162: Transparency and Accountability for Taxpayer Funded Film Incentives

This session I am running a bill to provide more legislative oversight and more accountability for money that the state spends in promoting film production here in Utah.  Currently, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has been granted permission from the Legislature to issue up to $6.7 million dollars in tax credits for film productions that the department deems worthy to receive them.  Certain benchmarks and yardsticks are used to quantify which productions show the most promise for spending money and driving economic growth in the state. The problem…

Holly Richardson enters race for Senate 14, calls for leaders “who look for solutions”

Former state legislator Holly Richardson has joined the race for Utah Senate District 14. The seat is currently held by Al Jackson, who will not seek reelection. “Over the course of this campaign, we will have many opportunities to talk about policy, but today, I want to share the type of leader I believe we need,” said Richardson. “We need leaders who look for solutions, not just the next soundbite. We need leaders who understand that diversity and differences make for a richer, more robust conversation and are to be…

Survey | Make your voice heard on SB 54/Count My Vote

Could I ask for just a couple minutes of your time to get your help on a project that will add to our understanding of an important political issue? Click on the survey below (and here).  Over the last couple of years, due to Count My Vote and the subsequent legislation SB 54, there have been some significant and important changes to Utah’s candidate nomination rules to get access to a ballot. We have seen efforts like “Count my Vote” morph into what is now known as SB 54. These…

Email from Speaker Greg Hughes to Utah House Members regarding no November Special Session to address USBE and SB 54

The following is an email from Speaker Greg Hughes to Utah House Members.  From: Greg Hughes Sent: Friday, November 13, 2015 11:08 AM To: House All Members Subject: No November Special Session Representatives! On November 3rd Governor Herbert issued a press release stating that he “will not convene a nominating committee for the 2016 Utah State Board of Education elections.” The statement also “encourages legislative leaders to continue working together to find a resolution to this important issue.” It was interesting that the Governor called upon the Legislature to act…

Kim Burningham: Be cautious about current talk of a special session

Capitol at night

Rumors are swirling.  Some sources are reporting a special session of the Legislature will be held next week.  Currently, the Governor has not called such a session.  I write in opposition to calling a special session and urge the Governor to refrain. At one point, the rumor mill suggested that a special session would be called to deal with SB 54, the compromise allowing political candidates to use an alternative system for getting on the ballot.  The current talk focuses on a different issue, the process for selecting State School…

The candidates to replace Justin Miller in HD 40

With Justin Miller’s resignation in effect on November 11, Democrats will gather to select a replacement, choosing from four candidates to send one to Governor Gary Herbert for appointment to fill out Miller’s term representing HD 40. Early on, prior even to Miller’s resignation, former HD 40 Representative Lynn Hemingway let it be known that he wanted the seat back and was seen as a favorite for getting it. Insiders watching the race have place attorney Amy Fowler and accountant Chris Stout in a competitive position, speculating that delegates may…

Putting in perspective Utah’s D- ranking from the Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity’s integrity ranking of states, deservedly, is getting a lot of attention nationwide. CPI has a reputation for careful and thorough investigation, and earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for it. That is to say, their work is worth noting. So, what should we take away from Utah’s D- grade in the report? When it comes to reports of this type, it’s important to remember they can be subjective. “Integrity” in the areas studied can mean different things to different “good government” advocates. For example, the CPI…

Out with the baby, or just with the bathwater? Now that Governor Herbert won’t assemble a USBE nomination committee, what next?

Due to a 2014 court case, Governor Gary Herbert won’t be putting together a state board of education recruiting and nomination committee this year, even though it’s required by law. Under Utah law, the governor is required to assemble a committee for the purpose of recruiting and preparing a list of candidates for the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). The committee narrows down the candidates (after recruiting and reviewing applications), then, sends to the governor a list of at least three of the candidates for the USBE, along with pertinent…

Rep. Robert Spendlove: The Next Steps on Utah Medicaid Reform

The Next Steps on Utah Medicaid Reform October 26, 2015 By Representative Robert Spendlove Members of the House Republican Caucus met recently to review the latest proposal from the Governor and Legislative Leadership in the House and Senate to expand Medicaid to low income individuals in our state. While I commend the “Group of Six” for their work on developing the plan, ultimately I decided that I could not vote for the proposal. There are several reasons why I voted against it. The primary reason is I could not support…