We have now completed the third week of the 61st Legislature. (The reason it is only the 61st, rather than the 119th –the age of the State–is because our election cycle runs on even years and legislators take their seats on the odd years. So 2015 and 2016 will be the 61st and 2017 and 2018 will be the 62nd Legislature. Just a little fyi)
Here is an article that has a good explanation of what Utah’s two education budgets went through the past two weeks and the proposals will go through before they are finally passed and signed into law:
We passed all the base budget bills this week. Now the work of refining begins. The reason we pass a base budget is so that if in the end, we (meaning the Senate, House and Governor) don’t agree with the final budget bill, thus preventing its passage, there will at least be a “rough draft budget” to work with until an agreement can be met. Here is a link to all the bills that have been passed thus far including the appropriations bills: http://le.utah.gov/asp/passedbills/passedbills.asp
Now that the committees have worked through the recommendations we have been given the proposed budget bill to work with and the bills will work their way through the process just as the other bills do.
School Board Elections
How the state school board should be elected or appointed continues to be a topic of considerable discussion. Here is a link to a radio interview with Senator Jackson about his thoughts on the subject: http://www.senatesite.com/home/kvnu-jackson/
There has been a great deal of talk in the press about nondiscrimination legislation that would protect religious actions other and viewpoints. Here is a very thoughtful article on the need for religious tolerance from a Jewish professor of Political Science in Missouri: http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/12/26856
One of the proposals debated by the Senate this week was the Citizenship Test. There is a bill requiring high school senior’s pass this test as part of their graduation requirements. This is the same test that people applying for naturalization must pass as part of their citizenship requirements. Senator Howard Stephenson presented the bill that included a 60% pass requirement. In my mind, 60% is a D. I offered an amendment to the bill that would require an 80% pass – and was so disappointed that my amendment failed. I had only 5 other senators agreeing with me that we can and should hold our students to a higher standard. (Perhaps there are some who underestimate our young people)
Some of those who opposed the idea of the whole bill claimed the test was an obstacle to graduation. Another senator claimed it was an unnecessary requirement of memorization. I assert that the memorization of such information is valuable.
Enjoy taking the test for your own interest. (No, your answers cannot be read by anyone else sending or receiving this letter)
It is not hard – and, in my mind, should be information that all citizens should know. Certainly those of voter age should be conversant in these issues.
I know very little about motorcycles – but I do understand responding to constituent concerns that deserve an answer – even if they are about motorcycles. Several months ago, I received an email from a resident in our senate district who had purchased an electric motorcycle. He asked me why electric cars were given tax credits – but electric motorcycles were not. Seemed like a reasonable query – but it was one to which i could not respond. So I asked for help. I learned several things – such as electric motorcycles are very clean (no emissions) and very quiet – and more expensive than traditional motorcycles. But, as Mr. Anderson correctly said, they did not qualify for tax credits. I will skip so many details about the research my intern and I did – and report that on Thursday of this week, Mr. Anderson and my intern and I presented to the transportation committee a bill that would give tax credits to those who purchase electric motorcycles. Joining us was the former mayor of SLC, Ted Wilson. He talked about the environmental benefits of an electric motorcycle, and I talked about the tax fairness – – – and the Senate Transportation Committee approved the bill to go to the Senate consent calendar (a fast track option for non-controversial bills)
Mr. Anderson lives on Grandview Hill, so Rep Keith Grover is his House Rep -and Rep Grover will carry the motorcycle bill in the House.
Other visitors from our District
Also visiting the Capitol this week from our Senate District were the Tinsleys. They are members of NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) which hosted an event for the business owners at the Capitol. Here they are discussing legislation with Rep Curt Oda.
This week we were lucky enough to have visitors from Utah Valley University. A handful of students including the Student Body President were able to make it to Capitol Hill to meet and speak with Sen. Dayton.
All bills (proposed legislation) from the Senate must also pass the House before going to the Governor’s office for his signature to become law. One of my former House colleagues and good friends, Greg Hughes is now the House Speaker. He graciously allowed me to sit with him on the House dais while he was conducting a House session – and I took opportunity to let him know that I had some several significant bills coming to that chamber 🙂
Click here to read about my other legislative issues – several of which are major water bills. (2015 Bills) If you have about 15 minutes and interest in my water issues passion, click here to hear one of my presentations on that subject. This video is about water – and the appropriate role of the state in controlling our water.
Utah does not have a Presidents Day
You may be old enough to remember having President George Washington’ birthday and Presidents Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as school holidays. In the 1970’s however, a new federal holiday was created in January that was called Civil Rights Day. The creation of Civil Rights Day required that the states combine any two other holidays to accommodate a new federal holiday. The several states chose to combine President Washington’s and President Lincoln’s birthday in to one holiday. Each state was then individually allowed to name the new holidays in January and February.
A majority of states choose to eventually change the name of Civil Rights Day in January to Martin Luther King Day. Utah did likewise, but rather than call the day in February, President’s Day, we opted to call it Washington and Lincoln Day.
I hope your holiday weekend allows time for a dinnertime discussion with your family about the significance of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s Presidencies.
As always, you can follow the legislation activities at:
https://opendata.utah.gov/ and http://le.utah.gov/