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…

Show Me The Study

THIS was supposed to be THE YEAR. Governor Herbert’s proposed budget last fall gave hope to thousands of Utah teachers.  After more than five years of trying to dig out of a weak economy, our government had a surplus.  Governor Herbert’s proposal offered $500 million to public schools and a 6.25% increase in the WPU. As I spoke with several members of the Utah House and Senate Friday, it became alarmingly apparent to me that the governor’s proposal was, in their eyes, not plausible.  Not even close. After years of…

Should the Utah Legislative Session be Longer?

This past week the Legislative Process Committee recommended extending the legislative session.  Currently the session runs 45 continuous days, that count including weekends.  The committee expressed concerns over the often rushed decision-making process, and the lack of time they have to fully vet all bills.  These concerns are valid, but is the answer a longer session? No. The answer lies in other reforms, such as: Requiring all bills to have two committee hearings This seems counter intuitive.  Legislative committees take time.  But by requiring bills to have two hearings it…

State School Board Election Process Unconstitutional…Now What?

On Friday, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the process by which State School Board Candidates are placed on the ballot was unconstitutional.  This ruling came after candidate Breck England’s complaint that he had been removed from the ballot by the Governor’s Nominating and Recruiting Committee unconstitutionally.  Pat Rusk, a candidate from a different district who was also removed from the ballot, joined the suit. With Waddoups apparently agreeing with them, the big question now is what happens next.  The parties will meet with the judge on Thursday to discuss a remedy, but…

The Top 11 Qualities of Good Legislators

Capitol at night

Over the years, I’ve watched legislators come and go and candidates come and go, I’ve often pondered what qualities are most important for a legislator. Here is a start: Learn process – The legislative process is like a monopoly game. Those who know the rules best mostly get their way. Take the time to learn parliamentary procedure. Learn how to pass and kill bills. Learn appropriations – The difference between Executive Appropriations and Appropriations SubCommittees is immense. Figure out how to get funding. Don’t define your worth by the office you…

Education funding: How much more do we spend before we fix it?

Education has long been “the third rail” of Utah politics. Grab the rail, and it will shock you. The education our children receive now, is vital to not only the future of our state, but the entire nation. Investing in education now, means educated adults later, which in turn provides a better work force and a stronger society. Not just economically, but in the idea of “community” as well. However, Education gets a free pass in the media, as well as the legislature as a whole. Lets sit back and…