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…

Open data and local government: Part One

In December, Route Fifty hosted a panel on the increasing role access to public data is playing in local governments both as a public service and an internal disruptor of existing practices. Panelists included city clerks, lawmakers, mayors, and more from around the country, large cities and small. The forum provided an intriguing snapshot of how transparency and open data are helping to reimaging city and county government, and how that transformation isn’t top-down but being driven mainly by younger city employees and public involvement. Some of the key takeaways:…

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…

Transparency in the Healthy Utah discussion

Healthcare

Whatever your position on expanding Medicaid in Utah, attacking the post-legislative session discussions as being “secretive” only makes sense if you don’t know anything about public policy formation. When Healthy Utah failed to pass out of a House committee late in the 2015 Legislative Session, Governor Gary Herbert promised to call a special session in July. It set a deadline by which he, Speaker Greg Hughes, and President Wayne Neiderhauser would iron out differences between Healthy Utah and the House’s Utah Cares (which also failed). And that’s the rub. The left leaning activists who…

Why King’s Campaign Finance Bill is Ironic (and DOA)

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Brian King’s campaign finance bill hit a snag when the House Government Operations Committee voted unanimously to hold HB60, ostensibly because of concerns about the Swallow scandal. King’s bill would limit donations from individuals to candidates to $10,000 for statewide races and $5,000 for legislative races. “I want to see if there is something we can do to address dark money … in the form of greater disclosure and transparency,” King said according the Salt Lake Tribune. Maryann Martindale, executive director of the progressive non-profit Alliance for a Better Utah (ABU), also spoke…

From HB477 to the Utah Legislature winning the Online Democracy Award

[UPDATED 8/28/2014 1:25 PM with more links below] Nailed it. This week, Speaker Becky Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser accepted the Online Democracy Award from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)  on behalf of the Utah Legislature. NCSL recognized the Utah legislative website, le.utah.gov, as Best in the Nation. You know what?They deserve it. The site really is awesome and it makes it possible for anyone with an internet connection to get more information about sausage making legislation and the Utah Legislature than they could possibly consume. After the cachinnations in…