Tuesday, March 05, 2013

2013 Utah Legislation Session News Roundup

Wholesome red meat nutrition for our ever-politically ravenous Weber County Forum readers

Over the course of the current 45-day 2013 Utah legislative session, our State legislature's apparently been on its best behavior, possibly because it's occupied by fewer political "kooks" than in years past.  Nevertheless, there's still evidence of certain legislative quirks and mis-steps, some of which we've gleaned this morning straight from this morning's Salt Lake Tribune .  Here goes, folks: the latest in our never-ending effort to provide wholesome red meat nutrition for our ever-politically ravenous Weber County Forum readers, as our 2013 Utah legislature begins to wrap things up:

Surprise of surprises, the oft-neglected process of upgrading legislative ethics rules has been the subject of at least some proposed legislation during this 2013 Utah legislative session, as the Trib reports this morning on the fates of two 2013 bills addressing that general topic.  In that connection "Utah legislators may soon bar themselves from accepting donations while on Capitol Hill — but have decided to continue voting on bills even if they have conflicts of interest," the Trib's Lee Davidson reports:
Specifically,  GOP House Rep Greg Hughes's HJR16, "which would prohibit accepting [campaign] donations on Capitol Hill,"easily sailed through the House Rules Committee and has been thus sent on  to the full House for a vote. Happily, Hughes recognises that it's exceedingly bad form for lobbyist bag-men to deliver wads of cash to their favorite Utah legislators on the same sacred site where legislators consider the very same bills that they're being paid to promote. As to the other referenced legislation, GOP House Rep. Jim Nelson's HR1, "which would allow members to abstain on votes when they may have a conflict of interest," that piece of much-needed legislation has been summarily nixed in committee and sent on for "further study,""during interim meetings later this year." We've discussed this issue before on Weber County Forum, of course; and frankly we're perplexed that Utah legislators won't just pass a bill (without all the rigmarole) allowing for legislators to conform to the highest ethical standards and to simply "declare and abstain from voting on any bill or appropriation in which lawmakers believe they have a conflict of interest." Seems like a "no-brainer" to us.

During past years we've devoted considerable WCF electronic ink to stories involving Utah's Government Records and Management Act, and the substantial effort and expense to which which Utah Citizens are often subjected, even when their public document discovery efforts are clearly expended mainly in the public interest. In that connection we'll refer to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story, which reports that "Democratic"Rep. Brian King’s efforts (HB122) to require agenc[ies] to provide public documents at no cost is going on the back burner":
This is bad news for Utah political activists, folks. So long as Utah's public agencies retain discretion in the waiver of  GRAMA request "costs," the same public agencies will continue to thwart the process through trumped up and exorbitant document production fees.

And as an added bonus, here's a real doozy of a story involving Weber County's own State Senator Allen Christensen (you know, that odd-ball legislator from North Ogden who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf). Seems "[a] bill seeking to turn cock fighting into a felony took a detour during floor comments in the Utah Senate Monday when a Republican expressed dismay that the Legislature was looking to elevate the penalty (SB52) for rooster fighting while abortion remained legal":
"Do we really want to make it a felony and go to prison [because] two chickens were bred — which naturally want to do this thing in their lives — and we’re going to send their owners to prison for this? Yet we allow people to go ahead and murder their unborn babies? I vote no." Yep.  That's what Senator Christensen reportedly said.

Senator Allen Christensen, anti-abortion constituent panderer, and champion of  "cock fighting sports enthusiasts and industry lobbyists everywhere," yes?


Bob Becker said...

A. The etics bill that's likely to pass: well, I'm pleased to see that the party that bills itself as the of tradition finally recignizes that the traditional location for bag men to pay off legislators is hotel rooms, not in the corridirs of the state house. Little America decides to offer two- hour room rentals, this bill could shunt some business its way.

.B. Re: the dead bill to allow members to abstain when they have a conflict of interest on a vote. C'mon Rudi. You know why this can't be passed. If it did pass, everytime a bill sponsored or opposed by the real estate lobby came up, neirher house could get a quorum eligible to vote.

C. Re: Christiansen's latest embarrassing statement. Reminded me of Gov. Jindal's recent comment to the GOP: " We've got to stop being the stupid party.". Haven't stopped yet it seems. At leasr not here in Zion.

Bobsawatrzki01 said...

There's plenty enough Laws already! Why don't they pass a Law against making new Laws? It would be simple. No New Laws shall be created unless 1 Old Law is deposed. All in favor, say Ay!

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