Tuesday, January 17, 2023, the day after Martin Luther King Day (Jan 16), the Utah Legislature opened the 2023 General Session. The Utah House took only 20 seconds to elect it Speaker – while the US House took 15 ballot and four days to elect theirs – keeping Brad Wilson while the Utah Senate kept President Adams as its leader. Newly elected members were sworn in and the work began on the budget and bills for 2023 and beyond.
By the opening day, the House had 220 bills and resolutions to consider and the Senate had already filed 111 more pieces of legislation, for a total of 331 of their normal 750 to 1000 pieces considered during an average six-week session. Of the 750 to 1000 bits of legislation, an average of 500-plus get through the maze of the legislative process and to the Governor’s desk for one of three options: 1) his signature, thereby becoming law; 2) his veto, thereby returning to the legislature for an attempt at a veto over-ride, or 3) becoming law without his signature.
More bills are coming and will be added in the coming weeks. But, of the 311 under current consideration, more then 10% will be shepherded by the IAP leadership through the committee meetings, floor debate and public comments. These range from HB 21 (Open and Public Meeting Amendments by Rep. Joel Briscoe – R of Salt Lake County) through various election and voter modification and amendment bills (including HB 171 – Alternate Voting Method Modifications, by Rep Katy Hall – R from Davis and Weber County; which would repealthe Ranked Choice Voting Pilot project), to three different bills on abortions (each as a result of the Dobbs decision of the Supreme Court putting responsibility for abortions back to the states), to a couple of competing trans-gender surgery bills (one, SB 16 – Sex Change Surgical Procedures, by Sen. Mike Kennedy – R from No. Utah County would prohibit sex change surgery on minors but only ‘study’ the hormone therapy and chemical sterilization of minors for a future piece of legislation; versus HB 132 – Prohibition of Sex Transfer procedures on Minors, by Rep. Rex Shipp - R of Dist.71 from Iron County. [Check out our blog to see the story behind SB 16 becoming law and HB132 not.] which would have prohibited both surgery and the hormone or chemical sterilization of minors; to a regular couple of Second Amendment bills and the odd bill on GRAMA, to the highly controversial redesign of the State Flag (SB 31, proposed by Senator Dan McCay, R of Salt Lake and Utah Counties, and Rep. Mike Schultz, R of Davis and Weber Counties) … just to mention a few.
Lots of fun and hot air are ahead of the 75 members of the Utah House and 29 members of the Utah Sente, not to mention a few hundred Utah citizens and lobbyists circling around Capitol Hill over their 45 days.
WEEK TWO UPDATE
The unfortunate show of ‘leadership’ came at the expense of Rep. Rex Shipp during week two as both SB 16 and HB 132were both in the same House Committee and only one came out (SB 16). This was planned by the ‘leadership’ at the expense of Rep. Shipp. Pushing SB 16 out during the first week and delaying HB 132 until the second week was a planned and executed contingency. (see our website blog on the State Legislature) We will likely see other examples of such ‘leadership’ before the session ends in March.
SB 16 was signed into law along with HB 215 – the school voucher and teacher raise bill. Both were controversial in their own spheres. ACLU and National Lesbian League have already threatened lawsuits to go along with last year’s bill banning transgender girls in girl sports lawsuit.
“The bill (SB 16) was (amended) to remove a sunset date on the moratorium (of chemical and hormone treatments) and allow a child that changes their mind about treatment to turn around and sue a healthcare provider. It would also have an immediate effective date upon signature of the governor,” Ben Winslow of Fox13 News said of the issue in his report.
The other controversial bill (HB 215) which came out in the first week, and was signed at the end of the second week by the Governor, deals with vouchers for parents which take their children to other than public education schools (either private, charter or home schools) and was tied to teacher raises. The joining of the two issues (vouchers, called “scholarships” in the bill - but ‘a rose by any other name …’ and the teacher’s raises) was another clearly ‘bullying tactic’ to get support for the ‘vouchers.’
Teacher raises of $6000 to $8000 were dependent on the ‘scholarship’ (vouchers) being passed as a package. The ‘vouchers’ would target about 4200 low-income students, initially, and could be expanded down the road, if the program proves itself. The money from the ‘vouchers’ would be given to the parents to pay for specific ‘educational’ home-school items and/or tuition in private or charter schools. An additional bill came forth to allow the State Auditor to make sure the money goes where it is intended and to root out any corruption or mis-management of the program.
Also in week two, the redesign of the Utah Flag bill was introduced and began the run through the various House and Senate committees. What is your view of the newly proposed redesign of the State Flag? (Note: the star under the beehive was changed to a five-pointed star, with five peaks in the final version, see Photo Gallery)
Rail Safety Office
In Week Three the Legislature started down the path to create one more agency for the ever-expanding State Government. On February 7th the House Transportation Standing Committee passed HB 232 (Railroad Crossing Amendments, by Rep Cutler), HJR 16(Joint Resolution to Review Railroad Authority, by Rep. Wilcox), HB 51 (Railroad Right of Way Amendments, by Rep. Snider) and HB 63 (establishing an Office of Rail Safety, by Rep Schultz) all dealing with the railroads and rail safety. The Committee’s favorable recommendation sent these items to the House floor for further action (e.g., debate, amendments, three ‘readings,’ etc.).
This new department, of Rail Safety, will be part of the Utah Department of Transportation under the Executive Director with a Deputy Director and staff. However, none of these bills – including HB 63 – have any fiscal notes or money appropriated for this new entity. Hopefully they will have fiscal notes or something in the coming weeks before they get a ‘blank check’ and start running.
The Joint Resolution, by Rep. Wilcox, calls upon the Federal Government to review the Railroad laws and how they impact the State of Utah urging Congress to “take necessary action to align federal laws related to railroads with the intent of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.” That is at least hopeful if not helpful !!
Setting up a ‘New’ Court
HB 216, from Rep. Brady Brammer and Sen. Kirk Cullimore, wants to establish a “Business and Chancery Court” in the State of Utah. This bill will appoint one judge, which will be at the same level as District Court judges, for actions dealing with business damages of at least $300,000 with claims arising from contract, fiduciary duty, disputes over internal affairs, sale, merger, or dissolution of a business, disputes over liability, etc., including blockchain disputes and “smart contracts” issues.
On Feb. 9th, this bill went before the Senate Judiciary Committee and it was passed out with a favorable recommendation to the Senate Floor for debate.
Do we need another ‘specialized’ level of the judiciary in our state? One wonders if this expansion of the government is really warranted or just ‘wanted’ for the corporate revenue and prestige of ‘being like Maryland’? Are those ‘reasons’ or ‘justifications’?
Week Three, to one legislator, was “Water Week’ according to Rep. Nelson Abbott. In his weekly newsletter about the session, he said, “This week the legislature celebrated Water Week. My colleagues and I are committed to passing policies that will increase water capacity, expand conservation efforts, prepare for future water needs, and enhance outreach efforts.”
He gives the following list of seven (7) bills to show the legislative efforts [but we included a little detail and some comment on each]:
SB 53 – Groundwater Use Amendments[deals with Groundwater Management Plans and recharging of an aquifer]
SB 76 – Water Amendments [“provides for a study; addresses grants for environmental improvement projects; requires certain municipal and county planning commissions to consult with the Division of Water Resources in development of general plans; addresses consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Food; requires notification of irrigation and canal companies in certain circumstances; requires counties to notify certain public water systems and request feedback on how elements of the general plan affect certain water planning; requires counties to consider planning for regionalization of public water systems; provides for action by the director of the Division of Drinking Water to establish regional source and storage minimum sizing standards or adjust system-specific sizing standards; provides what may be included in a water conservation plan; modifies requirements related to the Division of Water Resources making rules for regional water conservation goals; requires the Division of Water Resources to consult with watershed councils under certain circumstances; changes the membership of the Water Development Coordinating Council; directs the Water Development Coordinating Council to take actions related to the coordination of growth and conservation planning…”]
SB 118 – Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives [ “authorizes water conservancy districts to receive grants to provide incentives; provides conditions on when an owner may receive an incentive; addresses rulemaking authority; provides for certain liens upon removal of water efficient landscaping or conditions on incentives …”]
SB 144 – Water Instream Flow Amendments [ “allows for certain change applications related to delivery of water to reservoirs …”]
HB 150 – Emergency Water Shortages Amendments [“amends the powers of the Department of Agriculture and Food; provides for the use of money in the Agriculture Resource Development Fund for emergency water shortages loans; addresses governmental immunity; enacts the Water Preferences During Emergencies chapter, including: a) defining terms; b) providing for scope of the chapter; c) outlining the process for declaring a temporary water shortage emergency; d) addressing water use preferences under a temporary water shortage emergency; e) providing for compensation related to water use preferences; and f) addressing rulemaking by the Department of Agriculture and Food; and repeals existing statutes related to water preferences and a study …”]
HB 207 – Compact Commission Amendments [ “ addresses representation of the state related to compacts; amends provisions related to the Utah members of the Bear River Compact commission; amends provisions related to the Columbia Interstate Compact …‘ but it fails to address the Colorado River Compact which has been in the news recently ]
HB 307 – Utah Water Ways [“directs oversight of the creation of a partnership and the state's role in that partnership; outlines powers and duties of the partnership; addresses the selection of an executive director and board of directors; requires reporting; and addresses role of water supply entities.” It also appropriates “to the Department of Natural Resources - Water Resources, as a one-time appropriation: from the General Fund, One-time, $2,000,000; and to the Department of Natural Resources - Water Resources, as an ongoing appropriation”]
Rep. Abbott then stated the following: “Solving our water problems is very important right now because Utah is one of the fastest-growing and driest states in the country. As our population continues to row, so will the strains on our water supply. Managing our water to meet Utah’s needs requires a significant coordinated, statewide effort. Over the next several years, we will increase water capacity, expand conservation efforts, prepare for future water needs, and enhance outreach efforts.
“Since last year’s legislative session with bills and budgets focused on water, we’re already starting to see results:
- In 2022, Utahns conserved over 9 billion gallons of water, enough to fill Panguitch Lake. We will build upon last year’s policy success to encourage conservation and provide resources to help Utahns do their part to save water.
- For every $1 spent on agriculture optimization efforts in 2022, there was a $4.29 return, resulting in 174,000 acre feet of water saved.
“Statewide water storage is currently 32% of capacity, so we have a lot of work to do but I’m confident we will have success,” Abbott concluded.
While several controversial bills have already been debated and some even passed on to the Governor in the opening weeks, still several more came up in Week Four. Rep. Cheryl Acton (R- Dist 38, Salt Lake City) sponsored HB 281“Social Credit Score amendments,” which “requires the Division of Consumer Protection to establish a system that allows a consumer to report a financial institution's or company's use of a social credit score; prohibits a governmental entity from using, enforcing, providing data for use in, or otherwise participating in the creation or use of a system that, based on a social credit score, discriminates against, advocates for, or causes adverse or preferential treatment of a person…” This would short circuit the implementation of SEG scores in Utah, which would adversely effect/affect everyone in the state. And this bill passed and was sent to the Governor to become law before the end of week five.
Sen. Todd Weiler (R- Dist 8, Davis and Salt Lake Counties from Woods Cross) introduced SB 156 with the title of “Investigative Genetic Genealogy Modifications,” which he termed the ‘Sherry Black Bill.’ He called it after the cold case of the murder of Sherry Black because genetic investigation named the killer of Sherry and provided closure to Sherry’s family after a full decade of waiting and wondering. This bill “establishes requirements that a law enforcement agency is required to meet in order to: a) request an investigative genetic genealogy service or a genetic genealogy database utilization from a genetic genealogy company or the Bureau of Forensic Services; b) and obtain and process a third-party DNA specimen for information regarding the third-party individual's potential biological relatives; as well as provides limitations on: a) arrests and charges based on certain types of genetic information; and b) uses of certain genetic information; establishes procedural requirements for retention and destruction of certain types of genetic information; establishes remedies for certain law enforcement investigation violations; establishes law enforcement reporting requirements for certain investigative genetic genealogy database utilizations; requires the State Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to receive, compile, and publish data concerning certain law enforcement genetic genealogy utilizations; creates provisions concerning postconviction relief involving an investigative genetic genealogy service or a genetic genealogy database utilization … “ This bill passed and was sent to the Governor on March 1st.
Another interesting controversy came forward in a bill by Rep. Jordan Teuscher (R- Dist 44, Salt Lake County out of So. Jordan) HB 374 “ County Sheriff Amendments” attempting to abolish the Unified Police District in Salt Lake County and going back to a County Sheriff and municipal police agencies. Several townships testified that it would cause an undue hardship on their residents and budgets if they were to lose UPD coverage and have to install their own law enforcement agency from the ground up. This will continue to be an interesting discussion as it goes through the gauntlet of the legislative process. It made it through to the Sen. 2nd Reading Calendar and was sent to the Senate Rules Committee the last day of committee hearings, Feb. 28 and was in the Senate on the final day of the session.)
In a related area, HJR 10 a “Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution and allow for the Election of County Sheriffs” was proposed by Speaker Brad Wilson with Senate Pres. Adams, and a slew of co-sponsors. Wilson said the state constitution failed to address the election of County Sheriffs among the elected officers and he was seeking to add that office to the list in the state constitution. This bill flew right through (big surprise what with all that power behind it) and will be a Constitutional amendment we get to vote on, on the ballot in November.
Starting Week Five is the beginning of the ‘home stretch’ of the session, only nine legislative days are left. This was the Week of the Budget, as the day after the President’s Day holiday the final numbers of revenue projections were due.
The Governor’s Budget for FY25 (our budget process is to appropriate budgets well ahead of the Fiscal Year they are for … we get to earn all that interest for the next year, don’t you see!) will be $28.2 Billion. The Fiscal Year we are in right now (FY23) was established is $25 Billion, set back in 2021.
Of interesting note, the budget for 2000 was $6 Billion. In 2016 it grew to $14.6 Billion. Now it is $25 Billion and they want it to continue to grow to $29 Billion ?? Does it ever stop? So much for the GOP mantra of “LESS GOVERNMENT, FEWER TAXES” !!! But I get carried away … somewhat! However, “I ain’t wrong !!”
The Governor talked of a “tax cut” this year in his recommendation but will the legislature go along with it? We shall see by the end (we are still working on the budget review – it will come out soon.
Also this week, 78-page HB 101from Rep Judy Rohner, with Sub.1 (by Rep Mike Schultz) purports to be, according to the bill's title, “Food Sales Tax Amendments” ... but the first several hundred lines of the bill covers such diverse items as "800 service," "900 service," "alcohol beverages," “biomass energy,” etc. and none of them would we classify as 'food' or applicable to the title of the bill (Food Sales Tax).
I'm sure Rep. Rohner knows the Utah Constitution says every bill has to have one subject and the substance of the bill has to be reflected in the bill's title (Section 22 of Article VI " “Except general appropriation bills and bills for the codification and general revision of laws, no bill shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.” (emphasis added) Hm-m-m-m ?!!? Does that mean HB 215, too?? HB 215 had two subjects in the title and body … Hm-m-m!!
Despite that, this bill passed and is on its way to the Governor. But realize that this only removes the State Portion of the Food Tax and there will still be the County/Municipal parts left on applicable foods. AND, it will only take effect IF the Constitutional Amendment removing the earmark from Income Tax for Educational funding passes in Nov. 2024. Does that sound like blackmail or bribery to you?
This proclivity of the legislature to bully-ing people is more than disconcerting. Can you say ‘Tyranny?’ First they bullied the teachers and their organizations to not oppose the ‘vouchers’ to get the pay raises. NOW, they want the electorate to limit the Constitutional authority to fund education to get the Food Tax removed. Do you smell something here??
We have abhorred bullying in schools and in public BUT our legislature institutionalizes it UTAH CODE! WHAT!?! What have we wrought?
Being a citizen lobbyist for 45 days of the 2023 Utah Legislature’s General Session is exhausting. They began with controversy and keep stirring the pot for the first week or two of the six-week session. They also saved some of the controversy for week five and six – when they can ‘sneak’ it through instead of suspending the rules and ramming them through on the final day and hours, as they have a habit to do in the past several years (e.g., Inland Port initial legislation, SB 54’s change of the election process, et al)
By the beginning of Week Four, the final group of bills and other legislation were released and put forward. The House totaled 567 numbered bills, 10 House Concurrent Resolutions, 28 House Joint Resolutions, and 4 House Resolutions. The Senate totaled 300 numbered bills, 9 Senate Concurrent Resolutions, 11 Senate Joint Resolutions, and four Senate Resolutions. Altogether, that gives the legislature 933 pieces of legislation to consider in 45 days, or six-week, session. That is an awful lot of reading, talking and considering – along with a little bit of ‘arm twisting’ and negotiation.
That makes at least 19 education bills, 10 Second amendment related pieces of legislation, six pieces regarding Constitutional Amendments, five about water issues, four about railroads, four abortion bills, three about tax issues, three about social media, two about open meetings, one about GRAMA, one about ‘social scores’ and one about changing the process of getting unclaimed property from the State Treasurers office. And the IAP leadership was tracking 97 bills through the process (70 House bills and bits of legislation plus 27 Senate pieces of legislation). But that doesn’t count the appropriation or budget bills in any of the above tallies.
Week Five & The $28 Billion Dollar Budget
With the final days of Committee hearings winding down, several bills and resolutions were either considered in committees or were left in committee, where they ‘died in committee.’ Time ran out for several bills, but most moved on to their respective houses of the legislature for floor debate and action.
One bill which did pass, and was of interest to IAP and all citizens in the State, was SB 31, the bill about the State Flag. This bill passed on Thursday, March 2, with a mere 5 vote margin in the House (40-35), after having a 22-6-1 vote in the Senate earlier. So, we will have a new State Flag – effective date is March 2024 – and the historic flag – the traditional State Flag - will become a ‘ceremonial flag’ for Gov. Cox to use on special occasions … but citizens “can fly either,” they claim. Shortly after the session ended a referendum was filed with the Lt. Gov to put this idea on the ballot – at which time the clock started ticking!
The new flag becomes the Blue-White-Red flag (which is the French Tri-Color and NOT the RED-WHITE-BLUE we pledge to and which was on the traditional flag).
The traditional flag will become Gov. Cox’s ceremonial flag, flown on special and ceremonial occasions. But, we are assured, citizens will still be allowed to fly this flag on historic holidays and commemoration of Utah holidays (e.g. July 24th, etc.).
Several essential pieces of legislation are yet to be considered and debated in the session, the Budget and Appropriation bills have to be approved BEFORE the session closes at midnight on the 45thDay. Details of the Budget will be the main topic of next month’s Newsletter, so be sure to watch for that!
Regarding the budget, and of interesting note, the budget for 2000 was $6 Billion. In 2016 it grew to $14.6 Billion. Now it is $25 Billion and they want it to continue to grow to a whopping $29 Billion ?? Does it ever stop? So much for the GOP mantra of “LESS GOVERNMENT, FEWER TAXES” !!! But I get carried away … somewhat!
The Final Five Days
From February 27 to February 28 being the last two days of Committee hearings and the final three days (March 1 -3) are saved exclusively for floor debate and actions, as the Legislature is looking at winding down. Except the pressure literally takes-off for the final days … so many bills to pass, or not; so many citizen lobbyists harassing via email/texts/calls, and all the regular communications, too. All aimed at getting ‘all done’ by midnight, Friday, March 3rd. One almost feels sympathy for new legislators caught up in the pressure of the final moments … almost, as we realize they ARE getting paid to do this! (per diem, daily salary, perks – such as NBA tickets, ski passes, etc., from lobbyists, etc.)
On the final day of the session (Feb. 3, Day 45) the Legislature had already passed over 430 piece of legislation with more than 25 already signed by the Governor. So, they only had about 500 pieces of legislation to go through in the final hours of the Session. Most of that 500 pieces will not make it through the final process, but it will be interesting to see what does get through.
The Governor has until March 24 to sign, veto, or allow bills to pass into law without his signature. More next month folks as we look at the budget and the impacts of what has become ‘law’ during the last six weeks!
We ‘tracked’ over 165 bills this session, out of the 933 pieces of legislation put forward (of which 575 pieces passed). Two (2) were about Open Meetings, one (1) was amending GRAMA, 10 dealt with Second Amendment topics and issues, 19 touched on elections, three (3) played with taxes, three (3) were about railroad issues and safety, four (4) about abortions and another four (4) dealing with affordable housing in Utah, six (6) proposed Constitutional Amendments, and five (5) were about water issues. The Governor had already signed 26 before the session ended. He has 21 days to decide to sign, veto or allow them to become law without his signature; before March 24th.
Interestingly, of our ‘tracked bills’ 23 were passed before March came on (before the final three days of the session, when committee hearings were held and before full-time, all-day floor sessions took over). Forty-four (44) were passed in the final three days, and 35 were not passed but died on the vine. And the 66 resolutions proposed are equally interesting. There were 24 from the Senate and 42 from the House. From those, 18 were passed before March, 18 passed in the last three days, and 29 did not pass at all.
Our evaluation of the 2023 General Session of the Utah Legislature does not jive with the Speaker of the House, Brad Wilson’s, summation, when he said “This session was the most consequential of any session in years, if not in our history.”
We cringe at that estimation because he knows more of the behind the scenes and intent for the way things were done and why. We see a new tactic of literal ‘bullying’ becoming part of the tool box for the legislature and administration of Utah! We see manipulation and skullduggery becoming more prevalent and obvious. We see Utah headed down the ‘Progressive’ Pathway to Socialism, or worse -- State sponsored Facism (Inland Port getting into the private enterprise-government sponsored ‘bed;’ more socialist tendencies of Health-care, medicine, big-pharma, etc., et al); while throwing crumbs to the conservative side of the State and pissing-off the liberals in the State! If that is what you want, then Yes (!) … “This session was the most consequential of any session … in [infamous] history(!!)” And that is going some in this state’s history!!
OUR overall grade for the 2023 Session is a very solid “D-“ for the efforts already mentioned and for the following Good and BAD bills – enumerated below. One applauds the dedication and the ‘daily grind’ of working through 45-days of long schedules and months of preparation beforehand. (Except, they ARE getting paid by taxpayer dollars for those efforts, over and above their normal salary and benefits.) Still, the hope rings in all of our hearts for better results and fewer BAD Billsthen the Good variety.
While we do not agree with the sentiment the way Speaker Wilson and other leadership intend the statemen (just mentioned above), we do believe much good came from the session, but perhaps not with the same examples the leadership would offer.
Among our nominees for “Good Bills” are SB 16, Sen Mike Kennedy’s controversial bill “Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures Amendments” (Sen Kennedy is R-Dist. 21, Utah County, from Alpine; with floor sponsor Rep. Katy Hall is R-Dist. 11, Davis and Weber, from Salt Lake City). It became very controversial when Equality Utah came out in force to protest and tried to support Transgender surgeries, cross-sex hormone treatments and use of puberty blockers for both male and female minors. The bill “… prohibits performing sex characteristic surgical procedures on a minor for the purpose of effectuating a sex change; … prohibits a health care provider from providing a hormonal transgender treatment to new patients who were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria before a certain date; … requires the Division of Professional Licensing to create a certification for providing hormonal transgender treatments; requires a health care provider to meet certain requirements before providing a hormonal transgender treatment …”.
As one can see from the intent of the bill, this is targeted to prohibit transgender treatments and procedures on minors – those under age 18. Why Equality Utah was so adamant about the bill causes one to wonder!
Another ‘Good” one is HB 179 “Founders and Constitution Recognition” from Rep. Keven Stratton (R- Dist. 58, Utah, from Orem) and floor sponsor Sen. Ron Winterton (R- Dist 20, Duchesne, Wasatch, Summit, Uintah counties, from Roosevelt) – two legislators I wouldn’t have expected a bill like this to come from. This bill … “designates the month of September as American Founders Month; and describes the purpose of Constitution Day” in Utah. It specifically sets aside September 17, Constitution Day, “… to invite all Utah adults and Utah school children to read directly from the United States Constitution and other primary sources, and for students to be taught principles from the United States Constitution that include federalism, checks and balances, separation of powers, popular sovereignty, limited government, and the necessary and proper, commerce, and supremacy clauses …”. We would hope they would get the ‘proper’ instruction those Constitutional Principles an clauses, rather than the Hamiltonian or ‘Woke’ interpretations of them, an important tool for all citizens.
Similar “Good Bills” are:
HB 131 “Vaccine Passport Prohibition” from Rep Walt Brooks (R-Dist. 75, Washington County, from St. George) and Floor Sponsor Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Dist. 21, Utah County, from Alpine) passed, and prohibit vaccine passports. There are some significant exceptions that include health care workers and government employees.
HB 253 “Federalism Commission Amendments” from Rep. Ken Ivory (R-Dist. 39 – Salt Lake County, from West Jordan) “… requires the Federalism Commission to provide an annual report to each interim committee; allows the Federalism Commission to notify an interim committee of a federal law or action that implicates the principles of federalism or state sovereignty …” While it allows the UVU Federalism Tracker to be provided to Interim Committees, it also provides the public a look-see
HB 281 “Social Credit Score Amendments” from Rep. Cheryl Acton (R-Dist. 38 – Salt lake County, from Salt Lake City) which “… requires the Division of Consumer Protection to establish a system that allows a consumer to report a financial institution's or company's use of a social credit score; prohibits a governmental entity from using, enforcing, providing data for use in, or otherwise participating in the creation or use of a system that, based on a social credit score, discriminates against, advocates for, or causes adverse or preferential treatment of a person.”
HB 374 “County Sheriff Amendments” from Rep. Jordon Teuscher (R-Dist. 44, Salt Lake County, from South Jordan) it amends and “… establishes a repeal date for provisions governing the content of interlocal agreements for law enforcement services involving a county; and establishes a repeal date for provisions governing the role of a sheriff in police local districts and police interlocal entities.” Specifically, it eliminates the Unified Police Department option for Fistrst Class Counties and goes back to the County Sheriff and municipal police agencies.
HB 427 “Individual Freedom in Education” from Rep. Tim Jimenez (R-Dist. 20, Tooele County, from Tooele City) Passed and “…broadens a provision regarding prayer or religious devotionals; requires the State Board of Education (state board), local education agencies (LEAs), and staff to ensure that instructional materials and classroom instruction are consistent with certain principles; prohibits the state board, LEAs, and staff from: allowing the use of instructional materials and classroom instruction that are inconsistent with certain principles; or adopting policies that are inconsistent with certain principles; prohibits the state board and the State Instructional Materials Commission from recommending instructional materials that are inconsistent with certain principles;”. And prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Utah schools by saying: (in lines 87- 105) 87 … consistent with the 88 following principles of individual freedom:
89 (i) the principle that all individuals are equal before the law and have [
90 rights; and
91 (ii) the following principles of individual freedom:
92 (A) that no individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or
93 unconsciously, solely by virtue of the individual's race, sex, or sexual orientation;
94 (B) that no race is inherently superior or inferior to another race;
95 (C) that no person should be subject to discrimination or adverse treatment solely or
96 partly on the basis of the individual's race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, or
97 sexual orientation;
98 (D) that meritocracy or character traits, including hard work ethic, are not racist nor
99 associated with or inconsistent with any racial or ethnic group; and
100 (E) that an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, does not bear
101 responsibility for actions that other members of the same race or sex committed in the past
102 or present.
103 (b) Nothing in this section prohibits instruction regarding race, color, national origin,
104 religion, disability, or sex in a manner that is consistent with the principles described in
105 Subsection (2)(a).
SB 55 “Public School Instruction Materials” sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R-Dist. 17, Salt Lake County, from So. Jordan) and Floor Sponsor Rep. Mellissa Ballard (R- Dist.20, Davis County, from Salt Lake City) and requires notification of digital curriculum updates to schools and teachers – also needs to notify students and parents of students!
SB 100 “School Gender Identity Policies” authored by Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Dist. 8, for Davis and Salt Lake Counties, from Woods Cross) and Floor Sponsor Rep. Stephanie Gricius (R-Dist. 50, for Utah Co. from Salt Lake City). This bill enacts provisions ensuring a parent's access to information related to a parent's child, including gender identity. It Passed and prohibits a school hiding records from a parent about their child transitioning and gender issues.
SB 116 “Local Health Department Modifications” form Sen Mike Kennedy (R-Dist. 21, Utah County, from Alpine). The bill “…removes the authority of a local health department to isolate or quarantine an individual; and allows a local health department to recommend that an individual isolate or quarantine.”
SB 171 “Health Care Provider's Liability Amendments” from Sen. Kirk Cullimore (R- Dist. 19, Salt Lake County, from Sandy) and Floor Sponsor Rep. Kerrianne Lissonbee (R- Dist. 14, Davis County, from Clearfield); which “…modifies the duty of care, under certain circumstances, for a health care provider who deviates from medical norms or established practices; prohibits the Division of Professional Licensing from sanctioning a health care provider's license for deviating from medical norms or established practices under certain circumstances; allows a health care provider who deviates from medical norms or established practices to advertise if certain criteria are met …”. Simply put, the bill allows patients and doctors to use medications off label with patient consent.
SB 227 “School Board Ethics Complaint Investigations” from Sen Curt Bramble (R-Dist. 24, for Utah and part of Wasatch Counties, from Provo) and Floor Sponsor Rep. Candice Pierruci (R-Dist. 49, for Salt Lake County, from Harriman) This bill passed and addresses the process for an ethics complaint regarding a local school board member.
“Election Bills, a mixed lot”
This session of the Legislature brought forth 19 bills dealing with points of election law … and they still didn’t cover everything we wanted. For example, HB 171 didn’t pass, which would have eliminated Rank Choice Voting – which would see as a good thing! This bill came from a newly electd Representative (Katy Hall, R- Dist. 11, Davis, Weber Counties, from Salt Lake City). Or, HB 155 which would have provided for a third-party independent audit of elections, put forth by Rep Phil Lyman (R-Dist 69, Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne, from Blanding) if it had passed, but it died in committee.
Five of the best of the election bills which passed included:
HB 69 “Election Modifications” by Rep. Calvin Musselman (R- Dist. 9, Weber County) and Floor Sponsor Sen. David Buxton (R- Dist. 4, Davis and Weber Counties) which took 56 pages to detail how it “ … authorizes a municipal clerk and the lieutenant governor to receive a voter registration form; for a voter that changes party affiliation or becomes unaffiliated from a political party, modifies the day the voter can vote in a regular primary or presidential primary election; establishes consistent deadlines for various election-related notices; modifies the frequency of the lieutenant governor's audit report of the voter registration database; modifies the requirements for a printed ballot for municipal primary elections; eliminates the requirement to include a ballot proposition insert with an official ballot if the information appearing on the insert is printed on the ballot; defines the term "filing officer" to include a state school board; specifies the time the filing period begins for a declaration of candidacy; requires an election official to notify an opposing candidate and voters when a candidate for elective office is disqualified or withdraws; requires a filing officer to notify a candidate if the candidate fails to make a conflict-of-interest disclosure …”.
HB 269 “Election Audit Requirements” sponsored by Rep. Mike Schultz (R- Dist. 12, Davis and Weber, from Hooper) and Floor Sponsor Sen. Daniel McCay (R- Dist.18, Salt Lake County, from Salt Lake City). This bill came after the 2022 Election Audit results were presented to the Legislature and includes some of the audit’s recommendation, as this version “… requires and addresses a biennial audit of elections, conducted by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General (office); requires the office to conduct a biennial audit of elections and related processes throughout the state that includes regular primary elections and regular general elections; describes the conduct and scope of the audit; addresses the office's authority and access to records, facilities, and equipment to enable the office to conduct the audit; requires compliance by government officials and employees in relation to the audit; preserves the right to a secret ballot …”
HB 162 “Voter Accessibility Amendments” from Rep. Matthew Gwynn (R-Dist. 6, Box Elder, Weber Counties, from Farr West) and Floor Sponsor Sen. Stephanie Pitcher (R- Dist.14, Salt Lake County, from Salt Lake City) that “… requires an election officer to provide an accessible voting option for a voter with a disability; requires the director of elections to make rules regarding identity verification for individuals who are unable to sign their name consistently due to a disability; requires that election notices include instructions on how a voter with a disability may obtain information on voting in an accessible manner …” This is a needed and good addition to Utah Code 20.
HB 303 “Election Record Amendments” by Rep. Norman Thurston (R-Dist. 62, Utah County, from Provo) and Floor Sponsor Sen. Jacob Anderegg (R- Dist. 22, Salt Lake County, from Lehi). This bill “… provides that certain non-identifying information from a withheld voter registration record be provided to political parties and candidates, to be used for a political purpose; in relation to the provision of information described in the preceding paragraph: provides for a plan to provide notice to affected voters; and provides penalties for obtaining, providing, or using the information in a manner that is prohibited by law; modifies the form used to request additional privacy protection to be consistent with the changes made in this bill; addresses the disclosure of certain information relating to a voter whose ballot is rejected …” A potentially positive one, we hope! (But then it was run by Provo’s Rep Thurston – and even a broken clock is correct twice a day … right?)
HB 448 “Election Changes” sponsored by Rep. Cory Maloy (R-Dist. 52, Utah County, from Lehi) and Floor Sponsor Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-Dist. 21, Utah County, from Alpine) and the bill “… modifies and describes the supervisory and oversight authority of the lieutenant governor over elections; describes the duties of a clerk in relation to elections; provides the lieutenant governor with access to records, facilities, equipment, staff, and meetings to assist the lieutenant governor in fulfilling the supervisory and oversight authority described above; provides a process and method for the lieutenant governor to enforce compliance with the provisions of election law; requires the lieutenant governor to provide, and certain election administrators and employees to complete, training relating to conducting elections; addresses requirements for audits of election processes; modifies publication dates for certain ballot statistics; requires certain studies relating to elections; grants rulemaking authority to the lieutenant governor in relation to: training; audits; maintaining and updating the statewide voter registration system and database; conducting elections; signature comparison and verification; alternative methods of identity verification; and chain of custody and ballot reconciliation; modifies provisions relating to the statewide voter registration system and database, including requirements relating to maintenance and updates; establishes requirements to ensure accessibility of the election system in relation to a person with a disability; modifies ballot curing requirements; enacts ballot chain of custody and reconciliation requirements; establishes requirements relating to election records and election security; requires uniformity of certain election processes and records …”
This bill (HB 448) is comprehensive and full of changes. It seems to want to put the Election Division of the Lt Gov Office into a bit of a narrow channel by enumerating the duties of supervison and oversight, as well as other areas – more enumeration than expansion of authority, we hope.
SB 17 “ Voting and Voter Residency Amendments” from Sen. Daniel thatcher (R- Dist. 11, Salt Lake and Tooele Counties, from West Valley City) and Floor Sponsor Rep. Calvin Musselman (R-Dist. 9, Weber County, from West Haven) which “amends and clarifies provisions for determining residency; establishes standards and requirements for determining residency; addresses evidence of residency and challenges to residency; modifies provisions relating to uniformed and overseas voters to comply with federal law and certain provisions of state law; and clarify the races for which, and the types of ballots which, certain overseas voters may vote …” There was a small issue in the 2020 Gubernatorial race over one candidate not fitting within the residency requirements, so this was a needed refinement.
Now to the other side of the coin ….
Among the “Bad Bills” the State Legislature considered were SB 241 “Inland Port Amendments” and SB 245 “Closed Public Meetings.” SB 245 is by one of my favorite State Senators, Curt Bramble – the infamous author of SB 54 which changed the Convention/Caucus system in Utah!
SB 241 “Inland Port Amendments” -- (Continued on Utah Issues page 2) to the Right ------->
[NOTE: illustrations were not copied but will be available in the Gallary]
(Continued from Utah Issues Page 1 -
SB 241 “Inland Port Amendments” was authored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson (R-Dist. 6, Davis Coounty, from Layton) and Rep. Mike Schultz (R-Dist. 12, Davis, Weber Counties, from Hooper) which modifies definitions applicable to the Utah Inland Port Authority; eliminates language relating to the forgiveness of a loan from the inland port infrastructure loan fund; enacts a provision relating to services to be provided the Authority by specified state agencies; requires the Authority Board to adopt a procurement policy; modifies board quorum provisions; modifies provisions relating to the loan committee for loans from the inland port infrastructure revolving loan fund and requires the approval of the Authority board and the Executive Appropriations Committee for a loan from the fund; repeals a provision relating to projects benefitting authority jurisdictional land; modifies the allowable uses of authority funds, including the use of funds for a conservation easement; eliminates the requirement for property owner approval for inclusion of the owner's property in a project area but requires the Authority to exclude property from a proposed project area if the owner requests to have the property excluded from a proposed project area; modifies the allowable uses of property tax differential; authorizes the Authority to create a remediation project area for the remediation of contaminated land and provides for property tax differential to be used to repay remediation costs; provides immunity for a government owner of contaminated land under certain circumstances; modifies provisions relating to property tax differential to be paid to the Authority from authority jurisdictional land and from areas outside authority jurisdictional land; modifies provisions relating to a business recruitment incentive; repeals obsolete language and makes other technical and conforming changes; modifies public infrastructure district provisions relating to the Authority; includes the Authority as a qualifying jurisdiction under provisions relating to the nondisclosure of certain tax information; and provides for the transfer of funds from the State Infrastructure Bank Fund to the inland port infrastructure revolving loan fund.”
Without going into the full history of how this boondoggle has come to be, let us just say we have spent over $4 Billion taxpayer dollars on the ‘Inland Port’ we currently have – which isn’t anything … yet! While this is another ‘brilliant idea’ and a private-public partnership ‘for the greater good’ (which has real Constitutional questions, as explained below about Dedicated Infrastructure Districts) a close reading of the enacting legislation gives one pause in several points as well as the already announced idea from the Inland Port Authority of expanding this concept to “all 29 counties” in Utah - Grand County already has one established, Brigham City in Cache County, Iron County and others are ‘in the works.’
SB 245 “Closed Public Meetings” by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Dist. 24, Utah County, from Provo) Floor Sponsor Rep. Anthony Loubet (R-Dist. 27, Salt Lake County, from Kearns) which modifies a provision relating to the purposes for which a closed meeting may be held; includes the consideration of a loan application among the reasons for which a meeting of a public body may be closed, if public discussion of the loan application would disclose certain nonpublic information. Do we really need another reason to close the public from a meeting, shouldn’t we have more reasons to open them? This bill passed and has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
Two More in detail
Utah IAP concurs with Defending Utah as we both identified several “BAD” Bills put forward in the 2023 Legislative Session. (Refer to Defending Utah Article of March 6 -“ACTION: Utah Leg. Changing our Form of Government Public/Private is Illegal” by Enoch Moore, on DefendingUtah.org) Perhaps the worst bill of the session was SB 295 “Dedicated Infrastructure District Act” (sponsored by Sen Daniel McCay, R-Dist 18 of Salt Lake City) which was an unprecedented legislative action going much further down the path of Government-Private corporate joining (the textbook definition of Facism – mixing public and private jurisdictions together in the same contradictory entity) into quasi-government corporations becoming their own legal Districts. They would have the protection of unaccountable private property but also have the powers and force of government over people’s lives.
We do not impune Sen. McCay with intentional evil intent but not recognizing the direction of his proposed “Act.” We do believe we all absolutely need to understand what this is all about and why we should have a huge problem with SB 295. (Luckily, this bill did not pass but died in the Senate without being brought out to the floor, even on the last night, for action. However, it could come back to life in another Special Session this year or in next year’s General Session unless we are prepared to nip it in the bud!) No understanding of how we’re continuing to lose our freedoms is complete without understanding this particular “Act.”
Quoting from Enoch Moore’s article on Defending Utah, “Once fully completed over the coming years,” (much like the progress of the Inland Port legislation, and others) “this transition will literally be the last nail in the coffin to change our form of government that it supposed to be accountable to the people into a government that rules over the people any way it wants. … Once the government can appoint its own rulers, write and enforce its own rules, tax you for it all and you get no say in the matter, government of the people has been dissolved. No matter your political beliefs, it will never matter to government again.”
Every time you see the phrase “public/private partnership” you need to immediately think … “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” And you need to understand the reasons why.
Several of these “Special Districts” have already been built, even beforethis legislative session passed these bills. Those already in operation include:
· The Utah Inland Port Authority
· Inland Port Extension proposed in Brigham City (Cache County)
· Inland Port Extension in Iron County
· Inland Port in Grand County
· The Point (Point of the Mountain Land Authority)
· Military Installation Development Authority
· Utah Lake Authority
This “Special District” movement in Utah began in 2021, which is when the ramp up began in the legislation for PIDs in the “Public Infrastructure District Act” from 2021, which passed then and is now Utah Code 17-D4 . They’re all illegal “Public-Private” partnerships, posing as a government.
We’ll begin the breakdown by reviewing three relevant references from the Utah Constitution. These principles expressed in the state constitution can also be found in our national founding documents, but I will not spend any time on the national perspective in this article as it would be redundant.
Utah State Constitution Article VI, Section 28 tells use (emphasis added
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Meaning: The State of Utah is forbidden by the People of Utah to re-delegate municipal (local government) functions. The constitution already delegated such authority from the people to the state. Unlawful re-delegation would happen if that authority is further transferred to anything other than a standard political sub-division of the state (city or county – public only).
Utah State Constitution Article IX, section 7 states (again, emphasis added):
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Meaning: “Special Service Districts” (entities other than cities or counties that perform specific functions of government) must be governed by the city/county where it resides. Boundaries and control of the people are preserved (elected mayor and city council still in control and still accountable to the people).
This section of the constitution (Art XI, Sec 7) essentially is to ensure that special service districts comply with the above reference section (Art VI, Sec 28).
To remain constitutional a guarantee that they are not re-delegating powers, a special service district must fall within the boundaries of an existing city/county and be fully controlled by that city county and can only be a public entity. We already have countless special districts across the state that are pushing the definition of this limitation, if not blatantly violating it.
Utah State Constitution Article XII, Section 29 defines “Free Market system” as State Policy:
This section has three distinct sentences to break apart to read correctly. Among other things, it is a complete ban on public/private partnerships.
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Sentence 1 (Spirit of the Law) – It is the policy of the state of Utah that a free market system shall govern trade and commerce in this state to promote the dispersion of economic and political power and the general welfare of all the people.
Sentence 2 (contracts, intentional or accidental, that monopolize) – Each contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce is prohibited.
Sentence 3 (Restriction on monopolies by a person) – Except as otherwise provided by statute, it is also prohibited for any person to monopolize, attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize any part of trade or commerce.
Meaning: Giving state money or power to any one or specific private (or partially private) corporations over everyone else would be forbidden because it will…
– (From sentence 1) Create artificial competitive advantages in trade and commerce, in opposition to the “free market system”.
– (From sentence 1) Consolidate economic and political power (instead of “promoting the dispersion” of it)
– (From sentence 2) Create a “restraint of trade” that stems from the organizing (combinations) and “contracting” methods that create these special districts.
One smaller business is “restrained” from their ability to trade in the free market because of the artificial advantage granted to another business that had the right connections in the legislature to obtain the favorable status. A very important observation is to notice that this section can be broken down even further as it is an enumerated list separated by commas. Grammatically, it could also be written like this:
1. Each contract … in restraint of trade is prohibited.
2. Each combination in the form of trust … in restraint of trade or commerce is prohibited.
3. Each combination otherwise (not formed as a trust) … in restraint of trade or commerce is prohibited.
4. Each conspiracy … in restraint of trade or commerce is prohibited.
This enumerated breakdown clearly emphasizes that you don’t have to prove intent of conspiracy to restrain trade, you only have to have a contract that accomplishes the restraint of trade. This does NOT mean private business contracts, as the private property clause (Art 1 Sec 1) and prohibition on contract interference clause (Art 1 Sec 18) discussed in this article would protect the right to a private contract. So only a state issued contract could potentially fall under this prohibition.
– (From Sentence 3) The “Except” word was not in the original state constitution but added in later modifications. This is an unfortunate confusion but it is still not a problem when read correctly. Some might claim this would authorize that if the law says they can do it, then that is permission to violate this entire section. But to authorize any of this by legislation would render the entire section void by violating the spirit of this law (part 1), and a law nullifying itself makes the whole thing void (contradicting itself) so this meaning cannot stand. But that being said, it doesn’t matter anyway. Because most importantly, this word only exists in the third sentence, so even with the most tyrannical interpretation, it can only be applied to sentence 3, and not the first two sentences.
Even though “Public/Private Partnerships” is an old idea in the philosophy of “Regional Government”, the idea now is being pushed globally, from the top, by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations. This is foreign government that is exercising its power over our state government. It is a political invasion of our way of life.
The WEF says on their website: “The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.”
Breakdown of SB 295
Violation of Constitutional Reference #3
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Now we get into the specifics of the violations of the Constitution. (See below in items 13 - 17)
Violation of Constitutional Reference #1 – Re-delegation
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12. Original city still keeps zoning (one thing that has not been re-delegated)
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Also part of this PID movement JUST from this session are:
SB 20 “Military Installation Development Authority Amendments” from Sen. Stevenson (passed and signed);
HB 22 “Local District Amendments” from Rep Barlow (passed and signed);
HB 77 “Local District Revisions” from Rep. Barlow and Sen. Bramble (passed and signed); HCR 7 “House concurrent Resolution Supporting Creation of Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape” from Rep. Lee and Sen. Hinkins (passed);
HB 265 “Sentinel Landscape Amendments” from Rep V. Petersen and Sen. Bramble (passed).
SOLUTIONS – ACTION ITEMS for PIDs
Local nullification must be done – There is no other option.
Some areas in Utah have immediate threats while other areas do not have immediate threats but will eventually be threatened.
Every single city and county needs to be asked by their constituents to nullify this, to protect our constitutional form of government and shut down these unlawful public/private and regional non-government corporations.
If your area does not have an immediate threat, you still need to get this nullified there to prevent it from coming and to set an example for other parts of the state. Live in a small town? Just by being an example, you will help other towns follow suit.
1. BE PRO-ACTIVE by spreading this article around because everyone needs to understand this.
2. Contact us at Defending Utah or Utah IAP and we’ll mentor you directly to create groups in your area that you can use to push back.
3. Become a memberof Defending Utah and Utah IAP
4. Nullification at every local level (municipal and county, etc.) is the only way to stop this!
Another potentially bad bill, on another complete subject, was SB 300 from Sen. Ronald Winterton (R-Dist. 20 – from Roosevelt, representing Duchesne, Daggett, Uintah, and a portion of Wasatch Counties) [luckily this bill did not pass but died in the Senate without being brought forth on the last night with no action taken on it]. This bill was called “State Food Supply Amendments” and wanted to impose a 50% restriction on local food supplies during an ‘emergency.’
There seems to be a clear pattern that somebody, somewhere, is planning for more future emergencies of some kind.
Now comes the new threat to our local food supply production, SB300. Just introduced into the legislature in the last days. With a simple modification it could actually be changed into a protection instead of a threat.
The curious thing about this bill is that it does some bad things, then contradicts itself by making illegal the very things it’s doing… All in the same bill!
Since we’ve already been pushing back so effectively on emergency power abuse, perhaps someone is trying to get ahead of our arguments?
OR, it isn’t a Bad Bill afterall. Gayle Reseka, Director of Utah Eagle Forum told me this was not meant to be cutting food supplies at all but “was meant to protect at least half of our food supplies during an emergency. We backed this bill and asked for it to be brought out.”
Perhaps everyone need to refine the defitiion of “restriction” a little closer, because one could read it as stopping the normal use from going to the people OR that it “SAVES” the food supply for the intended use of going to the populous (as mentioned above). That lack of clarity makes this a BAD BILL as well, in our estimation.
Let’s look at it in detail …. Lets break this down.
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First, the emergency powers clause of the Utah constitution is clear that emergencies do not allow the government to do anything that they couldn’t already do in a non-emergency. This concept alone is all anyone needs to know.
Here’s bad things we don’t like in the bill:
1) Control of food production during a state of emergency
– This title is immediately a problem.
No part of the state constitution authorizes controlling food production. In fact, the right to life and property in Art 1 Sec 1 prohibit this.
2) … may impose a restriction controlling the production, processing, distribution, or sale price of local food
– Clear violation of the state constitution, because you can’t do that in a non-emergency.
3) Implying the power for any executive agency to make rules that limit the food supply up to 50%.
– Clear violation of the state constitution, because you can’t do that in a non-emergency.
–> 50% of our food supply? If we were in an emergency, don’t we need food more than ever? What in the world are they thinking? <–
If the bill were to stop there I’d immediately call for killing this bill. And then if it were to pass, how do you fix an unconstitutional law? Nullification.
If you don’t know what nullification is then please check it out!
So if it were to pass in this form,(which it didn’t, thank goodness!) we’d call for nullifying the bill in cities and counties by passing local ordinances that would enforce the state constitution. The language for cities might be…
any law or rule passed by any branch of the state of Utah may not violate the Constitution of the United States or the Utah Constitution…
Cities and counties would then be more empowered to instruct their police departments and sheriffs to enforce the protection of their local food supply against anyone attempting to enforce the illegal laws on their citizens (Note: to be clear, if they’re standing on the constitution, they could also do this without a city ordinance).
Sometimes nullification could be called a “statement of the obvious”. Even though the statement should be obvious, in our modern world of legal ignorance people sometimes need a second law to restate what the constitution already says before they are brave enough to believe it (funny how much of law ends up being based on belief).
So if the above language would be a nullification of the bad parts of SB300? What in the world is going on in section (3) where it says:
a restriction imposed under this section may not violate the Constitution of the United States or the Utah Constitution
The bill is literally nullifying itself. It authorizes (illegally) multiple violations of the constitution, and then says it’s illegal for any restriction to violate the constitution.
When we forwarded our concerns to those working on this bill. And what we heard back from “the other side” was as follows:
“The Dept of Agriculture already has rule-making authority over individual ranch or farm operations”
“The 50% is a threshold meant to preserve existing statutory rulemaking but to prevent expansion of that power into widescale directives.”
“It’s a tough, complicated issue.”
“…if the EPA claims jurisdiction over all water in the state and then the EPA declares that chemical fertilizer is a water pollutant affecting health & safety…” (etc.)
So what they’re saying is that there’s already bad stuff happening in the executive branch at the state and federal level. This is the simplest problem to solve from a constitutional perspective. Can we find any constitutional power allowing the executive agencies to control our food supply, interfere with private sales (right to contract) or to restrict the use of our properties? The answer is no. And what’s the proper remedy in this case? You guessed it… Nullification.
Not only is there no power authorizing the control of the food supply, but Utah’s constitution prohibits it right in the very beginning of the document in Article 1 Section 1.
All persons have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property;
If the government interferes with your private farm without real constitutional due process then you have every right to “defend [your] lives and liberties” and to “protect property“.
When an executive agency is doing something against the constitution, and then lawmakers put into law that they’re allowed to do that illegal thing, it’s still illegal because the constitution is supreme over legislation. But you now give a stronger delusion to bureaucrats and tyrants that the previously illegal thing must now be legal. This is a very bad thing for Utahans, and nobody representing the people should even consider such action!
And yet, they not only consider ‘such action’ they write bills to promote even more. One such, possibly, was HB 529 “Food Shopping History Requirements” from Rep. Scott Chew (R-Dist. 68, Duchene and Uintah Counties, from Jensen) which allows “certain government agencies “ (e.g., State Health and Human Services Department, and local health departments) “to obtain records related to a customer-shopping history from food establishments.”
WHY would they want that? With ‘obesity’ and being ‘over-weight’ is at ‘epidemic’ levels … some over-zealous ‘health conscious’ bureaucrats to exceed their ‘authority’ just a might. But the listed intent of the bill is for “adulterated and unfit” food or drink, and to “condemn and destroy the same if deemed necessary for the protection of the public health.” This can only be triggered if or when “the department determines that an individual has become ill after exposure to food purchased at the retail food establishment.” That is when the records of a customer’s shopping history and “tracks an individual’s shopping history…” but only if “the customer … provides consent…”
This bill had a 1st substitute, which took many of the more seemingly offensive ideas out and kept the primary aim in, but it never made it to the house floor in the final form. Instead, it died in committee and did not get a a full and complete hearing (probably because it came forward too late and was numbered too high).
Greg Duerden, IAP Utah State Chair