Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 General Session: Day 5

I can honestly say that this week has been the most rewarding, the most educational, and the most exhausting week I have had in a very long time.  The routine consists of a 5am wake-up, a 45 minute drive to the Capitol, meetings starting at 7am and then things "winding down" around 6pm with another 45 minute commute home.

The week consisted of 10,000 new facts, 1000 opinions, 500 disagreements, 250 decisions, 125 new relationships, 50 invitations to events, and 10 missed meals.

 Today was special because I had my first speaking opportunity on the House Floor.  HB 45 came up for a vote on the floor and I had to introduce it to the House of Representatives and explain it.

(you will need RealPlayer to view - free download)

My introduction was convoluted by the fact that a typo was discovered just a few minutes before the presentation (somehow it was overlooked by our attorney staffers).  I did not have enough time to prepare a written amendment and therefore I was left with a verbal correction.  The situation was also complicated by the fact that the Speaker who controls the flow of the presentation was absent and had a substitute sitting in for her.  The substitute "Pro Tem" Speaker was as surprised by my verbal amendment as much as I was by having to offer it.  This awkward process got me a bit flustered and the rest of my presentation was not as polished as it could have been.  Nevertheless, the legislation passed 60-8. 

Next up are my HB 48 and HB 63 in committee meetings and floor votes next week.

Stay tuned for an exciting Tuesday announcement as well...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Passed: HB 219 - Symbols of Honor

The House today passed Carl Wimmer's HB 219 which designates the Browning M1911 as the symbolic State Firearm.

Since John Browning has left such a legacy in Ogden, the State, and the Nation, I voted in the affirmative in honor of his contribution to our community and country.

NOTE: Be sure to click on the bill link to discover what our State vegetable, fruit, fossil, song, hymn, folk dance and other obscure designations are.  Keep in mind that although I voted in the affirmative on this bill you won't find me occupying the House's time by proposing this kind of legislation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The First Day of Session 2011

I invited my family to attend our swearing in today at the Capitol.  It was a wonderful experience.

Here is the oath which I took upon myself:

"I do solemnly swear that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of this State, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity."

Fun factoid from today:

The Judiciary reported to us that they are working to make the courts in our state completely paperless in the next three years.  It's quite an ambitious, innovative, and forward thinking initiative.

Now on to the people's business...

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Bill: HB 63 - Left Hand Turn Penalty and Sentencing

You can read this proposed bill HERE.  (Underlined text is the new language.)

This is another constituent based bill that is designed to increase the penalty for those who kill someone while making a left hand turn.

In August of this year, Kenneth Cox, age 64, was driving on 1900 W near 2700 N. in Weber County.  He was on his motorcycle while wearing his helmet. In the opposite direction was traveling a young female driver who was having a heated argument with her boyfriend.  The female driver crossed a double yellow line attempting to make a left hand turn while crossing into oncoming traffic. Mr. Cox hit her car traveling at 55MPH.  He had so little time to react that he was unable to engage his breaks.  Mr. Cox died almost immediately from his injuries.  The female driver, as it turns out, had no driver's license and no insurance.
On April 7, 2010, Zach Brown was traveling on 1900 W. in Weber County on his motorcycle while wearing a helmet.  A female driver headed in the opposite direction attempted to turn left onto Midland Drive while crossing oncoming traffic.  Zach hit her vehicle while traveling at 45MPH.  He had no time to react could not hit his brakes.  His body was crushed and he died from his injuries the following day.  The female driver was licensed and had high-risk insurance.

These may seem like extreme cases but what makes these situations even more outrageous is that the drivers each received just a $90 ticket for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.  Based in these cases, my constituents asked that the law be amended to address this discrepancy and help all drivers make wiser decisions when making left hand turns. 

To do this, the bill addresses the penalty by doing the following for those who kill another person when a left hand turn is involved:

1.  Increases the fine to $500.
2.  Requires a 30 day suspension of license.
3.  Grants the courts the discretion to suspend a license for up to six months based upon the circumstances of the case.

Hopefully, these measures will adjust the risk-reward ratio and enhance driver safety on our roads.  No dollar amount can compensate for the loss of a loved one, however, perhaps a change in statute can encourage us to drive more defensively and save lives.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Potporri: Presession Update

I visited the Capitol yesterday for several meetings.  Here are some tidbits that you might find interesting:

1.  No Patrick Henry "Litmus Test" - The Patrick Henry Caucus, which I am a member of, voted to change it's bylaws which required its members to vote 90% of the time with the caucus position.  Obviously, this provision seemed heavy handed to many legislators and therefore it has been removed.

2.  Rep. Frank Fried - The Republican caucus voted in a majority to redraw Rep. Frank's boundaries when session commences last week.  The only problem is that law requires a supermajority of 50 votes to get it done.  Based on the vote count in the meeting, this seems very unlikely.  It was apparent in the meeting that the personal politics involved here hindering an affirmative vote.  It appears Rep. Frank's last recourse is the courts. 

3.  Expect Cuts - Our appropriations subcommittee received recommendations from the Office of Legislative Research on where to cut programs that we oversee by 10%.  The staff said that the departments heads offered no suggestions as to where to make cuts so they arbitrarily chose places they thought were best.  I am sure this will make our discussions with the various department heads quite lively. 

4. Immigration Debate - The immigration debate is about ready to get it's kickoff with a broad variety of opinions and sentiments.  Look for interesting news on this issue.

There will be more coming soon....

Friday, January 14, 2011

In Defense of Sheriff Terry Thompson

The row over Sheriff Thompson's letter is unfortunate.  In his defense I conjure the words of Bill Federer:

"Tolerance was an Amercan Christian contribution to the world.  Just as you drop a pebble into a pond, the ripples go out. There was tolerance first for Puritans, the Protestants, then Catholics, then Liberal Christians, and then it went out completely to the Jews.  Then in the early 1900's, tolerance went out to anybody of any faith, monotheist or polytheist.  Finally, within the last generation, tolerance went out to the atheist, the secular humanist and the anti-religious.  And the last ones in the boat decided it was too crowded and decided to push the first ones out.  So now you have a unique situation in America where everybody's tolerated except those ones that came up with the idea." - America's God and Country

Tolerance is a two-way street.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life, Liberty, and Property: A French Perspective

One of my legislative colleagues was gracious enough to give me a copy of Frederic Bastiat's work The Law.  In the book, Bastiat launches a full frontal rhetorical assault against the French way of governance as conducted in his day in 1850.

So what exactly was the "French way" of governance back then?  Lets listen to Mr. Robespierre, one of Bastiat's contemporaries:

"The principle of the republican government is virtue, and the means required to establish virtue is terror. In our country we desire to substitute morality for selfishness, honesty for honor, principles for customs, duties for manners, the empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of poverty, pride for insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for good companions, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for glitter, the charm of happiness for the boredom of pleasure, the greatness of man for the littleness of the great, a generous, strong, happy people for a good-natured, frivolous, degraded people; in short, we desire to substitute all the virtues and miracles of a republic for all the vices and absurdities of a monarchy."

So, in other words, Mr. Robespierre's desire was to legislate the people into morality through the use of the force of law.  The objectives seem well-meaning enough.  However, the means of accomplishing them via lawful decree is counterproductive.  Mr. Bastiat retorts:

"But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed - then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people.  It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own wills; the initiative of the legislator for their own initiatives.  When this happens the people no longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the law does all this for them.  Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people, they cease to be men, they lose their personality; their liberty, their property." 
France in 1850 was a nation of many government programs.  The economy was being micromanaged by government which made private profits a spoil of political dominance.  The list of interferences in the economy included: tariffs, protection of industry, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit and more.  This all according to Mr. Bastiat's record.

In speaking of using the public treasury to pay for citizen benefits he says:

...the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk.  Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied from a source outside the society. 

In a very French way, he hits the nail on the head by declaring that public money doesn't just magically appear, but comes from private people...the taxpayers. 

So how do we stack up today?  Clearly France has had a more volatile history than the United States. Nevertheless, there are clear comparisons between his nation in 1850 and our nation today.  Where would Mr. Bastiat have us go from here?

"And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."

Frederic Bastiat died December 24, 1850 of tuberculosis shortly after The Law was published.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Whoops! Shapeshifting Map Renders Rep. Frank Flummoxed

A bombshell was dropped on the House of Representatives this evening as it was disclosed that Representative Craig Frank has been mistakenly living outside of his legislative district for almost two years. 

The narrative indicates that Rep. Frank consulted Utah County maps showing that land he was purchasing to build a home was inside his district 57 boundaries at the time. Unfortunately, it appears that the maps he was presented were outdated and erroneous.

However, one question that is not being asked is how were his neighbors, who also live outside district 57, able to vote for him instead of the representative of the district they actually live in?  It is my understanding that up to 2,500 people in that Utah County neighborhood voted in the race for district 57 believing that they lived in that district.  If this is the case, then Utah County has some embarrassing questions to answer as to how they allowed something like this to occur.

It also makes the case for a special session to correct the boundary mistake if indeed the voters believed they were casting votes for an eligible candidate because he lived in their neighborhood of which they believed to be part of district 57.  It's important to note that the only way that the voters and Rep. Frank believed they were in district 57 was due to Utah County actions.  Otherwise, the ballots would have had the correct names on them and the maps would have been correct.

This appears to be is a very serious and embarrassing county level fumble. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Economic Development: CSN Stores Coming to Ogden

KSL reports that the online retailer CSN Stores will bring 266 jobs to a new distribution center that will be located in Ogden:

The Governor's Office of Economic Development Thursday announced Boston-based CSN Stores LLC will open a new western U.S. customer care operation and distribution center in Ogden.
CSN Stores is the third-largest online retailer of home goods in the nation, with more than 250 different shopping sites including,, and
In 2010, the company's sales grew more than 50 percent, surpassing $375 million, according to a news release.
During the next two years, the company will create up to 266 full-time positions in northern Utah. Also, new worker training will be provided to CSN employees by the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Applied Technology College resulting in up to 163 new full-time jobs in the next decade.
In addition, to those positions, up to 700 additional jobs will be developed over the 10-year life of an incentive agreement with the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
 This is great news for Ogden!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Bill: HB 48 - Fingerprints of Juveniles

Wording for my new bill has been published online.  You can read the bill HERE.

One of my constituents works for Weber County CSI.  He has been talking to me about this issue for several years. However, recently there has been story that has brought new urgency to this issue.  Apparently, a perpetrator was recently booked into Weber County as an adult on burglary charges.  Since this was his first time being booked as an adult, his fingerprints were taken and put into our state Bureau of Criminal Information's database.  Once there, a search was run and it was discovered that his prints matched 10+ unsolved cases where prints were taken from the scene but no match was found from perpetrators who had been caught.

Yet, this perpetrator had been caught before.  However, he was a juvenile when he was apprehended previously.  So why didn't his fingerprints show up in the system?  His prints simply weren't taken by law enforcement. 

I discovered in my interviews with law enforcement personnel that there is a widely held belief that juvenile offenders CAN"T be fingerprinted.  If you read the law, you can see that this belief simply isn't the case.  Nevertheless, there is a superstition about this issue that seems to pervade law enforcement.  Therefore, the current practice is to apprehend, issue a ticket or court date, and then release the juveniles back to their parents without getting any prints along the way.   

This bill aims to remove any hesitation that now exists when fingerprinting juvenile offenders after apprehension.  This bill also adds gang crimes as an offense worthy of fingerprinting.  

There are several benefits to having fingerprints documented:

1.  It will prevent crimes from occurring by identifying perpetrators early and allowing for apprehension more quickly.
2.  It should decrease property damage and should decrease insurance rates due to a decrease in claims.
3.  It will put pressure on gangs who use juveniles to do their bidding.  Many young gang member earn "stripes" by committing offenses to gain recognition within their particular gang. You can read more about that here.  These types of gangs know that juveniles have been shielded from fingerprinting.  These types of activities will not longer be "protected".

Probably the most interesting part of this bill is that all the people, hardware, and paperwork is already in place to make it happen.  This bill will give them the nod to go ahead and do their job.  It will hopefully make for quieter streets and increase justice in our society.