Utah Makes History on Opening Day of the 2017 Legislature

img_7267While millions marched in Washington the day after the presidential inauguration, Utah’s Legislature was gearing up for its 2017 session.  As the session opened ceremoniously on January 23rd, an estimated 6,000-10,000 Utahns took to the streets in a historical event to advocate for the rights of women, LGBTQ citizens, minorities, immigrants , clean air and affordable healthcare for all. Utah Legislature Watch interviewed two women who participated in the march.

“When we have stronger well supported women we have stronger society all together.” ~ Jessica Love

Here is what they had to say about their reasons for for their involvement:

 

 

The march culminated in the Captiol Rotunda, with every floor packed to capacity. The event gained worldwide attention and added to the millions of similar events world wide over the weekend.

Articles:

ABC4 Good4Utah – Thousands March to Utah State Capitol Monday

Daily Herald –Thousands in anti-Trump women’s march pack Utah Capitol

Fox 13 – The Utah State Legislature gets under way with record-breaking number of bills

KSL – Thousands in anti-Trump women’s march pack Utah Capitol

KUTV – Women’s march draws unprecedented numbers to state Capitol

New York Magazine – Thousands of Women Took Over the Utah State Capitol on Monday to Fight for Their Rights

Salon – A Women’s March in the heart of Mormon country: Meet the Utah protesters leading the resistance against Trump

Salt Lake Tribune – ‘We raised our voices here’: Massive women’s march headlines Utah Legislature’s opening day

 

 

Utah Legislature Watch Returns!

After a long hiatus, Utah Legislature Watch has returned!Utah Legislature Watch

The Utah Legislature is set to begin the 2017 session on January 23rd.  Please join Utah Legislature Watch as we write about legislative activities including bill tracking, rallies and events, and opinion on the state of politics in Utah – from a progressive point of view.

At this page we will be posting items from various authors with the ability for the public to comment. Posts are automatically synced with facebook and twitter. Additionally, the public can engage in more in-depth discussion at a facebook discussion page we set up here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/utahlegistaturewatchdiscussion/

The Utah Legislature website is here. From this page there is a field where you type in your zip code to find your state legislators in your district. You can also access Bills, Utah Code, Constitution, Rules, Committees, Publications, Legislative Histories and Staff offices.

 

Bills can be tracked here.

ULW authors are excited about reviving our resources and engaging in dialogue about our state.  Most of all we encourage everyone to get active by engaging in discussions, visiting hearings, talking to your legislatures and attending events.

Legislated Divorce Education?

Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that will mandate divorce education courses.

The Utah Legislature will be considering a bill aimed to save marriages.  The mandate will require couples to attend a “divorce education class” before filing for divorce.

The bill will make the course free of charge and available online. The proponents say this will help teach marriage survival skills that might turn some away for divorce…

When presenting the bill, rep. Jim Nielson stated that “governments must recognize and respect the natural family imuch the same way and for exactly the same reason that they must recognize basic human rights.”

Two questions: What is the “natural” family (and defined by whom) and how is that connected to “basic human rights”?

But some representatives disagreed with making it a requirement.

“Why don’t we change it?” asked rep. Bradley Shaw in the session.  “Instead of making a mandate, why don’t we create an incentive?”

Several lawmakers suggested that it may be better to invest in a marriage preparation course instead. They argued that doing so would more effectively prevent divorce than the courses already offered.

Another question:  If a woman is abused by her husband and wants to get out of the marriage, she will have to enroll in a divorce course, with her husband, before she can escape?

Lawmakers need to keep their fingers out of the personal affairs of the people and spend more time on making sure that everyone has access to services to help them survive.

Utah Land Belongs to Whom?

Efforts to seize the land in Utah that is protected from development by the Federal Government are continuing by Utah legislators and others.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Morgan Philpot is planning to run for Governor in Utah.  According to an article in Utah State University’s the Utah Statesman, Philpot is adamant that Utah needs to demand the feds to return to the land to Utah.

“Our governors, in times past, have behaved like geographic-area administrators for the federal government,” Philpot said. “They are not. We are a sovereign state. That is our land — stolen from us.”

The article also quotes political science department chair from USU who says that the documented verbage for control of the land when Utah became a state is being misinterpreted:

“Some members of the Utah Legislature believe a part of the legislation that allowed Utah to join the U.S. — the Enabling Act of 1894 — requires the federal government to dispose of lands it currently controls inside state boundaries.”

“I just don’t think that’s an accurate reading of Section 9,” Lyons said. “I think they’re taking it out of context.”

Lyons said the enabling act states even after Utah gained statehood, the federal government would continue to own a substantial amount of the land inside Utah boundaries.

“The national government owned this land as a territory prior to the creation of the state of Utah,” Lyons said. “The Enabling Act delineates tracts of land formerly in national government control that are ceded to the state of Utah … then it says, ‘But all the other federal land is ours and Utah has no claim to it.'”

Back to Philpot’s statement….Who is “us” ?

The notion that protected Utah lands should be in the hands of Utah’s government for economic growth is preposterous. The only people that lands should be “returned to” are the original guardians of the land (that really belongs to all life) – Native Americans.  Until that is agreed upon, the land should remain in its protected state from any type of development.

To fall back or not to fall back?

Utah’s lawmaker’s may be determining the fate of Daylight Savings time this legislative session.  What do you think?

2012 Legislative Survey

The Utah House Democrats have posted a survey for people to take on the 2012 Legislative Session.  Please consider taking the survey!

Breaking: Gov calls special session to repeal H.B.477; Citizens organize rally

Governor Herbert has issued a call for special session on Friday at noon to repeal House Bill 477 which makes electronic communications of elected officials closed to the public.  Utah Legislature Watch earlier reported on legislators having a change of heart over the bill and efforts were being made to move towards a special session at that point.

Herbert has stated he wants to see the bill “replaced” with a new GRAMA bill.  Citizen watchdogs are sure to be on their toes, monitoring the revisions that come out of this.

Meanwhile, citizens are organizing a Repeal, Don’t Replace (We like GRAMA just the way she is) Rally on Friday, March 25 · 11:00am – 2:00pm at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda.

H.B. 477: A change of heart?

Utah’s lawmakers are either pulling their collective heads out of the sand or are worried about their political careers…..or both.

Perhaps one of the most controversial pieces of legislature in the 2011 Utah Session was the passage and signing of H.B. 477, which now makes electronic communications of elected officials private.  Hundreds of people from all political persuasions opposed the signing of this bill and even stormed the State Capitol Building on the final evening of the legislative session, demanding that democracy and transparency be upheld by repealing this action.

Genuine and sustainable leadership has been absent in this struggle and our country and state has increasingly witnessed a pendulum type swing from democracy into corporatocracy where policy implemented benefits a select few and HB477 only serves but a select few.  This is easily demonstrated as our Governor has decided to keep prying eyes away from what we all call a HONEST DEMOCRACY.  We found out last year thanks to our open records law which companies our Governor chose to give lucrative state contracts to. Which also lets the public review who the major contributors are, to our Governor and our State Legislators.  By the Governor Herbert signing this bill WE can ALL see who benefits from HB-477.

(Melodia Gutierrez, One Utah post, Where has justice gone and what can we do to retrieve it?)

But now some lawmakers are re-considering the bill and  are even advocating repealing the bill in a special spring session before consideration of any amendments which would occur over the summer.

Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, initially supported the bill because he had at one time been forced to release a personal email.

“After the bill had passed I really dug deep into House Bill 477. I looked at our current law.” He says. “I looked at the laws that are outside of Utah, some of the other states and their open-records laws and I realized how draconian our laws would be with 477 on the books.”

(KCPW blog)

“I’d be supportive of a repeal of (HB)477, and bringing forward a bill that creates a careful balance between the First Amendment right to know and a Fourth Amendment right to privacy.”

(Interview with the Standard Examiner’s Political Buzz Alison Peek)

It is also no secret that Carl Wimmer is considering a run for the new 4th Congressional Seat in Utah.

Four House members from southern Utah, including former House Speaker David Clark, are calling on Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature to repeal a bill restricting public access to government records.

“I think we should repeal this. I think it should happen in April,” Clark said Friday in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s very clear to me the best thing right now would be to start over.”

(Salt Lake Tribune)

Clark placed blame on the media, in the article referenced above, for “fanning the flames of controversy to a point that it has damaged public trust in government.”

Well I say, good for the media!

A majority of Utahns want to see the law repealed.

The Deseret News-KSL survey found that 58 percent of those surveyed said they definitely would sign a petition to repeal the law, while another 22 percent said they probably would sign it.Organizers have a little more than a month to collect the 96,372 signatures needed to put the Government Records Access and Management Act on the ballot.  The petition drive has drawn the support of former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Utah tea party organizer David Kirkham, who are usually on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

(Associated Press article posted on The Republic)

It appears obvious that legislators are trying to cover up their actions by insinuating that they did not realize the full intent of the bill and that the public outcry on this issue has rattled their cages of because they were “caught” ramming  a bill through with little insight as to its ramifications.

Thankfully people were watching.  And listening.  And didn’t sit still.  Hopefully this will inspire citizens to be more on their toes with regards to the activities of the Utah Legislature.

 

Fukushima and Utah

Some Utah Legislators want to approve the development of a nuclear plant in Green River. Everyone should be following the unfolding events of Fukushima with regards to the nuclear reactors there as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. This should serve as a “wake up call” to advocates of nuclear energy development.

Join the continuing discussion on our Facebook page.

WHOSE Land is This?

There is a double standard going on in Utah.  Legislators want control of the land to be “given back” to Utah:

Utah to Washington: This land is my land!  Resolution suggests D.C. cede 35,000 square miles of state

“Be it resolved, that the Legislature of the state of Utah calls on the United States, through their agent, Congress, to relinquish to the state of Utah all right, title, and jurisdiction in those lands that were committed to the purposes of this state by terms of its Enabling act compact with them and that now reside within the state as public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management that were reserved by Congress after the date of Utah statehood,” says theState Jurisdiction of Federally Managed Lands Joint Resolution.

WHOSE land is this?  Hint: It’s NOT the Federal Government’s and it is NOT the Utah Government. If ANYONE is going to get their land back, it must be to be the RIGHTFUL guardians of the land: The Newe (Utes, Piutes, Goshutes, Shoshoni) and Diné (Navajo) People.

Utah Indian tribes--Utes, Goshutes, Navajo, and Shoshone

If Utah’s Legislators are really interested in insisting that the reigns on the land be released from the hands of government, they need to get it straight.  This land does not “belong” to anyone.   The control of the land should be  restored to the ancestors of the original Natives of the land, from whom the control was stolen.

Oh but wait.  Back to the double standard going on in Utah.  The governor of Utah has taken control of Indian Affairs in Utah. It looks like Utah’s Government will stay in control of Native Affairs for the foreseeable future.