The 2012 General Legislative Session starts today, January 23rd. Many bills, however, have already been written and queued up. We took a dip into the current backlog to see what’s in the pipeline for our favorite local circus.
HB49 – In the presence of “threatening behavior”, possession of a firearm no longer violates various statues. It also provides that no governmental entity (local authority, political subdivision, municipality, or any other state entity) may not enact, maintain, or enforce a law, ordinance, rule, regulation, code of conduct, or contractual obligation that limits or prevents the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed. So state carry laws (or don’t carry, just have a gun within 10 feet of you) become the law of the land. So much for “big government” intruding on the lives of local groups who want to do their own thing. One would think state lawmakers would be sensitive to pushing their way into community life.
HB50 – Eliminates the “Election Campaign Fund” and removes the ability to donate to it from your income taxes. So much for public campaign financing.
HB59 – Allocates 10% of gross revenues from the sale of liquor to the Education Fund to be distributed as deemed necessary, and 90% to be distributed on a per student basis. The collective livers of Telestial State staff will be happy to know that their suffering has bought some crayons for the children of Utah. It’s always about the children.
HB199 – Elimination of DST in the State of Utah. Please for the love of every single thing you love let this pass. Some view this as a middle finger to the Federal Government, but at this point I don’t give a rat’s ass. In addition to irritating, DST is an outdated (and expensive) operation.
HB201 – Designates “skiing and snowboarding” as official Utah State Winter Sports. This is alongside Utah’s official state cooking pot (the dutch oven) and Utah’s state folk dance (the square dance, which is legally defined as the folk dance that is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage). I’m so glad we can devote important taxpayer resources to such bullshit.
HB245 – Amending the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (who didn’t just read that in the voice of the overhead announcer lady at the airport?) to ban the use of eCigarettes in public places and redefining “smoking” to include any heated tobacco (as opposed to just burning tobacco), the use of hookah, or “using an oral smoking device intended to circumvent the prohibition of smoking”. So no turning a cucumber into a pipe and trying to act all non-chalantly. eCigs are harmless to anyone but their users. In another case of anti-vice Utah making sure you don’t break the Doctrine and Covenants, this is a far overreach of government into the lives of individuals. If lawmakers were truly concerned about our health, they’d work on cleaning up our terrible air quality. But that would require imposing limits on particulate emissions, and why should the state stop my F150 from idling endlessly in traffic. No, this is pure and simple morality legislation that needs to die.
House Joint Resolutions
HJR1 – Shockingly this encourages the Utah State Board of Education to build green school buildings and to conform to LEED Silver certification or greater. Expect this one to die a fast death.
HJR10 – Proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would remove language requiring that state legislators live in the districts they represent. Because why should the people changing things about your life actually live in the areas impacted? Presumably this is so the legislature could gerrymander the shit out of the state without hurting anyone’s feelings. This is probably a result of the redistricting oops from earlier this year, where it was determined that Rep. Craig Frank didn’t actually live in his district. Akin to redefining cancer as “spontaneous organ growth” to heal the patient, getting rid of this rule is their solution to that problem. Also, they’re probably doing it so they could all live in an underground bunker at an undisclosed location, stockpiled with the Utah State Firearm™, cooking with the Utah State Cooking Pot™, and feasting on the Utah State Fish™ while wearing the Utah State Tartan Colors™.
SB12 – Allows electric corporations to enter into contracts to supply power service from renewable energy facilities. I’m mostly shocked at the friendliness to renewable energy facilities. Perhaps I missed the language where coal was reclassified as a “renewable energy” because the cavemen killed dinosaurs 4000 years ago and it made some coal, so we could totally start doing that now and renew our sources of coal. Or something. Science isn’t the legislatures’ strong suit.
SB22 – Permits the Division of Wildlife to issue wolf hunting permits, as well as establishing penalties for non-permitted destruction of wolves. They just got de-listed from the Endangered Species list, so we can’t let them get all uppity and forget who’s the boss around here.
SB25 – Repeals the currently legislated provision that the state cannot participate in the REAL ID act, and states that the Drivers License Division may participate. Data from the Utah State Drivers License Division will be fed into the national database and state identification will have to conform to national standards for use in the national database system.
SB31 – Limits the number of students per teacher in K through 3, to be 18 students in kindergarten, 20 students in 1st grade, 22 students in 2nd grade, and 24 students in 3rd grade. The bill comes with no funding to work such miracles, however.
SB34 – Exempts agricultural products that are made and remain in the state of Utah from federal regulation and creates and enforces a “Made in Utah” identification program. A “Utah agri product” refers to any agri product that is made, grown, or produced in Utah. Another middle finger to the big bad federal government making sure that Monsanto isn’t trying to poison you. Guess that means you can get some tasty unregulated stuff in your CSA box soon.
SB107 – Adjusts penalties for graffitti and makes possession of any graffiti implement a class B misdemeanor. So don’t get arrested with a bag full of Sharpies or they’ll slap another charge on.
Senate Joint Resolutions
SJR5 – Proposes to amend the state constitution to move control and supervision of the public education system away from the State Board of Education to the Governor. Because it’s a lot harder to bend the will of a group of people than it is the Governor. Plus you can override his decisions in the Legislature, where you have to work harder with the State BoE. This is what an unmitigated power grab looks like. In fact, the text of this bill is exactly the same (ignoring the new title) as 2011′s SJR9. When you fail, I guess you get up and do the exact same thing expecting a different result. Einstein would call that “insanity”, but he’s no Einstein.
SJR6 – Proposes to amend the state constitution to require a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature whenever a tax or fee increase is being voted on. This is the sort of thing that California has, which coupled with their attrocious proposition system that lets voters enact unfunded mandates, has sunk their state budget. The legislature wants to enact half this equation to appease some tea party minded groups hell bent on making sure that we only ever cut taxes.
I know it’s still early, but not seen were bills revamping the DABC, school vouchers, crazy middle finger “message bills” to the federal government/aliens/that guy in your ward who snaps his gum in priesthood/petulant badgers, bills that will cost the state money in federal court when it’s identified early on that they are illegal but we want to pass them anyways (see message bills), money for education, giveaways to various pet companies/projects for legislators, or attacks on GRAMA, voter access, the environment, illegals, brown people, women, science, climate change, and seat belts.
That’s just some of the highlights of what’s been posted. Expect much more crazy to get posted as legislators wrap up counseling from their bishops and trek to the gayest city in the world, to meet in a building that has a reinforced copper ceiling to cope with the hot air generated without collapsing. You can follow the fun here at TS or read the gory details as they happen by following in the 1990 style web access portal.