Day 33 & 34 — Part-time Legislator, Full-time Mom

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On Friday I had a surprise visit at the Capitol from my youngest daughter, Jayne, who is a student at BYU.  It was a treat to have her spend a few hours with me, sitting on the chamber floor and tagging along to a few meetings.  Later that day she posted a photo of us with the phrase, “Part-time legislator, full-time mom.”  What a great reminder that amidst all of the issues and session chaos we are facing as legislators, and long after my service is complete, my role as a mom, wife, daughter, and sister are the most important and continue forever.  The events of this weekend highlighted that truth for me.

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A lot of celebrating was in order at a shower welcoming a new baby *boy* into the family.  My daughter in law, Bethy, is in the center of the photo in the royal blue (old school BYU!) top.  Matthew and Bethy could not be more excited about the arrival of their first child, and our first grandson, who will join our three beautiful granddaughters.

Here Bethy is laughing over the fact that I gave her a half-finished flannel blanket that I haven’t finished crocheting around yet.  I promptly took it back and proceeded to continue to work on it during the rest of the shower, haha. You just do what you can :)

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I really love sharing in church service with my husband.  Best part of every Sunday.

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Sunday morning we got word that my uncle Mack Wagstaff passed away.  He died of chronic lung disease, but was surrounded at home by his family and had a peaceful passing.  My parents, daughter, and sister and I had a chance to spend some time with my Uncle Mack and his family yesterday, sharing stories from the past of riding horses in their pasture, watching him compete in team roping as a younger man, and learning from his example of a life lived with love and integrity.  He is my Mom’s only sibling so the cousins on that side have always been extra special.  We call them our “cowboy cousins” because they lived on a farm, had horses, competed in rodeo, and wore cowboy boots and hats for real, not just because they were fashionable.  We will really miss this good man.  I loved him a lot.

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My youngest daughter Jayne with my Dad on the left and my Uncle Mack on the right.

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At our annual “Cowboy Cousin Christmas Party.”  Uncle Mack is front and center, with my Mom on his left.  XO

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Day 32 — Running on Empty

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While it seems all we’ve heard about the past few weeks is Medicaid Expansion and Healthy Utah, there are other big issues out there that deserve and require our attention these last few days of the session. One of those big issues is transportation funding and the consideration of increasing the gas tax. There are two bills progressing through the system that take a different approach to raising additional revenue, but are both attempting to address what is seen as a looming $11.2 billion shortfall in transportation needs, including maintenance.

 

The two bills are:

SB 160, Transportation Funding Amendments, Senator Van Tassell, adds 10 cents to the existing motor fuel tax and would provide $130 million for maintenance, including $40 million for local roads. The cost is expected to be $48 annually for someone driving 12,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon. This bill passed out of the Senate and is headed to the House.

 

HB 362, Transportation Infrastructure Funding, Rep. Johnny Anderson, takes a more comprehensive approach to address transportation funding issues and incorporates local options as well as formulaic changes. The bill moves the state’s per gallon gas tax to a sales tax which would be 14% starting in 2016 and rise and fall with the price per gallon of gas with the limits being $1.75 and $4 per gallon. Additionally, counties would be allowed the local option of asking their residents for approval to increase a 1/4 cent sales tax for all types of transportation needs, including mass transit. This bill has been assigned to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and will most likely receive a hearing this week.

 

This presentation from Legislative Research provides helpful background on transportation taxation and where the money goes.

 

I am supportive of raising the tax on gasoline.  I am still considering the two plans above and have not made my final decision.  If you have thoughts to share on this issue, please write me.  I’d appreciate your feedback.  For those who may be unsure about the need to raise the gas tax, or what it will do, here are some articles about why we need to consider raising the tax on gas.

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2226099-155/op-ed-raise-gas-tax-to-help

 

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2084871-155/house-senate-split-over-gas-tax

 

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2227208-155/senate-advances-10-cent-gasoline-tax-hike

 

Now for those of you who may like some classic rock with your politics:

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Day 32 — Running on Empty

Running-on-Empty

 

While it seems all we’ve heard about the past few weeks is Medicaid Expansion and Healthy Utah, there are other big issues out there that deserve and require our attention these last few days of the session. One of those big issues is transportation funding and the consideration of increasing the gas tax. There are two bills progressing through the system that take a different approach to raising additional revenue, but are both attempting to address what is seen as a looming $11.2 billion shortfall in transportation needs, including maintenance. 

 

The two bills are:

SB 160, Transportation Funding Amendments, Senator Van Tassell, adds 10 cents to the existing motor fuel tax and would provide $130 million for maintenance, including $40 million for local roads. The cost is expected to be $48 annually for someone driving 12,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon. This bill passed out of the Senate and is headed to the House.

 

HB 362, Transportation Infrastructure Funding, Rep. Johnny Anderson, takes a more comprehensive approach to address transportation funding issues and incorporates local options as well as formulaic changes. The bill moves the state’s per gallon gas tax to a sales tax which would be 14% starting in 2016 and rise and fall with the price per gallon of gas with the limits being $1.75 and $4 per gallon. Additionally, counties would be allowed the local option of asking their residents for approval to increase a 1/4 cent sales tax for all types of transportation needs, including mass transit. This bill has been assigned to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and will most likely receive a hearing this week.

 

This presentation from Legislative Research provides helpful background on transportation taxation and where the money goes.

 

I am supportive of raising the tax on gasoline.  I am still considering the two plans above and have not made my final decision.  If you have thoughts to share on this issue, please write me.  I’d appreciate your feedback.  For those who may be unsure about the need to raise the gas tax, or what it will do, here are some articles about why we need to consider raising the tax on gas.

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2226099-155/op-ed-raise-gas-tax-to-help

 

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2084871-155/house-senate-split-over-gas-tax

 

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2227208-155/senate-advances-10-cent-gasoline-tax-hike

 

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Day 31 — The Crucible

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My husband and I have season tickets to the Pioneer Memorial Theatre at the University of Utah. A few seasons ago we saw the play “Twelve Angry Men” one evening during the session. This play depicts the deliberations of a jury deciding the fate of a boy charged with murder. I remember watching the debate between jury members and comparing the power of argument, passion, prejudice, and persuasion in their decision making process to some of the issues we were considering that year.

Well, tonight we saw Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and I again saw many similarities to some of what we’re experiencing in the session right now. A crucible is a vessel that can withstand great pressure and intense heat and is used in chemistry and other lab experiments. The play tells the story of the Salem Witch trials of 1692 and how in that crucible the true integrity of individuals were revealed, even in the face of the crucible of mass fear, frenzy, herd mentality, and hysteria.

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Likewise, the session is a time of pressure where highly charged issues come before us. Hopefully, as a legislature we can weather the heat and pressure and emerge with integrity intact. I hope the next 10 days can be our finest hour, but we’ve got work to do if that is going to be the case because we are down to the final stretch of our session and things are definitely heating up. Here’s where we stand today on a few of the big ones:

  1. State School Board Elections

The House Education Committee heard six bills today, each with a different proposal on how State School Board members should be elected. Three emerged with positive recommendations and three were held in committee. The three that moved on to the full House for a vote are:

HB 186, State School Board Membership and Election Amendments

This bill proposes a non-partisan process for electing State School Board members. Candidates would have to collect signatures in order to qualify to be placed on the primary ballot.

SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments

This bill proposes a partisan election for the State Board. The provision including large local school boards in the partisan process was taken out in the current version of the bill.

HJR 16, Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution—Governance of Public Education

This provides for members of the State Board to be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. This follows the model of the State Board of Regents and would require the voters to approve an amendment to the Utah Constitution to authorize this change.

Look for this to be a big debate. I am in strong favor of non-partisan elections. For the past few years we have heard bills proposing partisan school board elections and they have been defeated. Will this year follow suit or will we see a different outcome?

 

  1. Medicaid Expansion/Healthy Utah.

SB 164, the bill implementing Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah has passed out of the Senate and is in the possession of the House Rules Committee awaiting a committee assignment. By now everyone knows the House does not have the votes sufficient to pass Healthy Utah and our House leadership has taken a position that we will not hear that bill in one of our House committees or on the floor for a full House vote. I am supporting Healthy Utah and would very much like to have this issue debated and voted on, so that position is very frustrating and disappointing to me. There are many of us working diligently to try to craft a compromise bill and we spent much of our two hour caucus today discussing alternatives. Like all decisions we make the magic numbers are 38, 15, and 1, meaning you need 38 votes in the House, 15 votes in the Senate, and one vote from the Governor. It remains to be seen if the House will compromise and embrace Healthy Utah, or how the Senate or Governor will respond to the House alternative. We don’t have language on that compromise, but please know it is in the works. I am cautiously optimistic we’re on the right track. So what happens if we don’t find something everyone can agree on? Well, several things could happen:

  • Governor Herbert has threatened to take executive action on Healthy Utah
  • Governor Herbert calls the legislature back into a special session dedicated solely for the discussion of Medicaid Expansion
  • We decide on the “not now” option which means maybe we wait a solid year and take action next session.
  • We end up voting and passing the Utah Cares model of Sen. Christensen’s bill which covers just the medically frail, which is almost nobody’s idea of perfect.

 

  1. Gas Tax.

The Senate bill proposing a 10 cent a gallon tax increase passed out of the Senate. We have yet to hear the proposal by Rep. Anderson which includes a local option for tax revenue and an indexed tax increase rather than a straight cents per gallon increase as in the Senate bill.

 

  1. HJR 7 passes out of the House, 40-30. This is the bill that allows for a convention to propose amendments, which in the case of this bill would be for a balanced budget, to the Constitution of the United States. I voted yes and here’s why.  While there are many legitimate concerns to this provision allowed and specified by the founders in Article V, it has never been tried since the adoption of the Constitution. I’m confident that there are sufficient safeguards that we can trust. 25 states have passed this resolution. There were some great speeches on the floor about this issue. If you’re interested you could listen to the entire floor debate and see the bill text. My favorite line of the debate was a paraphrase from Ohio Governor John Kasich, “It’s as if our house is on fire, but we won’t go outside because we’re afraid of getting hit by a meteor.” So true! At $18 Trillion and growing by the minute, our national debt is completely unsustainable and hopefully Utah can soon become the 26th state to pass a resolution.
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Day 30 — Vox Populi

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Hanging above the chair of the Speaker of the House in our Chamber is the phrase, “Vox Populi.” When I give tours of the Chamber I always ask if anyone knows what that phrase means. Occasionally, someone knows and shares with the group that “Vox Populi” means voice of the people. As Representatives we often remind ourselves that we are elected by the people, to be the voice of the people, and we are responsible to the people. I’ll share two examples of how that “Vox Populi” principle worked this week:

  1. The voice of the people spoke loud and clear last year when the Count My Vote initiative gathered close to 100,000 signatures in favor of a direct path to the primary ballot. This was initiated by those opposed to the current caucus/convention system where candidates for the primary ballot are chosen by delegates who are elected at their Neighborhood Caucus nights. SB 54, which also included a provision where unaffiliated voters would be allowed to vote in party primaries, passed last year and represented a compromise between the direct primary camp and the caucus/convention camp. Well, this year the Utah State Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the state over the compromise found in SB 54, and a bill was filed that would have repealed SB54. Well, the good news is that the voice of the people was heard. The legislature listened and that bill, SB 43, failed yesterday, allowing the Count My Vote compromise to continue on. 
  1. SB 164 passed out of the Senate today. It is the bill based on Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah. Upon hearing the bill was on it’s way to the House, it was noted that HB 164 did not have sufficient support in the House and consequently would most likely not receive a committee hearing. I am very concerned about this decision. For one thing, an issue this big is certainly generational. It will be something that we will be responsible for, pro or con, for years to come. Additionally, an issue this significant deserves a full public debate and vote by the entire legislature, not just the Senate. The citizens of Utah deserve nothing less than the open, transparent, and accountable process we follow with every piece of legislation. I strongly advocate for a hearing in the House where I plan to support Healthy Utah. If indeed we do not hear SB 164, I am hopeful a compromise bill can emerge and that would receive my support. I applaud those who are continuing to work for compromise legislation we can consider this session. We have 11 working days left in the session for this to happen and the clock is ticking. 

And in other news today:

 As promised yesterday, here is Rep. Hutchings presentation on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. This work serves as the basis for HB 348, implementing the recommendations by the Utah Commission for Criminal Justice Reform. 

Also, this just in….HJR 7 just surpassed wood burning stoves as the topic that has generated the most emails this session.   We will hear this bill tomorrow morning, close to 10:00. HJR 14 failed this afternoon in the House. Both bills deal with the Convention to Propose Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Read more about these efforts here on my blog.

 

And, up tomorrow in the House Education Committee are six, yes SIX, bills dealing with how the State School Board is elected. Read more about them in the League of Women Voters preview of the Thursday committee meetings. Go to the 8:00 am House Education Committee meeting for a synopsis of all six bills. 

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Day 29 — Utah’s Mighty Four, in Search of a Five

The Mighty Five is a tourism campaign encouraging folks to visit and enjoy Utah’s five national parks.  Well, I have my own Mighty Five, which is a list of the five biggest issues we are facing this session.  We have 16 days left in the session and as of today we don’t have closure on any of these issues, which means we are in for an intense finish.

My Legislative Mighty Five

  1. Criminal Justice Reform/Prison Relocation
  2. Health Care Reform/Medicaid Expansion
  3. Transportation funding/motor fuel tax
  4. Non-Discrimination/Religious Liberties
  5. ??????

I’d like to hear from you as to what you think rounds out the 2015 Legislative Mighty Five.  What should be placed in the #5 spot?  State school board elections, air quality, education funding?  What have I missed?  Email me and I’ll post the results on the blog in a couple of days.

We are moving some of the issues forward, including SB 164, Sen. Shiozawa’s bill that implements Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah proposal.  This bill passed the Senate’s 2nd Reading calendar vote today, 21-8.  It will need to pass the 3rd vote in the Senate and then on to the House committee and floor.  The photo below is of Sen. Todd Weiler speaking to the Senate regarding his vote of support of SB 164.

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Representative Eric Hutchings presenting the findings of the Utah Commission on Criminal Justice Reform, including recommendations for policy changes.  We also heard an update in our majority caucus lunch today from Representative Brad Wilson who has been chairing the Prison Relocation Commission.  The PRC’s powerpoint presentation on prison relocation can be found here.

Other slides from Representative Hutchings presentation are below.  I’ll post the complete presentation in another post.

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And, in other news, HB 226 passed out of the House this afternoon.  This is my air quality bill that allows the Division of Air Quality the ability to tailor state-specific rules for Utah as we strive to achieve the federal EPA standards.  It now moves to the Senate for their consideration, and hopefully support.

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Day 28 — Utah’s Got Talent

The Senate sponsored an art competition for Utah students, grades 7-12.  Over 200 entries were submitted, and following the decision of a judging panel of five, 24 winners were announced.  Winners received scholarship awards ranging from $300 to $5000.  These are beautiful depictions of the Utah State Capitol and the talent is really amazing.  Truly, Utah’s got talent!  Enjoy!

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Day 26 — A Constitutional Convention: A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come?

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This year our Utah legislature is considering a resolution to address the ever escalating US debt, currently at $18 trillion, with a proposal in favor of the adoption of a Convention to Propose Amendments to the US Constitution.   I include below an article by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, sponsor of the HJR 7, with his analysis of this important and complex issue.  I am interested in your feedback and comments, so please email me at beckyedwards@le.utah.gov or comment below. 

* Credit for title of this post comes from this 2014 Forbes article, An Article V Constitutional Convention:  A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come?

 

KEEPING HOUSE

February 23, 2015

by Representative Kraig Powell

 This week on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives, House Joint Resolution 7 will be considered, after passing the House Revenue and Taxation Committee last week by a vote of 8 -1.

I drafted and introduced this legislation to propose the adoption of an amendment to the United States Constitution requiring Congress to operate the country under a balanced budget.

The United States is currently in debt by more than 18 trillion dollars.  That number grows by approximately one trillion dollars every 1-2 years, with no end in sight to these increases.

Although a certain amount of public debt is sometimes necessary during recessions, wars, emergencies, etc., Congress and the President have been unable to make the long-term structural changes needed to ensure the country’s solvency.

Simply put, we cannot continue spending borrowed money at the present rate.  Interest payments on the national debt will soon be larger than almost any other single budget category.

Investors in other countries have already begun to scale back their purchase of U.S. debt securities, signaling their belief that our country will be unable to pay back its loans.

As this trend continues, interest rates will need to rise to encourage continued lending to the U.S. by foreign investors.

But that will only make our problem worse, as it becomes more and more expensive for us to carry the debt.

A national fiscal crisis like those recently experienced in Europe is a realistic possibility.  Such a default by the U.S. would have far greater ramifications, likely plunging the entire world into an economic depression.

It is clear that Congress and the President must reform the federal budget, especially entitlement spending like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

These programs are spending far more money each year than they are taking in.

States like Utah have a constitutional requirement to balance the government’s budget.

By and large, these states comply with this requirement and practice fiscal responsibility.

Certain members of Congress have for years been suggesting that the U.S. Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget.

To officially adopt such a proposal, however, requires a two-thirds vote of both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, and Congress has never been able to muster such a super-majority.

But there is another method to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If the state legislatures in two-thirds of the states vote to call a convention to propose a constitutional amendment, Congress is required to convene such a convention.

At the convention, delegates sent from each state would draft, propose and approve the language of the amendment.

Once an amendment is officially proposed (either by Congress or by the convention of states), the amendment must then be ratified by state legislatures in three-fourths of all states.

The convention method of proposing an amendment has never been used in our country’s history.

For this reason, the method frightens some people, who worry that such a convention could propose radical changes to our treasured Constitution.

Although I understand this concern, I am satisfied that the benefits of holding the convention far outweigh its possible dangers.

Because the specific subject of the convention (a balanced budget amendment) will be announced and understood, there is very little chance that a sizable number of states at the convention would go along with any proposal to consider other subjects.

Furthermore, the two-thirds of states who call for the convention will agree on procedural rules prior to the event, thereby prohibiting any other matters from being considered.

Finally, in the unlikely event that convention delegates draft an unauthorized constitutional amendment, the amendment would never take effect unless three-fourths of all state legislatures officially ratify it, which would be nearly impossible.

Last week, South Dakota became the 25th state to approve the balanced budget amendment convention proposal.

A total of 34 states are needed to trigger the holding of the convention.

I am optimistic that this week the Utah House, and next week the Utah Senate, will make Utah the 26th state to join this important effort.

Please feel free to call me at 435-654-0501 or email me at kraigpowell@le.utah.gov with any thoughts or suggestions you have about legislative proposals to be considered prior to the legislature’s scheduled adjournment on March 12.

 

Additional information on the Constitutional Convention:

http://balancedbudgetforever.com/why-bbf/

http://www.conventionofstates.com

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Day 25 — Let’s Talk

Every day at the Capitol brings an opportunity to meet with people who care enough about an issue or idea that they make the trek up to visit with legislators.  One of the most helpful things for me when considering bills is hearing from people who have experience and expertise on the issue.  I appreciate when I can listen and learn from those who make the effort to come to the Capitol to advocate.

The following pictures are of some of the groups and individuals I’ve met with over the past week or so.  Thanks to them all!

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I had the opportunity to speak to the Salt Lake Chamber Leadership Institute this morning.  They are a group of businessmen and women who were seeing first hand the workings of Utah state government.  

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Lots of school groups come to the Capitol and I always end up feeling more optimistic about the future after talking with them.  This is the North Salt Lake Youth Council.

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Family Night at the Capitol is a great chance to share The People’s House with families.  It’s fun to see families share this experience together.  

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I love being able to share the experience of sitting in the chamber during floor time with friends and constituents.  Tom Coppin happens to be both!

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This teacher and mom is starting her daughter out right by bringing her up to advocate about something she’s an expert in:  elementary school.  This little girl’s advice to the legislature?  More arts, fewer tests.  

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Senior Day at the Legislature brought many folks from our district to the Capitol.  I got to chat with them during their lunch break, which was a treat.

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Lobbyists and citizens wait outside the House Chamber to visit.  I try to come out in between votes and discuss their concerns.

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A highlight of every week is talking scout groups on tours of the Capitol.  I love sharing this beautiful building with them and helping them feel connected to our great Utah heritage.  

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It’s especially helpful to hear from constituents who are impacted personally by the budget and bills we pass.  These folks came to the Capitol to advocate for higher rates for direct service providers for people with disabilities.

 

 

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Good, better, best, never let it rest till the good is better and the better is best.  That is the 4-H theme and something these 4-H State Ambassadors are committed to as they provide leadership and training for other 4-H youth across the state.  

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Many times groups come up to the Capitol to advocate or educate on legislation that may impact their organization or industry.  These fire fighters are from South Davis Metro Fire.

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Day 24 — Crime and Punishment

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Early last year the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice partnered with the Pew Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative to examine Utah’s criminal justice system with an eye towards addressing our increasing prison population.   CCJJ, Pew, and other stakeholders worked together to use Pew’s evidence based data to propose criminal justice reform policy. While many have worked on this issue, Rep. Eric Hutchings has been a driving force of this work and is the sponsor of the bill, HB 348, that implements the recommendations of the working group.  

 

Why is this issue important? Utah’s prison population has grown by 18 percent since 2004. Without action, the state will need to house an additional 2,700 inmates – a 37 percent growth in the prison population – by 2034. Utah taxpayers currently spend $270 million annually on corrections. The relocation of the state prison at Draper is projected to cost more than $1 billion, with half this cost tied to inmate growth alone. For all this spending, taxpayers have not been getting a strong public safety return. Almost half (46%) of Utah’s inmates who are released from state prisons return within three years.

 

In a nutshell, Utah needs to be “smart on crime” rather than simply “tough on crime.” We can make changes that help people while they’re incarcerated and remove barriers for them and help them succeed once they are released. There are real numbers behind these reforms, to the tune of over $500 Million in the next 20 years by decreased incarceration costs, and untold savings in human lives.

 

The complete Justice Reinvestment Report by the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice details the work of the commission, their findings, and data related to their recommendations.

 

The bill lays out the major changes, all aimed at addressing more effective ways to reduce recidivism. Check out the complete text of HB 348, “Criminal Justice Programs and Amendments,” for more details.  The bill:

  • reduces penalties for specified offenses involving controlled substances
  • provides that specified penalties be increased for subsequent convictions for the same offenses;
  • defines criminal risk factors and requires that these factors be considered in providing mental health and substance abuse treatment through governmental programs to individuals involved in the criminal justice system;
  • requires the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to establish standards for mental health and substance abuse treatment, and for treatment providers, concerning individuals who are incarcerated or who are required by a court or the Board of Pardons and Parole to participate in treatment;
  • requires that the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, working with the courts and the Department of Corrections, establish performance goals and outcome measurements for these treatment programs, including recidivism;
  • requires that the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health track the performance and outcome data and make this information available to the public;
  • requires that the collected data be submitted to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and that the commission compile the data and make it available to specified legislative interim committees;
  • provides that the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice administer a performance incentive grant program that allocates funds to counties for programs and practices that reduce recidivism;
  • requires that the Sentencing Commission modify sentencing guidelines, criminal history scores, and guidelines for periods of incarceration to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice regarding reducing recidivism;
  • requires that the Sentencing Commission establish graduated sanctions to provide prompt and effective responses to violations of probation or parole;
  • requires that the Sentencing Commission establish graduated incentives to provide prompt and effective responses to an offender’s compliance and positive conduct;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections implement the graduated sanctions and incentives established by the Sentencing Commission and requires that the department gather information related to the outcomes and provide the information to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice;     
  • requires that the Department of Corrections develop case action plans for offenders, including a risk and needs assessment and treatment priorities;
  • provides that the Department of Corrections may impose a sanction of three to five days for violations of probation or parole as part of the program of graduated sanctions;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections evaluate and update inmates’ case action plans, including treatment resources and supervision levels to address reentry of inmates into the community at the termination of incarceration;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections establish a program allowing offenders to earn credits of days for compliance with terms of probation or parole, which will reduce the time on probation or parole;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections report annually to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice the numbers regarding the earned credits program;
  • requires the Department of Corrections to establish standards, including best practices, for treatment programs provided in county jails;
  • requires the Department of Corrections to establish standards and a certification program for the public and private providers of the treatment programs;
  • requires the Department of Corrections to establish goals and outcome measurements regarding the treatment programs, collect related data, and analyze the data to determine effectiveness;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections provide the data collected regarding the treatment programs to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice for the commission’s use in preparing its annual report;
  • requires that the Department of Corrections establish an audit for compliance with the treatment standards;
  • provides that time served in confinement for a violation of probation is counted as time served toward any term of incarceration imposed for the violation of probation;
  • requires that the Board of Pardons and Parole establish an earned time program that reduces the period of incarceration for offenders who successfully complete programs intended to reduce the risk of recidivism, collect data on the implementation of the program, and report the data to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
  • requires that if the Board of Pardons and Parole orders incarceration for a parole violation, the board shall impose a period of incarceration that is consistent with the guidelines established by the Sentencing Commission

 

Other relevant issues related to justice reform include the prison relocation and the involvement of the court system.  They are detailed below.  

 

Prison Relocation

This presentation from the Utah Department of Corrections will bring you up to speed as to where we stand right now on the issue of the prison relocation. Many of the criminal justice reforms, including programming in jails and the prison, would be more efficient and effective in a facility that was designed specifically for those programs.  Jail and prison design has changed through the years and some changes to our existing structure is necessary, whether in the current location or building a new facility somewhere else.  The Department of Corrections Budget Presentation details the fiscal impact of some of these reforms.  It is looking right now like we will not make a decision on the prison relocation during this legislative session.  But stay tuned, anything can happen in the last 21 days!

 

The Courts

 “Partners in Crime,” the 2015 Annual Report to the Community, from the Utah State Courts is a dense, but valuable document which details ways the court system and process can contribute to Utah’s efforts on criminal justice reform.

 

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