I have a daughter who is a freshman on the track team at BYU. Last weekend she participated in the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She placed 7th in the mile and 9th in the 800 meters. Watching her run over the last few years I have learned that as important as the bell lap is (the final lap in any race), what you do heading into that final lap is just as important. Tomorrow we start the last week of the 2009 session, what might be called the bell lap for this legislative session. Today was our preparatory day for the final push.
We met in the majority caucus today at lunch and discussed aspects of the budget again, including updates on the federal stimulus package as it continues to unfold. There were several pauses on the floor today as joint leadership met to discuss aspects of the stimulus package that would require funds to be moved within our proposed budget and where those moves should be made. We will be having a caucus meeting at lunch every day the remainder of the session as the final details of the budget and the backfill areas are firmed up.
We were on the House floor for six hours today and heard 28 bills. Some of the most interesting bills, or bills with close votes, were:
HB179, Rep. Kerry Gibson, allowed the state to build a UTA rail station and development on sensitive 3000 year old archaeological site. This bill won 52-21, but my vote was “no.” I had spoken with several people in our district with expertise in this field who were concerned about the bill not providing adequate protection of this site, even in the face of repeated assurances from the UTA representatives. The site which was discovered two years ago, was almost protected by a permanent conservative easement, but that was not signed by the Department of Natural Resources.
1SHB 337, Rep. Chris Herrod, provides citizens to purchase a “Choose Life” special group license plate, with the proceeds from that purchase going to agencies that would provide support services to birth mothers who were choosing to carry their baby to term. This passed 44-27, with my yes vote, with the debate primarily centering around an amendment made by Rep. Johnson, changing the language on the plates to read “Support Adoption” rather than “Choose Life.”
1SHB 357, allows a person to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle or on a person’s real property. This bill passed 65-8 with my yes vote. I received many emails on this issue from people passionately pleading for the passage of this bill.
SB 153, Rep. Morley and Sen. Madsen, is a bill that passed 42-29 and did not receive my vote. It prohibits local governments from requiring, as a condition of land use, documentation showing a school district’s willingness or ability to service a new development. I felt, like many, that cities, schools, and developers should work together to plan communities that enhance and serve families. School districts need to have a voice and involvement to make sure they have time to prepare for an influx of new students resulting from a development.
Things to watch for:
The Utah Constitutional Revision Commission will be meeting tomorrow at noon to discuss two bills that propose changes to the Utah Constitution, HJR 8, “Joint Resolution Regarding Secret Ballot,” and SJR8, “Joint Resolution Regarding Eligibility for Legislative Office.” The fact that this Commission had not heard HJR8 prior to it being voted on the floor was a concern to many, so it is good to see this meeting occurring before it moves to the Senate for consideration.
Liquor legislation will be firming up in the next day or so. I have heard we will not see the 10 foot wall or some of the other suggestions we’ve been hearing, but that Rep. Hughes bill is one that will be measured and balanced and achieves an important compromise for all parties.
HB 187, the stream access bill sponsored by Rep. Ferry, was reconsidered after its defeat earlier in the week. The bill was returned to the Third Reading Calendar. There may eventually be a new substitute bill. You can read the text here as it becomes available: http://le.utah.gov/~2009/HB0100ht.htm