July 3rd House Session, HR 9001, “House Rules Resolution Forming Special Investigative Committee”

July 3rd House Session
HR 9001, House Rules Resolution Forming Special Investigative Committee

The House met on July 3 in a Special House Session for the purpose of creating rules that will form and govern the Special Investigative Committee to investigate the current attorney general and matters related to the attorney general. Below are my notes from the meeting, specific to the resolution itself as well as to the amendments. The full text of the resolution and amendments can be found here:
http://le.utah.gov/~2013h1/bills/static/HR9001.html
It is important to note HR9001 is an addition to House Rules. This is not set in Utah State Code. It is in effect upon passage, July 3, as per House Rules.

The purpose of the Special Investigative Committee (SIC) is to gather information that will help the House move forward and decide what to do regarding impeachment. The committee will have subpoena power and will have broad investigative powers, which area already inherent in the law making process available to the legislature. Will we subpoena any of the other agencies conducting investigations (FBI etc.)? That will be something the committee will be discussing and will be within their power. We may glean some of the same information from witnesses that other media or investigative bodies may have. However, it is imperative for us to have the information from the original source.

The Committee’s role is to gather information and present the results to the House. Then the House will make a determination whether to recommend impeachment.

Our ultimate objective is to determine “fitness for service in public office.” That will be the focus of conduct to be investigated.

Definition on line 62 of Amendment 5, to include language in code of “candidate,” which is defined in state code as the earlier of either date of filing or earliest date of receiving money for said campaign.

Amendment 1: requires SIC present reports to the entire House, rather than just the Speaker.

Amendment 3: requires SIC provide periodic accounting on ongoing costs incurred in the investigation.
PASSES UNANIMOUSLY.

Amendment 11: limits investigation to potential violations under Utah Constitution, Article VI, Section 19. “Speed does not trump accuracy.” Scope, standard, privacy, immunity, legal authority, are all issues still in need of definition.
http://le.utah.gov/~code/const/htm/00I06_001900.htm
“The Governor and other State and Judicial officers shall be liable to impeachment for high crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office; but judgment in such cases shall extend only to removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit in the State. The party, whether convicted or acquitted, shall, nevertheless, be liable to prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law.”

This ties us somewhat to impeachment, when really the process should be limited in scope as defined in Amendment 13. The focus should be on obtaining the facts and not a special constitutional provision. That special constitutional provision specific to the impeachment discussion should follow the obtaining of the facts.
Amendment 13 passes, by strong majority, maybe 5 dissenters.

Narrowing of the time frames:
Time served as Deputy Attorney General
Time spent campaigning for Attorney General
Time spent serving as Attorney General

Floor amendment: Discussion of the process of how the committee could extend scope beyond the 3 time frames described above. The discussion is if that broadening of time frame depends on a majority vote or a 2/3 vote. The House body has the ultimate say as to how to proceed with the information. The majority vote errs on the side of gathering more information, while the 2/3 vote prevents a majority party from exerting too much authority.
I voted yes to amend to 2/3, however, it failed 27-45. The majority standard holds.

Amendment 4: states SIC report and minority report, if any, shall present only the information and evidence, and may not include specific recommendations for action. I support. Floor amendment proposed to include reports go to entire House, not just Speaker, on line 75 and 74.

Substitute HR9001: changes the makeup of the committee to 8 members with 4 each from Republican and Democratic parties, and one from each party serving as co-chairs. This is an attempt to take politics out of the process. It is important to note 7-2 would be an accurate representation of the House body. 4-4 would heavily skew to the urban, democratic voice in the state, which actually inserts politics into the investigative process. The Substitute resolution failed, with only 13 votes in favor. I prefer a 5-4 make up of the committee, with a chair being a non-voting members, except in the case of a tie. Amendment 7 changes the makeup of the committee with a cap of 5 members from the same party. An Amendment to Amendment 7 allows the Speaker to retain the ability to appoint the members within the cap of 5 members from the same party. It’s a fair compromise and allows all residents of Utah to be represented on this committee which is investigating an official elected on a state-wide basis. The ability to exert restraint within power is very important. It is important that the process appear to be fair and the process will be aided and enhanced when the party in power exerts restraint and
This motion failed 24-48, with my yes vote.

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