Grass Roots
Committed to Promoting the Principles of Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government,
Participatory Republic, Free Market Economy, Family and Separation of Powers

Annual Report Card on Utah Legislature

April 2012

PDF version (Contains ratings charts and rankings)

How Did Your Representatives Represent You in 2012?


What Could Have Been

It was the year of “What Could Have Been.”

Yes there were some important pieces of legislation passed. Of particular note was H.B. 148 and H.J.R. in which the state of Utah demanded that the federal government return land under federal control to them.

In the end, many pieces of legislation died for lack of a vote in the Senate or were watered down significantly. Take for example H.B. 140 which would have removed administrative checkpoints in the state. Administrative checkpoints are clear violations of the Fourth Amendment which states that you can only be stopped for a crime with probable cause. The bill passed the House only to die in the Senate for lack of a vote. Another vote that falls into this category is H.B. 49 which would have prohibited municipalities from arresting individuals for participating in legal activities i.e. carrying a firearm. H.B. 50 would have ended the “Check a Buck” program, in which state general funds are given to political parties (which are private organizations). “Check a Buck” gives the government the right to curb political speech, as those that give money can often set regulations on the organizations receiving the money.

There were bills that were watered down. SCR 11 started off as a bill to prohibit federal officers from carrying out the National Defense Act in the state of Utah. It was changed to a resolution which was further watered down.

In addition, the legislature did not take up any illegal immigration bills, despite several good bills being introduced.

While states such as Wisconsin and Ohio made strong stands for limited government, Utah did not follow their lead.

Sumsion and Morley Receive Perfect Score to Lead House
Dayton and Anderson Lead State Senate

House Summary: Ken Sumsion (R-UT) and Mike Morley (R-UT) received perfect scores to lead the House. Also receiving scores above 90% were Curtis Oda (R- Davis), Bill Wright (R-UT), Craig Frank (R-UT), Chris Herrod (R-UT), Ken Ivory (R-SL), John Dougall (R-UT) and Brad Daw (R-UT) and Merilyn Newbold (R-SL).

Senate Summary: Margaret Dayton (R-UT) and Casey Anderson (R-UT) were tops in the Senate. They were the only two Senators to receive above a 90%.

Governor: Gary Herbert received a score of 75% which is an improvement on his lifetime score of 73%. It is also the highest score ever received by a governor from GrassRoots.

What is GrassRoots?

GrassRoots has been issuing an annual legislative report card since 1992. The Constitutions of the nation and state are the guides which GrassRoots uses in picking issues for its legislative report card. Bills are picked without regard to any particular individual.

Analysis of Bills for 2012

Bills are listed by number with house bills listed first. The sponsor of the bill is in parentheses. The tally on bills from each house is listed by yeas, nays and those absent or not voting. Text of all bills can be found at

A) H.B. 49 (P. Ray) Provides that an individual may carry a firearm concealed or unconcealed providing that their behavior was otherwise lawful. There have been several instances where individuals have been charged with disorderly conduct for exercising their second amendment rights by openly carrying a gun. Bill protects our second amendment rights. GrassRoots recommends a YES vote. Passed the House (50-21-4) but did not come up for a final vote in the Senate.

B) H.B. 50 (J.Dougall) Repeals the “Check a Buck” program in the state of Utah. Under current law, if an individual checks a box on the state tax return, money is sent to the political party of their choice. This money comes out of the general fund and not the individual’s donation. Political parties are private organizations, and it is inappropriate for government funds to be used to fund private organizations. “Check a Buck” puts government in the position it can regulate first amendment speech. GrassRoots recommends a YES Vote. Passed the House (51-20-4) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.

C) H.B. 65 (P. Arent) Creates the College and Career Counseling Pilot Program at an annual cost to the taxpayer of $800,000 per year. Our schools already have guidance counselors and resources in place to do this. GrassRoots recommends a NO vote. Failed the House (31-42-2).

D) H.B. 129 (P. Painter) Clarifies that a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be liable for civil damages for injury or damage occurring while doing so. Two of our most fundamental God given rights are the rights to life and property; we should have the right to defend both. These are natural rights and it is proper that government should recognize them. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (73-0-2); Senate (25-0-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.

E) H.B. 132 (D. Pitcher) Reduces the marriage license fee for a couple who undergo premarital education and counseling and creates a three-day waiting period before a marriage license may be used (unless the couple went through prescribed counseling). While premarital counseling may or may not be laudatory, it is not the proper role of government to encourage such counseling. Bill also grants county clerk right to waive waiting period which puts additional power into hands of government officials. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed the House (31-42-2).

F) H.B. 140 (D. Butterfield) Bill protects our fourth amendment rights by ending administrative checkpoints. One of the tools used by law enforcement is administrative checkpoints, where citizens are stopped without just cause to see if they are committing a crime. This is a violation of the Fourth Amendment which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (41-33-1) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.

G) H.B. 148 (K. Ivory) Requires the federal government extinguish title to public lands and transfer title to those public lands to the state on or before December 31, 2014. The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17) allows the federal government to own land in a state only if it has the consent of the state in which the land resides. The state of Utah has not granted the federal government the right to own land in the state. Per the Constitution this land should be returned. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (59-14-2); Senate (21-6-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

H) H.B. 194 (D. Brown) Allows correctional facilities to petition court to forcibly administer food or fluids prisoners. One of our most basic rights is to control ones’ body. While an individual who is a prisoner may forfeit some rights for his crimes, under most circumstances he does not forfeit the right to eat or drink or refrain. GrassRoots approves of a No vote. Passed the House (63-10-2); Senate (27-1-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.

I) H.B. 198 (C. Herrod) Provides that certain food grown by an individual for consumption by the individual’s family is not subject to local or federal regulation and that certain food grown or stored by an individual for consumption by the individual’s family may not be confiscated by a government entity. The very fact, that legislators would feel that such a bill is necessary, demonstrates that our government has grown too large and tries to do too many things. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (53-16-6); Senate (21-6-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

J) H.B. 325 (D. Ipson) Under current law businesses cannot market fuel below a certain price. This bill would have delaye3d the repeal or “sunset” date for this law another five years (until July 1, 2017). The free market is the best way to determine prices, not some arbitrary number set by the government. This bill was poor law when originally passed and should be sunsetted. Grassroots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (41-31-3) but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.

K) H.B. 363 (B. Wright) requires human sexuality instructional programs to teach and stress abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as the only sure methods for preventing certain communicable diseases. Our schools should not be circumventing the rights of parents by teaching values involving birth control and alternative lifestyles, which contradict their values. Parents have the ultimate responsibility for teaching values to their children. This bill upholds this right. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (45-28-2); Senate (19-10-0) and was vetoed by the Governor.

L) H.B. 420 (S. Eliason) Requires school districts to offer an annual seminar to parents with topics including substance abuse, bullying (initial House version), youth violence (Conference Committee version), mental health, and internet safety. Bill is an unfunded mandate for schools to take on additional roles that can and should be handled privately. GrassRoots approves of a No vote. Passed the House 40-30-5; Senate 24-2 (vote not tabulated in this report). When the House refused to concur with Senate amendments the bill finally died when the Conference Committee version failed the Senate 13-15 (tabulated vote in PDF report).

M) H.B. 424 (T. Kiser) Appropriates $250,000 to the Department of Community and Culture for fiscal year 2013. We cannot force our neighbor to pay for a museum for us, why should the government be able to? GrassRoots approves of a No vote. Failed the House (36-37-2).

N) H.B. 461 (S. Eliason) Extends the waiting period before a woman can receive an abortion to 72 hours. Abortion is the taking of human life, one of the proper roles of government is to defend life. Government should do all in its power to protect innocent life. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (59-11-5), Senate (22-6-1) and was signed into law by the Governor.

O) H.B. 491 (J. Dougall) Requires municipalities to interview candidates for replacements to elected office in public meetings. Last year municipalities in the state that had midterm replacements, did all of their interviews in closed meetings. The public has the right to know what the people who will represent them, stand for and how they will represent them. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (74-0-1), Senate (25-0-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.

P) H.B. 513 (M.Newbold) Appropriates $10 million for early childhood intervention programs. Bill increases government spending. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (56-14-5), Senate (23-4-2) and was signed into law by the Governor.

Q) H.J.R. 3 (R. Barrus) Companion bill to H.B. 148 which requires the federal government to give land back to the state of Utah. Utah is exercising its constitutional rights. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (62-13-0) and Senate (20-7-2).

R) H.J.R. 13 (G. Hughes) Authorizes the legislature to present an opinion question to voters about whether to impose a state sales tax to support heritage, arts, culture and museums throughout the state. This is the first step to raising taxes on the citizens of the state. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the House (38-32-5) and Senate (18-8-3).

S) S.B. 31 (K. Morgan) Establishes maximum class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. Bill would cost taxpayers up to $14 million in 2013 and $19.9 million in 2014. The bill comes with too high of a price for Utah taxpayers and also amounts to unwarranted, unfunded mandate for local schools and school districts. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Passed the Senate (19-9-1) but did not come up for a vote in the House.

T) S.B. 39 (S. Reid) Requires state board of regents to receive approval from the governor and Senate when hiring a commissioner of high education and allows governor to terminate a commissioner of higher education. The state board of regents is an appointed body; whereas the governor is elected by the citizens of this state. This bill puts power into the hands of an elected official, who must be accountable before the electorate. Also restores balance of power. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (39-34-2); Senate (23-2-4) and was signed into law by the Governor.

U) S.B. 82 (M. Madsen) Requires school districts to create a registry for employee associations to register. Bill is a step in allowing teachers multiple associations to represent them. Teachers could pick an association which best fits their needs; benefiting them. It would also create more competition and improve education in the state of Utah. GrassRoots approves of YES vote. Passed the Senate (19-9-1) but failed in the House (18-51-6).

V) S.B. 107 (K. Mayne) Makes possessing any instrument, tool, or device that is commonly used to make graffiti with the intent to deface property a Class B misdemeanor. Under this bill you could be charged with a crime for carrying a can of spray paint. Our laws should be focused on punishing the act. Laws are similar to gun laws which seek to stop individuals from owning guns. GrassRoots approves of a NO vote. Failed in the Senate (11-17-1).

W) S.B. 161 (C. Bramble) allows certain doctors to dispense drugs without a license under the Pharmacy Care Act. One of the causes of our rising health costs is government regulation. This bill loosens government regulation but gives patients an option on if they choose to allow doctor to dispense drug. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (65-6-4); Senate (21-1-7) and was signed into law by the Governor.

X) S.B. 208 (S. Adams) Adopts a Health Care Compact. Pledges to take action to secure the consent of the United States Congress to the compact in order to return authority to regulate health care to the member states. The federal government is attempting to take over the health care industry, this is against Article X of the Bill of Rights. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (45-27-3); Senate (17-7-5) and was signed into law by the Governor.

Y) S.C.R. 11 (T. Weiler) Expresses concerns with sections of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act. NDAA allows for the unlimited detention of American Citizens and violates citizens’ right to Habeas Corpus and trial by jury. GrassRoots would have preferred an actual law to invalidate NDAA in the state or a resolution with stronger language. Nevertheless, the NDAA is such an egregious attack on our rights we feel SCR 11 is a much needed step (although a small step) in the right direction. GrassRoots approves of a YES vote. Passed the House (71-0-4), Senate (26-0-3) and was signed by the Governor.

First Do No Harm

By Don Guymon

One of the counsels given to doctors is the instruction, “First Do No Harm”. This is good counsel for our elected officials as well.

The US House of Representatives and Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act. One of provisions in the bill (sub-sections 1021 and 1022) allows the president of the United States to detain US citizens indefinitely. A citizen would be denied their right of Habeas Corpus.

The act does state that a citizen has to be linked to terrorism, but as one US Senator pointed out this could include giving money to an organization which eventually funnels your money to terrorist organizations. You could be declared an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

Justin Amash a Republican member of the US House from Michigan said, “(the bill) permits the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial at the discretion of the U.S. President...(it) does not preclude U.S. citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.”

Senator Rand Paul in the Senate debate pointed out that the U.S. government has said some of the following factors may indicate a person is a terrorist: 1) Missing Fingers 2) Having a seven day supply of food.

While some argue that the Authorization of Military Force already grants the president power to detain citizens indefinitely. Are laws such as NDAA good for American citizens? Does it give the citizens any trust in their government to know that a majority of the members in the US House, Senate and President believe the president should have power to strip US citizens of their God given rights? Without due process they could be separated from family, friends and everything they hold dear on the whim of a US President?

The NDAA passed the House of Representatives 283-136 on December 14th with Congressmen Bishop and Matheson voting in favor and Congressman Chaffetz voting against. It then passed the Senate 83-13 on December 15th with Senator Hatch voting in favor and Senator Lee voting against. It was signed by President Obama on December 31st.

Bills such as the NDAA appear to violate the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth Amendments. The trend towards the government violating citizens’ rights is continuing, as news was recently released that the government plans to keep private information on citizens for up to five years.

The terrible events that happened on 9/11 did not happen because of a lack of US laws. In fact, many of the individuals who committed these atrocities had already been identified. Law enforcement failed to communicate and properly follow up on tips and other information that had been provided.

We do not want to compound the tragedy of 9/11 by giving citizens a reason to legitimately fear their government.

If our enemies hate us because of our freedom, don’t we let our enemies win when we surrender our precious liberties?

But the federal government isn’t the only one who needs to look in the mirror. The state of Utah has recently enacted many laws which deny citizens their God given Constitutional rights.

Amongst these bills are S.B. 16 (2009) which allowed police to break up individuals who were congregating and H.B. 150 (2010) which allowed the government to order Internet Service Providers to turn over user records without a search warrant. Both of these bills violated the Fourth Amendment.

S.B. 16 (2009) and H.B. 150 (2010) in the Utah State Legislature may be found in the respective GrassRoots Reports ( for those years. Governor Huntsman signed SB 16 in 2009. Governor Herbert signed HB 150 in 2010.

Meanwhile a bill which would have strengthened our Fourth Amendment rights, H.B. 140 which would have ended administrative checkpoints by police died for lack of final vote in the Senate.

Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Ronald Reagan declared, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Our freedom is precious. We should not allow fear to dictate which rights we should protect and which we should ignore.

The rights granted to every man, woman and child from our Creator; are not some policy that can change at the whim of a legislative body.

The first role of government is to protect these rights.

This will be done as more legislators take upon themselves the creed of “First Do No Harm.”