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

Legislative Updates - 2 February 2015

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ first legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature. We hope to be sending a weekly update on legislative happenings during the session, and will be concentrating on bills that we find to be friendly to the principles of limited government on one hand, or, on the other hand, friendly to big, intrusive government. As you may know, the principles of GrassRoots are summarized as Limited Government, Constitution, Representative Government, Free Market Economy, Participatory Republic, Family, and Separation of Powers.

We would encourage and challenge you, if you see one or more bills that interest you, contact your representative and/or senator about it/them. We think they usually hear enough from paid lobbyists (some would say more than enough), but they may not hear enough from you.

At this time (one week into the session), there are about 360 numbered bills for this session on the Utah Legislature website, maybe about half of the bills that will be numbered by the end of the session which, under the Utah Constitution, will go for 45 days. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.

HB18, “Children's Hearing Aid Program Amendments,” sponsored by Representative Edwards and Senator Osmond, would:

  • convert the Children's Hearing Aid Pilot Program to a permanent program; and
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2016: to the Department of Health - Family Health and Preparedness, as an ongoing appropriation: $100,000.

The intended beneficiaries are children under the age of 6 who do not already qualify for the full cost of hearing aids under Utah’s Medicaid program or Utah’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, but who do “meet financial need qualification criteria” under rules set by the Department of Health.

HB18 passed the House 59-12 on January 26th, and passed Senate Health and Human Services Committee 5-1 on January 30th, and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

HB18 proposes to make permanent another welfare program to be administered by the State, with money from taxpayers. Many would agree that hearing aids for children are a good idea. But it would be much better to reduce the size of the welfare state (and, over time, eliminate it), and reduce taxes, thus leaving private individuals, families, and associations, and local communities with greater resources to deal with the variety of challenges that exist. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB18.

HB54, “Public Education Increased Funding Program,” sponsored by Representative Draxler, would:

  • increase the income tax rate imposed on an individual's state taxable income from 5% to 6%;
  • create the Pay for Performance Incentive Pay Program;
  • require an local education agency (LEA) to develop a pay for performance incentive payment plan to distribute incentive payments to outstanding classroom teachers within the LEA and submit the plan to the State Board of Education for approval;
  • create the Digital Teaching and Learning Technology Program; and
  • subject to legislative appropriation, require the State Board of Education to distribute money to LEAs through the Pay for Performance Incentive Pay Program and the Digital Teaching and Learning Technology Program.

The Fiscal Note for HB54 indicates that tax revenue would be increased by $176 million in FY2016 and by $726 million in FY2017.

HB54 is currently scheduled to be considered by the House Education Committee at its Monday, February 2nd meeting (2pm, Room 30, House Building).

HB54 would impose a serious, statewide tax increase, and would increase the power of the state exercised over our schools. GrassRoots would prefer policies designed to enhance parental and local control over education, and not to take ever more resources away from the private sector. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB54.

HB79, “Safety Belt Law Amendments,” sponsored by Representative Perry, would repeal the provision that provides that a state or local law enforcement officer may only enforce the safety belt restraint requirement as a secondary action in certain circumstances. This means that, under HB79, one could be “pulled over” for a seat belt violation. (Currently, those over 19 may only be cited for failure to wear a seat belt when being “pulled over” for something else.)

HB79 awaits consideration by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

Many believe it is a good idea to wear a seat belt in a moving car, but this does not make seat belt enforcement a good reason for a police officer to pull someone over. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB79.

HB105, “Antidiscrimination Modifications,” sponsored by Representative Miller, would expand the scope of antidiscrimination statute by including pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy-related conditions, breastfeeding, or medical conditions related to breastfeeding in certain provisions related to:

  • the powers of the Division of Antidiscrimination and Labor; and
  • discriminatory or prohibited employment practice.

Thus HB105 would add to the list of factors (already including race, color, sex, age in certain circumstances, religion, national origin, and disability) that businesses may not use to discriminate in their hiring and other practices.

HB105 currently awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

HB105 would add unwarranted regulations to our marketplace and unwarranted invasions of the property rights of business owners. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB105.

SJR6, “Joint Resolution Urging Congress to Support Equity and Sales Tax Fairness,” sponsored by Senator Harper, would:

  • urge Congress to pass, without delay, federal legislation for the fair and constitutional collection of state and local sales and use taxes; and
  • urge that Congress consider the following principles and ideas when drafting the legislation: (a) utilizing state-provided or state-certified tax collection and remittance software that is simple to implement and maintain; (b) immunity from civil liability for retailers utilizing state-provided or state-certified software in tax collection and remittance; (c) tax audit accountability to a single state tax audit authority; (d) elimination of interstate tax complexity by streamlining taxable good categories; (e) adoption of a meaningful small business exception so that small businesses that sell remotely are not adversely affected by the legislation; and (f) fair compensation to the tax collecting retailer.

SJR6 awaits consideration by the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

It seems to us that there is nothing stopping states from imposing a sales tax on vendors within their states . . . even when the sales are to residents outside of their own state. But the high-sales-tax states are confronted with this uncomfortable truth: consumers are often attracted to lower prices and, therefore, may be attracted to make purchases from vendors in low-sales-tax states. We believe that Congress should not go out of its way to help states get around this uncomfortable truth. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SJR6.

Given the possibility of significant amendments to bills, as well as other factors, the GrassRoots positions given in this letter are preliminary, not final positions. If you have any questions about these bills, GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.


Steve Stromness
Board Member, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots

Don Guymon Chairman, Utah GrassRoots

PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to and click on “Legislators”.

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to and click on “2015 General Session Page” then click on “2015 Bills”.

Do you have other questions about how to effectively participate in the political process? Please contact us, and we will try to help as appropriate.

Do you have friends that would appreciate this legislative update? Please feel free to forward it to them.

Would you like to help us with review of legislation in a small or large way? Consider taking a special look at bills sponsored by your own representative or senator. Please contact us with your findings and/or with any questions we might be able to help you with.

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