Friday, February 02, 2007

disasters in the making

There once was an idea out there to "professionalize" our state legislature by making it year round. If they passed bills like the ones I am going to describe below year round, no thanks. If it would attract saner politicians, I am all for it.

  1. the zombie RSL stadium is back:
    A bill emerged Thursday on Utah's Capitol Hill that could bring a Real Salt Lake stadium to Sandy and salvage Utah's two-year-old soccer franchise, which is being aggressively courted by investors in St. Louis.
    If the measure passes - it was crafted behind closed doors this week with the blessing of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and legislative leadership - it would snatch at least $20 million for the project out of Salt Lake County coffers, which critics allege could result in a countywide property-tax hike.
    The move to revive a stadium in Sandy spells the end of talk to relocate RSL to the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City or the former Geneva Steel site in central Utah County.
    A separate bill - sponsored by Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, and backed by Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan - threatens to redirect $15 million in annual restaurant taxes from the county to the suburbs.
    Corroon calls the new soccer bill "troublesome" and insists it could gut the county's ability to fund conventions and tourism.
    "It's regretful," he said. "It will end up hurting all the citizens of the county and the state."
    Good thing they didn't consult the public who would be paying for it.

  2. Rather than an abortion trigger bill, the Utah Legislature wants to be the test case to overturn Roe:
    "On its face, it is unconstitutional. But there are a lot of issues that are ripe for the Supreme Court to consider," said Senate President John Valentine, an attorney. "It's the kind of thing the citizens of this state would support."
    And citizens will have to support it - literally. Defending the bill could cost at least $2 million.
    The bill provides exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to prevent a woman's death or "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." Without allowing public comment on the new bill, committee members sent it to the House floor for debate.
    The Attorney General's Office estimates the legal battle will cost taxpayers at least $2 million - double that if an outside law firm is hired. In the early 1990s, the state's abortion ban cost more than $1 million to defend - not including plaintiffs' fees. That law was found unconstitutional.
    Once again, the legislature is going to be wasting the public's money without any input from them.

  3. Another dumb bill is the school voucher bill, one that will not help a single poor person go to private school but will give the rich a break on their bill:
    After weeks of back-room arm-twisting and spirited lobbying on both sides of the issues, supporters managed 38 yes votes to the 37 opposed -- there were no representatives absent. Surprise supporters included Rep. Brad Last, R-St. George, and Rep. Keith Grover, R-Orem - two former public school officials. Both said they had wrestled with a decision.
    HB148 will let parents spend public money on private school tuition. Every Utah family, with the exception of current private school students, would be eligible for a voucher ranging from $500 to $3,000 depending on family income.

    "The Parent Choice in Education Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, would give families a private school tuition voucher that would range from $500 to $3,000, based on income.
    The bill, which calls for $9.2 million in general, not school funds, would leave per-student spending over and above the amount of the voucher in the school system. So, an estimated average $2,000 voucher still would leave $1,500 in state spending in the school district where the voucher recipient lives for the next five years, unless the student graduates.
    The bill seeks $9.2 million, but the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst also says it would put nearly $4 million back into the schools' budget in the first year. The program would require more funding in the coming years."
    Man oh man...I won't get into this any more, because Utah Amicus and others have written much more and better things about it. Count me in as agreeing with them

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