Friday, March 02, 2007

the undemocratic branch

no, its not the virtual-life tenured state judiciary, but the Utah state legislature that is undemocratic. Because out-of-state voucher enthusiasts dumped a cool half million on our legislature, we got one of the most expansive voucher bills in the country. But thank goodness someone is going to ask the people what they want:
A coalition of public education advocates on Thursday filed a referendum petition in an attempt to recall Utah's new voucher law, which creates the nation's most comprehensive school voucher program by making vouchers available to all families who do not currently have children in private schools.
The group has 40 days to scrape together nearly 92,000 signatures from all corners of the state to get the issue before voters.
Education coalition members have been discussing how to challenge the voucher law ever since it squeaked through the Utah House by one vote last month. The group is still mulling a legal challenge but focused first on the voter referendum because of its strict deadlines.
The Legislature has purposefully made it difficult to recall a law. Getting a referendum on the ballot takes the signatures of 10 percent of all the votes cast for governor in the last general election, or about 92,000.
And that 10 percent threshold must be reached in 15 of the state's 29 counties.
If the petitioners get enough signatures, Huntsman will set the referendum before voters.
And the state could not issue a voucher until voters decide to keep or reject the law.
Legislators who backed the voucher proposal assume the group will get the issue on a ballot, but say they are not worried about the outcome and promised no retribution in future legislative sessions.

Why worry when you have created ultra-safe districts for yourself and you receive dozens of unreported free meals with lobbyists and lots of out of state money in contributions.

Meanwhile, someone has to sue to overturn the EnergySolution bill:
But Charles Judd says the law is unconstitutional because it helps create and protect a monopoly at the expense of other companies in the same industry.
“It's obvious that this is an unfair piece of legislation,” said Judd, who served as president for the radioactive waste company for several years.
“The truth is, they broke the law, and now they want to change the law to benefit one company.”
[Huntsman's Department of Environmental Quality]has sided with EnergySolutions over the past year, while Judd and other critics challenged the state on its refusal to apply a certain provision of the law to the mile-square disposal site. The provision says if a waste facility wants to grow by 50 percent or more, it must get approval from local elected officials, the Legislature and the governor, as well as regulators.

In other legislative follies, we have the case of the disingenuous "saved by the bell" tactic.
It was close — but a parliamentary snag and time-chewing debate doomed it.
For the third year running, a bill that would have created a felony provision for serious cases of animal torture failed to make it through the Legislature.
But this time it came down to the wire. It wasn't a lack of votes but the ticks of a clock that killed SB190.
After sitting in the House Rules Committee for days, SB190, sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, made it to House floor with just ten minutes left in the session.

This article fails to note that the bill came up with plenty of time but the Republican leadership moved it back towards the end of the calendar to make sure they "just missed" the time needed to pass it. But don't feel bad animal rights people, rabid pro-lifers got similarly hosed:
Early in the legislative session, HB235 was substituted with an outright ban on abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest or extreme medical necessity for the mother. That bill would have set the stage for Utah to lead the way in the challenge against Roe v. Wade, a legal battle estimated to cost upwards of $3 million.
Citing concerns about the cost and timing of the court fight, the House restored the "trigger bill" approach. That's the version the Senate approved late Wednesday, with amendments that stripped the bill of about $1 million in unrelated funding, provided an exception for fatal fetal deformity and made another minor change.
The amendments effectively killed HB235, because they left little time for it to make it back to the House. Still, the Senate would have voted on the bill much earlier in the session, had it been listed as a high-priority item — which it was not.

See? Even in Utah's ultra conservative legislature, this unconstitutional bill is not important to them.

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