January 25th, 2008

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Utah Legislative Update - Jan. 25

From the League of Women Voters and KCPW:


Better pay for teachers will be proposed in HOUSE EDUCATION this morning. HB 67 would pay special education teachers--who teach children with disabilities and are in short supply-- a stipend of $200 a day for up  to 10 days a year for additional work.

Under HB 270, grants to pay math and science teachers for an extended school year would be available from the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative or USTAR. The goal is to attract more teachers, better prepare students for college, and make better use of school buildings.

SB 105, which creates a Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, will be in SENATE JUDICIARY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE.  The commission would evaluate judges standing for retention election.  Judges and legislators could not serve on the commission, and the number of members of the bar would be limited.

HOUSE BUSINESS AND LABOR will consider HB 89, Antidiscrimination Act Amendments, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


This afternoon HOUSE JUDICIARY will hear HB 26, Notary Public Revisions, which changes the definition of satisfactory evidence of a person's identity.  If issued by another nation the document must be a passport. A driving privilege card would not be accepted.  

HOUSE LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE will debate HB 262, which directs the attorney general to find ways to persuade the federal government by November 1st to reimburse the state for costs of illegal immigration.  Costs of criminal prosecution, incarceration, medical assistance, health care and foster care are listed in the bill.  HB 237, Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, would allow state and
local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law through an agreement with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES, AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT will consider HB 51, which would protect water company stockholders and public water suppliers from forfeiting their water rights because of non-use.  Utah law says water rights holders have a continuing obligation to put water to beneficial use. They can lose the right if water isn't used for 5 years.  HB 51 extends the 5 years to 7 years and protects water from forfeiture when it's part of a conservation or environmental program or may be needed by the public within the next 30 years.

For more information, be sure to visit your legislature -- in person or online at le.utah.gov/ --and the League of Women Voters website at

Friday, January 25, 2008


The Senate Health and Human Services Committee had an ambitious agenda yesterday morning.

They passed a bill that should help relieve some of the frustration we all have with the complications of health insurance. SB 62 - Medical Complication Exclusions- requires health insurance providers to clearly warn their clients of conditions that are not covered under their policy - particularly secondary ailments that result from a procedure, drug or condition that is itself not covered. Insurers would have to provide written warnings, use clear language, and include easily understood examples.  Such explanations are not always easy.  But if they failed to inform their subscribers of the exclusions, they would have to cover the treatment.  Senator Knudsen, sponsored the bill.

The committee also approved Substitute SB 56 sponsored by Senator McCoy, setting up a process for naturopathic physicians from other states or countries to be licensed in Utah when they move here.  

SB 66, Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, also passed. It sounds almost like  a response to 9-11 and Katrina.  If a state emergency here in Utah requires licensed health worker volunteers to come in from out of state to help out, those workers would be registered and regulated by the state.  Their civil liability would be limited and they could apply for Workers' Compensation in case of injury or death if they had no other coverage.  The issue of protecting physicians from liability who volunteer to treat patients without pay has been around for quite a while in Utah.  

Notice the word "Uniform" in the bill title.  That's because the bill sponsor, Senator Lyle Hillyard, is an attorney who belongs to a national organization of lawyers dedicated to creating model laws that are more uniform and easier to enforce in all the states.  

The most ambitious bill on the agenda was not tackled yesterday.  SB 133, a plan to improve health care for Medicaid and CHIP recipients touches on health care reform elements such as cost savings through managedcare, consistent primary care, and stabilizing patients with chronic conditions. As the population ages, chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes become more prevalent and costly. Expanding coverage by Medicaid and CHIP is part of the Utah plan.  SB133would make those programs more efficient, making the most of the federal dollars they bring into the state.


The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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“Real McCoy” Renewable Energy Citizen Lobby Day and Press Conference

 From HEAL Utah:

Utahns are lucky.  Our state has an abundance of waste-free, carbon-free, renewable sources of energy.  Yet as our air gets dirtier and our climate hotter and drier, just 0.5% of our energy generation comes from renewable sources.

We can and must do better.  As the Utah State Legislative Session begins this week we have a chance to do just that. This session, Sen. Scott McCoy (D-Salt Lake) is sponsoring a bill that sets a standard of 25% of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2025, while also promising renewable energy development in rural Utah.  26 states already have similar standards, though none have ever been proposed in Utah.

Unfortunately, Rocky Mountain Power--the state's largest electric utility--is pushing a competing bill that could stifle renewable energy development in Utah.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), puts Rocky Mountain Power in the driver's seat while giving the utility every opportunity and excuse to put the brakes on actually delivering renewable energy to Utahns.

Join HEAL Utah, the Sierra Club, and others next Wednesday for a citizen lobby day and press conference to support the “real McCoy” renewable energy standard and help us show the Legislature that Utahns want meaningful renewable energy legislation now.

What:  “Real McCoy” Renewable Energy Citizen Lobby Day and Press Conference
Where:  Utah State Capitol Rotunda
When:  Wednesday, January 30th
                11:45am – 12:30pm Press Conference
                9:30am – 11:30am Citizen Lobbying (see below for details)

Even though 92% of Utahns polled support increased government incentives and investment in renewable energy, Rocky Mountain Power’s bill is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing that could stall renewable energy development in Utah for decades.

While the utility's bill sets an "aspirational goal" of 20% renewable energy by 2025, it is entirely voluntary and up to Rocky Mountain Power’s whim to comply or not.  Incredibly, the proposal includes no intermediate benchmarks or plan to go from where we are today at 0.5% renewable energy to the 20% goal.  And, it would allow dirty power like nuclear and coal with carbon sequestration to count towards the renewable energy goal.

Worst of all, the bill guarantees Rocky Mountain Power a monopoly on Utah's wind and solar resources by preventing small-scale renewable energy developers from entering the market.  That means the businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs that are actually doing the work right now to deliver Utah’s renewable resources to Utahns would no longer be allowed to compete.

That’s like Congress deciding that because GM manufactures Hummers, they should be the only car company allowed to put hybrids on the road.  

Rocky Mountain Power builds large, centralized coal and gas-fired power plants, which does not necessarily make them the best company to bring renewables to the market.  So why should the State Legislature guarantee Rocky Mountain Power a monopoly on that market?  It’s an outrageous proposal that flies in the face of the free-enterprise, entrepreneurial spirit our elected leaders claim to hold dear.

Thankfully, Sen. McCoy’s bill is the real deal.  It helps identify where the state's best renewable energy resources are located and establishes an enforceable renewable energy standard of 25% to make sure those resources are actually developed.  The "Real McCoy" doesn't include the handouts, caveats, and loopholes that pervade Rocky Mountain Power's bill.   In other words, it delivers renewable energy to Utahns and creates a market to attract clean energy jobs and investment to our state.

Can you join us next Wednesday, January 30th, to stand with Sen. McCoy and support his plan for Utah's renewable energy future?  We need your support to make sure the Legislature does more than pay lip service to renewable energy this legislative session.

To participate in our citizen lobby day, please contact jessica@healutah.org or tim.wagner@sierraclub.org and look for the HEAL Utah/Sierra Club table in the East Building cafeteria any time between 9:30 and 11:30am (you don’t need any experience—we’ll give you pointers and a quick tutorial when you arrive at the check-in table).  And make sure to join us in the Capitol Building Rotunda at 11:45am for the press conference! 

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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker to Host Community Open House

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker to Host Community Open House at Historic Fisher Mansion

Public Invited to Tour and Give Input on Potential Reuse of the Property


Salt Lake City –   Mayor Ralph Becker is hosting an Open House at the historic Fisher Mansion to give residents of Salt Lake City an opportunity to tour the building and offer their input and suggestions on how Salt Lake City could best reuse the property and create a public space that serves the community in a positive way.

The Fisher Mansion is an architecturally unique historical treasure which the city hopes to renovate for community use.  Visitors to the open house will be encouraged to share their ideas for future community use of the mansion, carriage house and property.   

Renovation of Fisher Mansion is the first project to be undertaken under Mayor Becker’s Salt Lake Solutions program.  Salt Lake Solutions is a collaborative approach that involves the community, considers a wide range of ideas and options, and arrives at public solutions based on healthy dialogue and consensus.   

The Fisher Mansion adjoins the Jordan River parkway, and is ideally located for public access by bus, from TRAX and via bike paths.  While specific decisions about renovation and reuse of the property will be made in conjunction with the community and other potential partners, the City anticipates the renovation will advance historic preservation, tie together our waterways and urban trails network, expand cultural offerings, and showcase environmental stewardship.


WHO:             Mayor Ralph Becker


WHAT:           Open House at the Fisher Mansion


WHERE:        1206 West 200 South, Salt Lake City , Utah


WHEN:           Saturday, February 9, 2008

 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Upcoming Progressive Utah Events

Any of these events sound intriguing? Get more info on the Progressive Utah Calendar

Friday, January 25
  Drinking Liberally Salt Lake City 

Monday, January 28
  Global Warming and The Coming Energy Shortfall: Interconnected Problems, Common Solutions?
  Donna Smith (from SiCKO) speaking on health care
  Film - "A Walk To Beautiful" - free 

Tuesday, January 29
  FREE All Day Showing of SiCKO
  Film: "I Have Never Forgotten You" (free)
  Wasatch Front Forum - Utah's Energy Future
  Planned Parenthood Park City Lobbyist Training 

Wednesday, January 30
  Citizen Lobby Day -- “Real McCoy” Renewable Energy Citizen Lobby Day and Press Conference
  Focus the Nation: 2% Solution (Live Webcast).
  Film: Live and Become (free)
  Plamned Parenthood Ogden Lobbying Training
  ACLU Screening "Freedom from Abuse of Power: Torture and Unlawful Imprisonment,"

Thursday, January 31
  Peace Vigil
  Utah's Political Leadership and Policy Solutions to Global Climate Change
  Film and speaker: "Ever Again" (free) 

Friday, February 1
  Drinking Liberally Salt Lake City

 For locations and more event details, please go to Progressive Utah Calendar