Friday, November 18, 2016

The Future of Solar Tax Credits in Utah: Part 3



The ongoing effort to resolve Utah's solar tax credit conundrum came to a head this week as my proposed bill was presented at committee for a hearing.  I offered a visual presentation to help make my points.  Here is the slideshow:





Once my presentation was completed, the committee began to ask some very good questions on the subject.  Then, the meeting was opened to public comment.  The Utah Solar Energy Association opposed the bill and made their case to the committee.  However, the committee was not impressed by the lack of effort made by the USEA to negotiate or offer input on the bill proposal.  In my opinion, it appears the USEA believed they could simply make the bill go away by lobbying behind the scenes and ignoring discussion of the issue directly.  That turned out to be a losing formula.

The committee hearing was very pointed in its discussion of the issue and disappointment in stakeholder behavior.  You can hear the presentation and sharp committee rebuke here:



 
Of course, the Salt Lake Tribute's own Pat Bagley wasted no time caricaturing the debate:



This is my first time being featured in one of his cartoons.  So, I guess this means I have "arrived".  But, I do have to take issue with the way that he chose to draw me...my suit isn't that blue.  

Now that the bill has passed committee, I will be reaching out to stakeholders for a final round table to see if any final adjustments can be agreed upon by industry, stakeholders, and the Legislature.  From there, the bill will be presented for votes in both the House and Senate during the General Session.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!



Ok everyone, it's time to vote.  If you haven't postmarked your ballot as of November 7th, or you feel like saving the postage and dropping off your ballot at a secure ballot box, here are some options for you:




Click on the icons to learn more about hours and specific locations near you.

Even if you don't want to vote in a particular race, all the other races need your attention...especially the race for House District 9.  Here is an example of how I recommend you fill out your ballot:




Make the trip to the polls Tuesday or get your ballot in the mail today.  Either way, stand up and let your voice be heard.  I will see you after the election!

Of Accusations and Apologies



The Standard Examiner came out this morning with a blistering Op-Ed against my supposed conduct and lack of regret in the mistaken reporting of Kathie Darby's campaign contributions.

So, first, let me apologize to Kathie for getting the facts wrong.  Nobody likes it when they are misrepresented and getting the facts right should be part of Politics 101.  While the mistake was unintended, I accept responsibility for getting her donation information wrong.

Now, in my defense, I want to set a few things straight with the false innuendo and incriminations propagated in the Standard Examiner piece:

ACCUSATION #1:  Did he apologize? No.

My Response:  I received an email from the Lt. Governor's office late Friday afternoon indicating that the information which we had presented was incorrect.  Within minutes of receiving that email, the bad information was deleted from the post.  The email from the Lt. Governor's office was the first time we had reason to believe that the information we posted was erroneous.  We swiftly removed the bad information once it was discovered.  We have since posted a correction detailing the mistake.  We accept we made a mistake and express our regret that we did.

ACCUSATION #2:     He tried to pretend it never happened.

My Response:  The Standard Examiner called me up immediately following the removal of the bad information.  We openly and freely acknowledged and accepted responsibility for getting the donation information incorrect.  No pretending ever occurred.

ACCUSATION #3:   [Rep. Peterson] didn’t like it when the Weber County Democratic Party questioned his campaign finances. His response: You’re no better!

My Response:  Spending campaign money to attend to legislative duties like travel to legislative conventions is better than spending taxpayer's money to so.  Legislative practice in this matter is transparent, ethical, and legal.  Legislators of BOTH PARTIES follow this practice. You can read the post that has provoked the Standard Examiner's ire here:  POINTING FINGERS: Weber Democrats Poke Self In The Eye  

ACCUSATION #4:  Darby is pro-choice, but she’s not — as Peterson sneers — “a lifelong abortion advocate.”

FACT:  Kathie has supported Planned Parenthood for a very long time and Planned Parenthood performs abortions.

ACCUSATION #5:  Did he acknowledge that he’d been wrong? No.

FACT:   I acknowledged a while ago (in the Standard Examiner, no less) we had been wrong - “In order to try to rebut the Democratic arguments, we pored over several campaign disclosures. There was a lot of research happening in a short period of time,” Peterson said. “We know Darby has been a longtime advocate of Planned Parenthood. We thought we had correct information, but it turned out to be wrong.”

So, will the Standard Examiner issue an apology to say they were wrong about saying I was wrong to never say we were wrong while we had already said we were wrong in their own paper? Something's wrong here.

ACCUSATION #6: It’s hard to campaign on your moral superiority when you refuse to accept responsibility for your own behavior.

My Response:  I am on the record accepting responsibility for my behavior.  

The Standard Examiner editorial board is notorious for its left-leaning bias.  So, such a venomous Op-Ed is not surprising given that I am not their candidate.  I admit that I am not a perfect person.  But I am trying.  I have learned a lot from this experience and, if I have my way, I won't be making the same mistake again.  Hopefully, I can still have your support as we move to the polls on November 8th.     












Monday, October 31, 2016

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Jeremy Peterson vs. Kathie Darby




Policy positions matter, and its important that voters know where candidates stand.  A lot of things have been said or insinuated this election cycle that don't have a lot to do with public policy or the issues that voters care about.  Voters need to discern the differences between candidates if they are to make an informed choice.  So, I have taken a few moments to highlight a few key differences between me and my opponent.


Professional Background

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I have been self-employed as a small business owner since college.  I work in the real estate industry as a Real Estate Broker and Property Manager and have been in the industry 12 years.  My work puts me on the front lines of the free market everyday.  I understand how government action affects the everyday lives of our people and our economy.

Kathie Darby -  A retired IRS employee where she served for years as upper management.  She also serves on many local boards of charitable and non-profit organizations.


Your Money Your Taxes

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I have worked to lower state taxes whenever possible.  In 2012 I ran a bill that reduced taxes $24 million.  I also voted against the property tax increase and gas tax increase of 2015.

Kathie Darby - She wants to increase government spending and increase taxes.


Education

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - Education Funding is a perennial issue and hotly debated at the Capitol.  Since all of our income tax pays for our education system, it is important to keep existing tax credits under control.  I have passed legislation to provide oversight of these precious funds and I am running legislation to reign in out of control credits as well.  These efforts will help stabilize and provide predictability to funding our education programs.

Kathie Darby - She says she wants to increase spending without raising taxes.  But, she has not declared which ongoing state programs she would cut to do so.


Clean Air

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I have supported many of the clean air proposals that have been brought to the Legislature.  Most importantly, I supported the effort to convert our local refineries to Tier III fuel standards.  Tier III fuels burn cleaner and converting our local gas supply to Tier III would have the largest impact in improving air quality during inversions.

Kathie Darby - She supports stricter building codes, expanding Salt Lake City's no-idle ordinance, and opposes Utah's coal industry.  Read more.  


Utah's Public Lands

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - Utah's economy and education budget is severely constrained by the amount of land locked up under Federal control.  Utah has been seeking to take control of Federal public lands (NOT National Parks by the way) and make them Utah public lands instead.  Why?  Presently, all mineral severance taxes on Federal land pay only 50% to the state.  If Utah controlled these lands, 100% of those taxes would flow to state coffers.  Control of our public lands would double our state revenues from this pre-existing source.  I support Utah controlling its own lands.  Do you trust a distance Congress to govern our land, or do you trust the local guy you can call on the phone at any time and talk about your concerns?  I trust local control over Federal control.

Kathie Darby - She trusts Federal control over local control.


Full Medicaid Expansion

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I opposed full Medicaid Expansion on grounds that it was a budgetary disaster in the making.  Now, let's say you want to purchase a product but there is no price listed, the clerk tells you he thinks he might know what the cost is but isn't sure.  He proposes you buy it by writting a blank check to him and take the product home.  Then, when he figures out what the product really costs, he will fill in the check and deposit it at his convenience.  Would you do this?  Most of us wouldn't.  And that is what full Medicaid Expansion was asking us to do.  It would be impossible for us to budget for all of our existing programs with the blank check floating out there.  This is why I supported and co-sponsored incremental Medicaid expansion that passed the house last year and had a fixed cost to the program.

Kathie Darby - She supports full Medicaid expansion.


Race and Diversity

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I have served as a member of the Governor's Multi-Cultural Commission since 2012.

Kathie Darby - She says that Utah needs intelligent non-racist leaders.


Abortion

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - I am opposed to abortion as a form of birth control.  It is something that I believe is acceptable only when the life of the mother is at risk or in those rare cases of rape or incest.  I believe we have a responsibility to our future generations and need to respect the awesome power we have been given to create that generation.  As the uncle to four adopted nephews, I am a strong advocate for adoption placement when children are conceived unwanted.

Kathie Darby - She is an advocate of Planned Parenthood.


Religious Liberty

Rep. Jeremy Peterson - We live in a mixed society of many faiths and beliefs. Some of these beliefs are secular or might even be considered non-belief. Regardless, all of these views should have a place in the public square and should inform our deliberations as a society in trying to solve our common problems. As a person of faith myself, I recognize the important impact that my beliefs have in guiding my relationships with others and how I treat those around me. Religious participation of all kinds should be viewed as a worthwhile exercise that helps citizens improve themselves. The self mastery and personal responsibility taught by most faiths supports government in its efforts to provide for public safety and manageable public finances. For these reasons, expressions of faith should not be driven from the public square as somehow foreign to the purposes of government. While government should not mandate or advocate for any one religion, nor should it discriminate against followers of any faith or sect. Instead, government should view religious participation and expression as a general support to its goals of providing basic services and safety to its citizens.

Kathie Darby - She is on the record making comments about religion in our community.


I hope this comparison approach helps illustrate many of the bright lines separating my views from my opponent's on the issues.  With that being said, I hope I can have your support on November 8th.


  


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

POINTING FINGERS: Weber County Democrats Poke Self In The Eye




The election season is at full-throttle and this is the time where some people check their scruples at the door and are willing to say or do anything to advance themselves.  Today's example is the Weber County Democrats who recently made some noise by trying to accuse Republicans (i.e. me) of  misusing campaign funds.  Here are some excerpts from today's Standard Examiner story:

    "Utah’s incumbent GOP lawmakers sometimes find themselves flush with campaign cash, and end up using some of those funds to make charitable contributions or to pay expenses related to their legislative work. It’s all completely legal, but Weber County Democrats have taken issue with the practice."

“How can Jeremy Peterson claim to be a fiscal conservative if he is spending so much of his campaign money on noncampaign expenses? It makes us wonder if this use of corporate cash is influencing his decisions in the legislature,” Weber County Democratic Party Chairman John Miles said in a recent statement, also noting that most of Peterson’s donations come from outside House District 9, with more than two-thirds flowing from Political Action Committees or corporations."

“Even if he is not being influenced, campaign contributions should only be used for campaigns and not for Ubers and nights at the Hilton.”

Wait!  Stop the tape.  Lets break down this reckless accusation into pieces and point out the irony here:

Accusation #1: How can Jeremy Peterson claim to be a fiscal conservative if he is spending so much of his campaign money on noncampaign expenses?

Fiscal conservatism is about exercising restraint in spending other people's money, namely taxpayer money.  Campaign funds belong to the candidate and the candidate is responsible to spend them wisely. I make it a personal policy not to take contributions from anyone I am not willing to vote against.  Also, note that Mr. Miles makes no claim that Weber County Democrat candidates are fiscally conservative.  This is because they are not.

Accusation #2: It makes us wonder if this use of corporate cash is influencing his decisions in the legislature.

My record on all accounts is transparent. I have purchased policy books, paid for food when traveling to Legislative conferences, and paid for charitable causes along with regular campaigning activities.  People donate campaign funds to candidates they agree with.  For me, people donate because they agree with my worldview.    

Accusation #3: Most of Peterson's contributions come from outside his district.

FACT:  85% of Kathie Darby's contributions came from outside her district.

Accusation #4: More than two-thirds of campaign contributions flowed from Political Action Committees or corporations

FACT:  86.7% of Democrat House Minority Leader Brian King's campaign contributions flowed from Political Action Committees or corporations.

Accusation #5: Campaign contributions should only be used for campaigns and not for Ubers and nights at the Hilton

FACT:  State law permits the use of campaign contributions to pay for expenses related to performing the job of a Legislator.  This includes travel and lodging expenses.  This is not illegal or unethical.  It is a policy that makes sense.  In fact, Democrat Minority Leader Brian King spent campaign funds on four separate trips out of state this year alone.  Was he on vacation?  No, he was learning about the issues so he could properly represent his district.  Most legislators, including myself, use campaign funds to attend such informative and productive events.

So, ironically, as the Weber County Democrats have tried to make something out of my transparent yet boring campaign finances, they have poked themselves in the eye by being guilty of their own criticisms.

Now, lets get on to talking about the real issues affecting voters in our district.

CORRECTION 11/4/2016:  A previous version of this article indicated that Kathie Darby had recieved $1000 from Planned Parenthood for her campaign.  That information was incorrect and I apologize for getting the information wrong.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BILL File: The Student Prosperity Savings Plan




For the past several months, I have been working with stakeholders to draft a very unique bill to help kids living in intergenerational poverty (IGP) and others living below the poverty line to achieve success through college attendance.

Many economically disadvantaged kids are great students.  However, the lack of family financial resources often keeps them away from higher education experiences.  This in turn reduces their opportunities in the labor market and the poverty cycle continues unabated.

Utah currently has a tax incentive for parents or relatives to put money in a savings account specifically for tuition needs of a student.  Most of the kids that have these accounts open live in homes where parents have disposable income.  Yet, the demand for resources is infinitely greater in our IGP community.  Understanding this problem, we set out to find a solution.

In order to work toward a solution, I didn't want to create a giant taxpayer funded program and redistribute wealth from taxpayers to the poor.  For my proposal, I wanted to find a way to connect the wealthy and poor voluntarily.  I believe we have achieved that objective in our proposal.

Here is a copy of the bill:




Here is a brief outline of what the bill does:




Our presentation today was very fruitful and the committee asked some very good questions.  We will be making some technical revisions to the bill and presenting it to the committee in November for a vote.  If you are interested in hearing my presentation, you can listen to it HERE.



Monday, October 17, 2016

VOTE FOR REP. JEREMY PETERSON: His Record Represents Our Values


So your mail-in ballot should be arriving in your mailbox anytime now.  Who are you going to vote for in House District 9?  Since I am soliciting your vote again this election cycle, I thought it would be helpful to share some position statements with you.  Please compare these with my opponent's to make an informed decision.  Here are my positions:

CLEAN AIR

We all want clean air.  None of us disagree about that.  I voted last year to support conversion of Utah's Oil Refineries to produce cleaner Tier III fuels.  Tier III fuel will make the biggest positive impact on our quality of air.

EDUCATION

Funding education is important.  During a recent Special Session, I passed a bill called Tax Credit Review Amendments which gives the a committee oversight of $600 Million in taxes that are dedicated to the education budget.  Prior to passing this bill, no real oversight of these precious tax dollars existed.

I have spent time with teachers and education administrators to discuss the Common Core issue.  While we all agree that standards are important, the SAGE testing aspect is a major disappointment for most parties.  It provides excellent information for administrators while needlessly stressing students and teachers.  It also gives misleading information to parents and serves as an unhelpful yard stick for grading school performance.  The time dedicated to the testing also distracts from the education process.  So, I support ending the use of SAGE tests in lieu of another more common sense assessment mechanism.

Of course, teacher shortages and college and career preparedness are major issues affecting our education programs right now.  I support additional compensation for teachers to keep quality educators in our classrooms.  I am also hopeful that opening up the teaching profession to uncertified but otherwise highly qualified professionals will help alleviate pressure on our schools to fill their teacher rosters.

TAXES

For the past two years I have served as the Vice-Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee.  All major tax policy proposals in the state are heard before our committee.  I voted against the Gas Tax bill and against the Property Tax Equalization bill in 2015.  Both of these tax increases were proposed in a year when we had a $600 Million budget surplus and that surplus should have been used to offset the proposed increases.  

I believe that government should fund basic services but should be limited in its ambition to grow new and far reaching programs.  While government is necessary, it is terribly inefficient when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars to achieve its goals.  I trust taxpayers to spend their money more wisely than governments do.

JOBS

Utah is in an unprecedented economic boom right now.  Much of this is attributed to Utah's low regulation environment that fosters entrepreneurial spirit and innovation through competition.  While not perfect, I support our Legislature's approach to regulation.  We keep it minimal and look at new regulations with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Many industries look to regulation to shut out competition and promote market monopolies for themselves.  I oppose regulations that serve this purpose.  Government's job is to make sure players in the market are honest and fair dealing.  Utah's job market today has benefited from the Legislature's self restraint when it comes to regulation.

CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY

Providing for public safety is one of the basic services of government.  I am a member of the Law Enforcement Standing Committee which hears bills related to crime and punishment.  I can tell you that it is a heavy load to bear when hearing heart wrenching testimony from victims and victims advocates.  Nevertheless, the committee often balances the issues of personal freedom with the need to protect the public.  I have a great deal of personal experience dealing with felons and working to reincorporate them in society.  My experience has informed my views on how we need to rehabilitate willing individuals who are coming out of our correctional system.  Fortunately, we recently voted to fund better drug treatment and rehab programs to help stem the tide of convicts rotating in and out of our system.  With such a program, taxpayers will benefit from having to spend less on correctional housing, less on personal property damages, and the economy will benefit from having more sober and able bodied workers in the workforce.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

I support the right of individuals to express their faith in the public square.  I support prayer in public meetings and I oppose religious litmus tests when hiring employees.

IMMIGRATION

Since the Great Recession, net in migration from our southern border has been virtually zero.  However, the border is still very porous.  I sponsored bi-partisan immigration reform my first year in the House.  But, ultimately, the state deferred to Federal authorities on the immigration issue.  While our state authority is limited, I support common sense immigration laws such as preventing non-citizens from living on our welfare rolls.  Immigration, when it does occur, needs to happen in numbers small enough to encourage the greatest possible amount of assimilation into our society and culture.
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Thank you for taking time to read about my positions on the issues.  Of course, there is so much more to read here at my blog.  Feel free to peruse the last 6 years of work I have done on your behalf.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me at 801-390-1480.

Best Regards!
















Representative Jeremy Peterson
House District 9