Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 5

Week 5 was short but punchy.  We came back from President's Day to a 3rd Reading Calendar chuck full of bills to debate.

But, before we debate any bills, we have to brave the morning commute to the Capitol.  NOTE: In order to "reduce speed", you must have speed to begin with. 

We had a heart wrenching recognition on the House Floor of Deserea Turner.  She is a shooting survivor who was left for dead by two classmates in Logan last year.  Her  head wound has left her physically impaired and has caused some mental impairment.  But she is improving.  She is a strong girl.

We recognized Orin Hatch on the House Floor and declared February 21st as Orin Hatch Day.  To celebrate this new holiday, we all dressed up like politicians.

The Legislature's love/hate relationship with premium creamy chocolate continues as we restock with consolation prizes to hand legislators after their bills fail.  For example...

Our Oversight Committee proposal was panned by the Utah League of Cities and Towns who effectively lobbied a majority of representatives to stick a knife in the bill.  The bill has since had the knife pulled out of its heart and is being resuscitated after the city provisions are amputated from the bill language.

We had a serious discussion about tax reform for the state.  There are four major bills on their way through the Legislature that realign our tax structure.  Combined, they would decrease taxes while shifting some of the tax burden more evenly from one source to others. Two of the bills increase taxes and two of them decrease taxes if passed alone. However, we took no position as a body on the combined package and will be debating each of the bills on their merits. This scenario could prove to be an explosion of excitement as we near the end of the Session.

Congresswoman Mia Love paid us a visit.  She candidly shared her feelings about President Trump while Speaker Hughes simultaneously offered us his best poker face.

I presented HB384 at committee which deals with preventing predatory foreclosures on orphaned 2nd mortgages left over from the Great Recession.  The committee hearing was heated.  You can listen to the presentation HERE.  Afterword, we gathered with the Credit Union Association, the Bankers Association, and Lundberg and Associates to forge a path forward.  After about 3 hours of discussion we found a way that would appease all parties involved.

You know its been a long day at work when you are almost the last guy to leave.

Quote of the Week

"I hope this bill dies in the Senate."

- Rep. Francis Gibson speaking about his own bill

Mr. Peterson's Bills

HB20 - Political Acitivies and Elections - This bill is sitting on the Governor's desk.

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill is tabled on the Senate 3nd Reading Calendar.

HB110 - Lobbyist Licencing Amendments - This bill passed committee this week on a 6-3 vote and is scheduled to be heard on the House Floor.

HB126 - Offender Housing Amendments -   This bill waits on the Senate 2nd Reading Calendar. 

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - This bill is still in possession of our Government Operations Committee.

HB270 - Teacher Employment Amendments - This bill passed Senate Committee unanimously and is on the Senate Consent Calendar.

HB384 - Trust Deeds and Statute of Limitations - This bill, despite the heated discussion, was passed out of committee and sits on the House 3rd Reading Calendar.  In an unusual move, the committee opted to move it forward trusting that we would collaborate with stakeholders to come to a consensus solution.  That process has occurred and the bill is being redrafted.  A substitute bill is forthcoming for stakeholders to review. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 4

Week Four moved at a steady pace.  Here is the week in pictures.

The week started out with a 7am gathering of our Northern Utah Caucus.  As you can tell from the vantage point of the photo, I was a few minutes late to the meeting. 

Students treated us to a "Lion Dance" during lunch this week. 

Rob Bishop came to visit us at the Capitol and offered a report to our caucus.  The bottom line:  Washington is broken...still.  The Congress' concentration of power in House and Senate Leadership means that big legislation is always pushed forward via panicked emergency deadlines rather than thoughtful discussion and debate.  In my opinion, the way that Congress has organized itself prevents a change, even if the people are replaced.

Rep. Becky Edwards presented the bill to replace the statue of Philo Farnsworth at the U.S. Capitol with the statue of March Hughes Cannon.  Here Rep. Edwards speaks with the mural of Martha Hughes Cannon above her and her Senate Sponsor, Senator Todd Weiler, behind her.  

We had lunch at the Joseph Smith Memorial building with Deseret Media to discuss a bill that eliminates non-compete agreements for the news media.  Needless to say, they don't like the bill.  This lunch was held after a contentious committee meeting where the bill was passed on a split vote. I support the idea of eliminating non-compete abuses.  However, the bill is too broad in its current form and I voted against it in committee.  The most ironic part of the lunch is that Deseret Media appears to be a good actor in the industry while all the complaints we are getting from industry folks about abuses come from other media outlets.  The good news out of all this is that, while sitting next to Kevin Eubank, I learned his favorite place to ski is Snowbasin.      

Sadly, my National Popular Vote bill has inspired a pageant of ugliness in some uncivil corners of my party.  Look for an exciting post about 'Love' Letters I received on this topic at the end of the Session.  I have saved them all.   

Lobbyists of all types crowd the doors of the House Chamber.

Our annual Speaker's Dinner this year was held on the floor of the Vivint Arena.  It was a sentimental event and a nice way to honor Speaker Hughes. 

We were paid a visit by the Consul General of Canada Stephane Lessard.  He discussed the problems facing free trade between Canada and America and their desire to maintain trade between our countries.  Over 76,000 Utah jobs are tied to trade with Canada.  Exiting NAFTA would cost Utah approximately 18k-36k jobs.  NAFTA is a big deal for our state. 

Students from Ogden High School came up to the Capitol to learn how our system works. 

My daughter Wynnie came up to pal around with me for a day. 

Quote of the Week

"I support this bill...regardless who the sponsor is."

- Rep. Tim Quinn

Mr. Peterson's Bills

HB20 - Political Acitivies and Elections - This bill is sitting on the House Concurrence calendar and will be voted on Tuesday before going to the Governor's desk.

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill is on the Senate 2nd Reading Calendar.

HB110 - Lobbyist Licencing Amendments - This bill is scheduled to be heard at committee Tuesday, February 20th.

HB126 - Offender Housing Amendments - This bill was substituted and passed out of Senate Committee unanimously.  It will now wait on the Senate 2nd Reading Calendar while we prioritize funding.

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - This bill is still in possession of our Government Operations Committee.

HB270 - Teacher Employment Amendments - This bill passed House Committee unanimously and was placed passed the House on the Consent Calendar.  It now goes to Senate Committee for a hearing. 

HB384 - Trust Deeds and Statute of Limitations - This bill has been numbered and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 3

The third week of the Session saw some major events.

Halfway House Reform

I was able to meet with House Leadership and the Department of Corrections to find common ground on HB126 and our efforts to re-align our halfway house system.  A late Monday evening gathering was a breakthrough for us.  The Department of Corrections offered constructive feedback for us that turned into the 1st Substitute of the bill.  I presented the bill on Thursday and it was overwhelmingly supported with a 64-5 vote.  Our next step is to shepherd the bill through the Senate as we work on the fiscal note.  Here is a video of the floor presentation:

Remembering Our Progenitors

My grandmother passed away Saturday evening and her funeral was held in Shelley, Idaho on Wednesday.  I was asked to speak at her funeral.  We spent the day with family as we remembered the great life and example Grandma gave us. 


While I was out of town Wednesday, I was made aware that my colleague Jon Stanard had hastily resigned due to the failing health of his father.  The abrupt and cold nature of his departure hurt just as much as hearing about the suffering in his family.  Then, Thursday morning, the headlines hit about his very poor judgement.  The Legislature is still trying to process what has happened.  My heart goes out to Jon's wife and children who are innocent victims of this sad turn of events.     

It is a reminder that life is about choices and we must live with the choices that we make.  May we be wise in what we choose.    

Scenes from the Capitol

Most government meetings threaten to put people to sleep.  Some of my colleagues take that threat very seriously.

One of the more serious presentations we heard this week. 

Hanging out with my Ogden Arts peeps.  

Trashing a state monument (the Capitol) to show solidarity with a state monument.  Facepalm!

The most delicious part of the week.  

The sympathy Symphony bars return as bills start failing on the board.  

House Floor Humor

Mr. Peterson's Bills

HB20 - Political Activities and Elections - This bill is sitting on the Senate 2nd reading calendar and will be voted on soon.

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill passed the House unanimously and was heard in Senate Committee this week.  It now moves on to the Senate Floor for a vote.

HB110 - Lobbyist Licensing Amendments - We are putting the polishing touches on this bill before having it heard in committee next week.

HB126 - Inmate Housing Amendments - This bill will be heard soon in Senate Committee

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - This bill is waiting patiently to be put on our committee agenda.

HB270 - Teacher Employment Amendments - This bill is scheduled to be heard in committee next week.  


Saturday, February 3, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 2

Week 2 was a productive yet contentious.  It all started with a 7am Monday at the Little America Hotel for our annual Utah GOP Breakfast.

Mr. Peterson's Bills 

HB20 - Political Activities and Elections - This bill was passed out of the House and heard in Senate committee this week.  It goes to the Senate Floor for a final vote.

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill was heard on the house floor and voted out unanimously.  You can watch the floor debate HERE

HB110 - Lobbyist Licencing Amendments - This bill has been held up due to conflicts between our Legislative legal staff and the lobbyist community on how to best proceed with the bill.  We finally held a meeting where we resolved the outstanding issues to the satisfaction of all parties.  A redraft of the bill should be public at anytime.  It will then go to the rules committee and then assigned to Government Operations.  

HB126 - Inmate Housing Amendments - This was an extremely contentious bill to work on this week.  My first meeting was on Monday with the Law Enforcement Legislative Committee who took a vote last week to oppose the bill.  I presented the bill to them for the first time and took some criticism from the Department of Corrections.  Meanwhile, local chiefs and sheriffs sympathized with the bill.  The committee voted to take a neutral stance after our presentation.  

On Tuesday we presented the bill to the Law Enforcement Standing Committee.  The meeting was extremely tense and the bill was panned by the Department of Corrections.  However, I was able to overcome the concerns of the committee and the bill passed on a 5-4 vote.  You can listen to the meeting and the vote below.  


You can also read about it in the DNews and the Trib.     

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - I keep getting calls and emails from folks in Utah County who are angry about the bill.  It turns out most of them have been misinformed about what the bill does and when I talk to them about how the bill really works, they put their torches and pitchforks down to do some more thinking.  

HB270 - Teacher Employment Amendments - This bill just became public.  It fixes a technical glitch in our state software system that does not allow a teacher to be credentialed at more than one school district.  Originally, I was told that the bill would trigger a total rewrite of the software since apparently it was programmed back in antiquity.  The note was supposed to be an outrageous number like $40 Million.  Fortunately, the program is scheduled to be rewritten anyway and my bill will provide guidance in that rewrite.  So, the fiscal impact is $0.  

Look for more exciting news in Week 3!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 1

Session Opening

The 2018 General Session kicked off with the House being serenaded by alumni.

Former Reps Ryan Wilcox, Spencer Cox, Kerry Gibson, Jim Nielson, and a Rep who served well before my time offered up our National Anthem and God Bless America.  It was a great performance.  Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church offered in the opening prayer.   

Mr. Peterson's Bills

Presently I have about 10 bills in the hopper.  However, several of those bills have been in queue while issues are worked out between stakeholders.  So, if things go well, my total count may winnow down to 7.  We will find out in the coming week where some of the bills are headed.  Here is a summary of the bills I have drafted as of now:

HB20 - Political Activities and Elections - The most exciting part of this bill is the title.  Once you get into the meat you quickly realize this is a bill full of technical corrections, reference changes, and other uninteresting minutia.  The most titillating parts of this bill decriminalizes the act of misstating your registered voter status when signing an petition.  The second most interesting part brings financial disclosure deadlines for State School Board races in line with every other office.  This bill was inspired by recommendations that came to our Interim Committee from the Lt. Governor's office. 

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - Third Time Is The Charm!  I have run this bill three times now.  It has passed unanimously in the House and Senate TWICE but failed to be prioritized for funding each time.  We will make it stick this year.  The bill requires the state to do arrest warrant checks prior to reuniting children in state custody with their parents.  The bill passed a House committee hearing this week and moves on to the House Floor.  

HB110 -  Lobbyist Licensing Amendments - This bill attempts to create workplace harassment training for Lobbyists who work at Capitol Hill.  Our staff have recommended a bill to help reduce liability for the State in the rare event that state employees are harassed by lobbyists.  However, the language we currently have in the bill appears to extend into activity off the Hill as well.  So, we are working to revamp the bill to reduce the scope and provide common sense training while also reducing liability for the State.  I am meeting with stakeholders soon to negotiate the language of our substitute.  

HB126 - Inmate Housing Amendments - This bill is a top priority for me.  The bill would realign Utah's halfway house distribution so that facilities would be based in communities across the Wasatch Front and Southern Utah.  Presently, Utah only has facilities in Salt Lake County and Ogden.  Inmates from around the state are being paroled to these large facilities and are far from family and support that can help them re-integrate into society.  So far I have 22 co-sponsors to the bill with the entire House Law Enforcement Standing Committee being co-sponsors as well.  The Department of Corrections opposes the bill.  Meanwhile, local law enforcement from counties across the Wasatch Front support it.  I am optimistic we will get the bill funded and passed.  It will cost approximately $14 Million to construct and staff the new centers.

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - This bill is also a top priority for me.  What more can I say about this bill?  Please read more about it HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.  There is a 95% chance that what you have heard about this bill on the radio or via email blast is incorrect.  

More drafts are on their way...

Scenes From The First Week

Ogden's Tourism troopers raided Capitol Hill in a promotional blitz.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns took us by bus to have lunch with city folk from our districts.  Here I am with Rep Mike Kennedy, Rep Scott Sandall, and Senator Dan Hemmert.  

Kim came down to the Capitol so we could enjoy dinner together and attend the State of the State address by Governor Herbert.  The only thing missing was popcorn. 

Early bird gets the worm...or awesome photo of the Capitol.

Meeting with other Northern Utah politicos to discuss issues affecting our region of the state.

Former colleague Dean Sanpei visited us.  He resigned in December after taking a job in Colorado.  We are actively searching for a top quality Colorado Rep to poach in retaliation.  

Quote of the Week

"We need to turn this ship around before we go over the cliff!"

- Utah House Rep (name withheld)

This is all for now.  Much more to come in Week 2!