Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Year of Tribulation: 1776

I recently finished reading David McCullough's book 1776.  This is a book I couldn't put down.  It recounts the formation of the Continental Army and George Washington's efforts to rally his undisciplined troops as they laid siege on Boston, were defeated at New York and then rebounded for a surprise victory in Trenton, New Jersey.  An amazing story.  It's a miracle we are not a British Commonwealth country like Canada is today.  The deprivation our forefathers endured for the cause of freedom is awe inspiring in and of itself.

There were a couple great quotes in the book:

"We must accept men as they are, not as we wish them to be." George Washington commenting on his troops.

"Whatever is, is right." - Alexander Pope alluding to our faith and acceptance of God's hand in our own life's events.

Pick up a copy of this book.  It's a fast read and you'll feel like you are actually there experiencing the events.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas: America's Immigrant Mash-Up Holiday

I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season this year.  With temperatures where they are, I feel like I should put the yule log away and break out the clovers and leprechaun decorations.  Speaking of Irish things, I wanted to take a look at our Christmas traditions just to put them in perspective.

Interestingly, since the Native Americans had no Christmas traditions of their own, all of our traditions have come from other countries. What we have today is a potpourri of holiday practices from everywhere on Earth. It's quite an interesting history. Let's take a look at the time and origin of some of our favorite Christmas symbols:

1. The Candy Cane                Germany     1600's  
2. The Twelve Days of Christmas  England     1500's
3. Christmas Carols              Italy       1200's
4. Stockings                     Europe      1300's              
5. The Christmas Tree            Germany     1500's
6. Gift Giving                   America     1880's
7. Wreath                        Germany     1500's
8. Poinsetta                     Mexico      1830's
9. Mistletoe                     England     1700's
10. Rudolph the Reindeer         America     1940's
11. North Pole Legend            America     1880's

As you can see, many of our holiday traditions descend from Northern Europe.  Also interesting is that most of the German traditions stem from ancient pagan practices re-adapted for Christian meaning.

So how did all these traditions get to America?  Immigration.  The melting pot has produced quite an eclectic mix for us all to enjoy.  With current immigration trends and pop culture's knack for creating new icons, what Christmas traditions will be in store for our grandchildren?  Let me offer a couple alternative visions of the future:

Be sure to enjoy your Christmas Holiday (or Hanukkah for our Jewish friends) and God Bless!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Bill: H.B. 45 - Vehicle Impound Amendments

The Vehicle Impound Amendments bill I am running has been numbered as HB 45.

NOTE: The bill is just adding some additional language into existing code.  The underlined text is the new language.  Everything else is already existing law.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  You can read more about the background on this bill HERE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Op Ed: Stardard Wrong On Repeal Amendement

My guest commentary was published in the Standard Examiner this morning (I am still waiting for a good link from their online live version).  Here is the text:

I would like to thank the Standard Examiner for airing its opinion on the Repeal Amendment and State’s Rights.  Although I completely disagree with the position held by the editorial board, the discussion affords us an opportunity as a community to explore this burgeoning issue.

One of the questions we need to ask ourselves as Utahans and Americans is this: At what point does the Federal Government overstep its bounds?  A good follow up question might be: Do we as a people even recognize what those bounds are?

Fortunately, to answer both of these questions, we need to look no further to our high school text books or, hopefully, our own bookshelves for a copy of the Constitution. If we understand our Constitution, we can begin to understand the power structure that was put in place to best assure the protection of our liberties and our happiness as a people.

We are all familiar with the checks and balances provided by the three separate branches of government that make up our Federal system.  Each branch is supposed to keep the power and influence of the other two branches from growing any more powerful than its own.  But this just addresses the balance of power within government.  What force is there to check the unlimited growth of power and influence by the Federal Government as a whole? Thomas Jefferson believed that the states of our Union could provide just that balance:

“It is important to strengthen the State governments…it must be done by the States themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government.” Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stewart, 1791.

Yet, the Standard Examiner editorial board feels that the voters can simply vote out Federal Legislators and that will somehow resolve the issue of our bloated government:

“If voters don't like what a current U.S. Congress is doing, they have the right to vote federal pols out of office.” - S.E. Editorial Board

The problem lies in the fact that the new guy takes the reins of a government that is every bit as large as it was when his predecessor left.  Voting out legislators does not reduce government programs, eliminate executive orders, or overturn judicial interpretation that all aim towards an enlargement of Federal power.

Even Alexander Hamilton, the supreme advocate of centralized federal government in his day said:

“This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from over passing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them.” (Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention,

Indeed, we may be asking the impossible.  The “rivalship” between the Federal and State level is mediated by the Supreme Court.  Is justice even possible when the defendant in the case, the Federal Government, is also a party to the mediator?  I think not.  And so, over the past two centuries our government has been drifting ever so slowly, but surely, in the direction of ever more consolidated centralized Federal power.  We should not rely on our Federal government to exercise self-restraint in this regard.  Our Founders did not envision The New Deal, The Great Society, or No Child Left Behind when they signed our framing document.  These have been possible only through subtle interpretation of the constitution and the collective acquiescence of the American people. 

That acquiescence is coming to an end.  Rob Bishop’s Repeal Amendment embodies the return of public sentiment to our Founding Principles.  It will give the States the necessary tools to effectively counter-balance an overzealous and cumbersome Federal government.  For this reason I support this cause and I hope that you, the reader, will do so as well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day at the Capitol: Up Coming Issues

I spent the day at the Capitol with my legislative colleagues and fleshed out some of the issues that will be addressed during the Legislative Session starting in January.  Here are some interesting points we discussed and some things you can look forward to:

$313 Millions Budget Deficit - The state budget still has a revenue shortage of $313 million that needs to be addressed.  Under current tax rates, we will need to cut another 7% from the budget.  Look for more difficult belt tightening.

Immigration - We were presented with the 8th revision of a much anticipated immigration bill.  Apparently, the bill has been made bullet proof to constitutional challenges. 

No New Taxes - We voted as a Republican Caucus today to not raise taxes this year to meet the budget deficit.  This is good news for everyone.  Instead, look for more paired down state programs this year.

Federalism Issues - The issues surrounding Federalism seem to be gaining traction on the Hill.  One legislator is investigating the possibility of Federal Tax Escrow accounts while another is proposing reawakening the Constitutional Defense Council.

Deferred Building Maintenance - To trim the budget and live within our means, the legislature has taken money from funds used to maintain buildings.  We have deferred this maintenance for several years now and we were warned that this can only happen a couple more years. We will be forced to increase the maintenance budgets again or otherwise risk more extensive damage to state owned buildings.  

Rejection of Governor Herbert's Tax Acceleration - Governor Herbert's budget called for one time acceleration of tax revenue collection by mandating that businesses pay state taxes quarterly rather than yearly.  This accounting "gimmick" would add about $110 Million to this year's budget by pulling revenues from the future.  It's a one time fix and also would add an additional $10 Million in collection burden to the business community.  We saw that as an undue tax increase and committed to not support that measure. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review: A Century of Service - 1860-1960 - A History of the Utah Education Assocation

Ok, I will be honest with you.  I did not "read" page for page this book.  It is a 680-page encyclopedic diary of committee motions, board findings, leadership successions and other minutia that I felt were best left as a reference on the pages of the book than swimming around in my head.  However, among the ocean of detail I did find a few noteworthy things.

Among them, the book extracts from the October 1921 edition of Review, a UEA publication,  in suggesting a "Teacher's Code of Ethics":

1.  The Constitution of the United States gives every man the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  If we choose to be teachers, we should show by our action that we are happy in our work.
2.  Do not be a grouch; it will show in your work, your face, and your schools.
3.  Make yourself so important to the people with whom you work, that they will feel your absence.  The community you work in should be the best in the country.
4.  Don't content yourself with knocking [criticizing].  You are only ringing your own death knell; for everything you knock out, you should build something better to take it's place.
5.  Join the teachers association, and see that you help make it a factor for good by doing your full duty without complaint, that those who see our good work may help us to better conditions.
6.  Make your work the first consideration all the time.
7.  Remember that the privileges we enjoy have been earned by steady application to work for high ideals.  Do not abuse the privileges we have.  By better work and higher ideals, let us earn greater freedom.  Remember always that increased freedom is always dependent upon greater responsibility.
8.  Demand the standard of punctuality of your students and then be sure that you do all and more than you require of them.
9.  Do not be a gossip carrier.  The best of us sometimes make mistakes.  Help the one who has erred back to a good healthy attitude. 

My how times have changed!  For fun, contrast these words to the legal disclaimer message of today's UEA code of ethics.  Which one inspires you more?

It was refreshing to find this gem in the book.  The "Code" from Review are words we all should live by, regardless of our profession.  How pleasant would our lives be if everyone we knew at work lived by these basic rules?

Finally, here is a departing fun factoid from the book:  In 1875 Utah had 236 School Districts, 458 teachers, 19,278 students, and 65 children per school.

I am grateful to the owner of this rare book who loaned it to me to peruse.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Bill Is Born: Vehicle Impound Amendments

I recently opened a bill file regarding police authority to impound vehicles.  This legislation was proposed last year but did not have enough time to reach the floor for a vote.  I offered to submit the bill again in behalf of an outgoing legislator who was the original author.

The gist of this bill is to allow for police seizure of vehicles that are suspected in hit-and-run accidents that involve property damage, injury, or death.  Our existing law allows for our vehicles to be impounded without a warrant if we are driving on the road for over three months without registration. This bill proposes the same if our vehicles are suspected in a hit-and-run accident.    

The main benefit to this bill will be the time and resource savings from a law enforcement perspective.  Rather than having police stake out a vehicle or spend a lot of time running warrants through the court when a hit-and-run vehicle is found, the police will have the authority to act in a timely way.

UPDATE 12/21/10:  Upon further research it was discovered that current law allows for the impounding of vehicles involved in hit and run accidents without a warrant.  However, when documenting such incidents the police classify the the incident at "theft/possible theft" which everyone involved knows is not the best description of this circumstance.  This bill provides a legal description that fits the facts of the case and will help law enforcement properly document such instances.  In essence, the bill is a minor clerical change. 

The next step is for the bill to be assigned a number. Then it will sit in a pile of bills that will be heard "at committee" when the legislative session starts in January.  From there it is sent for a vote on the House floor, then to the Senate, and if approved, to the Governor for a signature where it becomes the law of the land.   

I will keep you posted on the progress of this bill.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quote of the Day: Edward Carpenter

I was reading an excerpt from Edward Carpenter's book England's Ideal under the chapter "The Simplification of Life".  I found this quote quite gripping:

In remembering those who have dedicated their lives to the benefit of their own lands, we inevitably picture them as men of simple ways, who have asked little and given much, who have freed their shoulders from the burdens of luxury, who have stripped off from their lives the tight inflexible bandages of unnecessary formalities, and who have thus been left free for those great essentials of honest existence, for courage, for unselfishness, for heroic purpose, and, above all, for the clear vision which means the acceptance of that final good, honesty of purpose, without which there can be no real meaning in life. 


Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: Nullification - How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century

A couple weeks a go I received a book in the mail from the Utah Chapter of The Tenth Amendment Center.  The TAC is a libertarian leaning organization with a focus on State's Rights.

The premise of the book is that the size and scope of our Federal government far exceeds the original intent as defined by our Constitution.  The size of our central government has swollen due to abuses of the "Commerce Clause", "General Welfare Clause", and "Necessary and Property Clause" of our founding document.  Incidentally, the power and authority of our state governments have diminished in proportion to the consolidation of power at the Federal level.  The book provides legal and historical precedents for states to act in order to provide a legitimate check to an ambitious Federal Government.   

The book was a fascinating read of early American history and an articulation the Jeffersonian doctrine of nullification.  It documents the struggle between states like Kentucky, Virginia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Idaho, Connecticut and others as their state legislatures acted to nullify intrusive and unconstitutional laws.

One of the most intriguing ideas presented in the book is the concept of Federal Tax Escrow Accounts.  Basically this is an account that Federal Taxes, when collected by the state, are deposited into.  However, rather than forwarding those funds directly to the Federal Government, the State Legislature would debate the constitutionality of the Federal Budget and then forward the appropriate funds to Washington.  The remainder would be retained for State use and without the strings attached that so often come with Federal money.  This kind of tool has tremendous applications and would keep tax money and decision making close to the people which is where it belongs.  The first major implication that comes to mind is keeping our Federal Government's 8% contribution to our schools here in Utah without such ridiculous mandates like No Child Left Behind attached to it.  Imagine teaching our children how we know best to do it but without expensive Federal requirements and silliness.          

The book is definitely worth a read and I believe the concepts are worthy of merit.  I know several legislators who have bills on the table this session that will address this nullification issue.  It will bring a much needed debate on the subject and I am sure will enlightening everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington penned the first Thanksgiving Proclamation as President of the United States in 1789.  Here are his words:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Committee Assignments: Made to Order

I received my committee assignments from Speaker Lockhart today.  Here they are:

Transportation - Standing Committee
Given the importance that transportation will be playing in Ogden in the future, I asked to be placed on this committee.

Political Subdivisions - Standing Committee
Although not a super glamorous committee assignment, I asked to be placed on this committee to help gain perspective on our State's current political system and how its division affects policy and operations.

Economic Development, Business and Labor - Appropriations Subcommittee
This is an exciting committee assignment.  This will give Ogden a front row seat at opportunities for economic development and growth as they become manifest to our committee.  You will likely be hearing a lot from me about opportunities that arise from this committee assignment.

And finally, if you want to see where I will be sitting, here is a map of the House Chamber (click to enlarge):

Freshmen typically sit on the front row.   My seat is the yellow box.

Fun factoid: I will also happen to be the second most youthful Legislator to serve in the House this next term. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Resolution Convolution: The $101 Million Drama

Today the Utah Legislature was called into special session by Governor Herbert.  As a representative-elect, I was invited to attend and watch the Legislature address the issue dealing with $101 million dollars that are coming to Utah as part of the Federal Government's education jobs bailout which passed earlier this year.

As you can probably guess, it was a contentious issue and stirred some heated debate.

The resolution as it was proposed stated that Utah was accepting the funds but doing so holding its nose due to the perceived usurpation of State's rights and encroachment of Federal power on State prerogative.

Here are some important facts related to the funds and the resolution:

1.  The funds were officially requested by the Governors office and would be received by the State whether or not the Legislature approved the resolution.
2.  The Legislature has sole authority over appropriating State funds for use, including education funds, and not passing this resolution would allow the Federal government to bypass the Legislature by issuing funds to school districts directly.
3.  The resolution with its strong language of dissatisfaction added was seen as a compromise on the issue.
4.  The funds are desperately needed to plug a $50 million shortfall in our education budget.

So, the debate that ensued on the House Floor was quite intriguing.  On one side, you had a Republican  faction of representatives who absolutely opposed receiving the funds on grounds that it was fiscally irresponsible on a national level and just another example of government over spending.  On another side, you had Republican representatives that supported the strong language and yet wanted to approve the bill based on the States budget gap.  Finally, on a third side, the Democratic representatives tried to substitute a bill with friendlier wording than the one proposed on the basis that provoking the Federal Government with a verbal rebuke would hurt other sources of Federal funding that we are dependent on.

In the end, the original resolution was passes with just 14 Republican representatives voting "No" on the measure.

The Legislature today was put in a Catch-22 situation.  To have voted the resolution down on grounds of supporting State's Rights would have had the opposite desired effect as the Federal government circumvented the State's authority to distribute funds and encroached further into State business.  However, today's vote of approval may likely put some of the State's sovereignty at risk in the future as the Federal Government uses the acceptance of funds as a reason to mandate compliance to more Federal rules.  It has done just that with Medicaid funds the State received several years ago.

It seems that the Federal Government is becoming a master of making offers that States cannot refuse.   

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Utah Compact: Collision Course with the Capitol

Local business interests, community leaders, and leaders from various faiths descended on the Capitol today to sign "The Utah Compact - A Declaration of Five Principles to guide Utah's immigration discussion".

Here is a copy of the compact (click to enlarge):

The document itself doesn't offer any solutions or suggest any specific policy.  Rather, in my opinion, it tries to define the debate that will occur on the Hill this year regarding illegal immigration.  With Governor Herbert asking for a comprehensive reform package this year, the collision course has been set for those who have signed this pact with legislators like myself whose constituents elected them to address this issue in a meaningful way.  The debate should be lively.  I look forward to the discussion.  

Here is the text of the pact and my responses:

FEDERAL SOLUTIONS — Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries — not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah's congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.

This is correct.  As a state, we are essentially hostage to Federal inaction regarding this issue.  Hence, our constituents growing frustration.  This is exactly why I propose that our Federal delegation, our state Legislature, and our Governor form a pact with other states to compel our Federal government to take action.  Even Texas has an "Arizona-style" bill on the table this year.  We should lock arms with states like Texas and confront our Federal Government on this issue.  There is safety in numbers with such a course of action. 

LAW ENFORCEMENT — We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement's professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.

I agree.  Law enforcement simply does not have the resources to be immigration enforcers as well.  However, with a large minority of our crimes being caused by illegal immigrants, it is logical to assume that crime would go down in direct proportion to the absence of illegal immigrants in our communities.  Therefore, we need to seek out solutions that remove incentives for illegal immigrants to come to Utah.

FAMILIES — Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.

The first sentence is correct and separating families is not ideal.  However, any policy that sends the message to would-be illegal immigrants abroad that marrying a citizen or having children in the U.S. will give you a free pass to stay here is pure folly.  It will only exacerbate the problem, not make it better.  Immigrants should be encouraged to come here with their families through the legal channels our Federal government offers.

I also believe that this statement blurs the lines between citizen rights and non-citizen rights.  Education and other taxpayer funded services provided by the state are there for the advantage of citizens.  As citizens, we have rights that other non-citizens do not.  Hence, the bother of even distinguishing between the two.  This statement seems to suggest that citizens and non-citizens should be treated the same as one another in regards to health, education, and well-being.

I am of the opinion that state resources for welfare, child care, or tuition assistance should not be issued to illegal immigrants.  To issue such benefits will only attract more illegal immigrants seeking taxpayer funded assistance.  The practice is also an insult to citizens who can utilize these scarce resources.  While we welcome and encourage freedom-seeking people to come to America, to be a citizen means something of value and, therefore, we should protect the importance of citizenship through policy that advocates such.    

ECONOMY — Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah's immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.

We need immigrant labor.  However, the quantity of immigrant labor needs to be controlled and held in proper account.  That is not happening now thanks to our Federal government.  Fortunately, we can be business friendly and still provide opportunity for legal immigrant labor through the E-Verify system.  Provide penalties for businesses that do not use the system and much of the illegal immigrant problem will cure itself.  It is my understanding that Utah law, though mandating use of the E-Verify system for businesses with over 15 employees, provides no penalty for those that choose not to use it.  Why do we have such toothless laws?

A FREE SOCIETY — Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

The only question I have is how somebody defines the word "goodwill".  It could be argued that anyone that comes to the United States looking for work could be considered "goodwilled".  However, it could also be argued that anyone coming to the United States in violation of the law could be coming here in "bad faith".

I am sure that the coming session will be full or rancor.  For more on my views on illegal immigration, click here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Great Works: George Washington's Sacred Fire

I recently finished reading George Washington's Sacred fire by Peter A. Lillback.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy for your library.  This book takes head-on scholars, who for the last 80 years, have argued that our First President was not a Christian but rather an aloof Deist.  Deism in Washington's time was nearly equivalent to today's Secular Progressive worldview.  After reading the book and its overwhelming citations and scholarly proofs, I am convinced that he indeed was a Christian and an ardent one at that.

Here are a few quotes that I found edifying:


" Though I prize, as I ought, the good opinion of my fellow citizens; yet, if I know myself, I would not seek Or retain popularity at the expense of one social duty or moral virtue."

Minority Rule

"If the laws are to be so trampled upon with impunity, and a minority (a small one too) is to dictate to the majority, there is an end republican government; and nothing but anarchy and confusion is to be expected hereafter."

Leadership Principals

"I have found no better guide hitherto, than upright intentions and close investigation..."

"Laws or ordinances unobserved, or partially attended to, had better never have been made; because the first is a mere nihil. and the second is productive of much jealousy and discontent."


"It may be proper to observe that a good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally  indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life.  It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous."
Happiness and Government

" The foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free Government, be exemplified by all the atributes which can win the affections of its Citizems, and command the respect of the world...there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy..."

"Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

"A good general government, without good morals and good habits, will not make us a happy People; and we shall deceive ourselves if we think it will."

These quotes don't even scratch the surface.  Pick up a copy and be enlightened my the story and wisdom of such a great man.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Learning to Swim: Leadership Elections

There is no better teacher in life than experience.  Hence, the reason I believe for the wild experience of new legislators being compelled to participate in legislative leadership elections less than 48 hours after being elected.

Even as election results were coming in on Tuesday night, I began to recieve numerous calls from supporters but also candidates who were running for leadeship positions within the House of Representatives.  What adds an even more interesting element to this is that no one in government expected us to win.  We were a complete upset victory which meant that leadership candidates, except for perhaps three, had mostly ignored our campaign until election night.  Our victory threw the political calculus of the leadership elections back into uncertainty.

Thus, the phone calls began.  It became clear after Wednesday that there were two camps vying for power in the House of Representatives.  Each made compelling arguments for there case.  Adding difficulty to the vote was that I like and respect those that presented their names for consideration.  Still, it was difficult to make a decision with such little information and history to work from.  Nevertheless, we cast our ballots.

What we witnessed after the ballots were cast was a surprising transition in power from side of the room to the other as both factions opted to sit on opposite sides of the room from each other.  The disappointment from the vanquished party was palpable.  The satisfaction from the parties who pushed for this shift was unmistakable.

It was quite an event and I leaned more about politics in two days than I have in the past two years.  


Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We prevailed last night in our bid for the House of Representatives in Utah House District 9 and I want to thank all those who contributed their time and resources to our race.  It took a lot of hard work and without the efforts of our volunteers and contributors we would not have been able to make this possible.

I am humbled by the opportunity to serve and I am ready to get to work for our district and to bring the spotlight to Ogden.  Please let me know what issues and concerns you have.  You can email or call.

Thank you so much and lets make Ogden a great place!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Support Constitutional Amendment A

It appears there is an effort to make secret ballots open during elections for unionization.  Do you want your neighbors knowing how you voted last year?  Do you want your pro-union coworkers and boss knowing that you voted against unionization in your workplace? Or vice versa?  I think not.  This Amendment would prohibit such abuse of our liberty.

Please support Constitutional Amendment A this November which reads:

All elections, including elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum, or to designate or authorize employee representation or individual representation, shall be by secret ballot.
I have pledged my support of this measure.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Issues of Importance - Response to Reader

I recently received an email from Joyce Wilson:

Jeremy - back to the real issue of worthwhile legislation.  I am sure you probably have researched this, so to save my time, do you have examples of the types of proposals Mr. Hansen has tried to bring to the committees or legislature?  On rare occasion we will read items in the Standard-Examiner of some of his proposals but as I wrote, it is rare.

Scenario - you are now the Leg 9 representative - what are some bills you would craft to bring to committee (or however the process works)?  
Joyce Wilson

Thank for the email Joyce.  Before diving into Mr. Hansen's proposals, let me first highlight several issues that need to be addressed:

1.  Illegal Immigration

I have written extensively on this.  Please click here to see my proposed solutions.

2.  Eliminating the Tax on Food

This is an issue that I have not had the opportunity to write about.  Yet, I feel that it is important, especially for our district, to have the sales tax on food eliminated.  The tax on food is a regressive tax (meaning those who make less pay more as a percentage of their income) and that fact impacts our district more so than most other districts in Utah.  We were working to eliminate the tax on food up until 2008 when the economic crunch forced the legislature to reinstate the full tax.  It is my belief that with the revenue projections stabilizing, we should begin down that road to eliminate the food tax once again.  It is something that should be done gradually, say over a period of 6 years, but nevertheless it is something that should be done.  My thoughts on this subject are heavily influenced by Adam Smith's opinion on the topic:
"The middling and superior ranks of the people, if they understood their own interest ought always to oppose all taxes upon the necessities of life, as well as all direct taxes upon the wages of labor." - The Wealth of Nations
I won't address the tax on wages issue but the logic behind his statement is that the cost of everything we buy is driven by the cost of labor to produce those items.  In turn, the cost of labor is driven by the cost of the necessities of life that are required to sustain those laborers.  Therefore, when taxes on food are eliminated and the cost of food decreases, the working class is able to better support themselves at a lesser cost. A portion of that savings translates into wage savings for producers and therefore cheaper goods for the populace at large.  Everyone gets more for less under his theory.  Intuitively, I agree with this.

The question regarding this issue that I often get asked is: Where will the money come from to pay for this tax break?  Keep in mind that I do not have the benefit of a legislative research staff at my disposal.  But, my hunch based on my own observations is that there is a lot of waste and fraud in our state welfare system.  This would be the first place I would look to balance the equation.  Also, economically speaking, we may be able to grow our way into the tax break over a 6 year period as well.  I am open to ideas that work and make sense. 

3.  Economic Growth

Obviously, the issue that affects us all in Ogden is jobs and the job market.  We need more jobs.  More importantly, Ogden needs an advocate at the state level that can present Ogden in the best possible light and accurately represent all the opportunity that Ogden possesses for businesses who want to grow.  I do not have any legislative ideas to do this.  However, as the sole breadwinner in my home and being self employed for the past 11 years, I understand businesses and what it takes to profitably operate one.  Earning my marketing degree from Weber State University has been a blessing to my business and I know that those same skills can benefit District 9 when I apply those as Ogden's representative.    

Now on to Mr. Hansen's proposals.
Note: According to the state site, none of these bills sponsored by Representative Hansen have become law.

2010 - Click to see list of bills and link to actual text and last action.

HB0156    Regulation of Laser Centers 
HB0245    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0297    Compact Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote 
HB0322    Property Tax Valuation Amendments 
HB0358    Voting by Mail   
HB0436    State Officers' Salary Amendments   
HJR008    Joint Rules Resolution on the Selection of Ethics Committee Members

The State Officers Salary bill was interesting because it called for a reduction in executive branch salaries.  Yet, Mr. Hansen voted against several bills calling for Legislative pay reductions.  Quite interesting.

2009 - Click to see list of bills and link to actual text and last action.

HB0049    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0049S01    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0158    Motorcycle Helmet Law Amendments 
HB0166    Election Law Reforms 
HB0175    Professional Licensing Amendments 
HB0196    Provisional Ballot Amendments for Unregistered Voters
HB0200    Designation of Certain State Buildings 
HB0217    Utah Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments 
HB0227    Prohibition on Citation Quotas   
HB0282    Task Force on Legislative Reform   
HB0311    Utah State Railroad Museum Authority   
HB0311S01    Utah State Railroad Museum Authority 
HB0363    Property Tax - Determining Value for Tax Assessment 
HB0367    Legislative Compensation Amendments 
HB0406    Compact Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote   
HJR026    Joint Rules Resolution on the Selection of Ethics Committee Members

I am grateful the property tax valuation bill did not pass.  It would have allowed for a value assessment every time the property sold.  On the surface, this seems like a fairly benign proposition but unfortunately it is this type of legislation that has opened the door to transfer taxes that have stymied affordable housing in other states.

There is quite a bit to digest here.  Thanks for reading and taking time to learn about the issues.  If you have any questions for me, send me an email or post a comment.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Q and A on Mr. Hansen's Record

In response to this post card I recently mailed to voters I received the following question from a "Chancy":

Jeremy, I just got my a post card from you in the mail, why are you lying about Rep. Hansen by saying "he has been totally ineffective in our legislature."
Are you telling me he has done totally nothing as a state rep.?

Excellent question Chancy. Thank you for the opportunity to expound on this issue.  First, I think it would be appropriate for us to define the word "effective".  In this instance, effectiveness can be described as a Legislators ability or capacity to write, submit, and have legislation passed into law.  It seems that this would be an appropriate definition since a Legislators ability to craft legislation that benefits his district would be of importance to voters and the interests of those living in that particular district.

Now, for the record, the average Democratic legislator (being in the minority party at present) passes roughly 40% of their proposed legislation each year.  In 2008, our current legislator, Mr. Hansen, only passed 5.8% of his proposed legislation.  Mr Hansen's career record for the past 12 years is approximately 12%.

By this definition Mr. Hansen has been ineffective.

Now, I am not one to propose legislation just for legislation's sake. Ideas should be proposed and put forward only if warranted.  But, being able to pass a worthwhile piece of legislation should be of paramount importance.  In this case it appears, based on the record, that our current representative would be unable to do so even if the legislation was of superior quality and worthy of passing.

I won't digress on why this is the case but my point is simply to draw attention to the record at hand.

If anyone has any further questions please feel free to post.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thoughts on Life and Death

In the course of work and campaigning I have the opportunity speak to people that I only get to communicate with every couple of years.  It is interesting to see how life changes for each of the people that I meet over that time and how quickly life's circumstances can rearrange themselves.

There have been several occurrences this week that have caused me to pause and take an inventory of how I am living my life:

On Monday I received a phone call from the wife of Mark, a client that I have been working very closely with over the past year.  Mark and I had been shopping for homes last week and I had emailed him on Saturday.  Mark's wife called to tell me that he had fallen 30 feet off a ladder and sustained significant, likely life altering, head injuries.  Mark is a man in his prime with adolescent children and at the peak of his career.  Out thoughts and prayers are with him.

On Tuesday, Chester Bolingbrook, a former bishop in our ward and a longtime fixture of our neighborhood passed on after several years of ill health.  Chester and I had an extensive conversation just last month in the foyer of our church building.  He was a good man and despite the inevitability of his passing, its always poignant when it happens.

Finally, yesterday while campaigning I stumbled upon the home of the Pratt family whom I have worked with in the past on real estate related issues.  Two years ago I was informed that Don has passed on.  When I knocked on the door and asked for Lenora, I was informed that she has passed on as well.  Both of these neighbors were in their 50's.

I related these experiences to a good friend yesterday and the impact they have had on me.  We are all at the mercy of that Great Creator who is the chief arbiter of our lives.  Often, we don't know what plans are in store for us.  The old adage comes to mind: Man Proposes But God Disposes.  It's my hope that I live life it in such a way that my fellow men can say that I lived honorably, my wife and children can say that I loved them, and that I am worthy of peace and rest in the hereafter.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ethics Reform

The Utahns for Ethical Government sent me a questionairre by email.  Here is the email and my responses:

Utahns for Ethical Government

                                                                                                            September 7, 2010
Dear legislative candidates,

            We would appreciate your answers to the following five questions. Please respond within the next 2½ weeks--by Friday, September 24th [now Tuesday, September 28th]--by hitting the reply button on this email and checking your answer in the blank spaces provided. We believe that interested voters have a right to know your position on our legislative ethics initiative, and we will post these responses on our website and release them to the media. Please include your name at the bottom of your response to facilitate an accurate tabulation.

1) Do you support the ethics reform initiative of Utahns for Ethical Government that would establish a strict code of conduct for the Utah Legislature and a genuinely independent ethics commission to advise the Utah Legislature? (The full initiative can be accessed on each subpage of our website under “Full Petition.” )
            Yes _____
            No __X___

2) If you answered yes to question number 1, skip to question 4.  If you answered no, do you support the initiative if you take into account that if the initiative is passed by the voters, the Legislature itself can amend the initiative to clarify any unintended ambiguity that might cause unintended consequences?
            Yes ___
            No __X__

3) If you do not personally support the ethics initiative, are you nonetheless willing to support the constitutional right of Utah voters to vote on our initiative without new roadblocks from the Legislature?
            Yes __X___
            No _____

4) If you are elected, will you oppose changes to Utah’s initiative laws that would make it more difficult for an initiative to get on the ballot (for example, raising the number of signatures required, making electronic signatures invalid)?
            Yes _____
            No __X__

5) If you are elected, would you support lowering the number of Senate Districts or the number of signatures required to place an initiative on the ballot?
            Yes ____
            No __X__

Comments/Clarifications? _The Ethics Reform initiative as it is currently constituted is well intended but over reaching and will have significant unintended consequences.  We need simpler reforms that are rooted in common sense without trying to create a complex construct of behavior management for elected officials.  Some behaviors should simply be criminalized rather than deemed “unethical”.  However, other perceived misbehavior can simply be dealt with by the voters at the ballot box.    

Also, due to the nature of our republic and the responsibility each citizen has to participate in our process, I believe that maintaining the minimum standard for signatures required to get initiatives on the ballot is good policy.   I do believe that physical signatures should be required rather than being electronically submitted due to the ease in which misinformation and popular spirits pervade such a medium.  Keeping ballots, votes, and signatures in the real realm will protect our republic from the mobocracy and vacillating dispositions of the virtual realm. 

I kept my response in the email brief but here are a couple of ideas that I support for ethics reform:

1.  Elected officials should have a 1 year cooling off period before becoming lobbyists
2.  Campaing contributions should never be transferable to a candidate for personal use but should be given to a charity or other worthy cause when that candidate has ended his or her political ventures.
3.  Officials should not accept gifts of any kind from lobbyists (with the exception of a group meal at a large gathering).
4.  Officials should not harass, intimidate, or manipulate state employees whose jobs may affect the interests of a candidate.

These are simple and straightforward reforms.  The initiative proposed has many complicated and confusing constructs that would hurt more than help our state.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Night with the Unitarians

A special thanks to the Unitarian Church of Ogden for hosting the Coalition of Religious Communities' Meet the Candidates Night yesterday.

It was a pleasure discussing some of the important issues on the minds of constituents in the community.  Although we may not see exactly eye-to-eye on every issue, I believe we were in agreement on some of the most pressing issues of our day which include relieving low and fixed-income households through abolishing the food tax and also bringing meaningful common sense change to our immigration system.

Despite the fact I was the only Republican present at the event (and making a scene by being the only guy wearing a tie) it was great to find common ground and listen to the various perspectives of those in our community.

Thanks again for the opportunity!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Abagail Adams and Why I am Running for Office

The Abagail Adams Project is an organization which aims to be a clearinghouse of information on candidate positions on various issues.  I filled out their questionnaire and also gave an explanation for why I chose to run for House District 9.

Here is the questionnaire (click to enlarge):

Keep in mind that some of these questions were somewhat loaded so if you would like clarification on a specific issue please email me or call.

On why I am running:

I am running because I believe that life, liberty and the persuit of happiness are best achieved when the people are able to pursue their own best interests while unimpeded by the "good intentions" of government.  I believe that effectiveness matters and I present myself as the effective, responsive, and enthusiastic alternative in this year's District 9 Race.  If elected, I will work to abolish the state sales tax on food as it is an affront to common sense and the well being of our fixed-income and low-income citizens.  I will also work to address illegal immigration in a fair but rigorous way to promote secure border, enforcement of existing laws, and demand accountability from our immigration system.  In conclusion, I feel I deserve the support of the people because, as a business owner, I know the issues that affect our community and I am prepared to do the hard work necessary to give Ogden its voice back at Capitol Hill.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9/11 Meeting at the Park

I had the opportunity to attend a Republican get together on the 9/11 anniversary this last Saturday. Among those present was representative Rob Bishop.

He had the opportunity to speak to us and his message was quite uplifting.

He talked about America's history of being underestimated by the world:

1. Colonial era British thought that nothing of lasting value could be built in America due to its high temperatures and humidity.
2. The world thought that America would never recover from the Civil War and that we would be subdivided.
3. Hitler thought that a racially diverse America could never muster the strength to defend itself against a refined European military machine.
3. Intellectual thought of the 70's capitulated to the idea of Soviet economic dominance and a free-world compromise with communism.

He then went on to explain that America has a long history of disappointing its critics and that despite our current challenges, we shall prevail again as a nation.

I think the big question to be answered is: How?

Hard work, fortitude, innovation, and orderly living are likely the answers.  May we all do our part to keep our nation great!