Monday, April 30, 2012

Veto Override Vote 2012

Many of you are aware that the Governor vetoed several bills that the legislature passed this last session.  Of the most controversial, HB363 or the Abstinence Only Sex Ed Bill was spiked. 

It is the prerogative of the Legislature to override a Governor's veto if it fills strongly enough on the issue. This year, leadership asked every member of the body to cast their vote on whether to initiate a Veto Override session.  Here is the outcome:

Veto Override Vote 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

VIDEO: Left Hand Turn Redux

In 2011 I sponsored legislation to enhance the penalty for folks who killed someone when making a left hand turn.  Our initial proposal was to increase the fine from $90 to $500 and suspend a drivers license for 30 days.  Our proposal failed at committee.

With the recent sentencing of the driver involved in Ken Cox's death, Channel 4 picked up on the story.  They came to my Ogden office today to interview Kody Cox, ABATE, and myself.   Here is their report:

A special thanks to Kody and ABATE for bringing this issue to the media's attention. More driver awareness will help improve safety. I will be drafting legislation to see if we can discuss this issue again at the Capitol during the next legislative session.

The Case for Funding WSU's New Science Building

I had an opportunity to visit with David Matty, the Dean of the College of Science at WSU,  and tour the science facility at the University.  What I found was quite shocking.

Built in 1969, the edifice embodies all the trimmings of the structures built during that era.   I am sure at the time, the College of Science looked at its facility as boldly going where facilities had not gone before. 

It appears now, however, that this facility has been there and done that.  It's design lacks what most of us would consider desirable.  It has long windowless corridors with dreary cinder block labs and classrooms.

Here is an example of a working lab which was converted from an old cargo loading bay.  Check out the cool 5 1/4" floppy drives on those computers servicing the gas spectrochromotograph.  We have to give our college students and faculty credit for being resourceful enough to continue using this equipment, let alone improvising with the inadequate space they have.

Here is a classroom which is representative of most classrooms.  No, it's not in the basement; but you can't tell either way.

And while you are there make sure the ceiling doesn't drip something on you.  The dripping ruins tabletops.

 Space is so scarce that this chemical storage room doubles as an office storage closet.

What I found remarkable for "newer" 1960's construction (keep in mind that I work with 110 year old buildings for a living), the entire north section of the building sags.  The settling has telegraphed up several floors of the building and caused floor tiles to crack due to the stress.  This particular crack is about 8 feet long. 

Can I give you a hand?

The exterior of the building is laden with signs of deterioration.  The window panels are woefully inadequate for temperature control in the building as well.

The geography of the building couldn't be in a worse spot.  The Wasatch Fault scarp is located on the east end of the Science Building parking lot.    

Given that science and technology drive our economy, it doesn't speak well of WSU or the State of Utah to tolerate such poor conditions in this area.  How are we expected to recruit students to these important fields when providing such squalid facilities?

So, what is the solution to this issue?  The answer is the construction of a new facility to meet the needs of today's science students.  It is projected that a new structure will cost about $63 Million for 200,000 SQFT of space.  That is about $315/SQFT.  The average cost of construction across the U.S. for science buildings is about $400/SQFT.  Perhaps a new building should be designed to better withstand the test of time, be more adaptable to future needs, and constructed in such a manner to last for several generations. 

Here is a summary of the current proposal:
New Weber Science Building

It's time to take a fresh look at this project and at the very least provide the funds for planning and designing a new structure this next legislative season.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

THE BIG CHANGE: Population Metamorphosis and Policy Making

At the 2012 WFRC Consortium, we were presented with many interesting fact about Utah's demographic future.  Here is the slide show with charts and graphs that were were shown:

Consortium WFRC 2012 Data Slides

Quite fascinating statistics.  The presenters also took a live poll using a handheld voting device we were all given.  Here are the results of their questions and the answers:
Consortium Polling Results
The question results that made me laugh had to do with where people were from in the audience.  The overwhelming majority of us answered "Government".  Ha!  So, with that being said, I have to suggest that the market related answers given are biased and another poll should be given to developers and consumers alike.  After all, they tend to decide what kind of housing they will build and pay for with their own money.

The questions that remain to be answered are how the free marketplace and urban development will dovetail together to meet the needs of Utah's surging and changing population.