Sunday, December 18, 2016

BILL FILE: HB23 - The Phase Out of Solar Tax Credits

The much anticipated solar tax credit bill that passed our Revenue and Taxation Interim committee by an overwhelming margin is now numbered and ready to be heard on the House Floor early in the 2017 General Session.  However, the story isn't over.  The Solar Industry was distraught with the flogging they received at the hands of the committee.  Yet, even though the lashing they received for "slow walking" the Legislature was well deserved, our good faith desire for stakeholder involvement still persists.

A stakeholder meeting will be held the first or second week of January to identify any final unexplored common ground between the industry and Legislature.  This will be a last chance meeting of willing minds and it is my hope that the solar industry brings some smart and helpful ideas to the table.

Look for more on this issue as the Legislature prepares to convene in late January.

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 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


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


Sunday, October 9, 2016

American Anguish: Looking in the Presidential Mirror

Like many of you, I am still reeling from the recent released recordings of Donald Trump's so-called 'locker room' conversation with a fawning and complicit host of a magazine TV show.  As the son of a mother, the husband of a wife, and the father of four daughters, I condemn his remarks in the strongest possible terms.  They are unbecoming of a true man and reflect the untamed sexual constraints of an immature adolescent.

Of course, the horror is increased by the fact they come from a candidate for President...supposedly my candidate for President.  The race at the top of the ticket has become a cloud of confusion and disorientation.  But, what is clear to me is that I cannot in good conscience vote for Mr. Trump.
So what will I do?  This may be the only time (we can only pray) I have to choose "None Of The Above".

Adding to the anguish of this race is understanding what it means for us as a country.   Our system is designed to be representative.  Our elected officials reflect the views and sentiments of those who voted them into office.  So, as we look at our two Presidential candidates, a majority of each political party is reflected by them.  I am deeply troubled by what I see.  Do the Political Parties even recognize themselves in the mirror?

On one hand we have a crude and amoral business man who is as sensitive as a toilet seat.  On the other hand we have a wickedly corrupt woman whose graft and self-dealing is reminiscent of the decline of Rome.  The distillation process of the primaries has reduced us to these two unsavory options and we have only ourselves to blame.  It is time for us to do some soul searching on what our Parties stand for and whom will be the standard bearer of those principles.  We will never fail when we place our faith in principles over people.        

In the meantime, may God bless all of us as we move forward with uncertainty.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

STANDARD EXAMINER: House District 9 Voters Have 2 Distinct Options This November

Kudos to Cathy McKitric who wrote in the Standard Examiner recently regarding our race in House District 9.  Here is her article:

OGDEN — While no debates or town halls are scheduled between House District 9’s Republican incumbent Jeremy Peterson and Democratic challenger Kathie Darby, both agree they offer voters in this diverse district a distinct choice.

Ogden resident Peterson, 39, seeks his fourth term representing the district that includes downtown Ogden’s core —  which is high density and economically disadvantaged, north Roy which is largely suburban, and West Haven, an affluent area that still remains somewhat rural.

“So you’ve got a real medley of different neighborhoods and demographics,” Peterson said. As a self-employed Realtor and father of four, Peterson said he’s a big fan of the free market and private property rights. He also believes he has a rare opportunity to speak in behalf of Ogden’s pressing needs.

“Most of the districts in Utah that have disadvantaged communities are in Salt Lake County and are held by Democrats. They’re in the minority in the House, so oftentimes thart story goes untold,” Peterson said. “So I have a unique role to articulate their story.”

Darby, 63, retired from her job as a senior operations manager for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014. She has lived in all three areas of House District 9 during her lifetime — currently residing in West Haven, but having grown up in Ogden where she graduated from Ben Lomond High School, and then raised a family in Roy for two decades.

“I know the people and the issues” of House District 9, Darby said.

Of her opponent, Darby said: “He’s pretty hard-line conservative, I’m much more liberal and progressive. We both pretty much follow our party lines.”

Regarding Darby, Peterson said: “We offer two starkly different perspectives.”

On the race itself, Peterson said he’s noticed an overall lack of interest in politics: “There’s a lamentation going on out there.”.

On the issues

If handed a fourth term, Peterson said he will back legislation to address the problem of the state’s solar panel income tax credit draining dollars from Utah schools.

“That impact this year is about $25 million, or equivalent to about one percent of the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU),” Peterson said, noting that solar panels have dropped in price by about 75 percent. “The state has incentivized and it became very popular. We’re not going to eliminate the credit. We just want to wind it down over time.”

Peterson would also like to sharply reduce the size of the Northern Utah Correctional Center near West 24th Street in order to spread the burden of probationers and parolees over several communities.

“Ogden has 50 percent of all the halfway house beds in the state,” Peterson said, intent on shrinking NUCC’s 152-bed capacity to 30. Peterson noted the problem such a heavy concentration of ex-offenders in one area poses when they exit halfway houses and try to assimilate in the city.

“With recidivism rates being as high as they are, it creates a real struggle for the community to bear that burden,” Peterson said.

Regarding the solar panel tax credit, Darby believes Utah should retain that incentive, but move the subsidy to a different budgetary source such as the state’s general fund.

“I don’t think it’s worn out its usefulenss. We need to still encourage people to go green to keep our air cleaner,” Darby said. “I would have found another way to get the money. Maybe we need a whole fund set up for greening up Utah.”

Ogden’s NUCC represents a rare point of consensus for Peterson and Darby.

“I agree with him on that,” Darby said, noting that she and her husband Joe volunteer to conduct judicial reviews statewide. That role affords a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Weber County’s courts. “I see that place as an issue. NUCC needs to be smaller, and other communities need to share that burden.”

Darby said education would be her top priority, if elected. Utah consistently ranks last in the nation for per pupil funding.

“We have to spend more on our children’s education. I agree that money doesn’t solve everything, but it sure would help to be able to pay our teachers more,” Darby said.

Other issues Darby addresses on her blog include improving Utah’s air quality, reducing its opioid addiction and overdose rates, insuring gun safety and maintaining federal management of public lands.

Darby also favors legalizing medical cannabis.

“I think we have to give it a shot. There are people with all kinds of chronic pain, cancer and nervous system issues. It has many uses,” Darby said. “We need to start somewhere with it.”

Peterson favors a more guarded approach to medical cannabis, because “the devil’s in the details.”

“As far as extracts or pills derived from the plant, I’m not opposed,” Peterson said. “but smoking the cannabis ... I’m opposed to that. There’s a drug culture ready to jump on this if it’s legalized. We don’t want it to morph into some sort of wink and nod for that community.”

Peterson posts his legislative stances and insights to a blog called Mr. Peterson’s Perspectives. He supports the state’s fight to gain control of federally-owned land in Utah, and noted recently that the state’s lawsuit to accomplish that feat has cost only $950,000 so far, rather than the $14 million projected by the Commission on the Stewardship of Public Lands. In March, state lawmakers in the heavily Republican House approved a resolution indicating support for such litigation, but that message bill failed to come up for a vote in the Senate before the 45-day session ended.


The race is heating up!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UPDATE: Interim Session - September 2016

We had our monthly interim session meetings today to discuss burgeoning issues.  Here is a recap of my meetings.

Revenue and Taxation Meeting

We had two controversial items on the agenda today that warrant mentioning.  The first involved a presentation by the Governor's Office of Economic Development regarding tax credits issued to businesses who purchase equipment for the purposes of recycling.  The presentation was short and very focused on the administrative side of the credit.  However, our committee was more interested in the history of the credit and whether it warranted support or needed changes.  We specifically prodded GOED for details and they could not provide any on the merits of the program.  Here is a sample of that prickly conversation (my comments at 4:30):

The other issue on the agenda dealt with the recent Facebook tax incentive fiasco in Salt Lake County.   The conversation is spritied but quite euphemistic and esoteric.  Yet, if you know what you are listening for, its all here:

Majority Caucus

We had a couple special visitors to our lunch meeting today.

Donald Trump Jr. dropped by momentarily to say hello and offer a small stump speech.  He said he wants his father to win because we need a "disruptor" in the White House to change the course our country is on.  I agree with him on that point.  However, if Trump Sr. wins, we need to discuss the details of what exactly needs disrupting and how.

 We also were visited by Mark "Oz" Geist who served in Benghazi and was in the firefight to protect our ambassador during the attack of September 2012.

The Fight for Utah's Public Lands

We did receive a report from the chairmen of the committee overseeing Utah's lawsuit to regain control of its public lands.  Interestingly, we learned that while the media has hyped a $14 million cost for the litigation, to date the Legislature has spend just under $950,000 on the effort.

Government Operations Meeting

In today's meeting we touched on a few issues.  One issue involved embezzlement from a state employee who bilked taxpayers out of $800,000 over a decade.  Our committee discussed what state entities were doing to improve oversight and accounting procedures. Unfortunately, the state auditor indicated that there are likely other cases out there that have yet to be discovered.

We also discussed the minutia regarding when ballots are counted and discussed ideas on when the exact cutoff should be for ballots to be turned in.  There is a discrepancy between when rural post offices and urban post offices are able to process postmarked ballots they receive.

This is the update for now, but look forward to more exciting things to come...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Future of Solar Tax Credits In Utah: Part 2

Things are heating up in the debate regarding Utah's rooftop solar tax credit.  In The Future of Solar Tax Credits in Utah: Part 1, I described the budgetary problem facing Utah's education programs due to runaway claims from purchasers of rooftop solar panel systems.  Also, here is a recent radio conversation we had on the subject:

The problem is not that rooftop solar systems are bad, but rather, that the cost to install a system has fallen so much over the past few years that the market is adopting the technology at an accelerated pace.  While this is great news for consumers and industry alike, it is bad news for schools.  This rapid market expansion has exponentially increased the number of income tax credits being claimed...and in Utah, every dime of our income tax funds education.  So, more rooftop solar systems means less money to pay for teachers, tutors, and textbooks, and thus, the urgent need for us to review the tax credit in its current form and make the necessary revisions.

The course of events regarding this issue has taken a different path than I had anticipated. We scheduled three stakeholder meetings during interim to discuss the issue. In our first stakeholder meeting we defined the problem.  Later, we gathered again to discuss potential solutions.  However, that meeting devolved into a complete disaster.  The solar community came prepared to talk only about funding an administrative shortfall to facilitate processing EVEN MORE tax credits for their business.  They came completely unprepared to talk about changing the tax credit itself.  When I asked if anyone had any ideas or solutions, other than a suggestion from one of my brave constituents, the only sound that could be heard in the rest of the room was crickets.

Even more exasperating was the disingenuousness of a major solar company based in Utah (which we will call Bulldog Solar) who asked me to defer on my bill during the 2016 Session so we could discuss the bill together over interim with big and small companies in these meetings.  During the session they felt that a larger group of minds would provide a better result.  In good faith, I agreed and held the bill at their request.

So, you can imagine my dismay when during our second meeting Bulldog Solar's legislative affairs person, the very person who asked me to convene these meetings, says:

"We don't want to talk about the tax credit.  We want to talk about the administrative funding issue.  We will talk to Representative Peterson separately some other time about the tax credit."   
Unbelievable.  When this legislative affairs person defended their business by pointing out how much sales tax revenue they created for the state, I pointed out the stark irony that they had lobbied hard to get themselves exempted from sales tax last session.  They didn't find the humor in that.  The meeting ended on a sour note with the Governor's Office of Energy Development and myself completely flummoxed by the lack of stakeholder cooperation.

With the lines seemingly drawn in the sand, OED and I went about drafting a bill that would create some limits to how much solar tax credits could affect the state budget.  The bill would also create a new limited tax credit for battery storage.  I was called several times by stakeholders asking for a copy.  When the bill was drafted, I shared a copy with the solar companies so they could review it.  They then went radio silent...but you could still hear their war drums beating in the distance.

Our first hearing on the bill was scheduled for September 16th.  However, a series of unexpected events created uncertainty surrounding our presentation and also indicated we needed to include more substance in our bill.  We delayed the hearing for sometime in the future so we can address the freshly sprouted problems.

A key problem we discovered was that information held by the Office of Energy Development, which processes tax credit applications, and the Tax Commission, which accounts for those applications with tax returns, did not match up.  The OED counted nearly twice as many credits as the Tax Commisson reported.  It turns out that, due to confusion, taxpayers have been claiming their $2,000 credit under another similarly named tax credit which is meant for a different purpose.  The Tax Commission discovered this during its regular audits.  So, we intend to fix this confusion in the bill as well.

Another factor forcing us to postpone the hearing is that the Tax Commission will not have final numbers for 2015 tax credits until October.  We really need those figures to present a complete story to the committee.  

Meanwhile, Bulldog Solar has been lobbying committee members and painting a picture of devastation and ruin if the tax credit is changed in any way.  To a point, I can understand.  If my business received such lucrative preferential treatment from government as they are getting, I would be upset about change too.  However, dispassionate minds will understand that no such apocalypse is at hand and that such indulgences have consequences. In this case, those consequences are affecting our schools.  I look forward to presenting compelling evidence to our committee that solar tax credit reform is both timely and necessary.  

School kids mourning the impact of solar tax credits on Utah's education budget.  


Sunday, September 18, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Fatal Conceit - The Errors of Socialism

I have been rounding up parts of the collected works of Friedrich A. Hayek and recently finished his book The Fatal Conceit - The Errors of Socialism.  The book is Hayek's final work written in 1988 while he was an octogenarian. It exudes the wisdom of a lifetime of study and experience.  The work is a powerful intellectual indictment of man's misguided efforts to control his economic environment through government planning.  Interestingly, while Hayek was himself an agnostic, he also provides a consistent and robust defense of religious tradition as a precursor of Western Civilization's success.

The book is a rich read.  I had to put the book down every few pages to digest the information he presented.  I took copious notes for future reference.  Here are some highlights by topic for your benefit.

Nature of a Free Market

"Not only does all evolution rest on competition, continuing competition is necessary even to preserve existing achievements."

Private Property

"Where there is no property, there is no justice."

"Nobody is at liberty to attack several property and to say that he values civilization.  The history of the two cannot be disentangled." - Henry Sumner Maine

The Character of Socialist Thought

"Moreover, they (socialists) also understandably will want to align themselves with science and reason, and with the extraordinary progress made by the past several centuries, and since they have been taught that constructivism and scientism are what science and reason are all about, they find it hard to believe, that there can exist any useful knowledge that did not originate in deliberate experimentation, or to accept any tradition apart from their own tradition of reason."

"Intelligent people will tend to over value intelligence."

"Pretending to be lovers of freedom they condemn several property, contract, competition, advertising, profit, and even money itself.  Imagining that their reason can tell them how to arrange human affairs to serve their innate wishes better, they themselves pose a grave threat to civilization."

"While facts alone can never determine what is right, ill considered notions of what is reasonable, right, and good may change the facts and circumstances in which we live."

"On a less sophisticated level than the argument against alienation are demands for "liberation" from the burdens of civilization, including the burdens of disciplined work, responsibility, risk taking, saving, honesty, the honoring of promises, as well as the difficulties of curbing by general rules one's natural reactions of hostility to strangers in solidarity with those who are like oneself - an ever more severe threat to political liberty. Thus, the notion  of  "liberation", although allegedly new, is actually archaic in its demand for release from traditional morals.  Those who champion such liberation would destroy the basis of freedom, and permit men to do what would irreparably break down those conditions which make civilization possible."

"So priding itself on having built its world as if it had designed it, and blaming itself on not having designed it better, human kinds is now set out to do just that."

"The aim of socialism is no less than to affect a complete redesigning of our traditional morals, law, and language, and on this basis to stamp out all the old order and the supposedly inexorable, unjustifiable, conditions that prevent the institution of reason, fulfillment, true freedom, and justice."

Man's Folly

"Man became all that he is without understanding it." - Giam Batista Rico (1854)

"There is a difference between following rules of conduct on the one hand, and knowledge about something on the other."

"Nothing is more misleading than the conventional formula of historians who represent the achievement of a powerful state as the culmination of cultural evolution; it has often marked its end.  In this respect, students of early history were overly impressed and greatly misled by monuments and documents left by the holders of political power.  Whereas the true builders of the extended order who as often as not created the wealth that made the monuments possible left less tangible and ostentatious testimonials to their achievement."

Morality and Reason

"But to ask for the conscious reason why man adopted his morals is as mistaken as to ask for what conscious reason man adopted his reason."

"It is not our intellect that created our morals, rather, human interaction governed by morals make possible the growth of reason and those capabilities associated with it.  Man became intelligent because there was tradition, that which lies between instinct and reason, for him to learn."

"While it is true that traditional morals are not rationally justifiable, this is also true of any possible moral code, including any that socialists might even be able to come up with.  Hence, no matter what rules we follow, we will not be able to justify them as demanded; so, no argument about morals -science, or law, or language - can legitimately turn on the issue of justification."


"The love of money, the bible declares, is the root of all evil.  But ambivalence about it is perhaps even more common; money appears as at once the most powerful instrument of freedom, and the most sinister tool of oppression."

"And thus we reach the progressive climax of the replacement of the perceivable and concrete by the abstract concepts shaping rules and guiding activity.  Money and its institutions seem to be beyond the boundary of laudable and understandable physical efforts of creations in a real where the comprehension of the concrete ends and incomprehensible abstractions rule."

On Man's Liberty and the Free Market

"Mankind could neither have reached nor now maintained its present numbers without an inequality that is neither determined by nor reconcilable, with any deliberate moral judgments.  Effort of course will improve individual chances, but it alone cannot secure results."

"Our ability, no less than the freedom, to be guided by one's own knowledge and decisions rather than being carried always by the spirit of the group, are developments of the intellect that our emotions have followed only imperfectly."

"It is no exaggeration to say that this notion marks the emancipation of the individual. To the development of the individual spirit are due the division of skills, knowledge, and labor on which advance civilization rests."

"Enforced obedience to common concrete ends is tantamount to slavery, obedience to common abstract rules (however burdensome they may still fell) provides hope for the most extraordinary freedom and diversity."

"Men are qualified for civil liberties, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity."


"At least a minimal change of conduct on their part will be a condition for their being permitted to enter the larger established group and gradually to gain an increasing share in its total product."


I hope you enjoy these enlightening quotes as much as I do.  Hayek is certainly in a class of his own when it comes to economic thought.  The book contains much more that is worth reading and students of economics, politics, and history will certainly gain insight from its pages.  Happy reading!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

NCSL Chicago: Highlights From A Wonk's Paradise

This past week Legislators from Utah's House and Senate made a trip to Chicago to share ideas and learn from other Legislators across the nation.  I was privileged to attend.  Here are some highlights from the trip.

Utah Stands Out

Senator Curt Bramble from Utah County is the President of the NCSL organization.  He opened our conference.

Utah was also showcased in our Budget and Revenue Breakout meetings as a great example of emergency fiscal preparedness.  Jonathan Ball, our chief Fiscal Analyst, told how Utah's origins created a culture of frugality that still carries with our budget making policies today.

In another session, I even had a chance to speak against some amendments proposed by other members of the conference.  One amendment to a resolution was proposed by a Representative from Massachusetts that would strip language asking the Federal Government to operate a sustainable budget.  The resolution was deferred to a later discussion after the amendment failed. I suggested that asking the Federal Government to operate a sustainable budget was not too onerous a request and that it was acceptable for our conference to push back against Federal mandates.

The Internet 3.0

We heard a session about a new technology based on the framework used to support Bitcoin call BlockChain.  The discussion confused a lot of folks in the room.  What I got out of the conversation was that a new network and method of transaction is being concocted to help reduce fraud and increase the speed of business transactions.  Look for more on this topic in the coming year.

The Creepy Dark Web

As a member of the Law Enforcement Committee, we heard about the "Dark Web".  It is a sordid place of anonymity where the underworld does its business.

Here we were shown a website on the dark web claiming to broadcast live torture.   It turned out to be a spoof site.

Here we were shown a web page similar to where you can purchase drugs, hitmen, guns, and any other nefarious item you can imagine.

Data breaches are happening at amazing volume. 

To combat fraud and fight the dark web, the technology advocates asked that policy makers focus on the behavior and not try to regulate the computer hardware.  For a moment, I thought we were talking about guns.


Not all breakout sessions are created equal.  In this case, I attended a session called "Tax Fraud Prevention".  Sounded exciting.  I imagined it would be a cops and robbers discussion on what kind of policy to implement to deter fraud in our state tax system.  Instead we were treated to a dry lecture on the IRS-State Industry Submit Process.  From a look at the number of warm bodies in the room, it appears that everyone got the memo about this session before I did.

The Future of Tax Policy

 We had a session where legislators were asked to offer one word that represented their state's tax system.  You can see the candid responses above.  

Fortunately, from the discussion we had, it appears that Utah has been very good about anticipating shifts in the economy and adapting its tax code as markets and consumer dynamics change.  Utah has a relatively balanced tax system compared to other states. Utah utilizes property, sales, and income taxes to generate its revenue.  Other states have very lop-sided policies.    

The key takeaway from the meeting was that when larger numbers of people pay taxes, the taxes can be lower for everyone.  When few people pay taxes, taxes are a lot higher for those few people paying them.  Utah does a pretty good job of "broadening the base and lowering the rate" but more work on this important topic can be done.   

It was great to be in Chicago with my wife and colleagues to absorb some great information.  Look for more bills and initiatives on the Hill from lessons gleaned from this conference.

Monday, July 25, 2016

ACYPL: Dining with Delegates from China

Last year I was privileged to be able to travel with a group of young political leaders via a State Department funded program called ACYPL (American Council of Young Political Leaders).  You can read about that fascinating trip here and here.

One of the great parts of the ACYPL program is that it creates a network of alumni that support the program moving forward.  I had an opportunity recently to provide that support by hosting a dinner for a delegation of Chineses officials coming to America.  I chose the Joseph Smith Memorial Building as our venue and invited Ryan Wilcox, a former Legislator who now works for Senator Mike Lee and Eric Hutchings who currently serves with me in the House of Representatives and who also happens to speak fluent Mandarin. Both also happen to be ACYPL alumni.

Here is a brief biography of our guests:

Our conversations mainly focused on political economy.  I sat next to Mr. Wan Sucheng who is in charge of the All-China Youth Federation.  It is an organization that oversees the civic education and molding of over 300 Million Chinese youth.  I joked with him that being in charge of that many people was pretty close to being President of the U.S.  But, since they are all kids, I am sure its much harder.  Interestingly, he is fourth in line to become President of China.

We did share some of Utah's history and explained the importance of the month of July in our state.  They listened intently as we rehearsed the pioneer story and how that heritage has affected our politics.  My wife Kim also attended the dinner with us and one of our guests asked us directly about our LDS faith and how we raised our children in the faith.  I am sure from their perspective where a one-child policy has been the norm for decades, it was alarming to hear that we had four daughters.

Our evening ended with an exchange of gifts.  I presented each member of the delegation with a proof-quality commemorative quarter celebrating the completion of the trans-continental railroad.  We also shared the story of how Chinese immigrants played a significant role in the building of that rail line and that many Chinese rest in our Ogden cemetery from that era.  

It was great to make new friends from a foreign land.  As we parted I told them that: "Peace comes from understanding, understanding comes from friendship, and friendship comes from eating dinner together."  We all got a good chuckle from my pseudo-Confucius-like aphorism.  I am glad we were able to give our guests a taste of Utah hospitality and good will.    

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thank You Noall Knighton!

It was announced this week that Noall Knighton is resigning from his post as the Chairman of the Weber County GOP due to a job opportunity out of state.

I just wanted to take moment to thank Noall for all of his hard work on behalf of the Republican Party and elected officials in Weber County.  Being a county party chair is often a tough and thankless job as it requires balancing the needs and philosophies of so many voices within the party.

I wish Noall the best as he moves on to a new adventure.  Thanks again for your hard work and dedication Noall!

UPDATE: Special Session 2016 No. 3

We just completed our interim committee meetings and special session at the Capitol today.  Here are some highlights from the day's events:

Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee

We heard testimony today regarding internal governance of the Tax Commission and also a problem surrounding property tax exemptions related to agricultural land.  You can listen to our meeting HERE.

Government Operations Interim Committee

Our committee passed out two bills and some additional discussion.  One deals with minor changes to SB54 language and how petitions to get candidates on the ballot are handled moving forward.  The other bill dealt with parameters related to redistricting. The bill modifies the guiding principles so to place more emphasis on community cohesion rather than on exact equality in the population size of districts.  We had State Auditor John "Frugal" Dougall come and make some recommendations to the legislature regarding areas of improvement that were needed in various ways the State conducts its business. You can listen to our discussion HERE.

Special Session Bills

Tax Credit Review Amendments - This was a redraft of HB310 which passed the house with flying colors during the General Session.  Unfortunately, an egregious typo left the bill without an "Enacting Clause" and after the Governor signed it, staff realized it couldn't become law.  So, the bill was brought back to the Special Session to be voted on with its Enacting Clause intact.  The bill sailed through the House and Senate without a problem.

State Fair Park Amendments - There is a panicked effort to maintain the State Fair Park's viability in the community.  This bill made temporary emergency changes to procurement practices to facility a fast renovation of the site to be ready by next summer.  This bill passed.

Unmanned Aircraft Amendments - This bill increases penalties for individuals caught using drones in emergency areas like wildfires.  It also allows violators to be liable for damages caused by their drone intrusion.  This bill passed.

Criminal Justince Reinvestment Amendments - This bill tweaked the much needed yet sometimes much derided JRI legislation we passed two years ago.  It permitted law enforcement to include more common sense provisions in sentencing and probationary situations.  This bill passed.

Grandparent Rights Amendments - The original bill passed during the General Session (I voted against) and was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.  The bill sponsor made some adjustments to the bill and limited grand parent visitation rights to situations where adoptive parents were related to the grand parents.  This bill still seemed onerous to me since the only reason adoptive parents would not permit related grand parents to visit a child was if there was a serious strain within the family.  It seemed to me that permitting the courts to force visitation rights in such a situation would make for very painful experiences for those involved. I voted against. The bill failed 27-40.

Controlled Substance Database Modifications - This bill made a common sense change regarding access of law enforcement to databases related to controlled substances.  The bill passed unanimously.

Economic Development Revisions - This bill created sales tax exemptions for companies moving into Utah who would occupy large 150,000+ SQFT facilities and be using them for constructing data centers.  The logic behind this bill is that data centers are very expensive and add significantly to the property tax base while requiring little in the way of community resources.  Thus, such centers would help fund local education wherever they are built.  The bill also reflects a philosophical drift away from taxing inputs in the manufacturing process and only taxing final products.  This bill passed.

Judicial Nominating Commissions - This bill matched the number of judges nominated with the number of vacancies in the court.  This bill passed.

Continuing Care Retirement Community Amendments - This bill deals with a very strange business model of retirement homes being funded by future occupants of the facility.  Private equity donations would be collect to fund the construction of a facility that the "investors" had contributed to build.  The issues surrounding the bill dealt with how the "investor/occupants" funds would be treated in the event they left the facility and what kinds of guarantees and securities can be offered.  The bill creates some basic ground rules for the business model. The bill passed.

My Bill Files

I have many bill files open already and I am drafting bills on a variety of topics including property taxes, foster care, tax credits, teacher compensation, public notices, and more.  Look for more details as discussions with stakeholders continue.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

VIDEO: Kaysville City Council Conflageration

KSL recently reported on fireworks at a Kaysville City Council meeting.  The drama surrounds a freshman city councilman's use of a city credit card to fix his personal firetruck for use in the city parade.

This situation is where of a rookie mistake has collided with a city that does not have proper controls in place over its finances.  I am sure our State Auditor John "Frugal" Dougall would be interested in this story.

What makes things even more interesting is the theatrics of the city council meeting which were conveniently caught on video.  Councilman Adams (the guy in yellow) gets into a personal tirade against another councilman, breaches decorum, and otherwise makes the meeting ungovernable.  

You can watch the city council meeting meltdown here (fast forward to 4h 28m):

In this instance, I think the councilman needs to reimburse the city for the expense.  The city also needs to change its credit card policy to avoid this problem in the future.  In the meantime, its going to be very difficult for Councilman Adams to walk back this performance.  I expect more fireworks in the future.