Flagged Bills Return for 2014

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It’s that time of the year again, when bills for the upcoming legislative session begin to be made available for public consumption. Continuing our tradition, Utah Political Capitol will be analyzing bills we feel may be important (in a good or a bad way) to the citizens of the state of Utah, and translating them into normal-person-speak.

The Flagged Bills series mixes policy analysis with historical and current context in an attempt to give you an idea of the topics and concepts being discussed on Capitol Hill. We discuss the bills, their goals and aims, and then try to rank them in ways relevant to our readers.

This year, each bill we analyze will be ranked based on three criteria: Impact, Need, and Lemon.

“Impact,” rated on a score of zero to five, represents how wide reaching and/or deeply the bill in question will affect the average Utahn if passed. For example, a broad tax increase would touch nearly every life and receive an impact score of five, while a bill affecting only people in Daggett County would receive an impact score of zero or one. A bill’s impact score does not reflect whether or not it’s impact will be positive or negative, just how much it’s going to affect your life. Though some guesswork is involved, most can see the difference.

A bill’s “Need” score is based on how pressing the bill’s topic is to the people of Utah (according to our opinions as the UPC staff). While there are many legislators on Utah’s Capitol Hill who disagree with us, so-called “message bills” almost always receive a Need score of zero or one. The Need score, because it is based off the need of the bill’s actual or intended goals, can sometimes be high even if the bill has particularly poor language. It is not a judge of a bill’s content, but more on its outcome.

The “Lemon” scorer is new this year, and reflects a a judgement of how many problems a particular piece of legislation may or may not have for the citizens of Utah. A message bill that benefits a particular group but does not harm another is not likely to create problems down the road would receive a score of four or five. But if that message bill creates a near certainty for expensive legal challenges, it would receive a score of zero or one. This matrix will also consider things such as overall positive or negative outcomes for the citizens of the state and could be seen as an overall summary of the bill in question.

As always, we also wish to encourage you to contact us if there is a bill you wish for us to look at. UPC can be reached at utahpoliticalcapitol@gmail.com, and we hope to hear your ideas!

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