Get Ready for the 2015 Flagged Bills

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It’s that time of the year again, when bills for the upcoming legislative session are made available for public consumption. Continuing in the tradition of the past two years, Utah Political Capitol will be analyzing bills we feel are important to the citizens of the state of Utah, while making them more understandable.

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 rank them in ways relevant to our readers.

As we did last year, each bill be scored based on three basic criteria: impact, need, and lemon. This year, we will also provide a final grade for quick understanding.

“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 and how wide it’s going to affect the average Utahn.

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. Because it is based off the need of the bill’s actual or intended goals, the need score 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” score reflects 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 zero or one. But if that message bill creates a near certainty for expensive legal challenges, it would receive a score of four or five. This matrix will also consider things such as overall positive or negative outcomes for the citizens of the state. The lemon score can also be seen as a overarching review of the bill in question

The final grade is a subjective overall review based in part on the bills impact, need, and lemon scores.

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 or on Twitter: @utpolcapitol. We hope to hear your ideas!

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