Flagged Bill: HB 78 – Nonbinding Opinion Question & HJR 2 – Joint Resolution – Nonbinding Opinion on Daylight Savings Time – Rep. Norm Thurston

Representative Norm Thurston (Republican - Provo)
Representative Norm Thurston (Republican – Provo)

When it comes to legislative pet peeves that Utah Political Capitol has written about over the years, the number one legislative non-topic that irks this publication most is the fight over Daylight Saving Time.

Since 2010, lawmakers have consistently tried and failed to pass some piece of legislation designed to rid the state of the unbearable burden of having to spring forward and then fall back every year.

[pullquote]This legislation is a shift in tone for state government. Lawmakers have out and out said that they don’t like the idea of things like referendums because the public doesn’t possess the necessary nuance. It is almost as if Thurston wants to temporarily hijack the election for his own political purposes.[/pullquote]Here to save us from the epitome of first world problems this year is Representative Norm Thruston (Republican – Provo), who has chosen to be this year’s white knight to save us from this horrific problem – but with a new and exciting (read: upsetting) twist!

As we bemoaned last year, everyone hates waking up early in March and going home in the dark come November. We complain for a week, we move on, and we find out which celebrity died this week and promptly post a black and white photo of said celebrity with a made-up quote attributed to them on our Facebook wall. Hating Daylight Saving Time is as American as apple pie and allows us to have something to complain about besides the weather when we are forced to make awkward small talk in the elevator.

We also noted that though we may all hate it, we sure do use Daylight Saving Time to our advantage. Golf courses alone would lose $24 million a year if we were to do away with the extra evening daylight; Lagoon worries about the added electrical costs; and Ski Utah’s 15 members agree that the current system is best for their $1.3 billion a year industry. These are just some of the known economic benefits to Daylight Saving Time – and you can bet your sweet bippy that we would discover more if we were to make the switch.

But, once again, some people (read people who really hate the federal government) feel that having to twist the little knobby thing on the back of your clock, hold down a button while pressing down a second button a whopping 1 or 23 times, or (in perhaps the most egregious of actions) having your phones and computers automatically change the time is an undue government intrusion that takes away our personal freedom and liberty because…reasons!

But what is the aforementioned enraging part of Thurston’s legislation this go around? Why it is a to fundamentally pervert our democratic process in order to be able to point and say “seeeeeee!”

As noted in the title, we are looking at two pieces of legislation in this post because they go hand in hand. We start first with HB 78 – Nonbinding Opinion Questions from Thurston. This bill is a relatively simple one and, in essence, sets up the framework to allow ballots to contain questions on them regarding particular public policies. This is not the same as a referendum, mind you, where an approval by the public becomes law – no, it is just to get a pulse of where the people are at on a topic, in a sort of official public opinion poll – and the legislature can do with that information whatever they please once #likes are counted.

Okay, sure… But what is interesting is the apparent shift in tone this would represent for state government. Lawmakers have out and out said that they don’t like the idea of things like referendums because the public doesn’t possess the nuance necessary to create well-crafted legislation. With this in mind it seems odd that Thruston (and the entire legislature if they approve this bill) has suddenly taken an interest in the public opinion on policy – but, then again, to be fair, the legislature has consistently listened to the public when it comes to policy such as education funding, air pollution, medicinal cannabis, health care expansion, school vouchers, GRAMA laws, public lands, privatization of the DABC…

Oh, sorry, just sort of trailed off there thinking about how much the legislature always listens to the public.

But what is of particular interest is the fact that Thurston sets an expiration date on his bill right after the 2018 election. How strange – it is almost as if he wants to set public policy so that he can ram just one particular topic on to the 2018 ballot just so that he and his cohorts can have some proof that people don’t like something.

Well, what a co-wink-e-dink – Thurston is also sponsoring HJR 2 – Joint Resolution – Nonbinding Opinion Question on Daylight Saving Time. In what is probably pure chance, Thruston wants to put on the ballot a nonbinding resolution to see if the people of Utah want to be exempt from Daylight Saving Time.

It is almost as if Thurston wants to temporarily hijack the election process just so that he can find out what we already know – we don’t particularly care for Daylight Saving Time.

Despite the public not being capable of subtle and nuanced decisions on other things, Daylight Saving Time is somehow different and the public will possess a firm grasp of the ramifications of a policy change…on this one…thing – not on anything else mind you, just this one thing, nothing more.

Of course, there is absolutely a place for public opinion in our representative democracy, and if the legislature actually took this into account, Thruston’s actions would actually be noble ones. But it is disingenuous for the legislature to say that they care about the public’s opinion when they have demonstrated time and time again that they clearly are more concerned about advancing political agendas rather than the will of the public on policy decisions that actually do have an effect on everyday people.

If HB 78 passes, legislators should remove the expiration date and propose various other resolutions to see exactly where the public stands on any particular issue. But as it stands right now, Thruston is simply making a mockery of the election process.

To contact Representative Thurston, click here or call 801-477-5348 (Cell)

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

For HB 78 – Nonbinding Opinion Questions

Impact on Average Utahn 5
Need for Legislation 0
Lemon Score 0
Overall Grade D

For HJR 2 – Joint Resolution – Nonbinding Opinion Question on Daylight Saving Time

Impact on Average Utahn 5
Need for Legislation 0
Lemon Score 0
Overall Grade F

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