FLAGGED BILL: HB 57 – Mental and Behavioral Health Amendments, Rep Dean Sanpei

Poll the state, and we believe you would find near-unanimous agreement that Utah is not doing enough to address mental health problems. Few states do. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is the state’s authority on such issues. However, counties that operate under a county executive-council form of government act as the authority within their jurisdictions. As is often the case,  many times the right hand is unaware of what the left is doing, and important care for those suffering from mental health conditions can fall through the cracks. HB 57, from Representative Dean Sanpei (Republican, Provo), is...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 30 – Line-of-Duty Death & Disability Amendments, Rep. Ronda Menlove

When first reading HB 30 – Line-of-Duty Death and Disability Amendments one should be shocked; not because the bill was written, but because it had to be written in the first place. With HB 30, Representative Ronda Menlove (R – Garland, District 1) intends to add stress induced deaths (such as stroke or heart attacks) to the list of ailments public employees families could be compensated for from the state. These deaths have to occur in the field and have to be the result of legitimate strenuous activity – in other words, Bob in accounting wouldn’t be compensated if his heart finally gave out filing another TPS report, but...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 18 – Child Custody Proceedings Amendments, Sen. Luz Robles

Decisions about the custody of children during a divorce proceeding is frequently a nasty and damaging experience, for both the children and the parents. Any law that can ease that process and help determine what is in the best interest of the child is always a positive. A big part of what makes a child custody battle so difficult is the lack of pre-knowledge by the courts. Before a divorcing couple come before a moderator or judge, those officials have no insight into the dynamic and history of that family. In many cases, this leaves the determination of custody susceptible...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 25 – Elections During Declared Emergency, Sen Peter Knudson

Following Hurricane Sandy in late October this year, Utah’s Capitol Hill was buzzing with questions of what Utah would do if such an emergency were to strike here on election day. Current Utah law provides no flexibility or options for changing election dates, even if voters are unable to participate due to a declared emergency. If all roads were destroyed and it was physically impossible for voters to cast their ballots, current code basically says, “tough luck.” While Utah isn’t likely to be hit by a hurricane anytime soon, an earthquake or severe windstorm aren’t out of the question. Rules governing...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 14 – Requirements to Change Form of County Government, Rep Keith Grover

One should always be wary when a legislator is trying to increase or decrease the number of people necessary to make a petition appear on a ballot. When they are trying to reduce the number, it is generally because they have some form of pet project that they wish to push through, but also want to avoid the messy work of actually having to create legislation and be on the record. Lately, the trend has been to increase requirements to have a successful petition request show up on the ballot. Sure enough, it would appear that Representative Keith Grover (R – Provo, District 61)...

FLAGGED BILL: SB 20 – State Security Standards For Personal Info, Sen Stuart Reid

Last March, it was estimated that nearly 280,000 Utahns had their Social Security Numbers stolen from the state’s data banks, with an additional 500,000 having less sensitive personal data taken as well. This massive security breach stunned nearly everyone who paid attention, if only because we soon came to find out that the states security systems were sub-par. Since then, the state has all but been forced to scramble as it provides credit monitoring services to any and all Utahn’s to ensure that they are properly protected. In an attempt to prevent problems such as this in the future, Senator Stuart Reid...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 38 – Anonymous Cash Donations To Campaigns, Rep Kraig Powell

When a candidate for office receives a donation, the laws regulating the reporting of that money should never be vague. But in many instances, different scenarios slip through the cracks and leave the system open to abuse. According to current election laws in Utah, a candidate is prohibited from accepting anonymous cash contributions over $50. However, if someone were to donate higher than that amount, the law is rather unclear as to what happens next. If that candidate were to be approached by a constituent in the grocery store, and that constituent tries to hand them $75 for their campaign,...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 44 – Election Polling, Rep Greg Hughes

There are many dirty and underhanded things that take place during an election year: campaign flyers that don’t tell *ahem* shall we say the whole truth, campaign donations that are less than above board, and campaign workers being less than forthright with the public in their attempts to gain more votes. One classic example of campaigns being less than honest is when it engages in what is known as a “push poll.” Many of you reading may have been a victim of one of the push polls without even knowing it; for example, if you have ever been asked a...

FLAGGED BILL: HB 13 – Smoking In Cars With Children, Rep Patrice Arent

I admire many things about Representative Patrice Arent (D – Salt Lake City, District 36), of note is her tenacity, political acumen, and concern for those who can not defend themselves. This is why I was pleased (and not at all surprised) to see that Arent is proposing HB 13, Protection of Children Riding in Motor Vehicles. Two years ago, I wrote about HB 89, also conveniently titled “Protection of Children Riding in Motor Vehicles.” Back then I supported the bill, and I wholeheartedly repeat that support. Now, before I dive into why, let me tell you similarities and differences between this year’s HB 13 and 2011′s...