Home > Bill Tracking: Good Bills, Bad Bills Update









Our Site Only
Entire Web


Site Index



Good Bills, Bad Bills Update

Note: This update is supplemental to our
2004 Legislative Performance Report.
Please see that report to learn how
your senator and representative fared.

Last updated on: April 7, 2004 at 9:30 PM
Use your REFRESH button to ensure that
 you are looking at the latest version.

Tracking Instructions: Each summary below includes a hyperlinked bill number.  Click on the bill number to go to the actual text of the bill.  From there you can click on "Bill Documents" to see other crucial information on the bill.  The "Status" feature tells you where the bill is in the legislative process and gives you actual floor vote details. If you have any corrections or additions, please notify us at info@accountabilityutah.org.


 Good Bills

 Bad Bills

    Citizen Input & Control

    Cruel & Unusual Punishment

    Decentralization of Power

    Due Process for Families (etc.)

    Due Process for Families

    Federal Implications


    Free Speech

    Federal Implications

    Fraud, Waste, & Abuse
    Illegal Aliens

    Keep & Bear Arms

    Infanticide (abortion)

    Medical Freedom

    Keep & Bear Arms

    Property Confiscation

    Medical Freedom

    Taxes & Regulation


    Thought Crimes

    Property Rights


Good Bills

Citizen Input & Control

Passed.  SB 10 (amended) (Sen. Bill Hickman, Republican): This bill allows more time for citizens to challenge a new law by citizen referendum. In lines 55-57:

(3) (a) Sponsors of any referendum petition challenging, under Subsection (1) or (2), any local law passed by a local legislative body shall file the petition within [35] 60 days after the passage of the local law.

Arguments can be made that creating new laws through citizen initiatives results in the erosion of republican forms of government. But all sides might agree that it is appropriate for citizens to have the power to directly countermand or nullify new laws proposed by their representatives.  See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Decentralization of Power

Defeated. HB 175 (Rep. Wayne Harper, Republican): This bill allows the House Speaker and Senate President to have the final say in vacancy appointments for legislators. The Governor currently holds this power. As the House Speaker and Senate President are closer to being significantly affected by disgruntled voters, this is a good first step at returning power to the people. The next step is to allow voters to hold a special election within a few months of the absence. Voters should not be stuck with someone they did not originally elect for one or more years.  This bill was killed in the senate. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Due Process for Families

Passed.  HB 54 S2 (Rep. Wayne Harper, Republican): Requires all interviews of children be videotaped or similarly recorded, that the child and interviewer be simultaneously recorded, and that the recording be continuous and display time and date. This is a good baby step, but again testifies to the dire need for substantive judicial reform. See the final status report.

Passed.  HB 61 (Substitute 1) (Rep. Mike Thompson, Republican): Prohibits a state officer, peace officer, or child welfare worker from entering a home or from taking a minor into protective custody unless that person has a warrant, consent of the parent or guardian, or exigent (emergency) circumstances exist. Currently under federal court precedence, "exigent circumstances" consists of a somewhat specific three-part test that must be passed. This bill, particularly coupled with other judicial reforms, would therefore be a significant improvement. See the final status report.

Defeated. SB 56 (Sen. Bill Wright, Republican): Sen. Wright repeatedly made commitments to run a bill to institute jury trials for parents this year. He filed the bill, but never ran it!  Let him know how you feel.

Passed.  HB 186 (Rep. Mike Thompson, Republican): Allows the juvenile court to appoint any qualified mental health therapist; and prohibits the juvenile court from excluding a mental health therapist because they have not followed the recommendations of the Division of Child and Family Services in another case. Currently, they appoint DCFS friendlies in termination questions. This is a good baby step, but again testifies to the dire need for substantive judicial reform. See the final status report.

Defeated. SB 90 S4 (amended) (Sen. Dave Thomas, Republican): This bill attempts to clarify and strengthen the medical rights of parents. From lines 96-108, for instance:

(d) The medical decision of a competent parent or guardian does not constitute medical neglect. A competent parent is defined herein as a parent who is a reasonable, prudent, and fit care giver toward their child.
(e) All parents are presumed to be competent. This presumption may be rebutted if the state can show that a parent or parents are incompetent beyond a reasonable doubt.
(f) Nothing in this Subsection (18) shall prohibit the state from taking medical care measures when a licensed medical professional finds that without a medically necessary procedure a minor child will suffer death or serious permanent disability within 120 hours of diagnosis.
(g) Notwithstanding Subsection (18)(f), a parent shall retain the right to a second medical opinion.

This bill also begins to insulate nervous doctors who might fear criminal prosecution if they fail to report anything where there might exist some "reason to believe" that neglect is occurring (as per state statute 62A-4a-403). From lines lines 107-108 of the bill:

A licensed medical professional shall not be liable for the consequences resulting from the failure of parents to follow their professional medical opinions.

Finally, in proceedings initiated to forever terminate parental rights, the following safeguard has been added in lines 597-598:

A parent who, legitimately practicing his religious beliefs, does not provide specified medical treatment for a child is not for that reason alone a negligent or unfit parent.

Parents are obligated by their Creator to make the tough decisions regarding the medical care of their children. It is high time they were again treated with the respect due their monumental responsibility.

Unfortunately, "Lobbyist General" Mark Shurtleff is working overtime with Democrats and Republican Senate Assistant Majority Whip Peter Knudson to kill this bill.  Together, they were successful in holding the bill in a senate committee on Jan. 28, 2004.

According to the minutes of this meeting, Craig Barlow and Alain Balmanno of General Shurtleff's office spoke against this bill.  Sen. Knudson attempted to kill the bill by sending it to interim study.  When that failed, Senators Knudson, Allen, B. Evans, and Julander voted against recommending the bill.

The bill sponsor, Sen. Dave Thomas, was quoted as saying:

"Obviously, parental rights has taken a knife, primarily delivered by the Attorney General's Office."
Source: "Parents' rights bill stalls, 4-4: Democrats cite abortion definition," Lisa Roskelley, Ogden Standard Examiner, Jan. 29, 2004.

Senators are beginning to see what citizens have recognized for some time: "Lobbyist General" Shurtleff consistently promotes perversion and the abuse of innocent families.

Unfortunately, this fourth substitute has been watered down somewhat from its previous version (Substitute 3), but it still takes a step in the right direction.  This bill was killed in the house. See the final status report.

Defeated. SB 105 (Sen. Parley Hellewell, Republican): This bill would place more burden and scrutiny on the court to place seized children with kin unless there exists a true problem in doing so. From the bill:

If that parent requests custody, the court shall place the minor with that parent unless it finds that the placement would be unsafe or otherwise seriously detrimental to the health and safety of the child. [The provisions of this Subsection (1) are limited by the provisions of Subsection (8)(b).]

This bill has one problem: "would be unsafe" is redundant, is still too broad and vague, and needs to also be stricken.  This bill was killed in the senate. See the final status report.

Passed. HB 197 (amended) (Rep. Mike Thompson, Republican): Requires that there be no discrimination in termination proceedings against persons who,

"...legally possesses or uses a firearm or other weapon; espouses particular religious beliefs; or schools the minor or other minors outside the public education system or is otherwise sympathetic to schooling a minor outside the public education system."

While this bill does demand a better climate of equality from our judiciary, it is pathetic that our state statute has to attempt to regulate this, and is evidence for the dire need for substantive judicial reform.  See the final status report.

Back to Categories


Passed.  SB 85 (amended) (Sen. David Thomas, Republican): This bill broadens the definition of "public entity" and "public official" and creates a Class B Misdemeanor for public agents who engage in certain inappropriate political activities using public funds and resources. A step in the right direction, as taxpayer dollars are not supposed to be used for political purposes.  The next step is to limit agencies from using taxpayer dollars to lobby against the interests of the taxpayers. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Federal Implications

Defeated. HJR 3 (amended) (Rep. Don Bush, Republican): This resolution calls upon Congress to consider withdrawing from the United Nations (UN).  This bill passed the house and was defeated in the senate, due to senate leadership. See the final status report.

Passed. HCR 6 S1 (amended) (Rep. Chad Bennion, Republican): Urges Congress to make permanent the federal Internet tax moratorium (a moratorium is essentially a temporary ban, in this case a ban on taxing the Internet). For more information on the loss of freedom that would accompany Internet taxes and regulations, see, "Internet Taxation: The Deception of 'More Fair Government'". Status note: This bill passed the house 71-0-4 and was killed in the senate. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Illegal Aliens

Defeated. HB 109 S1 (Rep. Mike Thompson, Republican): Currently in Utah, matricula consular cards issued by the U.S. government or Mexico, are viewed by the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as an acceptable form of identification in order for the recipient to receive a valid Utah driver's license.  Utah is one of only four states to allow this flagrant circumvention of our laws governing immigration.

For this reason, DMV offices have been inundated by illegal aliens —criminals — who are pouring across Utah's borders to obtain drivers licenses, university tuition breaks (also made possible by the legislature via House Bill 144 in 2002), and welfare "benefits". 

HB 109 would enact the following language from lines 277-278:

A governmental entity may not accept a matricula card as proof of personal identification.

This bill also enacts the following (lines 249-255):

(1) The Highway Patrol shall establish and implement procedures for:
(a) recognizing, identifying, and reporting of detained persons who are not legally present in the United States;
(b) cooperating with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and its successor organizations for the enforcement of legal presence laws; and
(c) training and updating troopers to implement the procedures established under Subsections (1)(a) and (b).

Immigration was an important benefit to the growth and strength of early America.  But in order for immigration to benefit America, those who are not inclined to obey wise laws must not be allowed to further corrupt our society.

It takes time to absorb, and become unified with, people from very different cultures.  History has proven that language and cultural barriers need to be adequately addressed if any society is to survive.  This is why policies were enacted to limit the number of immigrants, and to screen and test potential immigrants prior to awarding them citizenship.

Without sufficient time and other precautions, Utah will continue down the dismal road recently evidenced in California.  We will Balkanize and lose the one advantage we still have over other nations: a heritage of unity, a focus on maintaining essential freedoms, and a respect for just and wise laws.

Those who would come and refuse to abide by the laws that made our Country should not remain.  These criminals should be deported — not be rewarded with driver's licenses for breaking our laws.

Utahans For Immigration Reform and Enforcement (UFIRE) is is one of the sponsors of a "Rule of Law" rally on Wednesday, February 4 at 10:30am at the State Capitol (south steps).  Learn more about the rally
As with other Web resources we provide, Accountability Utah does not necessarily endorse this organization, site, or all the views expressed thereon.

For more information on this topic, see "Illegal Aliens" on our Other Resources page.  This bill was killed by house leadership. See the final status report.

Passed. HB 301 (Rep. Mike Thompson, Republican): This bill amends the voter registration form to include an affidavit of citizenship which must be reviewed for accuracy by the respective county clerk.  It also includes a penalty for willful violation (lines 212-214):

In accordance with Section 20A-2-401 , the penalty for willfully causing, procuring, or allowing yourself to be registered to vote if you know you are not entitled to register to vote is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

This bill is a no-brainer, which unfortunately puts its passage in question.  See the final status report.

Defeated. HB 366 (Rep. Glenn Donnelson, Republican): In 2002, Rep. David Ure and Sen. Howard Stephenson sponsored House Bill 144, to allow children of illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition at Utah colleges and universities if they meet certain requirements. HB 144 blatantly discriminated against American citizens—particularly those who achieved their status through legal and lawful means—and encourages lawlessness.

An American citizen who moves away from Utah for a couple of years loses his resident status. Under HB 144, an illegal alien retains his status forever, no matter where he resides or what taxes he does or does not pay. See a flier by Accountability Utah on HB 144.

HB 366, on the other hand, would eliminate in-state tuition advantages for illegal aliens. This bill was held in the house rules committee.  See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Infanticide (abortion)

Passed. SB 68 S3 (Sen. Curt Bramble, Republican): For years, the senate has filibustered and killed anti-infanticide bills. Last year, the senate broke the camel's back by collaboratively filibustering an almost identical bill to this year's SB 68 S3 (HB 123 S4 in the 2003 general session). Despite citizen outcry and anger, not one senator would stand up and fight for the unborn, or take any meaningful action (see our Infanticide Report).  In the words of Sen. Parley Hellewell:

"We would have only had 6 or 7 votes [in the Senate]."

Over the past year, citizens have appropriately and relentlessly pounded each and every senatorincluding Sen. Bramble—for their cowardess and ineptitude.

In desperate fear for their political careers, senators sailed SB 68 S3 through the entire legislature this session in a vote of 21 to 7.  This again proves that the vast majority of legislators are only sufficiently "motivated" to do the right thing when enough heat and political pain are applied.

SB 68 S3 prohibits the state and political subdivisions from using public funds for the performance of an abortion except in certain circumstances such as rape, incest, and life of the mother.  It also provides penalties (Class B Misdemeanor and termination of government employment) for any government employee who knowingly authorizes the use of public funds for an abortion.

76-7-324. Violation of restrictions on public funds for contraceptive or abortion services as misdemeanor.
Any agent of a state agency or political subdivision, acting alone or in concert with others, who violates Section 76-7-322 [or], 76-7-323 , or 76-7-326 is guilty of a class B misdemeanor...

76-7-326. Public funding of abortion forbidden.
(1) As used in this section, "damage to a major bodily function" refers only to injury or impairment of a physical nature and may not be interpreted to mean mental, psychological, or emotional harm, illness, or distress.
(2) Public funds of the state, its institutions, or its political subdivisions may not be used to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency, or facility for the performance of any induced abortion services unless:
(a) in the professional judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician, the abortion is necessary to save the pregnant woman's life;
(b) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest reported to law enforcement agencies, unless the woman was unable to report the crime for physical reasons or fear of retaliation; or
(c) in the professional judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician, the abortion is necessary to prevent permanent, irreparable, and grave damage to a major bodily function of the pregnant woman provided that a caesarian procedure or other medical procedure that could also save the life of the child is not a viable option.
(3) Any officer or employee of the state who knowingly authorizes the use of funds prohibited by this section shall be dismissed from that person's office or position and the person's employment shall be immediately terminated.

Unfortunately, in the precious time it took to thrash senators for their barbarity, over 3,800 infants have been murdered in Utah via "therapeutic" or "elective" abortions (see the infanticide counter on the right panel of our home page)And many of those abortions were directly or indirectly paid for by Utah taxpayers.  Senators eager for praise should be reminded of these pathetic facts, and the innocent blood they have allowed to be spilled should be remembered in upcoming elections.

For additional information, see the Infanticide topic on our Issues & Alerts page for additional information.  See the final status report for SB 68 S3.


Back to Categories

Keep & Bear Arms

Passed. SB 48 (Sen. Mike Waddoups, Republican): This bill prohibits local governments from enacting any type of restrictive firearms law. The state legislature retains this power. This is necessary, as a patchwork of restrictions from one county or municipality to another would be chaotic. Citizens have the right to look to the legislature for protection if a local government is attempting to deny their right to defend themselves.

Note that current law allows private property owners to enforce their own policies by asking anyone on their premises to leave.  If that person does not leave, he is trespassing.  (Under current law, it is a criminal offense for you to bring a firearm into a private residence that has a no-gun policy.)

We recommend that you stay tuned to the status of gun legislation by contacting GoUtah!  See the final status report.

Disclaimer: As with other Web resources we provide, Accountability Utah does not necessarily endorse this organization, site, or the views expressed thereon.


Back to Categories

Medical Freedom

Defeated. HB 181 S1 (amended) (Rep. Mike Morley, Republican): Allow cities to cut out mandated fluoride if the costs purported by the initiative backers exceed actual costs by 25 percent or more. This establishes some truth in taxation and, more importantly, allows cities more opportunities to avoid mandated medication in the public water system. This bill passed the house and was killed in senate committee. See the final status report.

Defeated. HB 257 S1 (Rep. Katherine Bryson, Republican): Currently under Utah law, when you are merely accused of mental illness, you can be involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Your fate is decided by a judge or his appointed commissioner, and you will likely contend with the “professional” opinion of state-funded psychiatrists. You have no right to a trial by jury, you do not have to commit a crime, and you have little recourse if committed.

Once committed, you have fewer rights than a convicted felon. You may be subjected to mind altering drugs and other experimental “treatments,” and the length of your incarceration is determined by the same judges or commissioners.

This bill (see lines 8-10):

"...This bill prohibits physicians, hospitals, and mental health facilities from administering electroconvulsive treatment without consent and requires reporting of all providers of electroconvulsive treatments..."

This is a step in the right direction. Last year, the senate filibustered and killed a very similar bill. Let's see what happens this year. Status note: This bill was defeated by house leadership. See the final status report.

Defeated. See SB 90 S4 (amended) under Due Process for Families.

Back to Categories


Passed.  SB 87 (Sen. Carlene Walker, Republican): This bill would prohibit the state from placing an individual’s Social Security number on his driver’s licenses. This is a decent first step, but there remains the issue of the new "Smart Card" chips that have been inserted in new drivers’ licenses. Smart card chips are designed to contain personal information about the individual beyond what is required to obtain a driver’s license. In 1997, a smart card adoption scheme (House Bill 244) was handily defeated by an irate citizenry. Government officials have flagrantly ignored and spited the will of the people and have adopted smart cards anyway.  See the final status report.

Defeated. HJR 21 (Rep. Morgan Philpot, Republican): "Matrix" is a term utilized by intelligence communities to describe complex relationships between terrorists.  This is not to be confused with the popular Hollywood movie depicting a world where human beings are slaves via the control of personal information...

HJR 21 calls for an end to Utah's participation in the federal "Matrix" program.  Read it to learn why your private information cannot be trusted in government hands.  This bill died in the house. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Property Rights

Back to Categories

Bad Bills

Cruel & Unusual Punishment

Defeated. SB 95 (amended) (Sen. Parley Hellewell, Republican): The original bill eliminated the 14-day lee-way period to for people who accidentally write a bad check to make amends and avoid the penalty of a Class B Misdemeanor (punishable by an additional fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail). This is unreasonable, particularly for those who are not chronic offenders. Let he who has not sinned cast the first Misdemeanor.  This bill was killed in the senate.  See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Due Process for Families (etc.)

Defeated. HR 3 (Rep. Ralph Becker, Democrat): This bill prohibits house members from receiving gifts of more than $15. It also prohibits officials and citizens from giving those gifts.  There are certain exceptions, most of which appear to be reasonable.  Further analysis, however, points to two significant problems with this legislation. 

Problem 1: Citizens who err due to ignorance could be severely punished.  Consider lines 156-161:

(1) A lobbyist, volunteer lobbyist, principal, or government officer may not offer or give a gift valued at more than $15 to any House member or member of the House member's immediate family.
(2) A lobbyist, volunteer lobbyist, principal, or government officer violating this rule is subject to an ethics complaint filed and adjudicated according to the procedures and requirements of H.R. 38, Lobbyist Ethics and Enforcement.

The House Management Committee is judge and jury in determining that the citizen violated the house rules.  According to HR 38.06, the "committee may impose any sanction against the lobbyist, volunteer lobbyist, or government official that is not forbidden by the United States or Utah constitution."  These sanctions include:

(2)  Appropriate sanctions include, but are not limited to, any, all, or some combination of the following:
(a)  prohibiting the lobbyist, volunteer lobbyist, or government official from access to some or all of the legislative area of the Capitol for a period of time; and
(b)  recommending an adjudicative proceeding be filed with the lieutenant governor against the lobbyist under Title 36, Chapter 11, Part 4, Penalties and Statutory Construction.

In this title (36-11-401(1)(a)), the additional punishment can be, "an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation."

A $15 gift can be given to a legislator in innocence and the giver may not know they are violating the law or have any intention of bribing the official. It ought to clarify with regard to lobbyists, and particularly volunteer lobbyists, that the person knowingly violated this law.  There are not many (normal) people who read the house rules in their spare time.  A house member should know them, however, and should bear the responsibility to warn individuals if they are about to cross the line.

Problem 2: It is one thing to publicly reprimand an accused citizen through an administrative (bureaucratic) hearing, or for the body of the house to remove a house member from office for serious misconduct.  But it is entirely another matter to bar a citizen from access to the capitol and fine him without first providing him his rightful opportunity to be judged by a jury of his peers.

Even the English government, from which America revolted, provided citizens this right in all cases of deprivation or punishment. From the famous Magna Carta (enacted in 1215):

"...No freeman shall be taken or disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; and we will not pass sentence upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers; or by the laws of the land."
For more information, see our "Issue in Focus: Why Are Jury Trials Crucial to Your Freedom?"

Substantive ethics reform is a must.  But ethics reform, fairness, and due process are inseparable and must be examined together.  Without addressing the problems mentioned, this is a bad bill. See the final status report.

Passed.  HB 198 S2 (amended) (Rep. Mike Thompson Republican): This bill originally moved in the right direction, requiring that, in child confiscation cases, parties involved would be required to notify parents of any information they plan to present at least 5 days prior to the court proceeding. From lines 85-91:

(5) (a) In an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding occurring after the commencement of a shelter hearing under Section 78-3a-306, each party to the proceeding, other than a parent, shall report to each parent or each parent's counsel at least five days prior to the proceeding, any information which the party:
(i) plans to report to the court at the proceeding; or
(ii) could reasonably expect would be requested of the party by the court at the proceeding.

As often happens, the state drags its feet in providing evidence to accused parents and families. This was a good baby step, but again testifies to the dire need for substantive judicial reform.

This new substitute bill, however, now requires the parents (the defendants) to lay out all of their possible cards to the prosecution.  From lines 85-91:

(5) (a) In an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding occurring after the commencement of a shelter hearing under Section 78-3a-306 or the filing of a petition under Section 78-3a-305, each party to the proceeding shall provide in writing to the other parties or their counsel any information which the party:
(i) plans to report to the court at the proceeding; or
(ii) could reasonably expect would be requested of the party by the court at the proceeding.

Most juvenile judges already treat parents like garbage in the secret court proceedings that are void of due process.  If this bill passes, these judges will have yet another excuse to dismiss key evidence that lay parents and their public defenders (who are often inept and unprepared) attempt to provide.

Aside from this, defendants would be unable to reasonably comply with the law.  If the defendant only receives all of the prosecution's arguments within 3 days of the hearing, how can he instantaneously present all of his counter-evidence within that same period?  This bill has metamorphosed into a shameless attack on innocent families and due process.

What good is evidence if you cannot present all of your rebuttal because you did not meet a 5-day time frame?  And why are we requiring the defense to lay out all of its cards at all?  They are supposed to be innocent before being proven guilty.  Under HB 198 S2 (amended), they will be forced to attempt to predict the prosecution before they ever know how the prosecution plans to attack them.

This is not a two-way street. There is one entity going after another.  The default is that the innocent person is free and has no burden whatsoever.  The burden rests on the prosecution to prove guilt and establish that it HAS real evidence and substance to present.  The burden does not rest on the defense to attempt to justify its defense prior to being accused in court.

The defense has a right to face his accusers, not to provide his accusers with all of his potential arguments or even evidence in some mandated time frame prior to trial. The prosecution, or even court, have no such right until the charges are laid out and the defense receives its time to respond.

If William Penn, the father of religious freedom, had been forced to perform under this type of administrative requirement prior to his trial for sedition, he would have been crucified (learn about his historic trial under similar circumstances).

And so will parents in Utah.  This will be another tool judges will use to circumvent and smash them.  We must stop treating parents like the guilty party before they are so proven. The bill sponsor, Rep. Mike Thompson, stubbornly refused to amend it. See the final status report.

Defeated. SB 126 (amended) (Sen. Parley Hellewell, Republican): This bill adds an extra step to the typical warrant process by allowing the parents to come before the judge and defend themselves before he issues a warrant. From the bill (lines 86-97):

(2) Before a court may enter an order removing a minor from the minor's home or taking the minor into protective custody, the court must:
(a) have a hearing;
(b) give the parent or guardian of the minor notice of the hearing;
(c) give the parent or guardian of the minor an opportunity to present evidence to the court;
(d) determine by clear and convincing evidence that the minor has been abused or neglected by one or both parents or the guardian; and
(e) take into consideration a parent or guardian's fundamental right to the custody of the minor.
(3) Notwithstanding Subsection (2), if there is imminent danger to a minor's physical safety, the court may issue an order authorizing the removal of the minor without a hearing.

There are serious problems however that were unlikely to be resolved this session.

Back to Categories

Federal Implications

Passed. HCR 3 (Rep. Chad Bennion, Republican): This resolution praises President Bush for his anti-terrorism efforts, yet is silent on incursions against freedom such as the USA Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, and numerous other attacks on fundamental rights perpetrated by the Bush Administration and the federal government. It also ignores the terrorist and societal threats of rampant illegal immigration that have been ignored and even furthered by Bush’s amnesty proposal and other policies. See the final status report.
For more information on this subject, see our alert from last year, "Losses & Victories," summarizing a better resolution that the house refused to pass last year.

Back to Categories

Fraud, Waste, & Abuse

Passed. SB 55 S1 (Sen. Leonard Blackham, Republican): Last year, Sen. Leonard Blackham sponsored SB 225 to limit damages for innocent Utahans who were abused or murdered by government agents and agencies.  He now offers SB 55 S1, which would allow government agents to get away with gross, malicious, abusive, irresponsible, or careless acts or omissions. From lines 1687-1691:

4) Except as permitted in Subsection (3)(c), no employee may be joined or held personally liable for acts or omissions occurring:
(a) during the performance of the employee's duties;
(b) within the scope of employment; or
(c) under color of authority.

Subsection C contains the following (lines 1666-1686):

(c) A plaintiff may not bring or pursue any civil action or proceeding based upon the same subject matter against the employee or the estate of the employee whose act or omission gave rise to the claim, unless:
(i) the employee acted or failed to act through fraud or willful misconduct;
1670 (ii) the injury or damage resulted from the employee driving a vehicle, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle... [essentially if under the influence of heavy alcohol or drugs]; or
(iv) in a judicial or administrative proceeding, the employee intentionally or knowingly gave, upon a lawful oath or in any form allowed by law as a substitute for an oath, false testimony material to the issue or matter of inquiry under this section.

In other words, unless it can be proved that a government agent lied or was driving while intoxicated, he can get away with gross, malicious, abusive, irresponsible, or careless acts or omissions.  Wonderful!

Sen. Blackham displays his conviction that government bureaucrats are incapable of wrong doing.  In those "rare" instances when they are abusive, citizens should turn the other cheek and be thankful for the privilege of being served by such a wonderful government.

Way to honor your oath to defend the rights of the citizens, Sen. Blackham!  See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Free Speech

Passed. HB 199 S1 (Rep. Spackman Moss, Democrat): This bill grants broad powers to school principals regarding the disruption of school activities.  From lines 41-54:

(1) In the absence of a local ordinance or other controlling law governing the conduct described in this Subsection (1), a person is guilty of an offense under Subsection (2) who, while on a street, sidewalk or public way adjacent to any school building or ground:
(a) by his or her presence or acts, materially disrupts the peaceful conduct of school activities; and (b) remains upon the place under Subsection (1)(a) after being asked to leave by the chief administrator of that school.
(2) (a) A violation of Subsection (1) is subject to the penalties under Subsection (2)(b) unless the violation constitutes another offense subject to a greater penalty. (b) (i) The first and second violation of Subsection (1) are class B misdemeanors. (ii) A third and any subsequent violations of Subsection (1) are class A misdemeanors.

Like the original bill, paragraph (1)(b) is extremely vague.  That a person's very presence could cause some type of substantive injury or "material" disruption that is arrestable and punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 6 months in jail (Class B Misdemeanor) is quite remarkable.
Extra Credit: When does a school engage in violent conduct, as opposed to "peaceful conduct"?

Party conventions are often held on school grounds.  Will it now be illegal to pass out fliers because a principal feels you might disturb a track meet going on at the same time?  Will the sidewalk hot dog stand owner be arrested because too many students are frequenting his stand?

Government officials do not need this kind of arbitrary power.  If there are legitimate problems with outside disruptors that can not be resolved through current trespassing laws, these loopholes ought to be addressed in a rational, careful, and concise manner.  This substitute still does none of these things. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Keep & Bear Arms (Self-Defense)

Passed. SB 175 S2 (Sen. Chris Buttars, Republican) under Property Rights.

Defeated. HB 63 S1 (Rep. Judy Ann Buffmire, Democrat): This "stolen-gun-check" bill was killed in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Friday, Jan 23. We recommend that you stay tuned to the status of this and other similar bills by contacting GoUtah!  See the final status report.

Disclaimer: As with other Web resources we provide, Accountability Utah does not necessarily endorse this organization, site, or the views expressed thereon.

Defeated. SB 140 S2 (Sen. Chris Buttars, Republican): Do you want a license in the State of Utah?  Then be prepared to be held hostage by unelected bureaucrats!

This bill would allow state bureaucrats to write policies to blatantly discriminate against gun owners.  This bill gives carte blanche authority to bureaucrats in the Office of Licensing within the Department of Human Services to regulate gun owners, including foster parents and businesses. From lines 230-248:

62A-2-106. Office responsibilities.
The office shall:
(1) make rules to establish:
(a) basic health and safety standards for licensees, which [shall be limited to] may include the following:
(i) fire safety;
(ii) food safety;
(iii) sanitation;
(iv) infectious disease control;
(v) safety of the physical [plant] facility;
(vi) transportation safety;
(vii) emergency preparedness;
(viii) the administration of medical standards and procedures, consistent with the related provisions of this title; [and]
(ix) [consumer] client safety and protection;
(x) the administration and maintenance of client and service records;
(xi) staff qualifications;
(xii) staff to client ratios; [and]
(xiii) segregation of children from adults; and
(xiv) access to firearms

True to form, Sen. Chris "Dangerous Man" Buttars, the sponsor of SB 140 S2, proposed this dangerous amendment on the senate floor. See his amendment in the flesh. This bill has passed the senate and was defeated in the house.  See the final status report.

Defeated. SB 36 (Sen. Paula Julander, Democrat): This bill attacks the right of self-defense and privacy. Quoting GoUtah!:

"SB 36 would make it a class B misdemeanor for you to keep a loaded firearm within a premise that is under your custody or control, if you "reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm" without permission, and a minor then obtains access to the gun and uses it to shoot himself or someone else. There would be no exemptions from prosecution, but there would be a number of "affirmative defenses" which you could use in court to help with your defense if you were being prosecuted. For example, it would be an affirmative defense if the minor had broken into your home and stolen the gun, or if you had kept a trigger lock on the loaded gun, or if you were carrying the firearm on your person, or if the firearm was kept in a locked box."

We recommend that you stay tuned to the status of this and other similar bills by contacting GoUtah!  See the final status report.

Disclaimer: As with other Web resources we provide, Accountability Utah does not necessarily endorse this organization, site, or the views expressed thereon.

Back to Categories

Medical Freedom

Defeated. HB 227 (amended) (Rep. Jackie Biskupski, Democrat): Midwifery (or home birthing) is technically illegal in Utah. This bill provides a new layer of government regulation in the form of midwifery certification, governed by an unelected board of individuals. It also provides some legal recognition of the midwifery, but this recognition comes at an unacceptable regulatory price. At a minimum, substantive changes needed to be made for this bill to be deemed a true step forward for the rights of parents and midwives. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Property Confiscation (Forfeiture & Eminent Domain)

Passed.  SB 9 (Sen. Carlene Walker, Republican): This bill addresses government's power to seize and retain the property of innocent owners (often referred to as "eminent domain"). The bill may allow wronged citizens to more easily cut through some red tape in challenging the loss of their property (referred to as "takings actions" in lines 492-494).  The Private Property Omnbudsman, Craig Call, makes the following arguments in favor of this bill (in .pdf format).

But if this bill were truly a step forward as Mr. Call believes, why would it continue to limit the evidence that courts can hear in addressing the complaints of wronged citizens?  From lines 149-153:

(5) (a) (i) If there is a record, the district court's review is limited to the record provided by the board of adjustment.
(ii) The court may not accept or consider any evidence outside the board of adjustment's record unless that evidence was offered to the board of adjustment and the court determines that it was improperly excluded by the board of adjustment.

Who made the board of adjustment God?  And why would the following abusive verbiage from existing statute also not be stricken (see lines 100-106, 119-121)?

(1) No person may challenge in district court a municipality's land use decisions made under this chapter or under the regulation made under authority of this chapter until that person has exhausted his administrative remedies.
(2) (a) Any person adversely affected by any decision made in the exercise of or in violation of the provisions of this chapter may file a petition for review of the decision with the district court within 30 days after the local decision is rendered...

(3) The courts shall:
(a) presume that land use decisions and regulations are valid; and
(b) determine only whether or not the decision is arbitrary, capricious, or illegal.

This is very difficult to prove given that the court is only allowed to judge based upon the record. From lines 123-131:

17-27-708. District court review of board of adjustment decision.
(1) Any person adversely affected by any decision of a board of adjustment may petition the district court for a review of the decision.
(2) (a) The district court's review is limited to a determination of whether the board of adjustment's decision is arbitrary, capricious, or illegal.
(b) A determination of illegality requires a determination that the board of adjustment's decision violates a statute, ordinance, or existing law.
(3) (a) The petition is barred unless it is filed within 30 days after the board of adjustment's decision is final.

"Arbitrary" and "capricious" arguments/evidence would not be part of the original evidence. For example, a petitioner would most likely try to make his case by compiling a history of prejudicial rulings against property owners. This language would prohibit any "patterns of collusion" evidence as "not being in the original record."

If this legislature were truly serious about property rights, they would put forward a very clear, straightforward bill that restored rights to abused citizens.  SB 9 encourages government agents to continue abusing citizens.  In the words of Salt Lake County Councilman Randy Horiuchi:

"Let’s show some guts, baby. Let’s condemn the crap out of them..."

True reform begins with forcing the condemning agency to pay for the legal fees of defendants, as does the State of FloridaOn page 4 of Mr. Call's analysis, he freely admits that the legislature rejected his efforts to enact this very basic safeguard.

Beyond this, true reform also includes limiting the power to seize property from innocent citizens to true emergencies where no other possible remedy exists. Until these reforms are enacted, government will increasingly abuse this power for non-essential purposes, including corporate welfare and pet sports projects.  The legislature has reduced this bill to an insult at best.  See the final status report.
For more information on this subject, read "Public Power, Private Gain," published by the Institute for Justice.

Passed.  SB 50 S1 (Sen. Tom Hatch, Republican): The bill summary pretty much tells it all:

"This bill creates a number of entities to address rural planning and development issues on a statewide, coordinated basis."

All Utah needs is more layers of bureaucracy pushing to steal property without due process, limit land usage, and cut business deals with corrupt third parties. See the final status report.

Passed. SB 175 S2 (Sen. Chris Buttars, Republican). The private property confiscation cartel is once again attempting to destroy your rights. Last year, Senate Majority Whip John Valentine sponsored secret legislation (drafted by the confiscation lobby and General Mark Shurtleff) that effectively repealed forfeiture reform Initiative B. This initiative was enacted by the people of Utah with almost 70% of the vote in the year 2000.

After a town meeting was held in Valentine's district with over a hundred angry delegates and constituents attending, Valentine appropriately decided to withdraw his bill. Despite Valentine's promise to involve citizens in any further consideration of legislation affecting Initiative B, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, a secretly drafted bill destroying your right to own property was set to be released last week:

"…Sen. Lyle Hillyard has been negotiating with reform backers behind closed doors and believes he may have struck a compromise. The Logan Republican is set to roll out a secretly drafted bill sometime next week to amend the law to allow law enforcement agencies to tap into federally seized assets."
Source: "GOP lawmaker negotiating forfeiture law adjustments," Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 24, 2004.

Due to citizen pressure, Sen. Hillyard withdrew as sponsor of this bill.  Sen. Chris Buttars has now agreed to run Hillyard's bill.  Sen. Buttars' bill, like all its predecessors, would effectively destroy Initiative B and your property rights.  Read citizen activist Arnold Gaunt's alert on, and analysis of, this bill.

This shell game of rotating sponsors is modus operandi for these confiscation zealots. Expect nothing but attacks on innocent property owners, on the integrity of our police agents and agencies, and on our communities.

Citizens called an emergency town meeting on Feb. 14 in West Jordan regarding Sen. Buttars’ vicious attack on your property rights. Read a report on the meeting.  Also visit our ongoing Volunteer Action Page and help stop this bill.

See the final status report. Stay tuned to our ongoing alerts for the latest on the attempt to defeat this bill through a citizens' initiative.

Defeated. HB 311 S1 (amended) (Rep. Stuart Adams): This bill summary pretty much sums it up as well:

"[This bill] modifies the definition of economic development and expands the type of development that can occur in an economic development project."

New "projects" that redevelopment agencies will be given the green light to pursue include the following (lines 96-97:

"...affordable housing, attached housing, housing that is included in a building with other uses, retail, hotel, infrastructure improvements, [and] transit..."

HB 311 also creates an entirely new definition for redevelopment expansionism (lines 102-107):

(14) "Infrastructure improvements" means improvements to public infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, landscaping, street lighting, benches and other pedestrian amenities, traffic control measures, bikeways, transit facilities, parking structures, sanitary and storm sewers, water utilities, electrical utilities, gas utilities, fiber optic utilities, cable utilities, and other facilities or utilities that are owned by a public entity or are accessible without qualification to the public.

In other words, redevelopment agencies will now have open season on condemning your property and doing whatever they feel like with it. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Taxes & Regulation

Passed.  HB 37 (amended) (Rep. Greg Curtis, Republican House Majority Leader): This bill provides blanket reauthorization for several pork barrel projects and onerous regulatory acts slated to be sunsetted (terminated by a certain date) in 2004.  Among those extended out to 2014:

  • Commission on National and Community Service Act;

  • Medical Assistance Act;

  • Utah Health Data Authority Act;

  • Veterinary Practice Act; and

  • Massage Therapy Practice Act.

In addition:

  • The Resource Development Coordinating Committee was extended to 2005; and

  • The entire sunset clause was repealed for the Utah Technology and Small Business Finance Act, Physical Therapist Practice, and Utah Sports Authority Act.

See the final status report.

Defeated. HB 230 S2 (Rep. Michael Styler, Republican): This bill,

"...amends the definition of certified revenue levy to include an adjustment of property tax revenues generated by the minimum basic tax rate in accordance with the annual change in the Consumer Price Index." (lines 12-14)

In plain language, this bill allows property tax rates to adjust upward for inflation.  It is a tax increase.  This bill was passed (38-37-0) and then recalled and defeated (32-42-1) in the house.

Passed. SB 22 (amended) (Sen. Howard Stephenson, Republican): This bill reauthorizes the administrative rules of all Utah agencies, with a few small exceptions. Administrative rules are the rules by which state agencies and agents operate and come close to having the power of law, and provide excuses for many misbehaviors. There are a multiplicity of examples of bad rules in the arena of taxes, child welfare, providing due process, etc., that should be addressed and rectified, not given a blanket pass-over. See the final status report.

Passed. HB 215 S1 (Rep. J. Stuart Adams, Republican): This bill forces local governments to, in certain instances, adopt building code regulations promulgated by the State Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.  Residential one and two dwelling homes will now be under the thumb of state government.  This is an unacceptable expansion of state government regulatory powers. See the final status report.

Back to Categories

Thought Crimes (Destruction of Equality & Due Process)

Defeated. SB 41 (Sen. James Evans, Republican): This bill would establish thought crimes, place people on unequal grounds before the law, and grant special rights for certain groups of predators. For more information, see our alert, "Sen. James Evans Sponsors Special Rights for Pedophiles & Spouse Abusers!" See the final status report.

Defeated. HB 68 S1 (Rep. David Litvack, Democrat): This bill is similar to SB 41, but specific groups are mentioned. Despite the arguments of thought crimes promoters like Sen. James Evans, there is no substantive difference between the two bills.  See the final status report.

Defeated. HB 77 (Rep. Craig Frank, Republican): This bill establishes thought crimes and enhanced penalties for people who "assault" police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and a few others. This is another step in the effort to establish two classes of citizens: those acting for government and all others. Notice that there is no effort to establish enhanced penalties for police officers or other officials who inappropriately assault or otherwise abuse citizens. To the contrary, they are granted special protections and immunities from liability or criminal prosecution.

Also notice that while "assault" certainly has a scary ring to it, it is loosely defined under Utah law and can include threatening to hit someone even if that threat is never carried out (See state statute 76-5-102(1)(b)). As an example, consider an officer who pulls over a car for speeding. Inside the car are a designated driver and his inebriated friend. The friend lets fly a statement like: "I’m going to kick your fanny," is arrested for assault, and would now be subject to an enhanced penalty and serious jail time. In this case, the inebriated person, while a fool, only did what he was supposed to do: go home under the direction of a designated driver.  See the final status report.

Back to Categories


Defeated. HB 40 S1 (Rep. Craig Frank, Republican): Currently, when a vacancy occurs in the legislature, the county party of which the legislator was a member, is responsible to provide the names of three individuals to the governor for his replacement.  The governor chooses one of the three individuals to finish out the term.

The county party governing committee (curiously named "central committees" as were committees in the former Soviet Union), meets to select three potential replacements.  While imperfect, the citizens who comprise these committees at least reside in the general vicinity of the district in question.

HB 40 S1 may be an improvement upon the original bill and the current process.

The original bill had effectively eliminated the ability of these county parties to present their candidates to the governor.  Instead, the state political "party liaison" — one man — would present the candidates to the governor.  This "party liaison" is,

"...the political party officer designated to serve as a liaison with the lieutenant governor on all matters relating to the political party's relationship with the state as required by Section 20A-8-401." (see lines 33-35)

According to Section 20A-8-401, the party liaison is:

(2) Each state political party, each new political party seeking registration, and each unregistered political party seeking registration shall ensure that its constitution or bylaws contain... a provision requiring a designated party officer to serve as liaison with the lieutenant governor on all matters relating to the political party's relationship with the state...

For Republicans, this "liaison" is none other than the state party chairman, presently Joe Cannon.  From the Republican party bylaws (under "4.0 Party Operations"):

"The State Party Chair shall serve as liaison with the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Utah on all matters relating to the Party’s relationship with the State."

The substitute appears to be an improvement in that it requires the governor to "immediately select" the candidate appointed by the party "liaison." The governor has no business selecting replacements for the legislative branch.  It also requires each party to have a bylaws provision for the election of replacements.

The real solution, however, is to allow the voters of the district to decide who will fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.
Additional note: Since the election of state Republican chairman Joe Cannon, Accountability Utah has noticed an alarming increase in legislation and other efforts specifically designed to weaken and trivialize the power of local partisan delegates and organizations — in favor of centralized, dictatorial-like control. This bill deserves continued monitoring.

Status note: This substitute bill has been passed by the senate, but was rejected by the house.  Dangerous negotiations are going on between the senate and house at this time.  The outlook is uncertain and almost certainly dangerous.

Back to Categories



If you have comments or suggestions, please email us at info@accountabilityutah.org.


Home | Issues & Alerts | Mission | AU Team | Reports | Citizen Library | Other Resources

Address: P.O. Box 141, West Jordan, Utah 84084
info@accountabilityutah.org  |  Website: www.accountabilityutah.org

Copyright © 2003 Accountability Utah