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1.FOSTERING INNOVATION IN UTAH SCHOOLS

In an essay published by Sutherland Institute on March 31, 2010, Daniel E. Witte, director of Sutherland’s Center for Educational Progress, asserts that building a civic structure for Utah’s education system will permit genuinely-innovative reform ideas to be considered, tested, and implemented in Utah schools.

 

Fostering Innovation in Utah Schools: Common Elements of Educational Success  presents the idea that in tax-subsidized schools, as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson (“Jefferson Charter Schools”), parents maintain control, participation is voluntary, curriculum and methodology are customized, and all educational efforts respect the parent-child relationship.

 

Mr. Witte contends that four key components of civic structure – Flexibility, Accountability, Representation, and Modularity (FARM) – are essential if innovation is to flourish.  He proposes that Utah should heed the wisdom of America’s Founders by revising Utah’s charter law to allow for Jefferson Charter Schools and by enacting other civic reforms that allow innovation to thrive in Utah schools.  Further, that the quality and safety available for children in Utah schools are now at stake, along with the academic preparedness of children and the ability of parents to shape their children’s education.

 

Potential organizational and pedagogical innovations include a more voluntary, user-driven, user-defined educational experience; accelerated tracks to college for gifted or motivated students; more effective use of volunteers; an increased focus on public virtue; and a culture of excellence.

 

2.LORD MONCKTON PRESENTATION LIVE ONLINE

Lord Christopher Monckton, one of the world’s foremost critics of anthropogenic (human-caused) “global warming,” will present ‘Global Warming’ Is No Global Crisis via live webcast on March 26, 2010 from 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

 

Lord Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is leading the charge against economic policies based on the so-called “settled” science behind “global warming.” He was instrumental in the 2007 British High Court case that found nine gross misstatements or inaccuracies in former Vice President Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth.  Lord Monckton campaigned publicly against the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2009 and has spoken across the world on the issue.  He was also a special economic advisor to Margaret Thatcher during her tenure as the British Prime Minister.

 

Anyone wishing to view the presentation live can visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lord-christopher-monckton-global-warming-is-no-crisis.  The presentation will also be made available to view at a later time at the same URL address.

 

3.SUTHERLAND INFLUENCE: A REVIEW OF THE 2010 GENERAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The 2010 general session of the Utah State Legislature concluded on Thursday, March 11, 2010.  Sutherland Institute again strove to promote and support legislation consistent with its governing principles and policy priorities, and to modify or defeat proposed legislation that was not.

 

“Shaping public policy that preserves and strengthens the traditional family and protects the well-being of our children and communities are key legislative priorities for us,” said Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland public affairs manager.  “We express our thanks for the diligent efforts of the many legislators, informed and responsible citizens, and colleagues who worked hard in seeking to develop policy that makes Utah a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

 

Against the backdrop of serious state and national economic challenges, the Utah Legislature is to be commended for a difficult job well-done.  Crafting a budget for fiscal year 2011 that reflects sobering revenue projections required a careful, bi-partisan balancing of priorities.

 

During the intensive, 45-day general session, Sutherland Institute engaged a number of issues important to the people of Utah.

 

In this second of a two-part summary of Sutherland’s recent efforts on Utah’s Capitol Hill, we provide an overview of bills the Institute weighed-in on in an effort a) to support, b) to defeat, and c) to amend.

 

SUTHERLAND’S EFFORTS AT A GLANCE

 

• Number of bills actively tracked: 35
• Number of bills decided consistent with Sutherland Institute’s intent: 26 (74%)
• Number of times Sutherland representatives presented testimony in committee: 17 (Stan Rasmussen, 9; Derek Monson, 4; Matt Piccolo, 2; Jim Giometta, 2)
• Number of email messages sent to legislators prior to floor votes: 14
• Other correspondence: Four letters (opposing any tax increase – re: HB196 and SB 40; requesting funding prioritization – HB 200; “lemons and lemonade” packages – SB 251; sex-ed opinion-editorial – SB54 and HB 127).

 

BILLS SUTHERLAND SUPPORTIVELY WEIGHED-IN ON – 10 OF 14 PASSED

 

Identified and engaged by the Institute during the session, these are bills Sutherland weighed in on in committee, on the floor, or through individual contact with legislators, in an effort to encourage passage.

 

1. Joint Resolution on Energy Policy  (HJR 21)
Urges the Governor to withdraw Utah from Western Climate Initiative.
• Governing Principle: Free Markets [Center for Community and Economy]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen presented testimony in support as the bill was heard in the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee and in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee, where it was passed out favorably in both instances.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

2. Joint Resolution on Equal Treatment by Government  (HJR 24)
Proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to enact a provision prohibiting discrimination and preferential treatment by government entities, on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin with respect to public employment, public education, or public contracting.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Paul Mero discussed the proposed amendment with the bill sponsor and decided we would be supportive, but the bill was retained, circled, on the House 3rd Reading Calendar and never debated on the House floor.
• Outcome: Not passed.

 

3. Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act Amendments for Towns, Cities, and Counties Amendments (HB 94)
Requires transparency when local governments use restricted funds for general operations – i.e., amends the public notice and hearing requirements for the uniform fiscal procedures of towns, cities, and counties.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Derek Monson testified in support of the bill as it was heard by the House committee where it was unanimously passed out favorably.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

4. Campaign Funds Expenditure Restrictions  (HB 124)
Modifies the Campaign and Financial Reporting Requirements by amending provisions related to personal use of campaign monies; prohibits a candidate or an officeholder from using campaign contributions for a personal-use expenditure.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen testified in the Senate committee wherein the bill was unanimously passed out favorably.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

5. Informed Consent Amendments  (HB 200)
Requires that, if an ultrasound is performed on a woman before an abortion is performed, the ultrasound images will be simultaneously displayed in a manner to permit the woman to choose to view the images or not to view the images.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Family and Society]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen signed a letter to the Executive Appropriations Committee chair requesting that HB 200 be prioritized for funding.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

6. Lobbyist Disclosure and Regulation Act Amendments  (HB 267)
Requires the disclosure of an expenditure or aggregate daily expenditure greater than $10; prohibits a lobbyist, principal, or government officer from making an expenditure greater than $10, except for food, a beverage, travel, lodging, or attendance at a meeting or activity.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen testified in support of the bill in the Senate committee.  The bill was passed favorably on a unanimous vote of the committee.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

7. Public School Innovations  (HB 268)
Creates the Innovation Schools Act which provides greater flexibility to public schools to meet the educational needs of students; to create an innovation plan and adopt the plan upon approval by the local school board and State Board of Education.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Matt Piccolo notified the sponsor or Sutherland’s desire to support the bill.  Piccolo prepared to testify in support in the House committee, but the sponsor decided to send it to interim study.
• Outcome: Mixed; the bill was included on the Master Study Resolution list.

 

8. Expanded Uses of School District Property Tax Revenue  (HB 295)
Allows school districts to temporarily use capital funds for general ops)
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Derek Monson and Stan Rasmussen sent an email to all members of the House of Representatives prior to the debate and vote on floor of the House, where it was unanimously passed.  The Senate also passed it unanimously.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

9. Fathers Do Matter Concurrent Resolution  (SCR 8)
This concurrent resolution of the Legislature and the Governor urges government agencies and nonprofit organizations to study and address the consequences of father-absent households.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Family and Society]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen testified in support of the bill in the Senate committee where it was passed out favorably; it was subsequently passed by the full Senate.
• Outcome: Negative – the bill remained on the House calendar as the session ended.

 

10. Public School Extracurricular Activities for Home School and Private School Students(SB 66)
Addresses private school and home school students’ eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities; with certain exceptions, such students may only participate in extracurricular activities at the public school within whose boundaries the student’s custodial parent or legal guardian resides or a public school from which the student withdrew.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Matthew Piccolo, Derek Monson, and Stan Rasmussen sent an email to all members of the House of Representatives in support of the bill prior to the debate and vote by the full House, where the bill was amended and passed.  The bill eventually went to a conference committee that proposed a substitute version of the bill which was subsequently passed by both the House and Senate.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

11. School District Leave Policies  (SB 77)
Prohibits a local school board from granting paid association leave for certain employee association or union duties, etc.
• Governing Principle: Personal Responsibility [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Derek Monson responded to questions from a representative about our position on the bill.  Matt Piccolo and Stan Rasmussen sent an email in support of the bill to all members of the House of Representatives prior to the debate and vote of the full House, where it was defeated.
• Outcome: Negative – the bill was defeated.

 

12. Eminent Domain Amendments  (SB 81)
Amends provisions relating to a settlement offer and litigation expenses in an eminent domain action; authorizes the court to, under certain circumstances, award litigation expenses.
• Governing Principle: Property Rights [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Derek Monson testified in support of the bill in the Senate committee where it was unanimously passed out favorably.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

13. Reading Requirements for Student Advancement  (SB 150)
Requires a school district or charter school to provide notice to a parent or guardian of a student in the first, second, or third grade if the student is reading below grade level; and of available reading interventions available through the school district or charter school.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Matt Piccolo testified in support of the bill in the Senate committee where it was unanimously passed out favorably.  Piccolo and Stan Rasmussen subsequently sent an email to all members of the Senate prior to the debate and floor vote wherein the bill was passed.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

14. Charter School Amendments  (SB 188)
Modifies provisions regarding the operation and governance of charter schools; expands the membership of the State Board of Education by including a member of the State Charter School Board as a nonvoting member; removes a statutory enrollment cap on charter schools.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Educational Progress]
• Sutherland Actions: Matt Piccolo testified in support of the bill in the in the Senate committee where it was unanimously passed out favorably.  Piccolo, Derek Monson, and Stan Rasmussen sent an email to all members of the House of Representatives in support of the bill prior to the debate and vote by the full House, where it was unanimously passed.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was passed.

 

BILLS SUTHERLAND SUPPORTIVELY WEIGHED-IN ON IN OPPOSITION – 2 OF 2 DEFEATED

 

1. Government Records Access and Management Act Revisions  (HB 266)
Modifies provisions of the Government Records Access and Management Act that relate to disclosure of gross compensation; requires a governmental entity to provide gross compensation information for all elected or appointed employees by name and for all other employees, by job title, rather than by name (thus diminishing transparency).
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen discussed Sutherland’s opposition with lobbyists supporting the bill and with the sponsor.  Derek Monson was prepared to testify in opposition to the bill as it was heard in the House committee, but it was decided to send the bill to interim study before the committee was to take public comment.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was not passed, but was included on the Master Study Resolution list.

 

2. Health Amendments for Legal Immigrant Children  (SB 44)
Amends the Medical Assistance Act and the Utah Children’s Health Insurance Act to provide Medicaid coverage and health insurance coverage to a legal immigrant child, regardless of the length of time that the child has been in the United States; exercises the option to remove the five-year residency requirement for a legal immigrant child to be eligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Utah Children’s Health Insurance Program.
• Governing Principle: Personal Responsibility [Center for Community and Economy]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen testified in opposition to the first substitute version of the bill as it was initially heard in the Senate committee, where it was defeated on a tie vote of committee members present.  The basis of Rasmussen’s testimony was that, instead of further expanding government involvement in health care, the health care needs of those specified in this bill would more appropriately be provided in the form of authentic charity care, as specified in Authentic Charity Health Care Resolution – HJR 27, proposed by Sutherland Institute (see details above).  The bill was brought back to the committee where a second substitute version was considered and passed out favorably.  The second substitute version of the bill was defeated when it was debated and voted on by the full Senate.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was defeated and included in the Master Study Resolution list.

 

BILLS SUTHERLAND SOUGHT TO AMEND – 2 OF 3 BILLS AMENDED

 

1. Release of Court Documents and Child Interviews  (HB 133)
Limits the release of court documents and child interviews.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Family and Society]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen and Robert Alsop met with the bill sponsor and representatives of the Attorney General’s office, Sentencing Commission, DCFS, office of the Guardian Ad Litem, and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, and others.  The discussion resulted in a revision of the bill that addressed our concerns.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was amended before being passed.

 

2. Reductions to Education Mandates  (HB 166)
Exempts a local school board from the requirement to develop and administer certain activity disclosure statements for two years – i.e., temporarily exempts school districts from reporting to the state financial transparency website, transparent.utah.gov.
• Governing Principle: Limited Government [Center for Limited Government]
• Sutherland Actions: Paul Mero talked with the bill sponsor who agreed to amend the bill.  Sutherland representatives arranged to have the bill amended as it was debated on the Senate floor.
• Outcome: Positive – the bill was amended before being passed.

 

3. Child Protection Revisions  (HB 239)
Amends provisions of the Utah Human Services Code and the Juvenile Court Act of 1996 relating to the performance monitoring system of the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the interviewing of children in DCFS custody, and the provision of reunification services.
• Governing Principle: Family [Center for Family and Society]
• Sutherland Actions: Stan Rasmussen and Robert Alsop of the Sutherland Policy Committee met with the bill sponsor and agreed on an amendment to address our concerns.  However, the bill was not amended consistent the discussion.
• Outcome: Negative – the bill passed without being amended.

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