Since opening its doors in 1995, Sutherland has had great success in expanding freedom and improving the quality of life for Utahns, while increasing accountability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness among Utah’s elected officials. See our legislator scorecards from 2016 and 2015 and as two examples.
Utah is an example, in many ways, of the good that can come from applying conservative principles to the problems that face any group of people trying to live peaceably in community.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Sutherland staff, donors, grassroots allies and dedicated public servants, we can count the below items as some of our more notable accomplishments:
- Defeated a push to legalize marijuana: We worked with a coalition of medical experts, public health experts and elected officials to defeat a proposal to legalize marijuana so liberally that Utah would soon be on the path toward legalizing recreational marijuana use.
- Ensured informed voting through partisan state school board elections: We worked with a coalition of conservative organizations to ensure that voters can easily determine what their state school board candidates stand for by passing compromise legislation that created nonpartisan state school board primaries for 2016 state school board elections, with partisan identification of state school board candidates being required starting in 2018.
- Defeated unbalanced gay rights laws: We opposed and successfully defeated a hate crimes proposal and adoption legislation that would have upset the balance between religious liberty and gay rights established by the Utah Compromise from last year.
- Protected Utah’s most vulnerable and taxpayers from Obamacare, while helping those most in need: We helped pass a proposal to allow the chronically homeless and those with substance abuse or mental health problems to access Medicaid coverage, without harming the lowest-income children, the disabled, and Utah taxpayers by tying Utah into full Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. We also helped encourage free healthcare services for low-income families with legislation that allows doctors to count time spent delivering free healthcare toward their medical license renewal requirements.
- Passed legislation to free Utah’s public lands from federal neglect: We successfully enacted a law to help fund a lawsuit to free public lands in Utah, and a law that ensures that any lands freed from federal neglect and mismanagement will be publicly and sustainably accessible for recreation, wilderness conservation, and economic purposes.
- Protected Utah children from so-called “comprehensive” sex education: We defeated a bill that would have expanded sex ed in public schools to include controversial instruction in the use of condoms and other forms of contraception better suited to value-based, parental instruction.
- Ensured that early childhood education resources remain targeted toward at risk children: We successfully amended legislation to ensure that Utah’s all-day kindergarten and preschool programs are appropriately targeted toward children in multi-generational poverty and low-income children that demonstrate genuine academic need.
- Helped low-income families achieve self-reliance and economic prosperity: We helped pass legislation that promotes self-reliance training for families on welfare programs and a law that allows individuals to become qualified for better jobs without having to go to college degree, by instead pursuing “stackable credentials.”
- Stopped the return of “double dipping” by state employees: We helped defeat a proposal that would have created hundreds of millions in future unfunded liabilities for taxpayers by making it easier for retired state employees to “double dip” by collecting both a paycheck and a pension check at the same time.
- Helped pass legislation to recognize the public health crisis and impacts of pornography addiction: After legislation recognizing the addictive and public health problems of pornography addiction was mocked by national talk shows, we helped ensure that it passed, along with companion legislation that allows judges and parole boards to consider increased criminal penalties when a sexual predator forcibly exposes a child to pornography.
Earlier accomplishments include:
- Defanged public employee unions by stopping political action contributions through direct deductions from state payrolls.
- Established a prudent approach to dealing with Utah’s undocumented population by helping craft the Utah Compact, defeating a proposal to enact an Arizona-style approach, and working successfully on a unique Utah solution.
- Protected the meaning of marriage in Utah by arguing for a constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between a man and a woman.
- Empowered parents to improve their child’s education by creating Utah Schools at a Glance, a website ranking public, charter, and private schools based on academic achievement and environmental factors.
- Thwarted the “gay-rights” agenda in Utah by successfully opposing the “Common Ground Initiative” and by publishing a book titled Preserving Sacred Ground, which lays out a pro-marriage approach to same-sex politics.
- Strengthened government transparency and accountability by helping to pass legislation that created the state’s financial transparency website, transparent.utah.gov.
- Improved public education by pursuing passage of a statewide program that allows children to personalize their education through online learning.
- Encouraged government efficiency and accountability through legislation requiring that new programs or services establish and achieve performance goals in order to maintain taxpayer funding.
- Protected public trust in government by informing legislative ethics reforms and opposing bad ethics reform policies.
- Won three-consecutive Best of State Awards for our Transcend Series, which helped civic leaders to become better informed, equipped and skilled to serve in their respective roles.
- Encouraged school choice by allowing charter school, private school, and home school students to participate in sports, music, and arts programs at local public high schools if such programs are not available at their school of choice.
- Protected private, community-based health care solutions by passing a resolution establishing authentic charity care as a part of the state’s public policy for caring for our neighbors in need.
- Worked with citizens and elected officials in local Utah cities and towns to prevent passage of poor public policy, such as significant property tax hikes and imprudent nondiscrimination ordinances.
- Redefined Utah’s political culture regarding reasonable, civil and constructive citizenship through aggressive defenses of conservative principles such as freedom and the importance of family.