News roundup: Lee: Opposite of bad government isn't good government
Legislature adjourns 'bland' session. Summaries of issues tackled. Senate advances assault weapons ban.
Happy Friday. Speaking yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, Sen. Mike Lee said that the opposite of "bad government" isn't "good government" or even "limited government." What is it then? Lee says the best way to govern is to return to a "civil society" where families, schools, charities and churches looked out for the well-being of people. [NRO]
Topping the news: The Utah Legislature adjourned last night after what some say was a bland, uneventful 45 days. State leaders say they were able, though, to act on some big-picture issues, such as an increase to per-pupil funding, a new science program and relocating the Utah State Prison. [Trib]
-> How it came down: (with more links and summaries below)
Public lands: Lawmakers passed several bills and resolutions affirming the state's "sovereign" right over federal control of public lands, water rights, forests, endangered species and law enforcement. [Trib]
Environment: Despite smog greeting the Utah Legislature's session this year, lawmakers didn't address any longterm air pollution solutions. [Trib]
Education: Utah's leaders gave schools most of what they wanted, and boosted funding for public ed, though controversial bills on banning guns, sex education and mandatory pre-school were tossed. [Trib]
Health care: While the House wanted a firm no on expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, the Senate decided to send the issue for further study. Either way, Utahns will have to wait to see what Gov. Gary Herbert does on this front. [Trib]
Transportation: Lawmakers voted to raise speed limits on rural highways, ban teenagers from using their cell phones will driving and made it illegal to smoke in a car with a kid under 15 present. [Trib] [Herald]
Tweet of the day: From @DaveMontero: "Sen. Niederhauser to his wife. 'I'm coming home baby.' He laughs: 'That's a warning.'"
And from: "@LeeHDavidson: "Finally after lots & lots & lots of thank-you speeches: Utah Senate adjourns sine die ... and the peasants rejoice."
Happy birthday: On Saturday, to state Reps. Kraig Powell and Ronda Menlove, former state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom and Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke. On Sunday, to the Dallas Morning News' Carl Leubsdorf, our officemate.
In other news: Despite opposition from Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, a Senate panel advanced a renewed version of the assault weapons ban on a party-line vote of 10-8. [Trib] [NYTimes] [WaPost]
-> Hatch will be leading the charge on reforming the tax code in a bipartisan effort co-sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. [Trib]
-> A non-partisan group is looking to get women interested in running for political office through workshops and the urging of elected women. [Trib]
-> Paul Rolly turns Rep. Mike Noel's words back on him. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley offers his take on state lawmaker's lack of clean air legislation. [Trib]
-> The University of Utah continues to work on establishing its first foreign campus in South Korea. [Trib]
Heard on the Hill: "I'm really worried about this bar ambiance we have tonight." Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, when the lights briefly went out in the Senate Chamber.
"Will you clarify what a mess the House made of this bill?" Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, on amendments to SB271, a school grading bill.
From the Hill: Guns, clean air and cars were all big topics during this year's general session. Here are some last-minute bills passed through before the clock struck midnight.
-> First, this session's winners:
Gun advocates: Lawmakers loosened not tightened gun laws in the state. Barring a veto, a permit will not be necessary to carry a concealed gun.
Schools: ï»¿Public education got its biggest infusion of money in years, enough for a 2 percent bump in per-pupil spending. (Utah is still in last place nationally.) ï»¿
Big Game Forever: The anti-wolf group landed a second $300,000 appropriation withoutaccounting for the money.
-> And the losers:
New restaurants: The Senate refused to tear down the 'Zion CurÂtain' shielding patrons from the mixing of drinks.
Chatty teens: If Gov. Gary Herbert goes along, it will soon be illegal for drivers younger than 18 to use a cellphone while behind the wheel.
At-risk preschoolers > Opponents shot down a much-touted initiative to use private investments to create preschool programs for at-risk kids.
Guns: Leaking private information from a list of Utahns with concealed carry permits could mean getting slapped with a class A misdemeanor, thanks to a new bill that passed the Senate. [Trib]
-> House lawmakers passed a bill to free up gun ranges to public groups who reserve them ahead of time, despite objections that it could make law enforcement ranges too public. [Trib]
-> Mentally-ill Utahns who have been successfully treated could re-establish their right to own firearms, thanks to a new bill passed by the House but only after jumping through some legal hoops. [Trib]
Cars: The Senate unanimously passed House amendments on a bill that would limit how long data picked up by license plate readers can be stored by governments. Supporters of the bill argue that keeping such data could track when and where citizens travel. [Trib]
-> House lawmakers moved to pass a bill that promotes converting vehicles to use clean fuels like compressed natural gas. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Senate lawmakers gave a final nod to a bill that gives consumers more protections against tow truck companies. [Trib]
-> A bill that requires drivers to undergo a more lengthy process when opting out of underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance passed the Senate, and is on its way to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk. [DNews]
Three E's: education, environment, ethics: House lawmakers barely squeaked a school grading bill through to the Senate, with modifications that establishes one uniform grading system for the state and allows more schools to earn A and B grades. [Trib]
-> Clean air advocates blasted the Legislature for not taking more decisive action on cleaning up Utah's murky air during this session and were especially disappointed by a bill run by Rep. Mike Noel that would overturn a ban on outdoor wood burning boilers on the Wasatch Front. [DNews]
-> In the wake of the scandal that embroiled Attorney General John Swallow, lawmakers moved to prevent the attorney general's office from investigating claims made against the attorney general. Instead, such investigations would be handled by the chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court. [Trib] [Fox13]
Immigration: House lawmakers voted to ensure that two immigration laws one that sets up a guest worker program and one that allows Utahns to "sponsor" foreign nationals that were initially passed in 2011 won't go into effect until 2015, giving Congress time to tackle their own immigration legislation. [DNews] [Herald]
Prison relocation: After eight rounds of revisions, lawmakers moved forward with a plan to get bids to relocate the Utah State Prison, without a word on privatization although privatizing the facility remains an option. [Trib] [DNews]
Other action: Lawmakers gave a final nod to a bill that would add two judges to Utah's already-strained 8th District Court, which covers Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne counties. Currently, the court gets assistance from the 7th District Court in handling its caseload. [Trib]
-> The state's veterans office will now have a focus on economic development in addition to helping those who have served in the military. [Trib]
-> Littering in Utah could now cost you even more in fines, especially for second offenses. [Trib]
-> Lawmakers took a last-minute swing at pornography, passing a joint resolution that acknowledges that some pornographic images have a negative impact on kids. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Utahns in abusive dating relationships will soon be able to take out restraining orders against their abusers an option formerly open to only co-habitating couples or spouses. [DNews]
-> Watch out, turkeys: The Senate voted unanimously to create a second turkey hunt each year. [Trib]
-> As he put it, Lt. Greg Bell was with his "homies" at Diversity Day at the Capitol, where 500 Utahns hit the Hill to celebrate a multitude of cultures. [Trib]
Back to the drawing room: A bill that would elevate cock-fighting from a misdemeanor charge to a felony crime failed in the House, with opponents saying it could aggravate prison overcrowding and make it more difficult for those convicted to get guns. [Trib]
-> A plan to give a convention-size hotel in downtown Salt Lake City a $33 million sales tax subsidy failed in the House. [Trib]
-> Election Day voter registration won't be happening in Utah anytime soon, after the legislation was killed in the Senate by election clerks who feared that the bill could work too well and flood polling places with voters. [Trib]
Nationally: President Barack Obama kept up with his week of Capitol Hill meetings, having lunch with Senate Republicans and then swooping over to the House side to meet with Democrats. While most of the Senate's 45 Republicans remain skeptical of the president's budget plans, others praised his willingness to open up the dialogue. [Politico]
-> The prospective future leaders of the Republican Party hit the old-guard GOP at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington. [WaPost]
-> Vice President Joe Biden's press secretary apologized to Jeremy Barr, a University of Maryland student after a staffer at an open press event demanded that Barr, a reporter for the university's student newspaper, delete photos off his iPhone of the event.[WaPost] [Politico]
Where are they?
Rep. Rob Bishop hits a House Armed Services Committee hearing and flies back to Salt Lake City.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Gov. Gary Herbert takes a personal day.
SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams has a landfill council meeting, drops in on an editorial board meeting at the Deseret News and meets with Millcreek Township Executive Patrick Leary and planning commission member John Jason.
SLC Mayor Ralph Becker has a public utilities budget meeting, chats with Salt Lake City Council Chairman Kyle LaMalfa and Vice-Chair Jill Remington Love and has a performing arts center meeting.
President Barack Obama flies to Chicago to tour the Argonne National Laboratory, where he speaks about energy policy.
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Thomas Burr and Emily AndrewsTwitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/emilytandrews