Saturday, April 23, 2016

What were the State Delegates Smoking today to reject Governor Gary Herbert

I had promised both campaigns that I wouldn't endorse either Gary Herbert or Jonathan Johnson before the convention. The County Convention was last week... :)

I had someone I respect today question why the delegates would possibly not vote for our current Governor Gary Herbert.

I will give you more than one reason. But #1: He has been in office too long. Perhaps not in years, but too long.

Some will say that they will not pay attention to some State House Rep. that missed getting out of convention by 2 votes last week. I say, don't shoot the messenger.

Let me go back to 2009. I got my photo taken with then Sen. Hatch. I had decided that Sen. Bennett had been in DC too long, but in 2009, I was just fine with Sen. Hatch. By 2012, I had changed my mind. We had 2 candidates that year (we had lots more running) that I felt could do the job. One, I thought could do the job better, and I wrote this:

(OK, Dan has made some decisions since 2012 that I question, so no guarantees for 2018, other than Sen. Hatch has been in DC now very much too long. We will see who comes along).

I do believe the Governor is starting to do some amazingly dumb things to make himself look good. That is never a good sign. 

 First, lets start with this:

OK, this group seemed to do a great job of getting both of our previous State AG's into trouble. Lets hire them to help my campaign? NOT. 

OK, not as dumb as it could be, but I am just getting started.

Why would Gary Herbert and Spencer Cox "miss" marking their 2016 candidate forms correctly and then going back the next week and changing them, when they had signed and specifically initialed on March 15 that they knew they could not change the form after March 17.

The law broken: 20A-9-201(8)

The typical Penalty: 20A-1-609

The way out: 20A-9-202 (5) find someone to complain about the form within 5 days of March 17th

They both made the same "mistake" at the same time. 
Yes, a few others did as well, but very few overall and this was a very public item on the form

Notice that they added a check box saying which method of nomination they were seeking on 3/21/16. Notice on the 2nd page the initial that they knew they couldn't change the form after March 17th at 5pm.

It isn't too bad, as they found an exception, a way to legally fix the forms without getting charged with the Class B Misdemeanor, and being banned from taking office as Governor and Lt. Governor, which is the normal default for violating the election law in this area of the law.

More recently:
Why would Governor Herbert even risk violating the State Constitution and negotiate a deal for a special session vs a veto override session to save face during an election year?

Compare this to Utah Constitution, Art. VII, Sec. 8, (4),_Section_8.html 

Notice the words: Shall,  and also 60 days. 

And finally:

Today, the Governor had his very expensive convention booth sponsored by Coal and at least one other industry. He had sponsored very expensive events for delegates at both the professional basketball arena and the pro soccer stadium. 

And today he complained about attacks when the delegates just got in the mail in the last few days several letters from the Governor supporters trashing Jonathan Johnson. This included Spencer Stokes. You can't write the stupidity. 

One attack was my good friend Lt. Gov. Cox hitting Jonathan about 2 adult magazines Overstock was carrying (they announced today that that is ending) when Jonathan was complimenting the state legislature for passing a resolution condemning Porn.

Governor Herbert has been in office long enough. Some think I have been too. I am saving my yard signs. Will the Governor?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Floor Power rating and bill sponsor batting average

During the last couple of weeks, I noticed a few people asking about a floor power rating and a bill sponsor batting average. Neither of these statistics are very accurate in my opinion, but first lets look at where the numbers come from and what they are supposed to mean and what they really mean.


for 2016, I started more bills than I typically would have. 15 are listed.

Several of these were of the same subject as other legislators' bills and  typically they would have been sent out of House Rules at the same time to the same committee to have them deal with them, but this year the policy was changed and the rules committee only sent one of the bills out per group and let the sponsors try to deal with that. For that main reason, only 6 were voted on and 3 passed both houses and were signed by the Gov. or Lt. Gov. (Several of my bills that didn't leave rules had language that was discussed and even included in other bills).

But this stat looks like 20% overall or 50% for those that were voted on in 2016. 

Back to the first link. For 2016, about 1/3 of the legislators passed fewer bills than I did. About 1/2 passed more. Some sponsored as many as 9 bills and had 0 pass while some sponsored one and it passed. 

For 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016, I had 8 pass, not including the 4 that passed in 2013 that I had sponsored in 2012 for the 2013 session. That makes 12 total.

For 2015, I sponsored 9 bills, 3 were voted on and 3 passed both houses and were signed by the Governor.

It should be noted that the legislature rules allow a legislator to prioritize 3 bills per session.  While there are those that get more passed each session, many of those start in the senate. On average there are about 4 to 5 bills passed per legislator per session. For example 4.5 x 104 = 468 bills.

Some bills take multiple years to either get right or to get everyone on board, where possible. Some are very simple and everyone agrees to start with. This statistic doesn't take that into account. If you look at the list, you will note many very good legislators that do not do well with this statistic alone.

Again, if you look at my overall rating and the overall legislature, you will see things differently. 

Floor Power Rating.

in 2011, I first saw this stat. At least a few of the ones with a very high floor power rating, were not the leaders, they were the followers. They literally looked at the board and voted which ever way most were going on some bills. I also noticed that those that voted "no" a lot were often not high on this score. I have averaged about 68.8%, for 4 sessions, in the middle of the pack. I typically have a higher "no" rating, and that doesn't help, and I am willing to be the only "no" on a given bill if I believe it has problems that hasn't been fixed. There are others that will do that, and they typically do poorly with this statistic.

There are some that have a very high power floor rating for some issues, but they don't show up that way just looking at the stats. Rep. Chew (for example) doesn't score really high, but you look at a bill dealing with ranchers and farmers, and his opinion on that bill matters at lot. My number for 2016 was lower than my other years. Some of that could have been because of my opposition to the prison relocation last year, but it is common for those numbers to vary year per year.

For different ratings or rankings for me in 2016, see:

Friday, April 15, 2016


"I believe we must stand up and be heard or watch our constitutionally protected rights disappear. As a current member of the State House, I have been heard, standing up to protect your rights. That fight continues. "

Education Excellence, Clean Air and Water, Your Rights, and a Stable and Growing Economy

Education Excellence
As a taxpayer and architect, I see the money spent on buildings. We can reduce costs while still maintaining the quality. Teachers often do not have the supplies they need, and in most cases deserve more pay for the critical work they do. Education funding is too complex and enough funding doesn’t make it to the classroom. I will work to bring more money to the classroom.

Clean Air and Water
As part of the Utah Legislature Clean Air Caucus, I sponsored legislation and fought for and against bills effecting our air and water. We should be good stewards of the land, Extremes on both sides of this issue hurt our ability to live and work in our great state.

Your Rights
The US Constitution specifically says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people". This is an area that is worth fighting for Utahns. We can't continue to let government take over our lives. We can be safe and free.

A Stable and Growing Economy
Utah is among Forbes best fiscally managed States and one of the best for business and careers. Many families are still struggling. We need to continue to improve. The Economy will grow when Government will allow it. In many cases Government is holding business growth back with too many regulations.


We should play a role as responsible citizens in our communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections. We should engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that others come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion for solutions to our challenges.

Solutions not Parties
I have no problem working with different political parties. All four bills that I sponsored that passed the House in 2011 and 2012 were floor sponsored by a democratic senator. I was the only member of the Legislature that sponsored a bipartisan congressional redistricting map, co-sponsored by a member of another party I don't look at bills as republican or democrat sponsored bills. I vote on bills based on what the bill says and would do, and I have spoken against bills and spoken for bills based on the bill and not the sponsor or party. A bill has to improve things, however small the steps, or should not pass. I really appreciate representing the great people of this area of West Valley City. As your State Representative, I have worked hard to read the bills, speak up, and also vote on the bills, taking into account different viewpoints. This year I was again able to have bills pass the legislature and be signed by the governor. Many of the bills I sponsored were at your request.

For 2015 and 2016, I was given a 100% rating from the Utah Taxpayers Association for voting against tax increases and looking out for the taxpayers. I also received a Salt Lake Chamber 2015 and 2016 Business Champion award for working to help Utah businesses grow. I worked hard this last year to make sure the legislature didn’t ignore the idea of replacing the prison in Draper, which I believe would have saved over $100 Million.

 Be involved. Public officials can't know what you are thinking if you don't tell them. The best way to contact me is to write via email, or come to one of my Town Hall Meetings.

2016 HB 11 Referendum Amendments

Based on a recent story in the Deseret News, there has been some questions re: a bill I ran (HB11) this last session that didn't pass.

"Cox, on the other hand, has experienced some friction within the Legislature. During the 2016 session, he ran into some trouble when a bill he sponsored failed to pass in the House after very brief debate, even though it had support from interim and legislative committees. The bill would have allowed Utahns to wait to circulate a referendum petition until after the governor takes action on legislation."

"The year before, Cox helped opponents of the Utah State Prison relocation start a referendum and spoke in favor of keeping the facility in Draper. The prison move was a top priority of House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper.

Even if Cox gains more than 60 percent of delegate votes, he would still have to face Winder in the primary. Winder has collected enough signatures to guarantee a spot on the primary ballot. Cox, however, did not gather signatures and would need at least 40 percent of delegate support to qualify for the nomination."

About the bill I ran (which got more than brief debate):

Interim Session audio,
August 2015

November 2015

2016 Session Committee audio 

Floor Videos:
Day 4 
Day 8
Day 9
Day 11
Day 17

Back to the Deseret News Article:
First, I didn't sponsor the referendum to repeal 2015 HB 454, even though I did vote against the bill. 

It fact, the referendum application was never even accepted by the Lt. Governor's office. I felt the deadline (that the group of 5 sponsors missed) was not constitutional. I didn't know if they could get the signatures or not, but I did think they should have a chance to try.  For more information on that:

Why did I vote against 2015 HB 454 and also 2015 1st Special Session HCR101?

I am an architect. I worked years ago for a firm that did the drawings for the Gunnison Prison and also the Oxbow "Jail". I worked on the floor plans and site plans, putting them in the CADD system. I also worked on proposed jails or drug rehab centers in several states.

I also was a volunteer for 2 years at Draper Prison.

When I looked at the Draper Site, I could clearly see how you could replace the Prison working "outside the fence". For more about that see:

"At Draper, we could phase it over a much longer time period, reportedly saving $Hundreds of Millions, but if we are going to build a brand new prison somewhere now, it is my opinion it can be at Draper, and I believe at a savings around $100 Million, and be closer to current employees and not be further from current volunteers."

I do agree, if we are moving the Draper Prison, and that has now been decided, the SLC location from the Short List was the best option. While not everyone agreed with me, I did believe most people in the legislature had not considered keeping the prison in Draper and I felt we should, taking in to account $100 Million in possible savings and the location of many of the prison officers' homes.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Responses to a few questions

I received the following questions from one of the delegates representing her precinct. 

1. Do you have a website that you would like the people in my precinct to look at?  
and my blog
See also:

2.Can you give me three reasons why our precinct should give you our vote?    

1. Courage. I read though the bills I am to vote on and I am am not afraid to stand up and be heard to promote good bills and work to amend or kill bad bills.

2. Accessible. I have multiple public town hall meetings each year where voters of any party affiliation are invited to come and ask questions. I am also available on multiple social media sites and make public my home phone number, the phone number I have had for 28 years for people to call. The surveys and town hall invitations I sent out this year went to every active voter home.

3. Taxpayer protector. Working to fund critical needs without forgetting who pays for it. For example I was willing to fight to save over $100 Million on the Draper Prison, even with strong opposition from leadership of both houses, including the state senators in our area.

3.What do you view as your biggest accomplishment while in office so far?

Passing bills into law that were requested by the people in this area, including

2011 Classic Car Inspections along with 2015 HB 243Vintage Vehicle Amendments 
2012 HB18 Kidnapping Offender Amendments
2015 HB 177 Modifications to Voting Law
2016 HB 101 Disabled Adult Guardianship Amendments

4.What are the two biggest items you will focus on if elected over the next two years?   

1. The Higher Education vs Public Education funding. Today's article about tuition increases.
My response:
"I am not happy with the tuition increase. The #utleg put money in the WPU for K-12 teachers (my idea) that the board of regents wanted, and they raise tuition to send a message like a 5 year old throwing a tantrum. Their overall budget requests for ongoing money were not reasonable and the salaries for some of the U's professors are too high. The percentage of tuition waivers are too high and that is also a problem."
I have already been in contact with others on the Higher Education Appropriation Subcommittee to see what we can do to not only stop the tuition hikes without legislative oversight, but to provide a better balance of funding to Public Education. 

2. I am also on the House Judiciary, always working to protect our rights and from Government trying to take over our lives. 

5.What is the the two biggest problems you see West Valley currently facing and what is your plan to fix them? 

Most West Valley City local problems can and should be solved by the City and Not the State.
Funding for Infrastructure, (like Major Roads and Water), and Funding for Education are things the State can and should help West Valley City with.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Education a few items from this session

There were dozens of bills ran this last session that would impact education. I tried to get information from both sides and make the best decision I could. One of the best sources this year was Patti Harrington with the USBA. Her emails were specific and the timing was specific as well.  Her group gave me a 75% for 12 of 16 bills matching their position. Their group didn't match some of the other voices on public education. Some of the best sources I have for education bills are town hall meetings and knocking on teacher's doors at their home.

I sponsored HB 152. Angela Stallings from the office of the State School Board, pointed out to me at one of the USBA meetings I attended that no one was fixing the $25 Million formulation error from last years $75 Million property tax increase. I voted against the new tax, but $25 Million could not be paid out to the local districts without the bill. The $25 Million was an expensive table decoration. Working with my Senate Sponsor Sen. Hillyard, the language from HB 152 was added to HB 1, the main base budget bill for Public Ed that had over $4 Billion in funding. That was signed by the Governor during the session, so I took HB 152 and sent it back to rules.

State School Board Elections. In 2011 I was a key vote missing to go to partisan elections that year. My State School Board member could not have run again if it passed because of the Hatch Act. This year, I voted for both options including a primary non partisan like the city mayor elections. That bill got stuck in the Senate. I then voted for the one that would have a primary non partisan like the city mayor this year and a primary like the county mayor next year. The Governor had decided he wasn't doing the committee selection anymore based on a judge's opinion.  We needed to change it this year and that was the only bill that would pass both houses. We tried to go head to head last year with the senate and got nothing again. This year we have something better than we had. It isn't perfect, but better than doing nothing again.

WPU. I fought to have approx. $15 Million moved from Higher Ed to Public Ed to get the WPU up to 3% increase. They had it at approx. 2.4% increase right up to the end of the session. I am on the Higher Ed appropriation subcommittee, so I didn't have direct control. It did end up at a 3% increase. We also funded $90 Million for new students and overall increased Pub Ed by about $1/4 Billion.

SB 38. It was a mess. It would have reportedly taken recreation money from Public Ed and given it to the Charter Schools. We want both public education systems to win. We passed a better compromise from Rep. Powell in the House and got it to replace SB 38, so Rep. Powell's bill language passed both Houses in that bill. It will have the 25% and 75% Charter/District Funding show up on the tax notices for the first time so people can see what is going to the Charter Schools from their property taxes. We had tried to do that in the past but it always was going to create a tax increase. This one is designed not to create a new tax.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is up with the 17th Amendment and bills calling for a Convention of the States.

Convention of the States, or in some cases referred to the Con Con is the 2nd way in the Constitution that allows our US Constitution to be modified.

Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

The first problem is we haven't done this since we created our constitution in Sep. 17, 1787.  The last time we had a convention of the states we got a new US Constitution.

The 2nd problem is that the State Legislatures Tell Congress to call a convention. Congress fully believes based on our Constitution that they get to set the mode of ratification, the rules, etc.

In 2015 and 2016, I actively fought these resolutions, because they are binding on the state, and I don't trust the people in Washington DC to improve our constitution, even if the states have to agree with the changes. We have had one or more of these Convention resolutions  pass, but I have killed others of them in the House Judiciary and so they don't even get sent to that committee anymore.

Is the Federal Government out of control based on the US Constitution, yes. Is this the way to fix it, putting our whole US Constitution at stake to be re-written, No!

The 17th Amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution

 Prior to this amendment to the US Constitution, the US Senators were chosen by the State Legislatures. This was designed to protect against the Federal Government taking over powers delegated to the States.

Were there problems with this, yes. Power can corrupt. Do voters love voting for the US Senate candidates, they do, including me. I trust the voters. I don't trust the Federal Government to limit their powers to the US Constitution.

Is there a problem with what we have now, yes. Will repealing the 17th Amendment help, it might.

What I voted for:

I didn't ask to vote on this. I understand both sides of this issue.

1. This is a non binding resolution. It is URGING Congress to create an amendment to the constitution to repeal the 17th amendment. It is  NOT telling Congress that they SHALL call a convention of the states.

2. Unlike the Article V Convention of the States Resolutions, which if enough states sign, Congress Shall call a convention, this 17th Amendment resolution tells Congress they are out of line. If Congress were to create an amendment, it would be just the one modification, not put our entire constitution at risk and that proposed amendment would still have to be ratified by the states like any other amendment we have had over the last hundreds of years.

3. Do I trust the voters? Yes. I also trust the founders of the US Constitution and some of the changes we have made, perhaps have been unwise. They sound good, but have not worked like we thought. Others amendments including the first 10 Bill of Rights have proven to be critical for the good of the nation.