Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Problems with 2013 SB 262

The bill 2013 S.B. 262 Employment and Housing Antidiscrimination Amendments , had problems. This lists just a few of them. For more about my general attitude on this subject, see:

re: 2013 SB 262:

Senator, I wish you had 3 committee meetings to cover some amendments. I think you are heading the correct direction generally, but have some concerns:

I don't like lines 569 to 599. The toilet room situation isn't helped by what is there. To delete those sections primarily, I suggest the following:

For purposes of discrimination, "Gender identity" means an individual's internal sense or belief of gender, without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth.

For purposes of physical employment accommodation, "Gender identity" includes notification by an individual they have undergone or are undergoing physical gender transition.

Both Sexual orientation and Gender identity need to have the word belief or believed added. Some can argue if someone is gay or not, but they should allow the same treatment we require for differences of religious belief. I don't have to agree with another religion. I can still treat their practitioners with respect and not fire them because we disagree in that area.

For purposes of discrimination, "Sexual orientation" means an individual's actual, believed, or perceived orientation as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.

It should be 4 or more housing units with exceptions. That isn't clear.

Covered places of residential accommodation include 4 or more units, including 4 single family houses or a four-plex or larger, except owned by or operated by religious organizations, non-profit organizations, or an Affiliate.

It should be companies with 15 or more employees with exceptions.

Covered places of employment include 15 or more employees, except owned by or operated by religious organizations, non-profit organizations, or an Affiliate.

I am not sure Affiliate is the correct term.

It should allow exceptions for the Boy Scouts, BYU, Beehive Clothing, but not KSL TV or Deseret News.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Federal budget cuts sequestration

Having been in a small 4 seat plane coming back from St. George,  flying about 180 MPH and seeing an other small plan flying about the same speed coming the opposite direction, I was glad that we were at different elevations, but not by much. We had no warning, as the plane I was in didn't have a "fish finder", small radar system. I was sitting in the Co-Pilot chair as there were only two of us in the plane. We were surprised that no one from the Air Traffic Tower didn't mention something, but it was very likely that they had noticed we were at different elevations and in our "lanes" and so it shouldn't have been a problem. Without someone in these small towers, who would be warning the small planes there was a problem? We had been warned about someone crossing our path at at a different occasion. Landing and take off at the St. George airport was interesting, as we just announced to anyone that might be listening that we were landing, or taking off and hoped that SkyWest pilots were listening to the correct frequency.We were comforted that someone in Cedar City was listening.

Closing these Air Traffic Towers is about as stupid as DABC (Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) a few years ago saying they were closing down 40% of their best stores when the legislature had a 7% across the board cut among several agencies, including them. DABC was acting like a small child throwing a media temper tantrum, and temporarily got their way with the Governor working to find them a few extra $ Million.

Lucky for taxpayers that the Office of the Legislative Auditor General, who works for the Legislature later found their stash of $ Millions they had already been squirreling away and other major problems, something that our previous State Auditor's office had missed.

Because Congress has been unwilling to pass a budget since Pres. Obama has been in office, they did agree to some automatic cuts of about 2%. The Feds are acting just like DABC did.

We shouldn't let these small children throwing a media temper tantrum win, We should replace those in charge, just like we did at DABC.

Fair Elections in Utah vs Count My Vote

“Count my Vote” or Buy my Vote?                   
Fred C. Cox, Salt Lake County

One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, is this:

" A system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous is not acceptable."

I find this statement amazing, because I agree with it. The proposal to bypass the caucus system and also change the percentage to avoid a primary to 85%/15% will actually create "inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous". It is designed to do exactly what the supporters of this proposal state are against their principles.

If you are going to run as a democratic candidate, you have to comply with their rules. If you are going to run as a republican, you have to comply with their rules. If you want to run and not have those rules, you can run as an unaffiliated or independent, or run as a 3rd party candidate. This is an attempt to change the party rules by state law, bypassing the party and is even an attempt to change the law bypassing the legislature. That is called being a pirate.

There are 104 members in the Utah State Legislature. It contains both Democratic members and Republican members, liberal, moderate and conservative. It is simply amazing that not one of them were willing to run a bill to do what this group plans to do by a voter initiative. Why? It isn't that all incumbents win under the current system. In fact there were 2 members of the Utah House that lost at convention this last election, a half dozen that lost in a primary election and 2 more than lost in a general election. There were others that decided not to run.

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. Perhaps that is the problem this group is trying to solve.

The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.

There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections.  Certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in voter representation.

Most people who want the caucus system changed, there are exceptions, are frustrated that they don't have as much power as people who show up to the neighborhood election caucus meetings. It doesn't take money; you just have to show up.

Bypassing the Caucus / Convention System will NOT create more participation. Approx. one out of every 4 or 5 republicans attended their neighborhood election caucus meeting this last year. One in every three told a KSL poll they were involved or attending. There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

When people realize this will give them less of a chance to participate but give media and power brokers more power, they will not sign any initiative. This is a power grab.

It doesn't mean things can't be better, but this isn't the way to do it.

This proposal isn't "Count my Vote" it is “Buy my Vote”, funded like a hostile corporate takeover by DC lobbyists acting like pirates.  

 Don't let them Buy your Vote, Keep the Caucus System.   

Read the State Democratic response:

(Print to .pdf of the letter to replace the one updated on April 12, 2013)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Utah Compact

None of the 4 main Utah immigration bills signed in 2011 followed the 1st principle of the Utah Compact. 

Contrary to Mr. Shurtleff's public comments, it wasn't a key in what was passed. As a member of the legislature in 2011 and 2012, I received hundreds of emails saying to vote for something that followed the Utah Compact, apparently encouraged by both the Salt Lake Chamber and also the Sutherland Institute.

 Since there were no bills that followed the first principle of the Utah Compact, nor could there be at a state level, It only made me wish the document was never created. I have never signed The Utah Compact.

The local Catholic Bishop didn't come to the signing of the 4 immigration bills in 2011 because, as he stated, they didn't follow the Utah Compact.


A declaration of five principles to guide Utah’s immigration discussion

FEDERAL SOLUTIONS Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
LAW ENFORCEMENT  We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.
FAMILIES  Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
ECONOMY  Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
A FREE SOCIETY  Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

Again, I have never signed The Utah Compact.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The 2013 Legislative Session Update

My favorite bills that passed are HB 338, Alimony Revisions, HB 36 Storm Water Capture Amendments, HB 262 Unaffiliated Voter Amendments, and HB 215 Water Quality Amendments, all of which I originally pulled the bill requests last year as a Representative, transferred to others and they passed both houses. [update: the Governor signed all 4 bills]

I have to thank the new House sponsors and Senate sponsors  and others for their hard work in my place. HB 338 Alimony was originally SB11, but it didn't pass the Senate Committee. The final version of HB 338, Alimony, received 27 yea votes and no, no votes in the Senate and passed the House by over 2/3. I also need to thank Stan Rasmussen and Sen. Valentine and several interested voters that wrote the legislature with personal stories and reasons for the bill.

I actively fought and spoke to have HB 338 Alimony and HB 36 Storm Water pass and HB 36 was one of the last bills voted on the last night of the session passing both houses with all yea votes. I need to thank Soren Simonsen for helping solve an impasse that blocked passage for over a year.

I also want to point out HB 88, Land Use Amendments, Rep. M. Brown, passed and was signed. It was very similar to, and solved the precise concerns raised in the bill that I had drafted for the 2013 Session that was later abandoned by Rep. S. Cox, partly because of HB 88 being drafted, and Rep. S. Cox deciding he didn't support the bill.

HB 253, Employment Verification Amendments, which I had drafted was heard in committee, but I was not able to get my proposed amendments to the bill drafted after Sen. Bramble pulled his SB 225, Immigration Trigger Dates which extended the 2011 HB 116 guest worker start date.

I am also very glad that HB 310, HB 202 and HB 217 passed keeping our Building, Energy and Fire codes. I worked hard on those as an interested and vocal citizen.

I actively fought the SB 267 New Convention Hotel Development Incentive Act,  which failed by 2 votes. I actively worked to fix SB 120, which defines when the state forester can ban target practicing, which the sponsor agreed to run anyway after putting it on hold. The decision to restart the bill was partly because of my proposed amendments.

I am amazed the HB 268, Rep. Ray's gun bill didn't get voted on in the Senate. I didn't see that coming. I believe that will cause HB 76 Open Carry to be vetoed, and be the reason it won't get the upcoming veto overridden. I had concerns with even the final version of the bill HB 76, but they are greatly increased because HB 268 didn't pass.

I would have tried to kill the smoking in cars with kids bill and the teenager cell phone use bill as I believe the bills, as drafted, overstep private property rights.

I actively fought raising the sales tax on food and a recall election bill.

I congratulate Rep. Fisher for running HB 240, Alcohol Service in Restaurants which passed both houses. It will help solve a problem with enforcement run amok.

Overall, I am happy with the session and thankful for all the hard work that was done.

Disclaimer, I was not paid for any work on any of these bills in 2013, complying with State Law. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Salt Lake City Mega Theater

They are putting this on the wrong block. IF it is to be built, it should be on the same block as the Capitol Theater and closer to the Salt Palace Convention Center. The Convention Center "needs" more meeting room space. Hello?

I watched Les Miserables at a London theater smaller than what the Capitol Theater is. The Palace Theater holds 1400.

The Gershwin Theater in New York, one of the few "large" Broadway Theaters, that has Wicked playing, where I saw it, holds 1933. The Capitol Theater holds 1876.

OK, they aren't exactly the same shape and size, and I attended over 20 years of season opera at the Capitol Theater dealing with the tight legroom at row E upstairs. It is fine. .

Wicked has performed here and we don't need a larger theater.

How many bucks for the extra seats? There is a new theater opening up in West Valley. Not as big, but well used.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Salt Lake Convention Hotel

A new County Hotel is being looked at even though it could cause the Grand America and others to go under. I have read the past reports sent to the Convention Center about the proposed County Hotel. It was pretty obvious that this connection doesn't work and that the hotels as a whole think the County is competing with them instead of working with them.

I would like to see the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau work with the existing hotel owners instead of trying to compete with them. They almost ignore both the Little America and Grand America Hotel and that you can ride TRAX free from the north convention center exit to those hotels.

The hotels near the Salt Palace Convention Center should be able to market their individual hotels and the fact that they have all the convention and meeting room space that someone could want with the convention center. The convention center should be able to market with the surrounding hotels to utilize their meeting rooms and convention space if more space is needed.

There are at least 2 adjacent Hotels to the Salt Palace. The 381 room Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown recently spent about $7 Million upgrading their hotel.

There is also the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek across the street. I believe it has at least 510 rooms with a complete renovation in the last 5 years.

One could easily be the "Convention Hotel", and create the ability for someone to check off that box on their decision sheet on where to have their next event.

For the few days a couple of times a year where the hotels are too full, why don't we do what we did for the Olympics? We have brand new condos right next door. How many would rent them out for a few days twice a year? That would have to be coordinated, but could help.

For those that really want the 5 Star Hotel, we already have one of the best, The Grand America, within a free TRAX ride, or coordinated private transport from the Convention Center.

We don't need to pump $100 Million (or even $33 M)  of tax payer money into a new Hotel to compete with the private sector, or provide that kind of funding for a private hotel competing unfairly. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wasatch Canyons Wilderness vs Watershed Protection

[update. 2013 HB 36 passed with a new amendment proposal. It works]

I have been fighting for a year to pass a bill, now 2013 HB 36 , (See the link for more information and videos) to make it easier to reuse rain water and SLC has been blocking it, I believe, because they want to keep control of private property up all of the east side canyons of Salt Lake valley. They seem to be afraid they don't have enough jurisdictional power and want more. They have the League of Cities and Towns to help them.

Initially I thought this added line was to protect Salt Lake City to avoid lawsuits from people wanting to use their own property. Then I thought is was that they really wanted to protect the watershed, the drinking water used by 60% of Salt Lake Valley. With their rejection of my last suggestion, it appears they don't feel they have enough jurisdictional power over all the private property up the canyons.

The fight is over a few words, shown below as 143a:

139 (6) Beneficial use of water under Subsection (2)(b) does not
constitute a water right
140 and may not be:
141 (a) changed under Section 73-3-3;
142 (b) assigned;
143  (c) consolidated with a water right ; or
143a (d) used as a basis to establish the availability of water for land use development.

My latest compromise used this for line 143a

143a (d) used to bypass watershed protection jurisdiction as provided by
Section 10-8-15
I feel like their version of 143a is a Utah State-wide Zoning Ordinance.

I tried limiting that line143a to just Cities of the 1st Class (Salt Lake City and West Valley City) so it wouldn't effect all of Utah, especially the smaller areas of the state, some of which have developments with no running water.

Then I found out they wanted it to also cover the entire canyons in the Watershed. That includes areas outside of Salt Lake City and includes:

City Creek Canyon

Emigration Canyon (above Burrs Fork)
Parleys Canyon
Dell Canyon
Lambs Canyon
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Including any City in those Canyons.

So I proposed to limit line 143a to Counties of the First Class. That wasn't accepted. 

My last suggestion above,  should make the bill neutral as it doesn't take away any of SLC's current watershed protection jurisdiction, but doesn't provide any new restrictions to develop property. 

They say that isn't enough and are insistent that that the law be changed so captured storm water cannot be used as the basis for land use development approval. 

So how much watershed protection jurisdiction power do they already have?

If you look on pages 29 and 30 from the above plan, the section 10-8-15
from state law is used a lot in the watershed management plan. (pages 39 and 40 from the .pdf file)

The document does also reference the state constitution, which gives SLC a lot of power over watersheds since it appears they have locked up the water rights and 2013 HB 36 doesn't give anyone any water rights.

As a city of the 1st class, the current state law gives SLC and SL County Health Department watershed protection jurisdiction for entire canyons, not just the first 15 miles, with a few exceptions.

The limited rain water capture is likely to be used just for watering gardens and landscape. Since 2013 HB 36 requires anyone using over the (2) 100 gal. drums to let the state water engineer know what they are doing and also to meet building code, someone would need to go through quite a filtering and treatment process to use the water in a home or cabin and would need to meet plumbing code.

2500 Gallons of water might be enough for a week of water for a small cabin, perhaps more, but it could give someone in the middle of Utah an option to use their land. I believe one of the main reasons the Federal Government couldn't Homestead or sell the land in Utah was the lack of water, then in 1976 they violated their agreement at our Statehood and decided to keep the land.

The Federal Government now controls about 2/3 of Utah.
Salt Lake City, using 10-8-15 and other similar laws controls the canyons even private property outside the city boundary.

Whether or not they are abusing 10-8-15 now is not the question. Should Salt Lake City have a new law to make it more apparent they can block any and all development in the canyons on private property even if the owner can design something that also protects the watershed and doesn't take away someone's water rights?

2013 HB 36 Stormwater Capture Amendments

2013 HB 36 Stormwater Capture Amendments

The bill makes sure the state water engineer does not enforce water rights laws for doing basic required storm water protection using retention and detention.

It also allows greater flexibility for home owners and businesses to capture rainwater for reuse. It keeps the 2500 gal max but allows more than (2) 100 gal containers to be used above ground if someone will notify the state through their website.

It has been reviewed by the state engineer and mosquito abatement groups as well as farmers.

It had 3 standing committee buildings last year, and passed committee, house, but ran out of time to pass the senate. This bill the bill did pass and was recommended by an interim committee for this session and has passed the house for 2013 with no votes against it.

As was proposed the end of the 2012 session the bill adds some verbiage to make sure water rights were not created by the bill.

Additional information:
Retention (holding rainwater) and Detention (slowing down rainwater) act like shock absorbers to avoid flooding businesses and homes and are required by many cities and counties.

The most obvious design to many people are the small parks in urban subdivisions that fill with water during a heavy rain storm, but drain and are relatively dry most of the time.

In Utah, when the rain drop or snow flake hits the ground, the water is the State's Water. Water Rights protects individuals who have been using this water. Several years ago, it was agreed that a person could capture and use for beneficial use up to 200 gallons above ground (in 2 containers only) and up to 2500 gallons below ground (in one container only). The controversy was due to a car wash in Salt Lake City reusing large amounts of rainwater to decrease their culinary water use. Attempts to change the overall 2500 limit have failed, due to concerns by farmers and others.

Water tanks are required to be covered to avoid mosquito problems.

By adding additional flexibility to whether or not the tanks are above ground or below ground, the bill increases the likelihood of more recycling of storm water.

We live in one of the driest states in the US. Perhaps it we reused more rainwater we could decrease some of the cost of providing more water as the population grows.

Some video's that might help explain. The 2nd one is the best.

Small storage,,20045365,00.html

1200 Gallons

play 8:30 min. into the video until about 11:30 min. after the ad.

Current law in Utah allows the 1st option, the 2nd option would now have to be an underground tank. That is being proposed to change, allowing what is being shown on the video.
Update:The bill passed with a new amendment that works.