A number of politicos say it is more moderate, with the 22 new GOP representatives coming in a bit more reasonable than the old out-going lot, which included four of five founders of the Patrick Henry Caucus.
Well, Monday there was a vote upon which we may see such a political litmus test.
HB13, by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, passed 41-30. But only after a number of the freshman GOP House members rose to speak (and vote) against it.
Here is the vote.
A UtahPolicy political analysis of the vote follows below.
But first a brief description of the bill: HB13 would allow a police officer to give a ticket to an adult driver who was smoking in his car while children under 15 are present.
It’s a secondary offense – the officer couldn’t stop a car if he saw an adult smoking in the presence of children. But if the cop stopped the driver for another violation, like speeding or running a red light, and an adult was smoking in the vehicle with kids riding along, a $45 ticket could be issued.
Arent said the reason for the fine is clear: Helping protect the health of children who don’t have the power to either get out of the car nor to make the adult stop smoking.Any number of studies shows that children in the closed confines of a car are harmed by second hand smoke, she said, leading to health problems, perhaps for a lifetime.
But the politics of HB13 clearly broke out along the lines of “constitutional issues,” “right of privacy,” and use of “private property” as the debate went forward on the House floor.
And arguing constitutional issues is always a good way to see the flavor, or make-up, of some new legislators.
First the vote breakout:
-- Seven freshmen Republicans voted for HB13: Reps. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville; Edward Redd, R-Logan; Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork; Keven Stratton, R-Orem; Craig Hall, R-West Valley City; Spencer Cox, R-Fairview; and Rich Cunningham, R-South Jordan.
-- Twelve of the GOP freshmen voted against it: Reps. Jacob Anderegg, R-Orem; Dana Layton, R-Orem; Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin; Jerry Anderson, R-Price; David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain; Jon Stanard, R-St. George; Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove; Earl Tanner, R-West Jordan; Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine; John Westwood, R-Cedar City; Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi; and John Knotwell, R-Herriman.
So, just by the take on HB13, and the arguments against the bill in favor of constitutionally-protected rights, like privacy, and the always favorite personal responsibility and freedom (a stalwart of conservative Mormon society philosophy), one could say that the new crop of House Republicans aren’t much more moderate than the group they replaced in 2012.
Here are a few of the quotes from the new fellows:
“This is a fundamental issue,” said Anderegg. “Personal privacy must carry the day, even though I may myself believe (Arent’s intentions in trying to protect children captive in a car full of harmful second-hand smoke) are compelling.”
“How is this any different” in personal privacy rights “than a concealed carry (weapon) in a car?” he asked.
Anderegg said, what is next?
Can parents be given a citation if they don’t put sunscreen on their children? The sun can cause cancer, just like second-hand smoke.
“I have disdain for tobacco,” said Kennedy, who added that he has personally suffered physically all his life from being raised in a family whose parents smoked.
A doctor, Kennedy said he asks all his patients if they smoke, and if they do he tries to get them to stop, even prescribing medicines to help and places to go for anti-smoking counseling.
But, said Kennedy, parents do a lot of things that may harm their children – like providing poor food, high in calories, sugar and soda.
Utah shouldn’t move to where the state defines what is good and bad in personal choices, he said.
And why stop at a car? While his parents may have smoked two cigarettes while he was in the car with them, they probably smoked 20 more cigarettes in their home in the same day.
“Are we going to invade the home and punish parents for hurting a child (by smoking) in the home?” he asked.
He said his mother was poor, and what good would it have done her to get a $45 ticket she couldn’t afford – only harmed his already struggling family.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said he was glad to see “some of the young guys” standing up and arguing for “constitutional” issues – like he has done himself in the past.
“Encouraging freedoms is very important,” said Noel. “We lose our freedoms one bill at a time.”
Whether it was a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg, all the members of GOP leadership voted against HB13: House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo; House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace; House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper; and House Assistant Majority Whip Don Ipson, R-St. George.
Leaders have been very careful in dealing with their large new freshman class – seeking their opinions in caucus and encouraging them to speak out (it doesn’t appear they need an invitation, however).
HB13 was amended to say that those smoking in a convertible with the top down were exempt from the fine.
Arent clearly had counted her “aye” votes carefully. And she was seen talking to GOP supporters before the debate began, lining up arguments against some of the detractors’ claims.
HB13 now goes to the Senate, always a problematic place for Democratic-sponsored bills that deal with “constitutional” issues.
But at least as far as classifying how moderate or conservative the new 2013 House Republican freshman class is, HB13 votes show a conservative edge.
HB13 wouldn’t have passed if not for 20 more moderate Republicans who joined with all of the Democrats to carry the majority by three votes. (Four GOP representatives were absent for the vote.)
We’ll see how other “draw the line on government control” votes shape up as the general session of the Legislature continues.