‘Political Insiders’ pick best, worst of the 2017 Legislature

Utah State CapitolUtah lawmakers passed 535 pieces of legislation this past session that ended last week.

During the 45 days, legislators addressed liquor laws, got rid of the “Zion Curtain,” made big progress on addressing the homeless problem and $1 billion in transportation funding.

Our “Political Insiders” weigh in on the good and the bad from the 2017 session. Read their comments below:

In your opinion, what was the best thing the 2017 Utah Legislature did?

Got rid of the Zion curtain.

Finally got serious about some “real” issues that needed funding. Most don’t realize how critically behind our emergency communications infrastructure is. Senator Harper crafted a good bill to help with that.

I don’t drink, but the new liquor law is much less of a debacle for those who do. It should help tourism.

Did away with annual vehicle inspections.

A tie between appropriating more money for air quality monitoring and requiring all counties to have the same testing requirements for diesel engines

More funding for public ed.

They withstood the snarky comments from people with internet access and usernames.

Give people the right to sue the porn industry for damages.

The fact that they did not increase the sales tax on food.

4% WPU is a significant commitment to public education.

Eliminated auto safety inspections. When I was a uniformed officer, I wrote lots of tickets for inspection sticker violations. Then I became a federal agent and lived in states with two inspections a year, inspections only upon selling a vehicle, and no inspections, all with no discernible difference in the outcome. I owe a big apology to everyone to whom I wrote one of those tickets.

Provide an incentive for effective teachers in high-poverty schools. Or Saved Daylight Savings Time!!

Did not reinstate the food tax, some good election bills like presidential primary and registering to vote at driver’s license bureau.

I cannot for the life of me think of anything they did that I am proud of.

At least they acknowledged that alcohol laws need to be changed.

They adjourned.

In your opinion, what was the worst thing the 2017 Utah Legislature did?

Pushed through a $100 million funding action for the new state prison with no public hearing.

Succumb once again to the wishes of too many lobbyists at the expense of good policy and budget practice.

Got to be either street-legal ATV’s in Salt Lake County or HB 198 giving 18-year-olds provisional conceal and carry cards. Bottom line: the far right fringe cares nothing about your safety. They keep telling you that if something bad will happen, the courts will figure it out. Then, they vote to defund those courts and rail against judges. And the bipartisan removal of government immunity will just end up costing taxpayers more and more money.

They took one step forward and two back on alcohol policy.

Again a tie between adding $100 MM to the budget for the new prison and voting for resolutions to dissolve/change two National Monuments in the state.

Ignoring the broader educational challenge and teacher shortage.

Waited until the last few days to address budget and development control for the new prison. Why?

They slid through that prison funding, which is actually fine, but the optics around how it got done are miserable.

House Leadership would not allow HB151 out of rules which would have returned state school board elections to non-partisan.

Passed Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante resolutions, HB 11 – taking away the political diversity requirement for dozens of boards, HB 65-bad clean air bill, .05 blood alcohol level, higher tax on liquor.

Wasted to much time on Zion Curtain and not enough time on air quality.

Liquor laws — will we ever get past liquor laws?

The GOP-led legislature proved once again they are more concerned with being a nanny state than being conservatives.