Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Grading the 2014 Legislature

We asked our “Political Insiders” and readers to give a final grade to the 2014 Utah Legislature. 

Selected anonymous comments:

“Unable or unwilling to deal with the issue of Medicaid expansion and implement campaign reform. Not much accomplished this session.”

“Still too much legislation and too much regulation of things where government should not be involved. Still too many incursions on individual liberty. Some better than in years past, but overall, less than impressive.”

“As usual, re-election and pleasing special interests trumped what is in the best interest of the state.”

“Did a good job on ethics reform, downtown convention hotel, prison relocation and air quality; failed to pass Medicaid expansion; did not do enough for public and higher education. Spent too much time taking shots at the federal government.”

“Many important issue left unresolved due to election year.”

“A lot of talk, but no substantive action on issues like Medicaid expansion, transportation. air quality.”

“No meaningful lessons learned from UDOT-Wadsworth and Swallow messes. Zion curtain an embarrassment by legislature stupidly allow church to control, as usual. Only pluses this session: no gun play nor abortion funniness.”

“No worse, perhaps slightly better than usual. Speaker Lockhart started it stupidly, as was her tech bill, but there were worse – like the $1 “donation” on utility bills! – but SB57 and the hemp bill makes up for it. Now, can we get Medicaid expansion taken care of?”

“F for 2 reasons: 1) Hurting the state’s most vulnerable citizens by rejecting Medicaid expansion and underfunding education by overfunding corporations (tax “incentives” for a convention hotel?! We have to pay people to come make money off of us?!). 2) Disenfranchising ordinary voters by clinging desperately to caucus system and refusing to limit campaign contributions.”

“John Swallow’s shadow helped to get payday lending regulation and the County My Vote compromise passed. Not bad.”

“Lots of good bills passed, bad bills stalled, and thorough debate either way. My grade was swayed, however, by the days wasted (imho) on closed-door proceedings regarding SB54. It was, I felt, a manufactured crisis with way too many politically elite backroom deals. The CMV ballot initiative should have been allowed to simply proceed on its own merits.”

“It looks like they aren’t serious about education, the most important priority among parents in this state, but always expected to do more with less, or hardly any more. At least they killed Lockhart’s cockamamie idea, so they get a C.”

“Would have given it a B had the body come up with a health care plan.”

“It’s hard to believe that the Republican controlled legislature has used the occasion of a $4 million investigation into crimes and other offenses committed by two Republican attorneys general as an opportunity to refashion state election law to help get more Republicans elected in Utah. Will this ever end? I think not.”

“No one got beat up. We’re not in debt. Unemployment 3.9%. Gov. Herbert may or may not have taken Speaker Lockhart off his Christmas card list. All in all, pretty good session.”

“I will never give super majority created by jerrymandering by either party anything other than an F. This effectively cuts out the voice of too many citizens to be anything other than reprehensible. The current legislative process in this state makes me sick.”

“Should have made a Medicaid decision.”

“They didn’t seem to be sidetracked by as many irrelevant issues as they have been in the past. The Speaker’s ‘take the gloves off’ speech a the beginning of the session and subsequent surprise announcement about the one-to-one initiative assured there would be plenty of tension between the House, the Senate and the Governor. In the end, it made for good theater.”

“The Senate had a good session. The House was a train wreck!”

“Senate gets a B. House gets a D. Composite is a C.”

“Better than some, but still didn’t do what was necessary to lift Utah schools out of last place in the country. It was also a major disappointment that they didn’t realize that Utah’s unique geography requires emission standards more strict than the absolute minimum if we are to ever get a handle on our winter inversion problems. It’s the same old thing: talk a lot about how well we are doing as a state, then fail to change any of the conditions that cause problems.”

“There was actually less crazy stuff than usual and the legislature made real progress on some important initiatives.”

“Apparently, Utah Eagle Forum still has some pull (albeit gradually diminishing) among officeholders who will be facing delegates in just a few weeks.”

“Most of the Republicans claim education as their top priority but the funding improvement needle hardly moved.”

“They produced a balanced budget and saved the caucuses. What more could you ask for?”

“Pretty good session overall. Too bad the Senate torpedoed the tech initiative though.”

“They were smart to suppress the so- called ‘religious liberty’ bills. That could have been us, not AZ, in the headlines. And I think Gov. Herbert would have signed it. Leg leadership helped us dodge a real bad bullet.”

“B+. The session was well managed and focused. I’m disappointed that they missed the mark on Medicaid expansion.”

“The Senate saved the day with the session this year. Senior statesmen come through big time! Left to their own devices, the House would have earned a big fat F.”

“The Legislature punted on numerous issues, either for a special session or until next year. They didn’t deal with Medicaid expansion, they didn’t address transportation funding needs, they didn’t deal with the Speaker’s technology initiative, they refused to deal with substantive alcohol issues and refused to deal with same-sex marriage and related issues.”

“The CMV deal was great for Utah.”

“Could have been worse — should have been better!”