Monday, June 2, 2008

A couple other interesting articles about the omnibus lawsuit with relevant quotes highlighted

I am adding these articles, and putting relevant text in bold underline as Curtis and Stephenson's stories change.
House speaker defends bundled education bill
Curtis calls threatened lawsuit an attack on legislative power
By Sheena McFarland
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/16/2008 09:04:38 PM MDT
Bundling bills
The Utah Constitution states "Except general appropriation bills
and bills for the codification and general revision of laws, no bill
shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be
clearly expressed in its title."
Posted: 8:57 PM- Usually lawmakers close the doors for candid,
emotional debates.
Today, it was just the opposite as House Speaker Greg Curtis
opened a closed-door Republican caucus to vent over a proposed lawsuit
against an education bill that combined a dozen initiatives -
including several that had been defeated - into a single measure.
Some education proponents are planning to challenge the bill's
constitutionality on grounds it violates a single-subject-per-bill
But an animated Curtis said such a lawsuit would be a direct
assault on the power of the legislative branch.
"There's an attack mentality that the Legislature did something
wrong. There's a threat of litigation that would have the courts
define our single-subject rule," Curtis said to a roomful of House
Republicans. "I have great concerns with that because it's a
significant diminishment of legislative power to have the courts
determine that."

He also said those who were pursuing the lawsuit were doing so for
"political purposes."
That brought Rep. Sheryl Allen to her feet to defend the
legitimacy of concerns some in the education community have with the
omnibus bill.
"I think a legislator or a group of legislators and certainly
members of the public have a real question of the constitutionality of
that bill," said the Bountiful Republican, who sharply disagreed with
Curtis' criticisms.
In a later interview, Kim Burningham, a state board of education
member, acknowledged he has been involved in discussions concerning
the litigation, which he said should be filed within the week.
"Whenever you lump a whole bunch of these things into one bill,
and then almost use bribery to get legislators to vote for the few
things they like in the bill even though they disagree with the rest,
it's not good decision making," Burningham, a former legislator, said.
He made it clear he was speaking only for himself and not the board.
But legislative leaders argue they did not coerce anyone to vote
for the bill.
Rep. Ron Bigelow, House budget chairman, said leaders brought up
the bill several times in caucus, provided staff to help draft
different versions of the bill and did not cut off debate about the
"There were no attempts by staff, leadership or bill sponsors to
put anything in the bill that you were unaware of," Bigelow said. "It
seemed to heighten the awareness and the focus on those issues."
Curtis said the omnibus bill honored the constitutional provision
because all of the provisions included were aimed at a single subject:
He claims opponents are playing politics. He points to the fact
that many criticize the inclusion of a charter-school provision in the
omnibus bill, but fail to mention funding for the International
Baccalaureate program "because they agree with the IB program getting
funding," Curtis said.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Howard Stephenson, said he hopes to avoid passing more omnibus bills in the future. He said legislators combined bills this year to simplify the process so they could pass them all, in a coordinated way, before the end of the session.
"If I had to do it over again and we had more time, I would avoid
it," Stephenson said. "To have every issue stand on its own in a
separate bill is a good idea."
-LISA SCHENCKER contributed to this report.
Education bill flunks constitution test, suit says
A group of legislators, educators wants to alter parts of the omnibus measure
By Lisa Schencker
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/29/2008 10:12:16 AM MDT

A group of 38 education leaders, legislators, former legislators and
state school board members say they will file a lawsuit today over an
omnibus education bill lawmakers passed earlier this year.
The group claims SB2, a bill that rolled more than a dozen
education bills into one, is unconstitutional. They want to keep state
agencies from implementing several parts of the bill, mostly those
that failed on the House floor or in committee before being brought
back to life as part of SB2.
"Concerned citizens cannot know how to direct their participation
when legislative proposals are falsely named or otherwise disguised
through omnibus 'Christmas Tree' bills and hydra-headed substitutions
in the last hours of a legislative session," the complaint says.
SB2 sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said the complaint
is political posturing.
"I see this as nothing more than an attempt in an election year to
rally support for Democratic candidates and other non-conservative
candidates," Stephenson said.
The plaintiffs include Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful; Rep.
Rosalind McGee, D-Salt Lake City; Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City;
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City; Rep. Janice Fisher,
D-West Valley City; Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City; eight
former legislators; former State Superintendent Steven Laing; and six
Utah State Board of Education members, among others.
The complaint names as defendants Utah Attorney General Mark
Shurtleff, Utah Treasurer Edward Alter, and Jeff Herring, executive
director of the Utah Department of Human Resource Management.
Herring and Chief Deputy State Treasurer Richard Ellis said
Wednesday they will administer the law as they're directed to until
they're told otherwise.
"By statute we are required to defend all state laws," said Paul
Murphy, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.
The complaint says the omnibus bill violates Article VI, Section
22 of the Utah Constitution, which states, "Except general
appropriation bills and bills for the codification and general
revision of laws, no bill shall be passed containing more than one
subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title."
Stephenson said all the measures in SB2 were on a single subject:
education. Stephenson said if lawmakers passed laws the way the
plaintiffs claim they should, they'd have to consider and coordinate
thousands more bills.
"It would create absolute chaos," said Senate Majority Leader
Curtis Bramble, R-Provo.
The complaint also claims lawmakers held on to popular education
bills so they could later put them into an omnibus bill designed to
buoy less-popular bills.
"The process that we followed wasn't as respectful as it should
have been of public input and for the public to be able to understand
what was going on with that very complex bill that was shot out the
last three days," Allen said.
Bramble, however, said legislative rules require lawmakers to hold
on to most bills with fiscal notes until they have a budget.
Allen said she voted in favor of SB2 in March because she worried
schools wouldn't get all their education funding if lawmakers voted
down the entire bill. She said she now regrets that vote.
Fisher also voted in favor of SB2 in March. Other current
lawmakers listed as plaintiffs voted against SB2.
House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, and House Majority Leader
David Clark, R-Santa Clara, said in a statement they're disappointed
the matter will end up in litigation.
"We believe the courts have the right to review laws and strongly
support that fundamental check and balance. However, we are
disappointed that the plaintiffs have rejected our offer of
cooperatively working toward solutions and have chosen as their first choice litigation," they said in the statement.

Janet Jenson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said legislative
leaders never offered to ask for a special session to review certain
parts of SB2, which she said is the only solution other than
litigation at this point.
"We are happy to meet with them, and the filing of the complaint
doesn't in any way affect their ability to ask the governor for a
special session," Jenson said. "If they do that, we would be happy to
withdraw the lawsuit."
Chris Bleak, Curtis' chief of staff, said neither the plaintiffs
nor their lawyers have ever asked for a special session.

A group of legislators, ex-legislators and state education leaders
plan to file a lawsuit today over SB2, which they claim illegally
bundled separate education bills into one. The complaint seeks to keep
parts of SB2 from going forward. Among them:
* UPSTART, which would create a pilot, at-home, software education
program for preschool-age children. HB200, the orignal UPSTART bill,
failed on the House floor before being rolled into SB2.
* Extra state funding for International Baccalaureate (I.B.)
programs. HB266, the original I.B. funding bill, failed in a Senate
* Changes to charter school funding. The original bill, HB278,
failed on the House floor.
* Supplemental pay for qualified math and science teachers. The
original bill, SB35, died in a panel.

Plus another good one from the Deseret News:,5143,700229897,00.html

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the courts strike down SB2, then they'll probably have to strike down some of the major tax revisions as well.

In GS2007, SB223 (Niederhauser) made changes to individual income taxes (rates and bases), sales taxes (again, rates and bases), corporate income tax (base), cable TV taxes.