Monday, June 2, 2008

Various editorials on the omnibus bill lawsuit

1 editorial in defense of the omnibus:
Daily Herald -- June 1st

And 4 pointing out its unconstitutionality as well as dishonesty:
Standard Examiner -- June 1st

Salt Lake Tribune -- May 30th (Text below)

Deseret News -- April 19th,5143,695271784,00.html

Salt Lake Tribune -- April 18th (Text Below)
Forcing the issue: SB2 must not be allowed to set precedent
Tribune Editorial
Article Last Updated: 05/30/2008 11:39:15 PM MDT

Republican leaders of the Utah Legislature who sponsored and supported
the omnibus education bill, Senate Bill 2, no doubt would like the
legislation to set a precedent.
If the bill, which lumps 14 separate bills together - three that
were defeated either in committee or in the House or Senate - is not
challenged, this underhanded way of making unpopular bills into law
would become commonplace.
That's why a lawsuit brought by 38 current and former legislators,
educators and others is so vital. It rightly argues that the
legislation appears to violate the Utah Constitution, specifically
Article VI, Section 22, 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."
SB2, says its Senate sponsor, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper,
contains only one subject: education. While, in a broad sense, that is
true, its 14 separate components can hardly be described or "clearly
stated" in its title, "Minimum School Program Budget Amendments."
It is, more simply, a pig in a poke.
Neither taxpayers, voters, nor many legislators knew exactly what
SB2 contained when it was pushed to a vote in the last days of the
But Stephenson; House sponsor Rep. Brad Last, R-St.George; House
Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy; House Majority Leader David Clark,
R-Santa Clara; Senate Majority Leader Curtis Bramble, R-Provo; and
other legislative leaders certainly knew.
They knew that SB2 was the only way they could win passage for
certain bills they supported. They knew it because those bills had
already been defeated before SB2 was introduced. So they rolled those
repudiated measures into a complex omnibus bill containing basic
funding formulas for education and several popular bills.
And they know if they get away with it this time, they'll be
driving an omnibus express.
Curtis and Clark say they are disappointed that the plaintiffs
didn't sit down with them to talk over other options. But several
plaintiffs felt railroaded into voting for SB2, and have no reason to
believe that a meeting with the sponsors would result in disassembling
the bill in a special legislative session and voting on each part
That is the only reasonable solution, and only litigation can
bring it about.
Power and politics: Court should throw light on omnibus legislation
Tribune Editorial
Article Last Updated: 04/18/2008 09:25:08 PM MDT

Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis has good reason to worry that the
constitutionality of the omnibus education bill passed during this
winter's legislative session might be tested in court.
But it's not for the reason that Curtis claims.
His blustering that a lawsuit challenging the bill would be an
attack on the power of the Legislature is a red herring. More likely,
his concern is about keeping the shady origins of the bill secret.
Curtis, a lawyer, engaged in some fairly flimsy legal reasoning
last week for why Senate Bill 2 should not be reviewed by a judge. SB2
combined 12 pieces of legislation into one, including two bills that
had already been defeated by Curtis' House colleagues.
He told reporters that the courts do not have authority to
determine the constitutionality of laws. Curtis implied, instead, that
the legislative branch has power both to make laws and to determine
whether they fit into the legal framework outlined in the state and
federal constitutions.
Has he never heard of government's checks and balances, Article
III of the U.S. Constitution, the Marbury vs. Madison Supreme Court
decision of 1803? They all dictate that the legislative branch's job
is to pass laws, and the courts' duty is to decide their
And Utah's Constitution states " . . . no bill shall be passed
containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in
its title."
SB2 was created Feb. 2 as a "boxcar," a bill with a title but no
text. It languished as such until March 1, two days before the session
ended, after Republican leaders had laid the groundwork for it over
weeks of maneuvering.
Several bills ultimately included in SB2 had broad legislative
support. Some had already been passed by one or both houses; one
funding "high ability" student programs and another raising teacher
salaries had passed either House or Senate unanimously. Had they been
allowed to proceed to a vote of both houses, they undoubtedly would
have passed on their own. Instead, they were put on hold until they
could be inserted into SB2.
This ploy forced legislators who had supported these bills to vote
for the entire package, which also included two bills that had been
defeated - one to require school districts to help fund charter
schools and another to fund preschool home learning technology pushed
by the company that would provide the software. And the leadership
wanted those to pass.
SB2 also included formulas for funding the basic school program,
which had to be approved before the session ended.
All that manipulation shoots holes in the rationale given by
Curtis and other GOP leaders that putting a dozen separate bills
together was simply an efficient way to get them passed before the
session adjourned. Left to make their own way, each would have passed
or failed long before SB2 was created.
We don't know how the impending lawsuit will pan out, but Curtis
probably should leave the lawyering to others.

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