Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Utah County Convention coming, mail and now packets of paper pouring in -- HB 150 is unconstitutional and overreaching

The county convention is Saturday and the county wide races are being hotly contended. I haven't had as much time to research as I would wish, so I am still working on what to do with assessor, auditor, etc., but I've got a pretty good feel of where I'm going with the two county commissioner spots and county sheriff. I tend to cast a favorable eye toward challengers, favoring term limits and non-career politicians, but I am leaning toward 2 of 3 incumbents in those races. The challengers are either less qualified or too arrogant and partisan for me to vote for.

I have received lots of email and postcards--5 or 6 color cards just today--and then tonight, a whole packet of papers delivered to my house with a collection of articles about the Brad Daw vs. Calvin Harper race for House representative. There were copies of 12 newspaper articles/blog posts criticizing Daw's HB 150. These were hand-annotated and highlighted in red marker. Impressive effort if all the county delegates are receiving this.

I heartily agree with the criticism of HB 150. Court review of forced searches is crucial. Rep. Daw keeps pulling out "The fed's have been doing this for 20 years and always had it upheld in court" defense, but that seems kind of hypocritical for a member of the Patrick Henry Caucus. I have not heard Rep. Daw or any attorney general give one instance of a child safety case being jeopardized by having to get a judge's approval before obtaining internet information. If the process is too slow, work on improving the process to obtain a warrant--don't bypass it. The very legitimate "slippery slope" argument in this case is augmented by Rep. Daw's original version of HB 150 allowing administrative subpoenas for any "criminal activity" using a computer. The bill was amended on Feb. 23rd or 25th to apply "only" to felony charges. It failed a House floor vote. The bill was substituted Feb. 26th to now allow government lawyers to obtain internet information without a warrant in the cases of child kidnapping and "an offense of stalking under Section 76-5-106.5." (Line 71 of the substitute bill at the link above) It now passed another floor vote and later a Senate floor vote, but interestingly, it split the Patrick Henry Caucus.

Also, if it is up to just a city, county, or state attorney's discretion, what happens when the stalking ordinance referenced in the law is applied politically? Mark Shurtleff may be the most egregiously political government lawyer, but administrative subpoenas are ripe for abuse because of politics or personalities at all levels they are permitted. Can you imagine if Lohra Miller (Salt Lake County district attorney) and that other guy in her office that have been publicly suing and attacking each other in the press for a couple years could get the other's internet information via an administrative subpoena obtained at their discretion? The particular stalking ordinance given administrative subpoena power was recently beefed up to give prosecutors extremely wide latitude in what constitutes stalking. Read some excerpts from Section 76-5-106.5 of Utah Code. The person could be charged if they violate the following conditions:
(b) "Course of conduct" means two or more acts directed at or toward a specific person, including: (i) acts in which the actor follows, monitors, observes, photographs, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person's property:

(F) uses a computer, the Internet, text messaging, or any other electronic means to commit an act that is a part of the course of conduct.
And this broad standard, communicating "about a person" on the Internet in a manner that would cause them "emotional distress" [(2)(b) in code], can now be used to get the internet information, including credit card information, of any internet poster a politically motivated government attorney deems to cause his/her buddies distress...without a judicially reviewed warrant." That's wrong.

There was only one item in the anti-Daw packet about something besides HB 150. It was a copy of the executive summary of Daw's 2007 HB 141 and a paper comparing it to "Obamacare" because it mandated catastrophic health insurance coverage. This was pretty dumb in my opinion. I do not support health insurance mandates, but much of the partisan opposition to them blithely ignores that they were a Republican idea to try and protect the market in the face of government mandates. I don't support Bob Bennett either , but his acknowledging the huge financial problems in healthcare and fiddling with possible solutions in his bill are not the reasons I won't vote for him (unless he ends up facing Cherilyn Eagar in a primary). So in this instance, one could ding Rep. Daw and many on the right for opposing ideas based on who proposed them rather than their merits, but this guilt by association doesn't fly with me. I've got other, more legitimate reasons to vote against Brad Daw.

I'll probably post again about these county races before Saturday, and possibly some more Daw/Harper comparisons if anyone is interested. (Well, very possibly if no one is interested too.) =)


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