by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader
Amidst the school voucher mess, the Utah Senate Democrats would like to reiterate their position on HB148 and HB174 intended to enact the voucher law.
For the record, the Senate Democrats voted against HB148, the original voucher bill and subject of the successful referendum. The governor has called a statewide special election for November 6, 2007, and directed that the referendum challenging HB148 be submitted to the voters at that special election.
HB174, another voucher bill containing some, but not all, of the provisions of HB148 also passed during the past legislative session. As outlined by Senator Scott McCoy in a previous post, HB174 was explained as a clean-up bill and contained some of the amendments offered (but rejected) during the HB148 debate. Knowing the primary voucher bill had been signed by the governor and wanting to cure some of the more egregious problems with the original voucher bill, the Senate Democrats voted for HB174. In fact, HB174 passed by two-thirds majorities in both bodies, rendering HB174 referendum-proof.
Speculation now abounds concerning the validity of HB174 to stand on its own to implement vouchers in Utah. In an effort to eliminate the confusion of these two voucher bills, Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker sent a letter to Governor Huntsman last week imploring the governor to call a special session to “provide a way to clean up conflicting interpretations of whether vouchers should be implemented in the middle of a referendum called by the people.”
Click below to read the letter in its entirety. (No response from the governor as yet.)