by Senator Scott McCoy
Senate District Two
Well today the Utah Supreme Court added some clarity to the voucher mess. While it did say that the current ballot title penned by the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel will stay just the way it is (i.e., only referencing and analyzing HB 148) the Supreme Court unanimously rejected outright the Attorney General’s and voucher proponents’ legal contention that HB 174 stands alone as a voucher implementation bill. The Supreme Court essentially said that HB 148 and HB 174 are joined at the hip and that without HB 148, HB 174 is meaningless and unenforceable. (“If the voters choose to reject HB 148, HB 174 will not create an additional voucher program.”) So two important implications: 1) a rejection of HB 148 in the referendum will have the effect of also voiding HB 174; and 2) in the meantime until the referendum vote, the Board of Education doesn’t have to implement vouchers based solely on HB 174. Leave it to the Judiciary to maintain a clear head in a crisis.
The biggest loser in this chapter seems to be Attorney General Mark Shurtleff whose legal analysis (and political instincts??) appears to have been dead wrong. I guess Carol Lear and Jean Hill got it right. Instead of trying to fire them, maybe he should listen to them. Note to State Board of Education: Keep taking your counsel from your long-time attorneys and ignore the Big Bully. The Supremes have got their (and your) back. I have a hunch a majority of Utah voters will too.