What the Heck Does That Mean?

by Senator Scott McCoy
Senate District Two

Senator Scott McCoy
Today Governor Huntsman, President Valentine and Speaker Curtis issued the following statement:

 

Statement by Utah’s Governor, President of the Senate,
and Speaker of the House of Representatives

Salt Lake City – The following is a joint statement by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, President John Valentine and Speaker Greg Curtis:

Citizens bear the ultimate responsibility for how their government operates and how their children are educated. As elected officials, we support the constitutional right of the people of our state to ratify or reject legislation through the referendum process.

We encourage a healthy process and a clear public decision on Utah’s Voucher Policy in November. In order for the referendum process to be effective, the electorate takes on the obligation to make an informed decision when casting their vote. We hope people become educated on this issue and engage in a manner befitting the citizens of a free republic.

A Special Session will not be called since an easy and practical remedy does not exist. We, however, are making our intentions clear: we honor the rule of law and will respect the outcome of the election.

So what does that mean? Let’s take it in reverse order.

“We, however, are making our intentions clear: we honor the rule of law and will respect the outcome of the election.”

“…will respect the outcome of the election.”  Huh? So if the referendum on HB 148 succeeds, that is the voters say NO to vouchers, does that mean these three will lead the way in repealing HB 174, too, or does it mean that they will respect the decision to repeal HB 148 and they will push ahead with the implementation of HB 174 which they maintain is not legally the subject of the referendum? How about a clear statement like: “If the referendum succeeds, then we will repeal HB 174.” Now that would be making their intentions clear.

“We encourage a healthy process and a clear public decision on Utah’s Voucher Policy in November.”

Nice sentiment, but the process was not healthy in the first place because the two bills produced this confusing result. The confusion that exists and the messy process that is now resulting cannot be fixed with mere “encouragement.” It takes leadership. Calling a special session and doing the right thing by making HB 174 also contingent on the outcome of the referendum would not only “encourage a healthy process and clear public decision,” it would guarantee it.

“In order for the referendum process to be effective, the electorate takes on the obligation to make an informed decision when casting their vote. We hope people become educated on this issue and engage in a manner befitting the citizens of a free republic.”

Undoubtedly, the people of Utah will educate themselves and make an informed decision on this issue, but the question remains: If and when the referendum on HB 148 succeeds, will the Governor and the Republican leadership interpret the vote as a repudiation of vouchers altogether, that is both HB 148 and HB174?

“Citizens bear the ultimate responsibility for how their government operates and how their children are educated.”

Citizens bear the responsibility for how their government operates, and as importantly, who operates their government. Watch closely, citizens of Utah. Watch your current leadership take a pass on clearing up this voucher mess and watch to see if they abide by your wishes after the referendum. If they don’t get the picture, maybe then it will be time to change how your government operates by changing who is in charge of operating it.

He’s Up for the Battle!

The Winner!

We reported last month that Senator Ed Mayne has lung cancer. Well, he’s up for the battle! He’s handling his chemotherapy splendidly, and he’s rebounding quickly. His goal is to be in remission by August. Since his hair was beginning to fall out (from chemo), Senator Mayne decided to have a little fun with it.

At the Taste of Kearns event earlier this month, Senator Mayne, donned in boxing gloves, lathered and shaved his head on the football field while spectators cheered. Then he hugged his wife, his kids, his grandkids, his dad, Democrats :o), and everybody.

The Taste of Kearns celebration is a traditional event held at Kearns High School honoring accomplishments of education, educators, students, community groups, and leaders. About 6,000 people were in attendance. The event features entertainment, displays, booths, games, a pet show, antique cars, and of course, LOTS and LOTS of HOT DOGS!

Senator Mayne is a celebrity and hero in his Senate District. He thanks everyone for their messages, letters, comments, and most of all, for their prayers on his behalf. He loves you all!

Getting ReadyLathered UpHugging Mayor CarroonWith Dad

A Plea to the Governor

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.)

Continue reading

Newest Hall of Famer

Senator Patricia Jones
Newest Inductee
Bonneville Junior High School Hall of Fame

Sen. Jones with Principal Dunning

Last March, Senator Jones and Representative Carol Spackman Moss spoke to 250 eighth graders at Bonneville Junior High about the legislative process. Senator Jones just happens to be an alumnus of Bonneville Junior High. To her surprise, the principal, Mr. Dunning, inducted her into the school’s alumni Hall of Fame.

Congratulations Senator Jones

Senator Jones is the sixth person inducted into the Hall of Fame. She joins other noteworthy alumni including:

Frank Pignanelli, former Utah House Minority Leader, Deseret Morning News columnist, attorney and lobbyist.

Greg Skordas, attorney, former chief deputy attorney for Salt Lake County, and 2004 Democrat candidate for Utah Attorney General.

Richard Paul Evans, author of seven best sellers including The Christmas Box and Timepiece.

Principal, Sen. Jones, Rep. Moss and Student Body Officers

The STD/Fertility Crisis: Time to Wake Up Utah!

by Senator Scott McCoy
Senate District 2

Senator Scott McCoyUtah has a dirty little secret. There is a little-known crisis brewing in Utah that nobody seems to want to talk about or acknowledge: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

Here are the ugly facts. According to a Deseret Morning News story last month, Gonorrhea rates in Utah increased a staggering 195% between 2000 and 2005, from 231 to 896 cases. The jump was nearly five times the increase found in other Western states and comes at a time when the national rate is on the decline. At the same time, Chlamydia cases in Utah increased 110% during the same period.

Not only do STDs have potentially life-threatening effects, if untreated, they impact fertility. According to studies by the World Health Organization, 38% of infertility cases are caused by sexually transmitted diseases. The WHO also notes that STDs are the most avoidable cause of infertility. This fact about the fertility impacts of STDs should get the attention of our family-centric, baby factory of a state. The bottom line is that the STD crisis is not only a health crisis, it is potentially a fertility crisis.

Interestingly, at the same time we are beginning to learn about the STD crisis, we also are finding out that our reliance on abstinence-only sex education is not having any affect on our people’s decisions about whether or not to have sex. A recent study by the Mathematica Policy Institute shows that abstinence-only programs do not increase the number of young adults who wait to have sex.

In Utah, state law mandates abstinence-only education. State law also specifically prohibits the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices, i.e., condoms.

Now let me connect these dots. So, while we teach abstinence-only which does not reduce the number of young people who have sex, we also ensure that they are not educated about how to protect themselves from STDs, i.e., condoms, which they are getting and spreading with increasing and frightening frequency. Sadly, the consequence to this “head-in-the-sand” approach is that we are putting our young people’s health and their fertility at risk by not equipping them with adequate information to make informed choices about protecting themselves.

Time to wake up Utah.

Congrats

Senator RomeroSenator Ross Romero was recently featured in the April edition of Connect magazine as one of Utah’s 20 Prominent Hispanic Business Leaders.

“In 2006, Ross Romero became the first elected Hispanic state senator in Utah since the late Pete Suazo was elected in 1996….He is one of the first minority lawyers to become a shareholder at a major Utah firm.”

Congratulations to Sen. Romero. Click here to see the profile.

Reducing Teen Pregnancies

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate District 7


Senator Ross RomeroI am writing on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. While I firmly believe that the life and health of the mother should be considered in the analysis of the very difficult decision of an abortion, I believe we are missing an opportunity to have a broader, more important discussion which is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

I recently became reacquainted with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (www.teenpregnancy.org) whose mission is to assist young women in avoiding getting pregnant. This, of course, requires a discussion not only in teaching abstinence as a preferred form of unwanted pregnancies but also having a responsible discussion centered around using protection when teens become sexually active. My understanding is most teens begin to engage in sexual activity at age 14. Therefore, it is incumbent on parents to have discussions with their kids about abstinence and also protection issues before this age. Unwanted pregnancies have a tremendous impact on an individual’s opportunities in life and socioeconomic status.

It is important to note that teen pregnancy is 100% preventable. When one in three teens becomes pregnant by the age of 20 and teen childbearing costs tax payers at least $9.1 billion annually, this is an issue that affects us all and our communities. I believe we need to be more diligent in encouraging sex education discussions by parents with their teens and the responsible use of protection to continue to decrease unwanted pregnancies.

Finally, I want to encourage parents to take away from this discussion having their teens, and especially young women participate in athletics in junior high and high school. As I understand it, most pregnancies occur between the hours of 3:30 and 6:00 p.m. when our youth are left without adult supervision. If our youth and particularly our young women are engaged in organized athletic activities, they build self-esteem, have the friendship of peers, set goals and delay being sexually active.

He’s at the Capitol…

Mayne taking a Personal PrivilegeSenator Mayne was at the Capitol yesterday attending his meetings, confirming the governor’s appointments, and enjoying lunch with our caucus. (In case you just tuned in, Senator Mayne announced last week he has lung cancer and has begun chemotherapy.)

On the Senate floor, he asked for a Personal Privilege to address his colleagues in the Senate. Senator Mayne thanked his fellow senators and the staff for their expressions of concern in the form of telephone calls, cards, etc. With the assistance of an excellent medical team, colleagues, friends, and family (particularly the female caretakers of the family!), he has a positive outlook.

Way to go Senator Mayne!

Health Update

Statement from Senator Ed Mayne:

Senator Ed MayneAs you know, a number of legislators were ill during the session. Many were treated for pneumonia, and Senator Ed Mayne, also visited his doctor last week with pneumonia-like symptoms. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and a CT scan of his lungs.

While being treated for pneumonia, the CT scan picked up evidence of cancer in his right lung. The bad thing is that Ed has cancer; the good thing is that the cancer was detected early. Senator Mayne has undergone ten days of testing to determine diagnosis and now has started aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

With early detection and a great medical team in charge, Ed and his wife Karen feel the outlook is positive. They will appreciate your prayers of support. In talking with his Democratic nurse, she informed Ed that anybody who works or is involved in the health care industry who doesn’t support Democrats is crazy/uninformed. :o)

Recent experiences among persons of local and national notoriety have raised cancer awareness in 2007. Senator Mayne hopes his own experience will provide an incentive for everybody to monitor their health by having regular physical exams and cancer screenings, the keys to prevention and early detection.

Senator Ed Mayne

P.S.
Senator Mayne has served in the Utah State Senate since 1995. We love Ed. For a warm, personal look at Ed and Karen Mayne, take a look at his website www.edmayne.com. Ed, our prayers are with you.

The Senate Democrats
Mike
Gene
Pat
Fred
Scott
Brent
Ross

DEJA VU

In last Monday’s Tribune, a pamphlet was tucked away in the folds of the newspaper entitled “The Real Salt Lake Stadium.” Here is an excerpt from page 2:

Who supported HB38?

“The new law received broad bi-partisan support from both Democrats and
Republicans, with support from Senate President John Valentine, House
Speaker Greg Curtis, Majority Leader Dave Clark, and Minority Leader
Ralph Becker.”

Noticeably absent from the list of bi-partisan supporters in the pamphlet (and on the ReAL website) is Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich.

Deja vu???

Scarfless & JerseylessAfter the passage of HB38, a pompous news conference was held outside the State Capitol, attended by key players who put the deal together (political players–not soccer players, though they were in attendance, also).

To his credit, Governor Huntsman acknowledged the bi-partisan effort and invited the State’s minority leadership to attend the news conference. Senator Dmitrich even took a turn at the dais.

ReAL owner Dave Checketts and his entourage then presented ReAL scarves and jerseys (with their names on them) to Republican legislators and left the Democrats scarfless and jerseyless.

The issue is not a scarf or a jersey. The issue is that Mr. Checketts failed to acknowledge the vital role of BOTH parties in passing HB38, which appropriated funds for the stadium.

Six Senate Democrats deserve thanks for their aye votes, which were ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for the stadium ReALity.