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Graffiti bill fails, Rep. takes on closed-session caucuses

Graffiti bill fails, Rep. takes on closed-session caucuses

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Senate Republicans regularly use closed sessions when meeting as a caucus. House Republicans do it less frequently. One advocate for open government, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, wants to change all that by offering a bill that would require caucuses to be open if a quorum is present and legislation is being discussed.

In order to make a point about how important open government is, Powell also proposed a measure, which he does not intend to advance, that would allow any public body to close a meeting if it is "preferable."

Wednesday, the senate gave preliminary approval to SB107 which would criminalize possession of graffiti paraphernalia is the owner has the intent of defacing someone's property with it, but the bill failed Thursday on another reading. This came just one day after the hacker group Anonymous took down the SLCPD website in protest of the bill, and accessed the personal information of users of the site. Many senators were concerned that the bill went too far in criminalizing the intents of someone, rather than their actions.

State and local leaders were also engaged in a an ongoing struggle for control over local municipalities. Many local leaders would prefer if the Legislature and governor's office would treat local municipalities the way they want to be treated by the federal government - as a separate entity representing the rights of the people who live there. Governor Herbert, however, said that cities and municipalities are political subdivisions of the state and are "subservient" to the state. The Legislature has several bills aimed at reigning in cities like Salt Lake, bills like SB136, which would prevent Salt Lake City from limiting billboard signage.

Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo has a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for public employees. If passed, public unions would be allowed to collectively bargain only regarding salary and benefits, and not about things like workplace safety or workplace conditions. Grover asked "why would collective bargaining be allowed for [public employees] to collectively bargain against the taxpayer." The Utah Education Association came out strongly against the bill.

A bill that would have required payday loan lenders to file collections suits in the jurisdiction in which they originated was killed in committee Wednesday. Many collections suits end up in small claims court in Provo, regardless of where the loan began.

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Dave Newlin


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