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Herbert vetoes bill stemming from Swallow investigation, 2 others

By Lisa Riley Roche | Posted - Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 6:53am

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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed three bills Wednesday, including legislation stemming from the investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow.

HB414, which would give the Legislature the power to issue and enforce subpoenas, was "a little bit of an overreaction" to the problems experienced by a House special committee investigating Swallow, the governor said.

"It's kind of akin to the fox guarding the henhouse, and it just isn't right," Herbert told KSL NewsRadio's "The Doug Wright Show," because the bill doesn't allow a legislative subpoena to be challenged in court.

That "really jeopardizes people's civil rights," he said.

Herbert also vetoed HB102, which dealt with assessment areas, and SB257, which would have expanded the responsibilities of a parents panel to include the review of complaints related to instructional materials and curriculum.

The State School Board, Utah Parent Teacher Association and individual members of the parents panel requested a veto of SB257, saying they're concerned it would undermine curriculum decisions made at the district level.

Herbert also issued a line-item veto on HB3 to correct a repeat entry in the state budget. Another three bills will go into law without the governor's signature.

It's kind of akin to the fox guarding the henhouse, and it just isn't right.

–Gov. Gary Herbert on HB414

HB414 was among a package of bills arising from the House investigation into Swallow. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, who headed the committee, the measure overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate.

The bill broadens the Legislature's subpoena power and creates criminal penalties for not complying. It also includes a process that allows for a challenge to the subpoena in a legislative review committee instead of a court.

During the House investigation, several targets of subpoenas ignored or refused to comply with the orders issued by the committee. The governor said that ended up adding to the cost of the investigation, which had a $4 million price tag.

Regarding the veto of SB257, State School Board Chairman David Crandall said he expects the board to consider internal policy changes related to the review of parents' complaints.

"We would at least discuss that and it would be my hope that we would create a process whereby some of those concerns could be addressed in a formal, organized way," Crandall said.

Herbert also signed HB96 and SB43, which seek to improve education outcomes by expanding high-quality preschool programs and funding after-school programs for children affected by intergenerational poverty, respectively.

The State School Board formally supported both bills. Crandall said the new laws offer a cost-effective strategy for targeting achievement gaps.

"(Early intervention) has been one of our priorities," he said. "We feel that if that money is spent early on, especially with those at-risk students, that can actually lead to savings down the road."

Contributing: Dennis Romboy, Benjamin Wood


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