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2017 Legislative Session – Week 6

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Dear Friends in Senate 15 ~ Today is the last Friday of the Legislature!

Today is not the last day since we meet next week- but we will, by Constitutional directive, adjournon Thursday next.

There continues to be serious budget discussions – and while many may not find budget discussions to be griping, these issues determine what happens to the money taxed away from Utah taxpayers.
The majority of our state budget goes to education and the rest of the budget is divided among social services, health and human services, courts and corrections, economic development, natural resources issues (state parks, wildlife, water) military affairs and other state government needs.  All legislators are involved in reviewing portions of the budget – and it will be finalized the early part of next week.  The state budget, also by Constitutional directive, will be a balanced budget.

Speaking of money issues, Senator Hillyard presented an issue this week with the support of the Utah State Treasurer.  His bill addresses the enforcement of the responsibilities and requirements for abandoned or unclaimed property.  He reminds us to check this link: to see if we have unclaimed funds that would come to us.  Financial issues have always been a priority of the state. 


A picture of my intern by one of the original safes placed in the Capitol over 100 years ago.


We continue to take time to recognize visitors to the Senate:
Pictured here with Senator Escamilla is a RSL Forward Jordan Allen – who, besides his passion and expertise in soccer, visited the Senate because of his interest in politics.  Jordan and the ReAl Salt Lake team will kick off the 2017 season at home versus Toronto FC this Saturday, March 4, at2:30 in Rio Tinto Stadium.  


Another brief pause of recognition was given to advertise the upcoming Sports Hall of Fame event to be held later this year.  Pictured are Hall of Famers – Chad Lewis and his wife Michele, Ron McBride (who – btw – hugged this cougar fan!!), Dick Rosetta (former Tribune Sports writer), and Vic Deauvono with the Sports Commission.

Not all visitors to the Capitol are athletes – the Cat in the Hat also visited to promote reading


And earlier this week I was delighted to meet with and hold a mock committee meeting with Girl Scouts from my district.



We have had many energy discussions this session.  Some groups oppose all development of our natural resources.  SITLA (School Institutional Trust Lands Administration) has responsibility for generating funds for education on the parcels of trust lands deeded to them at statehood. In conjunction with the State Office of Energy, SITLA leaders are developing education programs and advertisements to help our citizens better understand the benefits of wise resource development.  You can view one of those preliminary infomercials here:


Stay Connected
As always – you can listen to committees or watch the Senate (or House) debate live or archived by going here:  The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees.  The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen or watch live and past committee meetings if you do not have the opportunity to visit the Capitol.  The House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab will show the times and locations of these meetings.

You can connect with me on Facebook:  or email at

It is my honor to represent District 15 – the best district in the best state in the best nation in the world.

Yours for freedom ~

Margaret Dayton

2017 Legislative Session – Week 5

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Dear Friends in Senate 15 ~

This week I, Devin Earl- Senator Dayton’s intern for this session, will be writing the letter home.  It has been a pleasure answering many of your emails and speaking with many of you on the phone as you participate in the political arena.

The budget work for the state is all-encompassing but according to Utah Constitutional law, the state of Utah must have a balanced budget.  We wish that Washington D.C. would follow this pattern and do the same.

This last week as we had the chance to celebrate Washington /Lincoln Day, I hope everyone had a moment to pause and remember these inspired leaders.  I believe that it is important to take time to remember those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.  Paul Revere is another key historical figure whose story should be told and remembered.  I want to share the link of a short video by author Eric Metaxas who shares the remarkable story of Paul Revere.  Please take some time to watch this spotlighted video about a story that should not be forgotten.

College Interns

In order to understand a little more about the interns working here at the Capitol, I thought it appropriate to discuss a little about what the internship program is.  Colleges from around the state of Utah have internship programs that allow a selected number of students to team up and work with a legislator throughout the legislative session.  I as a student of Brigham Young University have loved the hands-on opportunity to watch the evolution of laws as the bills this session are drafted, debated, and passed.  My daily tasks include answering constituents’ emails and phone calls, tracking bills, creating agendas and helping Senator Dayton with whatever she might need to lighten the load of her very busy schedule (including writing the letter home this week).  I have learned so much from this internship and am surprised at how quickly this session has gone by.  The work is fast-paced and important and I feel honored to work with Senator Dayton in representing Senate District 15.


Along with the work performed, throughout the legislative session brief pauses are made to recognize on the Senate Floor various individuals who have achieved success in areas ranging from art to sports to politics.
week51.jpgThis week we were able to recognize five of the finalists in the 45th annual art show who are part of our district. Emily Burrows, Ashlyn Richards, Dallin Wilks, Adam Ahmu and Easton Parkhurst were able to come to the Capitol to be recognized for their artistic work.  I enjoyed talking with these young artists and compliment them on their accomplishments and hard work.


Tony Finau, the legendary golf champion who won the Puerto Rico Open last year, returned to his hometown of Salt Lake City and was recognized on the Senate Floor for his athletic accomplishments.

Another legendary sportsman who came to visit was Utah Jazz basketball star Mark Eaton.  During the years of 1982 to 1993 when he played for the NBA, Mark scored over 5,000 points and was always enjoyable to watch.  Mark Eaton was kind enough to let us get a picture with him once he left the Floor.  Although I am 6’ 5”, his 7’ 4” frame made even me feel small.


Senator Mike Lee and Representative Mia Love came to the Capitol to discuss with the Senate some of the issues going on in Washington D.C. We are all very grateful for the service our elected officials perform in behalf of our state.

As always – you can listen to committees or watch Senate (or House) debate live or archived by going here:  The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees.  The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen to live and past committee meetings if you do not have the opportunity to visit the Capitol.  The House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab with show the times and locations of these meetings.

You can connect with Senator Dayton on Facebook:  or email her at


It is a privilege serving everyone in District 15 within the beautiful state of Utah.

Devin Earl

2017 Legislative Session – Week 4

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Dear Friends in Senate 15 ~

Our legislative session has passed the half way mark.  There is still much to be done – budget issues to solve, many proposals to be heard.  Thank you for your continued interest in state government.

The assisted suicide bill appears to be defeated for this year.  The issues of car safety inspections, concealed gun carry, marijuana research, as well as many other topics, are still being debated.  One of the issues that received significant attention this week was the make-up of boards and commissions.  That is an issue that came from the House – and I am the Senate sponsor for the bill.  Many of the state boards and commissions here in Utah require that no more than a certain number can belong to the same political party.  Originally, these requirements were meant to ensure the boards benefitted from multiple opinions but in reality, this requirement has created staffing problems.  This bill is meant to eliminate all references to partisan affiliation.  Under this bill, neither the Governor nor the Senate are allowed to consider partisan affiliation as a prerequisite to the service on a board and make quality the determining factor, not partisanship.    Rather than type out an explanation, I will just add a link here (not really – I don’t know how to do that – but I will have my intern add a link) of the debate for you to watch if you are interested.

Under the ‘Index’ tab located under the video which shows the proceedings of the day, scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on ‘2 HB 11 State Boards and Commissions Amendment, Dayton’ to watch the debate on the Senate Floor.


Premarital Education and Counseling
After passing out of committee with a favorable recommendation, SB29 Marriage Commission Amendments was read on the Senate Floor. As the Senate Chair of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Christensen sees firsthand the enormous burden placed on the State of Utah by broken families. This bill was designed to incentivize those applying for a marriage license to engage in premarital counseling or education. The couple would pay an additional $20 when applying for their license and would receive the $20 back once the education or counseling had been completed. The additional funds from those who did not take advantage of counseling or education would go to fund the Utah Marriage Commission.

Research has shown that premarital education can make a big difference in keeping marriages together or in dissuading some to not marry in the first place. Up to 10% of people who engage in premarital education and counseling choose not to marry because of red flags discovered in their relationships. The discussion on the Senate floor was lively and the bill passed on its 2nd reading. On its 3rd Reading, the vote was extremely close and the bill failed to pass out of the Senate this year.



President Niederhauser asked me to run the Senate Floor yesterday.  I enjoyed conducting from the Dias for most of the morning.  My intern joined me on the Dias.



There are many different groups that come to the Capitol during the Legislative session.  One day this week featured promotion of the arts- and performing groups from various schools performed in the Capitol rotunda.

Higher Education

Several days ago was UVU at the Capitol- and in honor of the university, my intern and I wore UVU wardrobe enhancements when we met with UVU Vice President Cameron Martin.  Today was Higher Education Day on the Hill; students and school administrators from all of the Utah Systems of Higher Education visited the Capitol.  I was pleased to meet with some of the student leaders from UVU.




This weekend is a three-day weekend for many – for schools, the post office, and the legislature – as we celebrate a holiday.  The holiday in Utah is called Washington /Lincoln Day in honor of two great presidents whose birthdays were separate national holidays until about 20 years ago.  Please pause to remember these 2 great leaders and talk about them with your families.



The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” – George Washington

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln


As always – you can listen to committees or watch Senate (or House) debate live or archived by going here:  The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees.  The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen to live and past committee meetings if you do not have the opportunity to visit the Capitol.  The House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab with show the times and locations of these meetings.

You can connect with me on Facebook:  or email at


It is my honor to represent District 15 – the best district in the best state in the best nation in the world.

Yours for freedom ~

Margaret Dayton

2017 Legislative Session – Week 3

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Dear Friends in Senate District 15 ~

Over 800 of you responded to my survey – thank you very much.  I so appreciate you taking time to give me your input on issues facing the legislature this year.  Here are the results of the survey:

On Monday, students and faculty of the Utah Valley University came up to the Hill to demonstrate their booths to inform legislators of the many unique opportunities that UVU provides to their students.
dayton1.jpg          dayton2.jpg

We discuss such a wide range of issues that impact our state.  Here is an update on 3 other topics that have generated a lot of interest:


SB111: Unmanned Aircraft Amendments

Unmanned Aircrafts, or drones, are a newer technology that creates regulation issues and confusion around the country.  This bill seeks to clarify a unifying drone code for the State of Utah.  This bill enumerates safe practices for flying drones, addresses privacy and voyeurism, declares it unlawful to attach a weapon to a drone, and clarifies the different rules for commercial versus private use.  This bill initially came before the legislature last session, but the sponsor held the bill in favor of more discussion and work over the interim.  The Unmanned Aircraft Amendments have undergone many changes due to stake holder input over the last year.  This bill passed out of the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Standing Committee.


SB82: Library Technology Use Amendments

In the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee on the 31st, Senator Weiler presented SB82 Library Technology Use Amendments.  Senator Weiler said that about 15 years ago, Congress passed a law that stated that any library that accepts federal funds is required to filter internet content.  About 12 years ago, the State of Utah said the same thing, that libraries that accept state funds are required to have filters on their internet connected computers.  Both of these laws went into effect before the wide use of wireless internet.  Senator Weiler found out that some libraries only have filters on their computers that are directly connected to the internet.  If the library provides wireless internet service, that service is not always filtered.

This bill is designed to extend the law that was created 12 years ago to include filtering of wireless internet at public libraries. Senator Weiler asked the State Library Association to provide a list of libraries in Utah that do not filter their Wi-Fi. Though there is a cost to a library upgrading its system to allow for filtering, there is no fiscal note with this bill. Separately, Senator Weiler has submitted a small appropriations request to be able to give these libraries grants to be able to upgrade their systems to allow them to add filters to their Wi-Fi.

SB82 passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation on a vote of 6-0-2.

Many of you have heard about the upcoming Western Conservation and Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City February 16-19.  Over 40,000 sportsmen from 45 states and 17 countries will gather at the Salt Palace.  The event is projected to generate $30 million in economic activity and include $5 million in private funds to be used for conservation purposes within the State of Utah.  Three hundred sixty vendors are slated to participate in the expo, which maintains a waiting list of 150 other interested businesses.

Utah has become a top destination for those drawn to our lands, our wildlife and the markets that exist in the state for sportsmen products.

The interests of hunters align well with those who want to see state management of our public lands.  History has shown watershed management, and more food for elk, deer, bison, wild turkey and numerous other species of birds and small mammals that can be found throughout Utah.

Hunting in our state has become a $2.3 billion dollar industry and one that we strongly encourage and support.

Several emails and calls and letters have come my way addressing concerns with Cabinet appointments President Trump is making, policy decisions President Trump is making, and other topics of national concern.  All of these communications need to be sent to our Congressional delegation:  For Cabinet appointment concerns, please contact one of our United States Senators.  Here is their contact information:

Senator Mike Lee:

Senator Orrin Hatch:

We are represented by in the House by Congressman Chaffetz.  His contact information is (801) 851-2500 or he can be contacted through the following link:

For issues before Congress, your concerns are best directed to these gentlemen

For issues of state concern, I will continue to respond to your calls and messages (or have my intern respond for me if I can’t reply in a timely manner)


It is an honor to represent the best senate district in the best state in the best nation in the world.


Yours for freedom ~

Margaret Dayton


As always, you can follow the legislature through the Legislature’s website:  The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees.  The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen to live and past committee meetings if you do not have the opportunity to visit the Capitol.  The House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab with show the times and locations of these meetings.

You can connect with me on Facebook:  or email at

Week 2 of the 2017 Legislative Session

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Dear Friends in Senate District 15 ~ Crucial to the work of the legislature is the budget process.  Our Utah Constitution requires that Utah have a balanced budget.  Our morning meetings for the first two weeks of the Legislative Session have been budgetary appropriations subcommittees

Passing a balanced budget is the most important responsibility we have as legislators. If we accomplish nothing else, we will at least pass a balanced budget. You may have heard that this will be a “bad” budget year. The truth is this will be a standard budget year, it just happens to follow after a few years of surplus budgets. The base budget for FY 2018 is about $15.2 billion, which is around $100 million more than the FY 2017 budget. Typically, the largest chunk of our budget (around 50%) goes to education followed closely by social services.

You can learn more about the budget here:

Besides the policy and budgetary debates and decision- making meetings that we have, we also occasionally pause to acknowledge citizens of our state who deserve recognition.  Today, we had the honor of a visit from one of our World War II heroes, Gail Halvorsen – aka the Candy Bomber.  Colonel Halvorsen was recognized for his service to the people of Germany during the Berlin Airlift when he selflessly coordinated the delivery of an estimated 23 tons of candy to the people living in East Germany.

My father, also a Colonel in the United States Air Force, was friends with Colonel Halvorsen when they were both stationed in Germany after the Viet Nam War.

The legislature also has visits from citizen groups and school classes.  One of the school groups that came today was from Cherry Hill Elementary School in Orem. I am happy for the school children who get to visit the Capitol.

Today I invited Kaitlyn Jaussi to sit with me as we honored the Candy Bomber.



Citizen participation is always a part of the legislative process.  Earlier this week, I chaired a committee assigned to hear the Resolution on the Bears Ears Monument.  You can see that bill and hear that meeting here:
Here is a picture of part of the crowd who came to the Capitol to participate in our committee meeting.

It is my fortune to have help with the demands of the session.  Each legislator is assigned an intern from one of the colleges that teaches and tutors student interns.  My intern is Devin Earl from BYU.  He will respond to the emails and calls I receive if I am in committee or on the Senate Floor and cannot respond personally.  Additional help with constituent services is generated by Richard Jaussi.  One of his contributions to the process is making sure this weekly update is properly emailed.   Of particular assistance for personal support is my favorite constituent, my dear husband.  If you try to reach me during the session and I am not available, you may be interacting with one of these gentlemen.

daytoncrew.jpgDevin Earl, Richard Jaussi, myself and my husband

As always, you can follow the legislature through the Legislatures website:  The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees.  The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen to live and past committee meetings or the House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab with show the times and locations of these meetings.

You can connect with me on Facebook: 

It is an honor to serve in the Senate and represent our area

Yours for freedom ~

Margaret Dayton

2017 Legislative Session, Week 1

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Dear Friends in Senate 15 ~ The 2017 State Legislature has completed the first week!

Citizens are welcome to come the Utah State Capitol and participate in committee hearings, sit in the Senate or House Gallery to observe debates, or connect with elected officials as time permits.

If your schedule does not allow you to visit the Capitol in person, you can listen live to committees, watch live videos of floor debates – or access archived information here:
This first week has included visits to the Capitol from several school groups – 
including some from our district.

Over 50 charter schools from all over Utah came to present posters for their school.  Several included dances and songs performed by their choirs inside the Capitol building.


For History Day on the Hill today students came to present school history projects of individuals they found influential and interesting from World War II.  Two of those students were in my district.  Daniel from Lakeridge Junior High School and Diana from Orem High School created biographies of these historic figures through the use of documentaries and interactive websites which were so inspiring to review.

daniel.jpg                                               girl.jpg
It was delightful to welcome students from Dixon Jr High School today.  What a nice opportunity for these students to visit the Capitol.


The sand of the red rocks of San Juan County is in my DNA. My Lyman grandparents were the first settlers on White Mesa which eventually became the town of Blanding. So today I joined Speaker Hughes and the San Juan County Commissioners in promoting the passage of a resolution to send to Washington DC urging the repeal of the Bears Ears monument. You can find that resolution here:

hughesweb.jpg       hughes1.jpg

Earlier this week, I sent out a survey.  If you have not responded, please take 5 minutes and answer here:

Please know that it is an honor to serve as the Senator from our district, and I am committed to be effective in this stewardship.

As always, my priorities are supporting the Constitution and preserving the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Yours for freedom ~


September 2014 Update

By | 2010 | No Comments

Dear friends in Senate District 15 ~

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of fall, the joy of garden harvests, and therapeutic of comfort of living where we have seasons!
In the month of August, the legislature did not meet in Interim Session, although here were a few committee and task force meetings. 
The Government Communications met
as did the Education Task Force
the Legislative Audit Committee (this is the committee that had the report about UTA)
the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands
and the Health Reform Commission discussed Medicaid expansion options again.
I was involved in several legislative gatherings – including one with legislators from other states in Dallas.  While there, I joined Texas Gov Rick Perry in a Rally in Support of Israel.

Here are a few other Senate updates:
Senator Valentine has announced his retirement from 26 years of legislative service:
When I was first elected to the Utah Legislature and was serving in the House of Representatives, John Valentine was also in the House.  We have been seat-mates in the Senate for the last few years, and I have appreciated his ability to quickly evaluate legalese and give parliamentary directions.  I will miss his association.
This year’s fire season has not been as ferocious as some recent years. In part this is due to a preemptive move by the legislature. Money was allocated to the state forestry department to train local city firefighters on how to fight forest fires and it has helped keep the fires that have occurred, small and containable.  Of course, the weather has also been  helpful!
The State School Board made the decision to renew the NCLB waiver.
I spoke to the Board and asked them not to empower the Federal Dept of Education by playing ‘mother-may-I’ and requesting waivers from a law that is outside the confines of the Constitutions. Here are some of my comments about the renewal. I am interested in your thoughts on this topic.
The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down several opinions this year that affect state and local governments. Here is a review of some of those cases.
GOVERNING Magazine took a look at how Utah has been so successful in managing the unpredictability of state budget forecasting.
The Legislature is still discussing options for the state fair grounds.   
I hope you will have to take enjoy the Utah State Fair with your family.  It runs from Sept 4 to Sept 14.  If you can’t make it, I will be glad to show you pictures of the ribbons my husband and I have won in past fairs with home canning!
Senator Henderson’s work to increase Utah’s level of transparency and accountability and increase public participation is winning national awards.
Also, according to the Wall Street Journal, Utah could soon be first in the nation for job creation.
And finally (drumroll please…) 
Information Powerhouse=Utah’s Legislative Website.
Our legislative website won NCLS’s Online Democracy Award again this year and we are getting kudos from all over the nation. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, “Making government transparent and inclusive builds the nation, quietly, but just as consequentially as volunteers registering new voters, pioneers charting the wilderness, or revolutionaries marching at Valley Forge. Online democracy is a giant leap in the evolution of local self-governance and human freedom.”
Here are links to a few news reports about the award:
“The legislature’s simple and intuitive website was recognized specifically for its: sophisticated layout and functionality of the legislative calendar, straightforward search capabilities, fully integrated audio and video, mobile-friendly version, special attention to accessibility, interesting features, and elements that encourages public feedback.”
And here is the Senate Site recap:
Hopefully you are finding time to check out the Senate website occasionally for updates.
Please make sure you are registered to vote in the upcoming Nov Election.
You can go to my website ( for directions on how to do so if you need help.
If you are on Facebook, please like my page –
Our opportunity to vote came with a high price – 
We honor those who paid the price by our informed participation in the process.
It is an honor to serve as the Utah Senator from District 15.
Yours for freedom ~
Margaret Dayton
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”
Thomas Paine

The federalization of water: Affecting your ability to drink and flush

By | 2010 | No Comments

Water is the most essential natural resource in our desert state.

In 1877, to support development in the western states, Congress passed the Desert Land Act, effectively giving jurisdiction for the allocation and management of water resources exclusively to the states. Thus — by statute and tradition — the federal government and its various agencies have no role in the allocation and management of Utah’s water resources.

However, on May 6 of this year, the United States Forest Service published a Federal Register notice regarding a directive on Groundwater Management that will change the statute and disregard the tradition.

The Federal Register was created as part of the New Deal legislation in the 1930s enabling Congress to delegate its responsibilities of legislating to the newly created agencies. Now, federal agencies such as the National Forest Service, Department of Education or the EPA have the authority to create rules or issue edicts based on directive from the president, recommendations from Congressional committees, or even constructed for their own agendas. Those rules have the same effect as a law that has been passed through the regular legislative process. Creating laws through this bureaucratic method is something I do not endorse.

Elected representatives, voting as is done in the legislature, do not approve the rules. Agencies are required to inform the public in the Federal Register of their planned rule changes, but only approval from the president is necessary for the rule to become law. The only way for a rule to be nullified by Congress is for both the House and Senate to pass a resolution of disapproval — called the Congressional Review Act — and then the president must sign it as he does any other bill. (This has only happened once.)

The new Groundwater Management Plan is set to become law through this process. It directs a consideration of groundwater resources in agency activities, establishes an approvals and authorizations process, and directs source protection and water conservation. This may sound benign, but in reality it is anything but.

The document’s summary makes a subtle reference to restoration of forest health, but it makes specific reference to compliance with Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama in 2009. That order was to reduce potable (drinking water) intensity (use) by 26 percent and industrial, landscaping and agricultural water intensity by 20 percent, by the year 2020.

In effect, this new directive will give the U.S. Forest Service full authority to direct, control and monitor all of the waters that originate, pass through, “or are adjacent to” any land that is federally controlled. In Utah, more than 60 percent of the land is owned or controlled by the federal government, so adding the “adjacent to” qualifier could encompass nearly the entire state.

This Groundwater Management Plan consists of nothing more than a regulatory taking of our water without compensation.

It gives water rights to the Forest Service that is outside the appropriations process and will have a significant effect on the state’s economic development, our agriculture community, energy development, most outdoor recreation and the overall livability of Utah.

There is simply no authority or any demonstrable need for the U.S. Forest Service to be involved in such a taking — except for compliance with an Executive Order.

I serve as the Senate Chair of the Water Development Commission. Representative Keith Grover is the House Co. Chair. The WDC is made up of 13 legislators and 15 members of the water community including representatives of water districts, the agriculture community and organized environmental groups.

On July 15, in an open and recorded meeting, the WDC’s only agenda item was the proposed United States Forest Service Directive for Groundwater Resource Management. Chris Iverson, Deputy Regional Forest for Region 4 of the U.S. Forest Service (which includes Utah) and Kathryn Conant, Director of Lands and Minerals for Region 4, explained the Groundwater Management Plan at that meeting. (You can listen to the full meeting online on the legislature’s website, read all the submitted comments and see the information under the “meeting materials” tab.)

After presentations from water law experts, state water officials and some of the impacted organizations, a motion was made to have the WDC Chairs send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service outlining our concerns and frustrations with the Groundwater Management Plan and asking the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw said plan.

The motion passed unanimously with members of both legislative chambers and both political parties along with unelected Commission members in full support of the letter. Nothing the Water Development Commission has done thus far is of greater importance than addressing this serious issue.

Accordingly, the letter has been prepared and sent to the U.S. Forest Service. In doing so we added our united voice to that of the Western Congressional Caucus and other organizations asking the U.S. Forest Service to function according to existing prescribed law and to resist this unlawful taking of Utah’s water.

Surrendering control of so much, if not all, of Utah’s water to the Federal Government through a bureaucratic rule-making process is a serious issue of no small significance. If this directive is enforced, it will affect tourism, agriculture, industry, our backyard gardens and even our ability to drink and flush.

The Conundrum of the Common Core Waiver

By | 2010 | No Comments

This post was originally posted at Utah Politico Hub


I had the opportunity to address the State School Board today (on Friday, August 8, 2014) about the legislative intent of a bill that I passed nearly a decade ago.

HB 135 was passed in 2005, but the drafting and crafting process took a full two years. During the 2004 interim, every single education committee meeting discussed the onerous ramifications of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and what could be done. HB 135 was the result of some of those discussions.

When the bill was considered in the 2005 Legislative Session, each committee and floor vote was unanimous in favor. However, the clock ran out and session ended before the final vote was taken in the senate. A month later, in special session, the same bill passed with only a few dissenting votes. In addition to the strong legislative backing, I had notes and letters of support from Congressman Matheson, Congressman Cannon, UEA, PTA and State School Board members as well as many, many parents and teachers.

On the very day that the bill passed its final reading in the Senate, Governor Huntsman was in Washington D.C. meeting with the Department of Education to express the how the burdensome NCLB requirements had forced us to divert our limited state funds to meet the new and unfunded federal reporting mandates. Everyone knew even then that the requirements of NCLB were unattainable, and through its mandates Utah was being required to redirect our precious education dollars away from local discretionary spending and into these new and useless regulations.

When then Senate President Valentine cast his affirmative vote, he noted that this bill was indeed the best way to respond to the deceptive promises that were given to the states from the Department of Education regarding our ability to maintain local control through NCLB.

HB 135 did not debate the merits of federal education programs. That is the task of the State School Board. What it did do was give the state, a way to navigate these deceptive promises and created a plan for sorting out conflicts between federal legislation and state issues.

HB 135 was designed to empower the State Board to

[I]nterpret the provisions of federal programs in the best interest of students in this state; maximize local control and flexibility; minimize additional state resources that are diverted to implement federal programs beyond the federal monies that are provided to fund the programs; [and] request changes to federal educational programs, especially programs that are underfunded or provide conflicts with other state or federal programs.

It further directs school officials to “seek waivers from all possible federal statutes, requirements, regulations and program provisions from federal education [and] to maximize state flexibility in implementing programs and provisions.”

Some may have interpreted this now codified direction to mean that the State Board must now reapply for this waiver from NCLB. This is a point I want to clarify.

School officials are directed, if certain criteria are met–such as contradictions or conflicts between state and federal program requirements or excessive use of state funds for federal program implementation–to lobby for exemptions. In fact, the law clearly states that school officials are to lobby federal officials for these exemptions as part of their “normal duties.”

I suspect that part of the current confusion about this particular waiver is two-fold.

First, you do not need to seek this waiver. In fact this “waiver” is not actually a waiver at all, but simply an alteration of required mandates.

This first problem leads to the second problem, which is that the Federal Department of Education seems to have redefined the word “waiver” so that it no longer means “exemption” which was clearly the meaning when it is referenced and allowed in NCLB. But now “waiver” seems to mean “we won’t hold you accountable for one set onerous unconstitutional obligations if you will agree to another set of onerous unconstitutional obligations.” (Section 9401 of NCLB refers to the waiver process.)

In fact, HB 135 gave very specific direction as to what the trigger should be to requesting a waiver from federal education programs. It states, “School officials shall request a waiver under Section 9401 of the No Child Left Behind Act of any provision of the No Child left Behind Act that violates Section 9527.” (Emphasis added)

This is what section 9527 says:


(a) GENERAL PROHIBITION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.

(b) PROHIBITION ON ENDORSEMENT OF CURRICULUM- Notwithstanding any other prohibition of Federal law, no funds provided to the Department under this Act may be used by the Department to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary school or secondary school.


(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.

(2) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect requirements under title I or part A of title VI.

(d) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON BUILDING STANDARDS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to mandate national school building standards for a State, local educational agency, or school.

Clearly the intent of HB 135, which is now Utah code, is to direct and support the State School Board in seeking waivers that would protect local control, not “waivers” that would just subject our curriculum and standards to federal approval.

Along those lines, the U.S. Secretary of Education has broken the law. Current federal law clearly says that the federal government may not be involved in curriculum content, nor can they require specific academic standard content as a contingency for federal funds. But by requiring states to adopt Common Core standards, prior to applying for Race to the Top Funds, that is what was done.

Last week, in a court filings for Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal stated that federal involvement with the Common Core is a “carefully orchestrated scheme to control curriculum in the states” and that the current administration is “trying to accomplish very indirectly what Congress has told them they can’t do.”

The right of educating children has always been reserved for the states. HB 135 was designed to empower the State Board to push back and maintain that right. HB 135 led out and established a way for our state to stand firm in the face exactly what is happening with current waiver conundrum.