Tag Archives: citizen rights

The Answer to Solving Problems? Criminalize Everything!

HB462 Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions, the replacement bill for HB12 Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments, passed both the House and the Senate yesterday on The Hill.  The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for signing on Monday.

The news has hit the New York Times and Ms. Magazine (which references Utah Legislature Watch).

The bill’s original language was amended to take out the word “reckless”

…. in reference to behavior but retains “intentional” acts by the woman that cause an abortion as grounds for a charge of aggravated murder.

The measure doesn’t change the state’s legal abortion statutes but establishes Utah as the only state to set parameters on when a woman can be held criminally responsible for causing the end of a pregnancy at her own hand or means outside a doctor’s care.

(Deseret News)

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, expressed that interpretations of the bill’s language were “fabrications”.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, said his original bill was designed to go after mothers who recklessly use illegal drugs and lose their fetus and insisted that claims it could extend more broadly were “an absolute farce and a lie.”

“The rumors,” he said, “that this bill allowed women to be charged for slipping on ice or driving down the road without her seat belt and getting in an accident: total fabrication.”

(Salt Lake Tribune)

Wimmer drafted the bill in response to an incident involving a 17 year old pregnant woman who paid a man to beat her until she miscarried (the fetus survived and has been adopted)

Democrats in the legislature are still wary about the bill:

Democrats commended Wimmer for revising his bill, but many remain unconvinced the legislation is needed at all. Democratic Representative Brian King said empowering the state to “poke around in the bedrooms and doctor’s offices” of Utahns runs counter to the Legislature’s conservative nature.


“You know, sometimes I think the disconnect between our words, and what we claim are our stated beliefs and what we do are so great that we ought to treat some of our members for whiplash. It’s that, there’s that big a gap,” said King.


Continue reading

Utah Citizens Organize “Clean Air” Rally

There will be a “Rally for Clean Air”  on the Steps on the South Side of the Utah State Capitol, Wednesday, March 10, 2010 from 3-4pm.  The rally will be an effort to get legislators to reconsider their positions on HJR 12 Climate Change Resolution and HJR 21 Joint Resolution on Energy Policy.  Organizer Drew Thompson sent out this announcement today:

The Legislature has had its say, now it’s our turn. Despite our phone calls, letters, emails, and testimonies HJR 12 passed resoundingly in both the House and Senate, and HJR 21 is well on its way to the same fate.

This complete disregard of both science and the economic and environmental future of our state demands our protest. Utilize your right to assemble and join all those who still reject scientific half-truths and scare tactics in favor of reason and justice.

We will be rallying on the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Wednesday, March 10 at 3:00 pm. Former SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson, BYU Geologist Barry Bickmore, Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, and U of U Sociology Professor Andrew Jorgenson will be speaking at the event.

Bring picket signs, bring your friends, and ride your bike.

Check out the event “Clean Air Rally” at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=376479900791.

View previous posts on these two Resolutions here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

ACLU of Utah on SB 277: More Violations of 4th Amendment Rights

SB 277 DNA Modifications proposes to collect DNA samples of individuals arrested for violent felonies.

The key concept here that is not being considered, it appears, is the difference between being arrested and convicted.  It looks like “innocent until proven guilty” has no bearing on this at all.

Fox News carried a piece on the bill here.

The ACLU of Utah opposes the expansion of DNA databanks to include those merely charged with certain types of crimes:

There is a vast difference between using DNA as a tool in investigations – both to catch the guilty and exonerate the wrongly accused – and
permanently storing the most intimate biological information of persons who have not been convicted of any crime.

The taking and permanent retention of DNA from innocent people is an intolerable violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Read the rest of the ACLU of Utah’s statement here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

HB 150: A Violation of Privacy

The Senate Education Committee early this morning will hear testimony on HB150 Administrative Supoena, a bill which will make it o.k. to get personal information from your ISP and cell phone records without a warrant in certain instances.

Misty Fowler  offers a bit of history and persepctive about the bill over on her Saintless blog:

last year a bill passed into law that gave prosecutors power to get your contact information from your ISP and/or cell phone companies without a judge when they suspect a child sex crime. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, in the time since going into effect,” more than 200 such subpoenas have been issued, or slightly more than one a day.”This year, the Utah Legislature is considering a bill (HB 150) that would extend that to include suspected felonies, as well as cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment (misdemeanors).

This bill has passed through committee, and will be voted on in the House. Rep. Brian King was the lone vote against HB 150 in committee. He asked Pete Ashdown to help him in pointing out the problems with this bill. Of course, number one was that it’s unconstitutional. The one I wouldn’t have thought of though was that it is anti-business:

"It is anti-business. Burdensome regulation against Internet Service Providers, making them a wholesale detective arm of law-enforcement is punitive against small ISPs and favors large ISPs with more resources. There are no nationwide ISPs headquartered in Utah and this law will help drive the already struggling small Utah-based ISPs under. Yahoo has already published their price list for violating your personal privacy. Smaller ISPs are more likely to protect your privacy as long as the law stands with them, they don’t have the money to fight a court battle in your favor."

HB 150…. was defeated in the House yesterday[February 25], but Pete Ashdown writes that Rep. Daw wants to bring it back from the dead as a slimmed down version covering kidnapping and cyberstalking.

This is NOT okay! There is a reason we have a legal system that uses warrants. Yes, kidnapping and cyberstalking are bad things. But, a warrant isn’t some kind of undue hardship. It’s a process we have in place for a reason.

So, take a look again at Pete Ashdown’s flier against HB 150, and then call/write your Representatives and ask them to vote no.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

The voting i.d. debacle

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

While the U.S. Supreme Court has now made it official that corporations are persons and have the same rights as individuals, including running for elections and voting (see Murray Hill, Inc. running for Congress), it appears the voting rights of “real” individuals are at stake – especially of opponents to the Valid Voter Identification (H.B. 79) get their way.

This bill would enable people with Medicare cards (i.e. the elderly [the largest population of voters] who have no drivers license.  A state i.d. you say?  Well, that might be possible if there weren’t long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles due to recent changes resulting in the DMV to come into compliance with the Real ID Act (see articles in the Standard Net and  Salt Lake Tribune).

The real debate, though, is what democracy looks like with regards to people being able to vote and the barriers put forth preventing people from voting.

H.B. 218: Municipal Disincorporation and Powder Mountain

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Powder Mountain residents are up in arms. As well they should be. A developer has created and incorporated “Powderville” without surrounding resident’s input, resulting in a lawsuit that has reached the Utah Supreme Court. Established residents and legislators are speaking out and taking action.

House Legislative District 8 Representative Gage Froerer will be soon introduce legislation (Senator Allen Christensen is the Senate co-sponsor) designed to remove the requirement for a 24-month waiting period prior to a municipal disincorporation election, allowing the voters of the town to decide immediately whether or not a town is in the best interest of the majority of citizens and property owners. This may prove to be the best solution for prospective ”Powderville” citizens in a practical sense, provided that Mssrs. Froerer and Christensen can rustle up the necessary votes. For those readers who’d like to chime in with their support for this legislation, we’ll offer several avenues by which our readers can take action.

Read the rest of the story in the Weber County Forum here

Power to the People: Mobile Home Owners’ Rights

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

This past Saturday mobile home owners held a rally at the Salt Lake City Library to raise their voices in support of the more than 75,000 mobile home owners in Utah. According to a piece on KCPW’s website, hundreds were expected, but snowy weather impacted the numbers which reduced to about 40, according to a Salt Lake Tribune article on the event.
Typically, mobile home owners reside in mobile home parks where the land upon which their homes sit are owned by an entity.

Data compiled by[ Steve Anderson, president of Utah Manufactured Homeowners Action Group] Anderson showed that since 2004, lot rents have risen between 15 and 87 percent, while the consumer price index rose 11.2 percent each year.

Further, landlords in the past have held the right to notify home owners with only 90 days notice of a change in hands and notice to vacate. This resulted in home owners, especially those on fixed and low incomes, to have many who had lived much of their adult lives in the same home, to scramble to find housing since moving a home is quite an expensive venture.

“We’re treated as if we’re a closed market,” Anderson said. “We’re not a closed market. We’re a captured market.”
That captive situation exists, Anderson added, because it costs up to $20,000 to relocate a manufactured home from one park to another. And many mobile-home dwellers are retirees, widows, senior citizens and veterans living on tight budgets.

After years of no action for the protection of rights of mobile home owners against landlord greed, the Utah Legislature finally last yera passed a law required land owners to provide 9 months notice of transfer of ownership and notice to vacate the premises.
The group of homeowners will continue to put pressure on legislators this year to improve the rights of persons living in mobile homes. This will include making it attainable for home owers to form cooperatives with the intent of buying out the land owners.

“Your Papers Please”….Another “No” to Feds by Utah: National ID Law

A House Committee voted overwhelmingly on Friday to join over 20 other states in refusing to participate in the Read ID Act.  This act was signed by George W. Bush in 2005, with an implementation deadline of 2010, that would require all state DMV’s to transform state drivers’ licenses into national ID’s which would store all person’s data in a national database.

Not only do Legislators across the country in various states feel this is a degradation of freedom, but it would also cost millions of dollars to implement.

"Real ID has the potential to be one of the most destructive things to freedom this country has ever seen," said Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman.

On a local level, the act would also require Utah to spend $2 million to $4 million, money that could be better spent on education or human services in this damaged economy, said Rep. Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake City.

(Salt Lake Tribune)

However, defying Homeland Security comes with consequences.

If the federal government decides to implement the act in 2010, as scheduled, no Utahn will be able to board an airplane without the national ID. Rep. David Litvack expressed concern that Washington also might withhold its federal funding so long as Utah refuses to obey, or ask the state to return the $1.8 million in federal grants it received to create national IDs and the centralized database.

So, that’s like sanctions, right?  Oh yes, that’s right – the U.S. Government always resorts to imposing sanctions when it doesn’t get what it wants.

More Money for Primary Seat Belt Law? Utah Says “No”.

Utah Legislators have "missed out" on $1.2 million from the feds for not having a "Primary Seat Belt Law".

In Utah one can only get cited for not using a seat belt if another infraction is the reason for being pulled over by law enforcement.  The feds want Utah to change that law so that Utah can receive additional monies for highway-safety improvements.  In other words, the money is conditional.

Utah Legislators feel that imposing a primary seat belt law would be infringing on one’s right to think for him/herself.

Salt Lake Tribune

"Missing out on a million dollars to preserve that right is absolutely appropriate," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.

Statistics show that Utah already has a high compliance rate with wearing seatbelts.


National studies find that about half the people killed in traffic accidents while not wearing seat belts would survive if they buckled up, Hull said. States that adopt laws allowing traffic stops for seat belts reduce traffic fatalities by anywhere from 7 percent to 11 percent, he said.

The lives saved by such a law in Utah could be on the low end because of the state’s already-high compliance rate.

While many feel that wearing seatbelts is a matter of common sense, and while the extra million dollars would help with the current budget situation, most legislators are reluctant to even enter a bill for a primary seatbelt law due to the "meddlesome-ness" of many laws already.

Kudos to legislators for not taking the seat belt laws any further.  Doing so would cross the line of individual rights.