To: Ric Cantrell,
Subject: The Senate Site: “Senate Bill 54: The Caucus Compromise” plus 1 more
Date: Fri Feb 21 12:02:03 MST 2014
Posted: 20 Feb 2014 05:37 PM PST
By Curt Bramble
Some history: In 2013, a group of Republicans approached the Utah GOP Central Committee with a proposal to change the current nomination process. Currently, when no candidate gets 60 percent of the vote in convention, the top two candidates square off in a primary. The group proposed to move the 60 percent threshold up to 65 percent. In a stunningly obtuse vote, the proposal was defeated.
After the vote, the defeated Republicans created the Count My Vote (CMV) initiative. CMV completely scraps Utah’s neighborhood caucus meetings, and instead implements a one-round direct primary system. People with money tend to like this idea (because it puts them in the driver’s seat). Thus, the group has raised a lot of cash, but they’ve also encountered significant grassroots opposition.
The argument against their initial proposal stems from the idea that party members – who have spent significant time with the issues and candidates – are best suited to choose their own candidates. The current caucus system offers several obvious benefits: political accountability, a rural voice, grassroots campaigning, and less overall expense.
The stated purpose of the CMV group was to change the system in order to increase voter participation. We agree that the process should change and that increased voter participation is important, but Count My Vote’s proposal does more harm than good.
We believe that SB 54 out-CMVs the CMV initiative. If the goal is truly to increase voter participation, our proposal holds more promise. In an effort to keep the benefits of the caucus/convention systemand address needed political party reform, SB 54 provides a middle course.
Senate Bill 54 makes the proposed CMV initiative language the law of Utah. Political parties must comply with it’s provisions unless they make the following four internal changes:
1. Political parties must create a way to accept absentee or proxy votes for neighborhood caucuses, so those who can’t attend the meetings can still vote.
2. Neighborhoods would have to select Alternate Delegates in case the original delegate can’t attend the convention where the nominees are selected.
3. If a candidate doesn’t get at least 65 percent of the delegate vote at convention – up from the current threshold of 60 percent – the top two candidates would square off in a primary.
4. All primary elections would have to be open to unaffiliated voters. Currently the Democratic Party holds open primaries, but the Republican Party has a closed primary. Under SB 54, all primary elections would be open to unaffiliated voters (CMV keeps the GOP primary elections closed).
SB 54 shouldn’t be seen in isolation – it’s a companion bill to the Electronic Vote bill and E-signature bill I am also sponsoring this year, each with the goal of enhanced voter participation.
I invite you to look past sound-bite politics and help us craft something good – something that will protect and enhance what we hold dear: public participation, accountability, a true citizen legislature, a well managed state, etc.
Thank you for your careful attention.
We’ll post the SB 54 debate on the Senate Floor here as soon as it’s done rendering.
Posted: 20 Feb 2014 04:37 PM PST
It’s the end of 2014 Legislative Session Day 24. Countdown: 21 days until we pack up, go home, and live under the laws that we create.
Today on the Hill, we heard from Congressman Jim Matheson on the Senate Floor. We also recognized Utah’s Mothers of the Year on the floor, and were joined by students from the Utah FFA (who brought Aggie Ice Cream… thanks!). In the Rotunda, there was a big rally in regards to Medicaid Expansion, which has been a hot topic this session and will continue to be discussed in the coming weeks. We also started two-a-days on the Senate Floor. So far, the ‘downward slope’ has been a busy, ruckus one.
According to Senator Valentine, Senate Rules Chair, to date there have been 1,216 requests for legislation (an all-time high). 595 bills have been numbered so far, 257 are currently being drafted, and 314 of the requests have been abandoned.
Here are the day’s Senate Smiles:
Bills of note debated on the Senate Floor today include SB 54, Elections Amendments, by Senator Bramble. The bill passed on the 2nd Reading Calendar with a vote of 26-2-1. Senator Bramble has spoken about the measure several times in Media Availability so far [here] and [here]. We’ll post a video of the debate on our YouTube page soon.
Other interesting bills debated on the floor:
- HB 214, which authorizes a National Professional Men’s Basketball Team Support of Women and Children Issues support special group license plate. (Vote was 25-0-4 on 2nd & 3rd.)
- HB 80 received some significant debate on the floor. The bill would allow UDOT to up the speed limit on certain highways under certain conditions. (Vote was 23-4-2 on 2nd.)
Today’s Media Availability was brief and breezy. Thanks for being engaged! If you haven’t joined us before, consider this your invitation. Every day after morning floor time is adjourned, we meet with media and Senate leadership in President Niederhauser’s office for an informal Q&A. We live stream everything online, and you can always tweet us your questions @utahsenate or text them in to 801-505-1457 during the stream. Here’s today’s stream via YouTube:
How do you social media? However and whatever you use, you can connect with us viaUtah Senate Cloud, the cloud listing all of our social media channels.
Links We Like
– Lawmakers are seeking a compromise for liquor laws. The “Zion Curtain” might be replaced with a written warning instead.
– The latest on SB 54: Count My Vote supporters rallied prior to the bill’s passage on the Senate 2nd Reading Calendar this morning.
– More about SB 54 from Bryan Schott. Deja Vu All Over Again. [And job security for him?]
– The debate over e-cigarettes is burning up (pun emphatically intended) as HB 112 moves out of committee.
– The ‘Sponsor an Immigrant’ guest worker program which was pushed back in the 2013 session will be pushed back another two years due to a waiver that has not yet been approved by the Fed. ”Bramble said it was unknown if the feds would ever allow those programs to go forward but stated that it was clear Washington was not going to do much to alter immigration policy in the nation anytime soon.”
Future leaders of America. Should we be scared?
See ya later! Come back tomorrow for two doses of Standing Committees and what promises to be a rousing 2 hours of Senate Floor debate.
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