Monday, February 18, 2008

Government of, by, and for the people??

Well, this is my first post to the Utah Amicus. I see Rob won't be playing as "active" a role as normal while he focuses on candidate recruitment for the Utah Dems. This morning I got an invitation to occasionally post my thoughts here while not preparing caucus packets for the Utah Dems. Obviously Rob felt of the two of us I had a bit more spare time. I don't suppose it is necessary to point out anything I choose to write here is entirely my opinion and not necessarily that of the Democratic Party or the DNC for whom I officially work, but it is.

I know Senator Chris Buttars has received more than the usual amount of criticism this week. In the interest of fairness, I have chosen to launch my debut on Utah Amicus with a criticism of the committee considering SB267, the bill introduced by Senator Buttars intended to eliminate the domestic partner registry created under the new leadership of Mayor Becker with unanimous approval of the Salt Lake City Council.

According to today's Salt Lake Tribune, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee refused to hear all points of view on this particular bill, instead opting to limit testimony to Gayle Ruzika, LaVar Christensen, Merrill Cook and others supporting Buttars' proposed elimination of SLC's domestic partner registry. After hearing all concerns deemed relevant by Senator Peter Knudson, the acting chair of the committee, a vote was taken and - surprise, surprise - the vote was 4-0 in support of Senator Buttars' bill.

I am not opposed to allowing Gayle Ruzika and others to be heard on this or any other legislation. It seems to me if the constitutional right to petition our government for redress of grievances means anything it means allowing people with whom I differ the opportunity to petition senators and representatives on matters they care about. Unfortunately, it appears some Utah State Senators feel that right only extends to people with whom I and other like minded liberals differ.

Constituents impacted by Chris Buttars' bill traveled to Capitol Hill to be heard. They sat patiently through a committee hearing hoping to have the opportunity to speak to the effects this legislation would have on their family and friends. Senator Knudson apparently could not set aside his position on the legislation long enough to even allow one among them to state their concerns with SB267 before taking a vote. Clearly there was time given it is doubtful LaVar Christensen or Gayle Ruzika had anything significantly different to say on the matter.

A simple gesture such as alternating testimony between those in favor and opposition to the bill, even if time did not allow everyone wishing to speak to be heard, would have sufficed. Perhaps if Senator Buttars is fortunate enough to survive the November election we can ask him to introduce a bill requiring Senate and House committees to do just that when people on both sides of an issue are present. Clearly the dictates of common courtesy aren't motivation enough, and micromanaging Senate and House committees is right up his alley.


mike said...

The Trib article is misleading and incomplete. There was a back and forth of pro and con members from the audience. Mayor Becker, Council Chair Love, City Attorney Rutan, and a lesbian woman whose name I didn't get who had problems seeing her partner at LDS hospital all spoke against the bill. The article also didn't note that Sen. McCoy who was there at the beginning asked questions that made Sen. Butters and La Var Christensen had trouble answering and came off looking like idiots. So all was not as bleak as the article suggested although the vote was never in doubt.

Anonymous said...

thanks Mike. I have to keep reminding myself that media writers are only human, and want to make things more exciting so they get published. Many a time I have read an article reporting on an event to which I have attended and thought "hey! Was I really there? Or were they really there. And what is 'there' anyway?"

Anonymous said...

Craig, you clearly don't understand politics in Utah.

Anonymous said...

Craig, you clearly don't understand politics in Utah.