Friday, February 25, 2011

Instate tuition: The debate goes on.

Instate tuition for undocumented residents of Utah, has been a subject of great debate since Utah implemented the policy in 2002.  H.B. 191, Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments, will repeal the ability for undocumented college students who live in Utah to pay instate tuition. Thursday, H.B. 191 came to the House floor for a debate. During the debate, it became clear that many legislators, including several republicans, have issues with the bill.  Rep. Wright proposed an amendment to the bill that would require students to provide proof of payment of taxes for the previous year, by either the student, or the parent or legal guardian of the student. The amendment passed in dramatic fashion.  Because the vote on the amendment was so narrow, all Representatives were called back to the House floor for the vote. Rep. Kiser proposed another amendment that would extend the requirement of proof of payment of taxes to three years. In an attempt to stop this amendment and end the debate on H.B. 191, Rep. Wimmer, the bill sponsor, circled the bill. Nonetheless, Rep. Wimmer can uncircle the bill at any time, bringing H.B. 191 back to the floor for debate and a vote. Keep an eye on this bill as it could move at any moment. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Senate Version of a Guest Worker Permit Would Violate Constitution

A Senate Committee passed out S.B. 60 S, "Pilot Accountability Permit Program and Identity Related Amendments," that would allow undocumented individuals in Utah to work. Despite its many constitutional flaws, this bill now heads to the Senate floor for debate. Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Council with the ACLU of Utah, testified in opposition to the bill before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, February 23. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bill Threatens In-State Tuition for Some Utah Residents

Despite testimony by Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Utah, urging members to vote against it, H.B. 191 “Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments” passed out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, on Friday, February 18, with a 10 - 5 vote. It will next be debated on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives before a full vote. Please contact your Representative and encourage them to oppose this bill. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Immigration Legislation

Friday was a disappointing day at the Capitol on the immigration front.  H.B. 70, the Arizona copycat bill, passed out of the House of Representatives, with a vote of 58-15. H.B. 70, the enforcement-only, racial profiling bill, will now move to the Senate. Hopefully Utah Senators will be more aware of the dangers of this legislation and will move to block its progress in the Senate. We encourage all Utahns who oppose this bill to contact your Senators and tell them why they should vote no on H.B. 70.  Our talking points and testimony on H.B. 70 can be found at

The ACLU of Utah also testified in a committee hearing on Friday morning to urge members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee to vote against a repeal on instate tuition for undocumented students, H.B. 191.  Unfortunately, the committee voted to pass the measure out for debate on the House floor.  Stay tuned for more information on this bill.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Keep In-State Tuition For All Utah Residents

Stop H.B. 191, "Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments" 

H.B. 191, "Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments" will be heard in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee tomorrow morning. This bill seeks to repeal the current Utah law allowing non-citizens to be eligible for in-state tuition if they attended a Utah high school for three years or more, and graduated from a Utah high school. Please contact committee members and tell them to VOTE NO on H.B. 191.
Talking Points:
Utah's current law is critical to promoting fundamental fairness in access to public higher education for talented, high achieving young people who are able to gain admission to our public colleges and universities, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Denying these students access to affordable college education is short-sighted because they are likely to remain in the United States and may well regularize their immigration status under current or future federal laws.
  • Providing in-state tuition to Utah high school graduates at public colleges and universities promotes economic growth and increases opportunities. College graduates who are likely to remain in Utah earn higher wages, and therefore generate significantly more in income, sales, and property taxes. Their increased earning power and disposable income stimulate growth in our state's economy. A better educated population also increases competitiveness in the global economy.
  • Denying higher education access to undocumented students means failing to capitalize on Utah's investment in their K-12 education. Many of the undocumented students already educated in the K-12 public school system come from impoverished backgrounds and would not otherwise be able to attend college or university without in-state tuition.
House Revenue and Taxation Committee
Committee Chairman Rep. Patrick Painter (R), Email:
Rep. Joel K. Briscoe (D), Email:
Rep. Mel Brown (R), Email:
Rep. David G. Butterfield (R), Email:
Rep. David Clark (R), Email:
Rep. Tim M. Cosgrove (D), Email:
Rep. John Dougall (R), Email:
Rep. Susan Duckworth (D), Email:
Rep. Julie Fisher (R), Email:
Rep. Gage Froerer (R), Email:
Rep. Wayne A. Harper (R), Email:
Rep. Eric Hutchings (R), Email:
Rep. Brian King (D), Email:
Rep. Merlynn T. Newbold (R), Email:
Rep. Jim Nielson (R), Email:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unconstitutional Guest Worker Bill Passes House Committee

Posted 2/16/11 - H.B. 116, "Guest Worker Program Act," passed out of 
the House Workforce Services and Community and Economic 
Development Committee yesterday after a vote of 6 to 1. Esperanza 
Granados, Public Policy Advocate for the ACLU of Utah, testified 
before the committee warning that the bill violates the 4th, 5th and 
14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 

Arizona Copy Cat Bill Advances Out of Committee

Posted 2/16/11 - Marina Lowe, Legislative & Policy Counsel with the ACLU 
of Utah, advised the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice 
Committee of the dangers of enacting H.B. 70, "Illegal Immigration 
Enforcement Act," modeled on the controversial Arizona law SB 1070. 
Unfortunately, the bill passed out of committee and will now be debated on 
the House floor. 

Equal Opportunity

Posted 2/14/11 - Listen to KRCL's RadioActive broadcast from Friday, 2/10, on Affirmative Action. Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel at the ACLU of Utah, joins Barry Gomberg, the director of affirmative action and equal opportunity at Weber State University, and Kim Hall, the assistant director of the Women's Resource Center at the University of Utah to discuss their predictions for the legislative session and the impact if a proposed constitutional amendment to exempt the state from federal affirmative action laws were to pass.

"Improperly motivated," Senator Urquhart's SB 55 would "compromise commerce and the government in Utah"

Posted 2/10/11 - The ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney Brent V. Manning, who jointly represented independent candidate for governor Farley Anderson in the landmark case Anderson v. Bell, spoke today in opposition to a bill proposed by Senator Stephen Urquhart (SB 55, "Electronic Signatures") that would greatly restrict the ability of courts and all other "government agencies" to accept otherwise legal "e-signatures" from Utah residents and others. In an interview with Etopia News, Manning observed, "[U]nder the terms of S.B. 55, in order for a Utah court to enforce a contract sealed with an electronic signature, it would need to engage in a 'rule-making process' which, as a court, it is not able to do, since its function is to decide cases, not make rules. Thus, no electronic signature, or online purchase, or other electronically-agreed-to contract could be enforced in Utah courts. S.B. 55 'would completely invalidate all electronic transactions in Utah . . . . Every government department would have to engage in rule-making that would paralyze the process.'"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TAKE ACTION: Stop H.B. 70, "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act"

Rep. Sandstrom's HB 70, "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act," is going to be heard in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee tomorrow at 2pm (PM/ Room 30 in the House Building). Show up early to fill the committee room.

Contact the representatives who will be at the hearing and tell them to VOTE NO on the Arizona copycat bill!

Use these talking points in your communication with the Committee members.

HB 70 Talking Points:

HB 70, modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070, requires law enforcement to act as federal immigration officers and to rely on “reasonable suspicion” to determine immigration status. This approach is harmful to our communities, our citizens and the rule of law. It invites racial profiling, creates divisiveness within our community and diverts valuable resources away from other legitimate law enforcement efforts.

Immigration policy has always been within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Legislation that creates immigration policy at the state and local levels is vulnerable to challenge in the courts.

We are not certain of the overall economic impact of immigration in Utah. We must not be hasty to implement laws that could have a negative impact on our already faltering economy. The experiences of other states such as Arizona tell us that this sort of legislation has a clear negative impact on the economy.

Please VOTE NO on HB 70!

Find out which Representatives are on the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee (Click on Committee Membership in the left hand column) >>

Read some general ACLU of Utah talking points on immigration legislation (PDF) >>

Busy Week At The Capital

Wednesday at the Capitol for The ACLU of Utah was supposed to be a busy day filled with committee hearings. Accordingly, we worked to prepare testimony and rally concerned citizens to attend hearings and voice opposition to very damaging legislation.  However, in the early part of the morning it soon became clear that things had changed.

H.B. 70, Rep. Sandstrom’s bill modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070, was supposed to be heard in committee on Wednesday afternoon. At the last minute, this bill was removed from the committee’s agenda. There are many problems with H.B. 70, but the enormous fiscal note attached to his bill might be what caused Rep. Sandstrom to hold off on a hearing. The fiscal note puts an $11.3 million dollar burden on local governments and law enforcement. The bill will now be heard tomorrow in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. Please attend and voice your concerns about this harmful bill.

S.B. 138, sponsored by Sen. Urquhart is titled “Driver license qualification amendments,” and would eliminate the driver privilege card.  The bill was heard in the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee yesterday, and resulted in an interesting debate. Sen. Bramble openly opposed S.B. 138, joining others who believe the driver privilege card is a safe way to have information regarding who is driving on Utah roads, and to provide a means for all drivers to have car insurance. Unfortunately the committee passed S.B. 138 with a favorable recommendation. Now the bill moves to the Senate floor for debate.

Good news in the Capitol came as S.B. 152, Sex Offender Restriction Amendments, was tabled which means it will not be heard on the floor this session. Another piece of good news is that H.B. 182, a bill that would void any contract, arrangement or transaction if found to be against public policy, was pulled from the agenda in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday.

Stay tuned for more information on these bills and many more. We will remain vigilant in lobbying against bills that are unconstitutional and unnecessary, and we will continue to support legislation that protects the civil liberties of all Utahns. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Legislative Updates and Action Alerts

Rep. Chrsitensen's HB 18, "Voiding Transactions Against Public Policy," will be heard tomorrow in the House Judiciary Committee at 4pm. Should the state of Utah be interfering with YOUR right to contract? Tell the representatives to VOTE NO on HB 182!

Rep. Sandstrom's HB 70, "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act," is going to be heard in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee tomorrow at 4pm (PM/25 House Building). Show up early to fill the committee room. Contact the representatives who will be at the hearing and tell them to VOTE NO on the Arizona copycat bill!

Senator Dayton's SB 44, "State Commission Amendments," is headed for the House. This dangerous bill restricts the ability of the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) to make recommendations about proposed constitutional amendments. Is this retribution for the CRC's consideration of the affirmative action bill last year? Contact your representative now and tell them to VOTE NO on SB 44!
Read a Salt Lake Tribune Op Ed >>

Monday, February 7, 2011

Keeping You Informed

Today was an incredibly disappointing day at the Capital. S.B. 62, an adoption bill that would allow for second parent adoption, was tabled in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. This bill would have made it possible for an unmarried adult to adopt the biological or legally adopted child of his or her cohabitating partner. With so many children living in Utah without parents, it is extremely sad to see the legislature act against such needed legislation. We will continue to strive for equal rights for all Utahns, including the right to live with whomever one chooses and to raise a family.