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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

We believe in the right of an individual to engage in an occupation free from government restriction or a mandate to first obtain a permission slip from bureaucrats. Too often, industries seek to create barriers to entry for new practitioners using government regulation via increased occupational licensing requirements. Some licensing requirements include arbitrary waiting times or requisite years of experience before a license is issued despite whether an individual can demonstrate actual competency in the field.

House Bill 235, sponsored by Representative Norman Thurston, aims to reduce these barriers to entry from waiting times by giving prospective licensees the opportunity to demonstrate skills competency in their field in lieu of a waiting time. Under the bill, the Utah Department of Occupational Licensure would offer alternative testing for license applicants who wish to demonstrate skills competency. While we are opposed to licensing in general and oppose increased barriers to entry, we see this bill as a common sense way to reduce existing licensure burdens and provide more opportunity for individuals to obtain requisite licenses.

A recent nationwide study found Utah to be the 12th most onerously licensed state in the nation. This is a metric that harms free enterprise in our state and the liberty of Utahns to engage in an occupation of their choice. Utah should continue to find ways to reduce the burden of licensure. HB 235 is a good step in that direction.

Yesterday morning, we published an interview with Heather Gardner, a Utah mother of five young children, who was told by school administrators that her children were no longer welcome on campus because she had opted them out of assessments the school believed her children were required to take.

By the afternoon, the situation became worse.

First, some context. Last year, Senator Aaron Osmond sponsored a parental rights bill that, among other things, requires a school to “excuse [a] student from taking a test that is administered statewide” upon written request of the parent. In other words, with this bill having been signed into law, a parent can legally opt out their child from “a test that is administered statewide.”

However, a legal opinion offered last September by Assistant Attorney General Chris Lacombe (who is representing the school board in our lawsuit over their adoption of Common Core), led the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) to advise schools that parents can only opt their children out of some of the assessments.

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To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker.
Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or
click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Currently, Utah law prohibits beekeeping unless the individual first registers with, and pays, the state government. This mandate has led many beekeepers to “go underground” by defying the requirement and doing it without the government’s permisison or knowledge.

House Bill 224, sponsored by Representative Marc Roberts, proposes carving out the registration requirement for those who operate five bee hives or less, leaving the burden to the commercial beekeepers and others with a large operation. Those exempted from the registration requirement would, under the bill, still be able to voluntarily register to receive services if they so desire.

The bill also:

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Editor’s note: Heather Gardner is a parent of several children attending school in Utah. A few days ago, using a legal opinion from an Assistant Attorney General that contradicts the purpose and intent of a “parental rights” law in the state, her daughter was forced to take an exam that she had opted her out of. 

This morning, Heather filed a formal complaint with the Utah State Charter School Board. Below, she recounts this and other experiences her children have had being told by teachers to do what her parents said she didn’t need to comply with. The comments in this interview do not necessarily reflect the views of Libertas Institute. 

Libertas Institute: Tell our readers a little about yourself.

Heather Gardner: My husband and I are the parents of five children. I’m currently a professional photographer, and own two book review websites. I also teach at Liberty Hills Academy, a private school in Bountiful. I ran for the state school board during this last election, and did not make it on the ballot because the Governor’s nominating committee ended my candidacy. However, I did petition Judge Waddoups to put myself and all the other rejected candidates on the ballot once he ruled that the process was unconstitutional, but my petition was denied. I was appointed by Senator Niederhauser to the standards review committee for Fine Arts curriculum in Utah.

I’ve tried to stay very informed about educational issues, related legislation, and to attend my local school board meetings and legislative sessions. I’m a special needs mom and advocate for students and parents.

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Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

A woman clearly has the right to birth her own child. She does not need to, but may (and usually does) request the assistance of one or more people to ensure the process goes well—doctors, midwives, a husband, or friend. Midwives, of course, are quite popular, and in Utah they need not be licensed in order to offer their services to interested expecting mothers.

A midwife may elect not to become licensed in Utah for a variety of reasons: because it is restrictive, because she prefers not to be regulated by the government, because she doesn’t use drugs or practice in a manner that would require licensure, or because she views birth as a normal physiological process—and not a medical event. Whatever the reason, there are many unlicensed midwives in Utah, catering to an exploding market of women choosing to birth their babies at home.

New legislation sponsored by Representative Carol Spackman Moss aims to crack down on these unlicensed midwives. HB202 is sound in overall principle, but utterly fails in execution.

This bill would mandate unlicensed midwives to require their prospective clients to sign an informed consent form that states that:

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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

In 2013, some employees of the Unified Fire Authority (Utah’s largest fire agency) discovered that some vials of morphine stored in ambulances at a few fire stations had been emptied of their contents. The police were alerted, as theft was suspected—but instead of interviewing people who had access to those ambulances, the Cottonwood Heights Police Department searched and downloaded the prescription drug histories of every employee of the Unified Fire Authority. No warrant was issued in this search.

A related lawsuit filed afterward sought to suppress the evidence, arguing that the warrantless search violated the Fourth Amendment. The court recently ruled in the defendant’s favor, and the state dropped its appeal; this is a victory for the Fourth Amendment.

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Friday, January 30, 2015 | 10 comments

The 2015 Real State of the State

Earlier this week, Governor Gary Herbert addressed government officials and members of the public to deliver his annual “State of the State” address. He touched on education, Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and religious liberty, among other issues. Below, we present the real state of the state—one that does not rely, in whole or in part, upon politically popular issues that poll well with key constituencies.

Real Federalism

The Governor stated last night, “We will never back away from… the constant overreach of the federal government. If states fail to stand up and speak out for our right to self-determination, we will lose that right to an ever-expanding federal bureaucracy.” Yet, this same governor has championed two issues that further intertwine Utah with D.C.: Common Core (which the Dept. of Education incentivized through a grant opportunity, and which the Obama administration has championed), and Healthy Utah (the Medicaid expansion program that would bring hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars—and the inevitable strings—to the state.

Political leaders in Utah must match their walk to their talk; rhetoric is hollow. A state that receives $22 billion in federal money each year—federal funds comprise 32.8% of the state’s budget—is unlikely to understand (let alone exercise) its “right to self-determination.” Federalism will be an impotent issue until if and when Utahns and their elected officials are willing to make hard decisions and forgo federal funding.

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Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

Legislation in years past, and in this session as well, has sought to alter the process by which candidates for the Utah State Board of Education are nominated and eventually elected.

One of the chief concerns has been the current power of the Governor to appoint a committee that has the power to terminate candidacies of persons they prefer not to see elected to the Board.

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New legislation proposed by Senator Steve Urquhart seeks to legally prohibit certain landlords and business owners from discriminating against people due to their “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” Additional legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Dabakis would prohibit discrimination in a place of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Both of these bills—along with the underlying laws they seek to amend—violate property rights and should therefore be opposed.

In a press conference this morning, the LDS Church announced its support for the general idea behind these measures. Advocating “fairness for all,” proponents argue that common decency demands enacting laws that will protect religious liberty while protecting the “right” of LGBT persons to rent residential property or be employed at a certain business. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, kicking off the conference, called for “solutions that will be fair to everyone.”

In referencing the general idea behind the Church’s support, Sister Marriott of the Young Women’s General Presidency argued that “basic rights such as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on someone’s sexual orientation.” However, no person has the right to somebody else’s property; it is incorrect to say that person X has a right to employment in person Y’s business—for any reason. A right for one person creates a corresponding duty for another; if a gay man has the right to rent an apartment from a person who personally detests gay people, that implies that the landlord has a moral duty to do so. He does not, and therefore the right does not exist.

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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

In years past, legislators have attempted, unsuccessfully, to modify the nomination process and structure of the State Board of Education. There has been general consensus around the need to get rid of the Governor’s power to arbitrarily terminate the candidacies of those seeking election to a Board position, but lawmakers have been unable to agree on whether, in addition to that change, the Board should also be elected through the partisan process, or be kept non-partisan.

Senate Bill 104, proposed by Senator Al Jackson, seeks to re-ignite that debate—and then some. As written, the bill would:

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