Thursday, April 14, 2016

Marc Roberts Response to Julie Blaney Email

I thought about adding in Julie's email, but Marc Roberts covers it point by point: 

My response to an email from Julie Blaney that contained a list of legislation I voted in favor of and an explanation of my votes.

From Mrs. Blaney’s email dated April 13, 2016:

This is a list of Bad Legislation that Rep Roberts voted in favor of that I will not support:

HJR 14 A call for an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution. This is another example of prevalent constitutional ignorance and an act of defaming the Constitution. The Constitution already contains balanced budget powers. If Art 1 Sec 8, clause 5, Amendment V and Amendment XIII were obeyed we wouldn't have a budget problem. Congress currently borrows money into existence which is the root of the problem and is a violation of Art. 1, Sec 8, Clause 5. The Constitution protects us from budget problems by limiting congressional spending powers to the enumerations in Art 1, Sec 8, however, it is clear that the Constitution is not being followed, and adding a few new lines that say “we really mean it this time” won’t work anymore than the limitations that are already there. This bill failed, by a miracle, but… Rep Roberts Votes Yes every year to submit out Constitution to a dangerous convention, which is totally unnecessary if our representatives were bound by oath. HJR 7 Calls for an Article V Convention, proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States for a Balanced Budget Amendment. The balanced budget concern arises from unconstitutional spending which is fixed by the Constitution as it is. Spending is limited by Article 1, Section 8 and if obeyed would eliminate the budget problems. An amendment is unnecessary and slanders the Constitution. The answer is to enforce the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and make the Oaths binding as required by Article VI. Rep. Roberts Voted Yes because he doesn't understand the Constitution and his Oath to obey it.

My Response:

HJR 14 and HJR 7 are both resolutions calling for an Article V convention of states for the purpose of proposing amendments. It has been stated that I “don’t understand the Constitution and my Oath to obey it” and that somehow by supporting an Article V convention I am violating that oath. Article V, in fact, is part of the constitution so I don’t understand how you can violate your oath of office by supporting Article V, which is part of the constitution.

Most of the opposition to Article V, in my opinion and experience, is based on fear. I don’t base any of my legislative decisions or votes on fear, nor do I live my life that way. In the majority of cases appealing to fear is a logical fallacy and I see to much of it happening at the legislature. Chief Justice Roberts said “The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.” Article V is a tool the framers gave us, which was ratified by the founding generation for states to act like states.

The real risk, in my mind, isn’t an Article V convention, it’s that we won’t have a and Article V convention of states. The risk isn’t for a runaway convention, the greater risk is for a runaway congress, runaway federal bureaucracy, runaway spending, and a runaway executive.

The founding generation frequently made use of conventions for strictly limited purposes. It was a common thing of the time. The most famous one being the Philadelphia convention of 1787. The framers provided the provision in Article V for the states to meet together and have a convention of states to address grievances they had with the federal government. We would not be following the constitution or the vision of the framers if the states simply layed this tool to the wayside never to be used.

The purpose of an Article V convention as a “congressional bypass” was discussed during the ratification debates of the Constitution. Illustrative was the comment of Samuel Rose, a New York state legislator who supported the Constitution at his state’s ratifying convention:

"The reason why there are two modes of obtaining amendments prescribed by the constitution I suppose to be this— it could not be known to the framers of the constitution, whether there was too much power given by it or too little; they therefore prescribed a mode by which Congress might procure more, if in the operation of the government it was found necessary; and they prescribed for the states a mode of restraining the powers of government, if upon trial it should be found that they had given too much."

James Madison stated it more succinctly in Federalist No. 43: The Constitution “equally enables the General, and the State Governments, to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side or on the other.”

And George Washington pointed out the purpose of the States being able to propose amendments through an Article V convention in a letter to his nephew Bushrod Washington: “The warmest friends and the best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections; but they found them unavoidable and are sensible, if evil is likely to arise there from, the remedy must come hereafter; for in the present moment, it is not to be obtained; and, as there is a Constitutional door open for it, I think the People (for it is with them to Judge) can as they will have the advantage of experience on their Side, decide with as much propriety on the alterations and amendments which are necessary [as] ourselves. I do not think we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue, than those who will come after us.”

Here is the text of Article V of the US Constitution:

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;”

I believe in the process and the bar is set pretty high to even get to a convention of states. It requires 33 states to submit application on the same topic and 38 states to ratify. We know the direction the federal government is headed, it’s time for the states to start acting like states, and Article V is a constitutional tool to do just that.

HB 385 In 1998, Utah designated I-15 to the thousands that have served and given their lives in the armed services. But in 2015, SB 385 would have renamed I-15, the “Rebecca D Lockhart Memorial Highway”, taking away from the thousands that have fought and died for our liberty. Julie Blaney protested this bill, organized a rally at the Capital and successfully got this bill vetoed! Rep. Roberts Voted Yes to take this tribute from our veterans.

My Response:

The way Mrs. Blaney’s opposition is written makes it sound like we were going to rename the entire highway from Idaho to Arizona when in fact the bill only designated a portion of the highway, from Lehi Main Street to Spanish Fork Main Street to be called the “Rebecca D Lockhart section of the Veterans Memorial Highway”. The name still contained the salute to the veterans and it was only for a section of I-15, a section which Speaker Lockhart played a huge role in turning it into what it is today, not the entire highway. You can read the bill here, it’s short and easy to understand.

Speaker Lockhart was the first woman Speaker of the House in the state of Utah. She represented Provo and served for a number of years. She retired after the 2014 session and then passed away unexpectedly in January of 2015 from an extremely rare disease that attacks the brain. Most of the opposition to this legislation came from individuals who disliked Speaker Lockhart and also dislike the Senate Sponsor of the bill. It is an interesting bill for Mrs. Blaney to call me out on. There is no substantive policy decision here that affects anyone from a life, liberty and property perspective. For the time being the government owns and controls the roads and has the power to name them, or sections of them, which is what happened with this bill.

SB246 Shuffles money from the state Permanent Community Impact Fund, monies explicitly designated for infrastructure in Utah, to a fund for the construction of an export dock in Oakland CA. Private investors will have to put in $200 million and our legislators voted to put in $53 million. Former chair of Utah Transportation Commission stands to privately profit millions for putting this deal together. Gov. Herbert, Sen. Adams took $30,000, 27 legislators and 11 state senators also took money from Bowie Resources for a yes vote. Rep Roberts Voted Yes to pay for this out of state venture that benefits private investors.

My Response:

This issue has been misunderstood and mischaracterized, especially by the predominately liberal media outlets in this state.

In 1920 the Federal Government passed the the Federal Mineral Lease Act which required leaseholders (private companies) on public land to make royalty payments to the federal government on the production and extraction of raw earth materials. The federal government, per the Mineral Lease Act of 1920, returns a portion of the royalty payments to the state and deposits the money in the The Permanent Community Impact Fund. The fund has stewardship over the money with specific requirements that it be used for the benefit of the “impacted communities”, mostly rural parts of the state where oil, gas and mining happens.

There is an Impacted Communities board made up of 15 individuals, I believe, from across the state representing the “impacted communities”. The board has ultimate stewardship of the funds and meets regularly to discuss applications received from impacted communities for the use of the funds. Some time ago the board received a request from a number of impacted communities to obtain/construct/lease an export dock in Oakland CA. They met a number of times to discuss and examine the request. Ultimately the board voted in favor of the request for the export dock. The only problem was the board didn’t have the ability to make a transaction out of the state so they came to the legislature for help. They agreed to reimburse the state if the state would make the Oakland dock transaction for the benefit of the fund and the beneficiaries thereof. That is why there is a money shuffle. Money was moved from the Impact Fund to the state to cover the cost.

The important thing is that it isn’t our direct Utah taxpayer dollars funding a port. The money comes from a federal impost on mineral extraction by private companies. A portion of that money comes back to the state and the Impact Fund from the federal government for the purpose of benefiting the communities impacted by the mineral extraction and to be used for capital improvement type projects (I’m not convinced that should be happening in the first place but it is and it’s a federal problem). The board meets regularly to discuss proposals for the use of the funds, their meetings are public, they voted in favor of the project after much discussion and vetting so I was comfortable moving the money around so they could make the project happen. Ultimately the board has complete stewardship over the money and if they didn’t choose to spend it on this capital project they will choose to spend it on another one for the benefit of the impacted communities. Here’s a link to the Utah Community Impact Board site, you can learn more about what they do, what projects they fund, read their minutes and find out when meetings are:

HB 276 Utah Public Lands Management Act, bigger and better than BLM, creates a new unconstitutional enforcement entity, The Division of Land Management, or DLM as it will be known, that has superior jurisdiction over our Constitutional Sheriff. SB 276, line 337-339, “The director may employ and utilize within the DLM certified peace officers that, if and when deployed, will be the primary law enforcement authority with jurisdiction on public land to enforce this chapter and rules issued pursuant to Subsection (1).” Rep. Roberts Voted Yes 

Julie Blaney position: We absolutely must demand a complete return of Utah Lands, but not by advancing Agenda 21 and 3rd party control.

My Response:

I agree the lands need to be returned to the state and not by advancing Agenda 21 or 3rd party control. I’m not sure where the line of thinking comes from that this is an attempt to implement Agenda 21 and to give control of the land to a third party. None of the transfer of public lands bills do that and none of them give control of the land to a third party. The state maintains control in the event of a transfer in all cases. I was the house sponsor of the anti Agenda 21 bill on the house floor in 2013.

In the event the land is transferred the state has to have some sort of infrastructure to manage them. We have been working on this for a couple years and have included stakeholders from across the state trying to figure out the best approach. Many sheriffs in our rural counties have been involved and supported HB 276. There are existing grazing permits, mining permits, oil extraction permits, timber harvesting permits etc., etc., that need to be managed somehow. Currently it’s done by the federal government. HB 276 is our attempt to create an infrastructure to manage all of that in the event of a transfer. HB 276 doesn’t even go into effect until a minimum of 100,000 acres have been transferred to the state in the first place.

The important part about the referenced lines 337-339 is that the DLM peace officers would only have primary law enforcement authority to enforce the chapter, and that’s it. They have zero authority outside what is prescribed by the chapter. They are like a BYU police officer that only has authority to enforce rules and regulations on campus related to BYU, they can’t go off campus and pull someone over and a Provo city police officer can’t go on campus and give someone a parking ticket for parking in a parking spot the individual didn’t have a pass for, it’s a BYU rule, not a city law or ordinance.

SB 80 The state's water districts used profits garnered from property taxes and water bills to hire lobbyists, including at least one former speaker of the House, to go to bat on Capitol Hill. The outcome: Senate Bill 80, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Adams, who managed to gut several earmarks that fund transportation projects and divert the lion's share of the money—$165 million by 2023—into the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account. Rep. Roberts Voted YES

My Response:

First of all, I was never lobbied on this bill for or against by any lobbyists during the session. Nor do I remember there being a massive lobbyist effort behind it. There could have been and I may have missed it, I just don’t recall seeing it, there is a lot that goes on in the short 45 day session.

For years the federal government has managed and funded water projects across the state. The funding to do that has dried up and they are no longer engaging in large water infrastructure projects and maintenance. The state now has to foot the bill to maintain existing infrastructure and develop future infrastructure to support the growth of the state.

Back in the early '90s a 1/16 sales tax was levied to help pay for water infrastructure projects. After the federal transportation money started drying up that revenue stream was diverted (the earmark originally intended for water was “gutted”) to transportation projects. This bill switches that 1/16 earmark levie back to its original purpose, water projects. Nothing was gutted, an existing earmark was switched to a different use, which happens to be it’s original intended use.

It's important to note that the legislature ultimately has the say on which projects to spend the money on. Nothing is automatically funded through SB80.

At the end of the day this is a good thing in my mind, we need to stop being so reliant as a state on federal money. Federal money is like crack cocaine and we are addicted to it. Also, making this switch does not impact long term funding of transportation projects. It was a policy decision and I agreed with it from a fiscal perspective. The other option to fund future water projects and maintenance was to levy another tax on the citizens of Utah and earmark that new tax just for water. I would rather move an earmark if the funds are available and be more efficient than raise taxes any day.

SB 234 A bill which requires doctors to give anesthesia during abortion to her 20 week pain capable child. Lawmakers heard from many doctors during the legislative session who were opposed to being forced to administer anesthetic because of the serious health risks, possible death of the woman. Rep. Roberts Voted YES to increase funding abortion Julie Blaney solution: To form the Life for Learning Foundation, that offers women a positive alternative to aborting her child. The LFLF goal is to protect the lives of unborn children and put abortion clinics out of business through competition, by placing these children with adoptive families that will love them. How it works, Women carry their child to term, will be covered by private insurances, may participate in the adoption process. In exchange for giving life, she would have the opportunity to receive a 2 year all expenses paid college education course, including medical and adoption services covered. At the completion of the course, graduates will be given the opportunity to receive cash scholarships, based on their performance, of $500.00 to $100,000.00.

My Response:

It is unclear whether Mrs. Blaney’s solution to abortion is a private or public solution. If it is a private solution I am all for it, if it is a public, governmental solution I would be extremely opposed to it. Her solution would create another entitlement and grow a governmental bureaucracy to support it and may have unintended consequences like women now intentionally getting pregnant, claiming they were going to abort then put the baby up for adoption through the LFLF just so they could get the 2 year college education entitlement.

It was stated that I voted yes on the legislation to increase funding for abortion. SB 234 didn’t provide any funding at all for abortion. You can read the fiscal note here, I’m not sure where that claim comes from or how you can come to that conclusion.

SB 234 required anesthesia to be administered to a “pain capable child”, as Mrs. Blaney describes it, before it’s life is taken through a terrible abortion processes. Some of the opposition would have preferred to outlaw abortion after 18 or 20 weeks instead of providing anesthesia, I agree with that, but that wasn’t the question before us with this bill. The question in SB 234 was whether or not to provide anesthesia to a 20 week pain capable child before the pregnancy is aborted and the child is killed. I voted yes. Thanks for taking the time to read through all of this! 

Marc Roberts

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