Liveblogging the Government Competition and Privatization Subcommittee: November 7, 2007

It's time for another liveblogging! It's looking like the meeting is likely to start late… again. Maybe we could all chip in to buy the committee members some new watches. 😉

1:04PM It sounds like the tabled items are going to have minimal effect on UTOPIA or other muni broadband projects. Given that, I think I'll skip on out of here. I'll be following up with members of the subcommittee to make sure that the public will have additional chances to review and provide input on whatever new law they will be proposing.

12:55PM Whoa. The UTOPIA legislation is not going to be discussed today. The reason? They're going to "seek consensus" from UTOPIA, Qwest and Comcast before making further amendments on the bill. My main concern there is that this will not be done in public hearings so we might not be able to weigh in again before the general session starts. I'll make sure to keep track of this one and keep everyone updated.

12:53PM The meeting is back in session. Aside from the tabled items, the UTOPIA legislation is all that remains.

11:46AM Sounds like the UTOPIA legislation is going to be addressed after lunch. We'll be back in about an hour or so.

11:30AM Yes, the discussion is still going on. It's a lot of heavy lifting regarding reformulating how much should be charged to use public facilities. Unless you're into this kind of thing, it's pretty dry stuff.

11:10AM We're now on to discussion charges for the use of a public facility. This shouldn't have any effect on UTOPIA unless there's some creative lawyering involved.

11:08AM This bill will be put off until they can get some last-minute adjustments passed during lunch.

11:05AM Looks like a major problem with these separate proposals is getting them to coordinate in the case that one bill passes and another fails. A distinct possibility is that if the main bill dies, so would the fact-finding add-on.

10:57AM Good question, Rep. Morley. Creating multiple additional layers of review and red tape hardly reduces government involvement.

10:56AM There's quite a bit of question concerning the costs and bureaucracy involved with the proposal currently on the table. Sen. Niederhauser is questioning why the fact-finding power is not part of the original commission. The simple answer? Legislators want to be in on the fact-finding, so it has to be that way to avoid separation of powers issues.

10:53AM The commission created under this law would report to the commission created by the previously discussed law. More or less, it's a second entity whose whole purpose is to find ways that government competes with private enterprise. From a quick read of the bill, it seems like more overacting in the same vein as the bill just passed.

10:51AM The discussion now moves to Inventory and Review of Commercial activities. This bill would establish a commission to look at all of the ways that government currently competes with private sector companies. This would have the strongest effect on current UTOPIA members.

10:49AM Proposal passes 5-2. Rep. Cosgrove and Sen. Goodfellow both voted against it.

10:48AM Sen. Goodfellow has raised the point that this could easily be akin to creating a new PSC except that it would be significantly more far-reaching. The biggest question is what impact this will have on current UTOPIA members, iProvo and SFCN.

10:44AM Due to legislative rules, the bill will likely be passed as-is with a note that elected officials in the affected area must have the final say. I think I can live with that, though I still think it's a bit of a waste.

10:42AM Sen. Goodfellow seems to feel as I do on this issue. Sen. Niederhauser plans to vote yes on the condition that cities will still have the final say.

10:38AM Sen. Stephenson has failed to make a case that this bill is necessary. He hasn't been able to establish that the current board has not been able to fulfill its role and there has been no evidence presented to convince me that this is anything more than a sneak attack on UTOPIA.

10:25AM Sounds like ULCT isn't too happy with the proposal as it stands. Specifically, the proposal could create a commission that repeatedly overrides local elected officials. This object seems to center around the potential vagueness inherent in the law. Side note: The rep from Qwest is here.

10:20AM Roger Tew of ULCT (and UTOPIA) has asked for clarification concerning the duties and powers of the local commissions. Seems that they'll be a mirror of the state commission and will be required to report to them. Naturally, this is bringing up the age-old issue of the state substantially interfering in the affairs of the cities.

10:14AM This bill will require each city to form its own commission to investigate complaints. This sounds like a new expensive mandate for cities to get into. So why go this route instead of a state commission over all governments? The Ripper Clause. Basically, the legislature cannot usurp authority granted to the cities. There's a possibility that this law could face substantial legal challenges. I guess the legislature is used to that by now.

10:11AM We're now moving on to the discussion on the Government Competition and Privatization Act. Short version is that it replaces the current board with a bifurcated commission so that elected officials can participate without violating the separation of powers. It also gives it a lot of power to investigate and pursue complaints.

10:00AM Not a whole lot to hear so far. This garbage disposal law has pretty much no bearing on telecommunications in the slightest.

9:47AM Meetings from the last meeting have been unanimously approved. They'll now be discussing amending the Solid Waste Management Act.

9:46AM Looks like this one is a shoe-in. The Local Government Feasibility and Economic Impact Act passed out of committee by unanimous vote.

9:37AM Lincoln Schurtz for the ULCT is speaking in support of these changes. They sound reasonable to me, so I see little issue here. As a side note, this meeting room is much more full than I've ever seen it. Must be because it's the last meeting of the year for this subcommittee.

9:35AM The first proposal before the committee is to require a public hearing on the potential economic impact on the private sector for any bonding issue. Sen. Goodfellow has raised the point that such a discussion that should include any benefits or savings to citizens.

9:29AM The meeting is finally getting started.

9:12AM I spy with my eye… only four members of the subcommittee. I wouldn't expect much to be rolling before 9:30, to be honest.

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4 Responses to Liveblogging the Government Competition and Privatization Subcommittee: November 7, 2007

  1. Misty Fowler says:

    Thanks for blogging this! Hope you had a good lunch! 🙂

  2. Jesse says:

    The capitol’s cafeteria serves surprisingly good food. I wouldn’t go seek it out or anything, but it’s certainly better than most.

  3. u235sentinel says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t both talking about it. Even more so they didn’t bother reading my letter to the committee as I requested.

    I’m wondering what’s up their sleeve? Either this is a Government of the people or a Government of Senator Stephenson and Rep. Frank. Not even bothering to speak to their constituents… what on earth…

    I’m still in Houston but will be flying back tomorrow afternoon.

    I’ll make a few calls tomorrow asking what they are doing.

  4. Pingback: CenturyLink VP Eric Isom is on the Utah Taxpayers Association Executive Committee - Free UTOPIA!

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