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Report from the Legislature

By K.L. MCIFF
Utah State Representative

Soccer Stadium

The debate on whether to help fund the ReAL soccer stadium was not what it appeared to be. Last year the legislature approved a "transient room tax." Salt Lake County imposed the tax. It is Salt Lake County's money that is at stake in the debate. No money comes from the other 28 counties unless individual citizens elect to stay in a motel or hotel in Salt Lake County. I'm okay with that. The Salt Lake County Council approved the bill on a seven-two vote. Even the county's Mayor appears to have relented. I consider it their call. We really "didn't have a dog in the fight."

Education Funding

The legislature appears primed to divide the new money for public education between a flat dollar increase for all teachers and an increase of general funding through the WPU (Weighted Pupil Unit). Local districts, particularly the smaller ones, favor the latter because it provides greater flexibility and more local control. I am attuned to that but it may be difficult to achieve.

Miscellaneous

On a lighter note, Halloween will likely be added to the list of holidays which divorced parents are entitled to spend with their minor children on an alternating basis.

A 16 page bill governing high school clubs was condensed to a couple of pages in the House and moved to the Senate where it has gone back to 16 pages. The central piece is parental notice and consent. The shorter version is adequate for this important purpose and will be more trouble free.

A so-called "religious freedom" bill passed by the Senate is on its way to the House. It seeks to improve on the guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of religion set forth in both the Utah and United States Constitutions. The bill is a solution looking for a problem and will invite unproductive legal challenges.





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