State Legislative Wrap Up

NOTE: These bills are limited to Utah (these are NOT national bills).

Since I’m doing the wrap up, I get to pick what I care about:

1. HB224 –Repeal of Exemptions from Nonresident Tuition

This bill would have repealed the in-state tuition program for illegal immigrants. The first day it was brought up it almost passed but one of the cosponsors failed to turn up and another legislator voted for it by accident (they were opposed). The following day an attempt to reconsider it was made but it failed again because two legislators got cold feet and ran to the ‘oppose’ side. This was, nevertheless progress as this was the closest the bill has come to passing.

So, for yet another year, welcome to Utah – where we reward those who’ve broken our laws and punish citizens of neighboring states and foreign students who waded through the incredibly tedious process of obtaining a visa.

2. HB148 – Education Vouchers

The bill will provide a voucher for families wishing to send their children to private schools. The value is tiered based on family income (from a low of $500 for upper income folks to a high of $3,000 for mid to lower incomes). Schools would retain the remaining amount (about $3,000 – I believe the current State expenditure is around $6,000/student) without the student.

The bill passed the House by a close vote and is on its way to the Senate. Opponents may attempt to reconsider the bill tomorrow but if they don’t or the motion fails, the Senate has it.

This is a big step in breaking the bureaucrat/teachers union (especially as the State Union affiliates itself with the NEA) grip on children’s education and finally give parents a much greater choice (and leverage as a whole) in fulfilling their children’s educational needs. This should particularly benefit poor and middle-class families.

In the meantime, I’m sure that opponents will continue the scare tactics and class warfare about vouchers.

3. More to come. As I understand it, there may be several bills which attempt to address the ballooning identity theft issues in the state. If they are anything like the bill proposed last year (require employer SSN verification via free programs) they will have three, important, consequences:

a) Identity theft perpetrators will be apprehended in greater numbers, hopefully leading to law enforcement breaking some of the rings. These rings likely provide quite a few SSN numbers (as well as cards and other forms of ID) to illegal immigrants as well as fugitives and dubious folks wishing to hide from something (see b and c). These rings typically like to target children’s SSNs as parents don’t usually think of checking their two year old’s credit report.

Fake id ‘providers’ who aren’t worried about obtaining a valid SSN may make one up. However, the local chief of the Social Security Admin has noted that about half of all numbers are allocated. That means they have a 50/50 chance of guessing a correct number. SSN verification would also make these folks easier to capture.

b) Utah will not be as welcoming a state to fugitives seeking to obtain employment. This is especially important given the recent capture of a wanted pedophile thanks to landlords using an SSN verification system. It’s always nice to get a child predator off the streets, wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of more of them.

c) Deadbeat parents (or other ‘deadbeats’). Ok, I’m not entirely positive about this one but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this does occur – any deadbeat parents avoiding child support payments (and deadbeats on other court-ordered payments) by assuming a new identity to evade enforcement. It would be nice to get these folks to finally stop shirking their responsibilities.

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