2019 Legislative Lesson: Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Swamp Consolidates Stranglehold On Utah

The general session of the Utah legislature ended on Thursday and it was a major win for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the elite swamp.

Let’s start with some temporary good news. Outcry stopped, for now, the Chamber’s HB441 tax reform which would have further socialized costs and privatized profits. Again, this is temporary as the legislature is planning a special session to address tax reform. I expect they will basically run HB441 with a bit more lipstick and stick residents with a larger portion of government/infrastructure cost while minimizing big businesses’ contribution (businesses represented by the Chamber), thus maximizing their profits.

Teachers were also unhappy with HB441 and should be reminded that it was the Chamber’s past president, Lane Beattie, who screwed up school funding in the first place. Senator Howard Stephenson also picked up on this as well on his March 9th radio show where he called out those behind this mess.

Stephenson: I believe they created a crisis to then have a solution that was basically cooked up behind closed doors and sprung on the legislature with only two weeks left in the legislature.
Dougall: So when you say “they”, you don’t mean the legislature created the crisis, others created the crisis was responding to…
Stephenson: Well we know who was involved in it: The Salt Lake Chamber, the Kem Gardner Institute and Natalie Gochnour, and the uh Representative Quinn and some others, who, nobody really knows who was part of this brain trust and when they were meeting or anything…

Next, the Chamber and politicians made another big step in pulling political power from citizens and into the hands of political power brokers and political elites (“the swamp”). HB119 modifies the rules on citizen intiatives/referendum to greatly increase the logistics (and cost) by carving cities up into separate districts and requiring signatures come from 75% of those districts along with having to hold town hall meetings. The bill also lets cities spend money to fight such initiatives (thus, they get to use citizens’ tax money to fight citizen initiatives). The bill was sponsored by none other than Brad Daw and chief Utah swamp creature (imported from Chicago), Curt Bramble. This junk comes on the heels of SB54 which shifted candidate selection from the neighborhood caucus (advantageous to citizens) to big money political campaigns and lobbyists/consultants. SB54 also resulted in candidates being selected with less than a majority. Somewhere, Kurt Jowers, his Alta Club posse and his “California friend” are smiling…

The Chamber and Legislature (BIRM) also pushed more high density housing onto local cities. This will make the Chamber’s developers very happy and will not help housing affordability – likely the opposite (note: read the op-ed but then read the author’s (Justin S) comments in the comment section, they are key). The Chamber is also behind the propaganda ads on this issue and note that the Chamber cites the Kem Gardner Institute in the article (you’ll never guess who sits on the board of the Kem Gardner Center…).

More cronyism is glaringly obvious with HB290 where the legislature decided to dish out your sensitive personal information (including SSN, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, physical characteristics, medical information, etc.) to the University of Utah (UofU) for their health and epidemiology studies. As I said when I highlighted this abuse of power:

I’ve been part of medical studies but voluntarily participated. The UofU is no better than any other university or other medical research group when it comes to this. They should adhere to the same standards as the rest. They should be ashamed for engaging in political cronyism and trying to get this type of preferential treatment to take our driver license information without asking. It’s another example of Bastiat’s “legal plunder”.

Our so-called elites continue their path of power consolidation and legal plunder. Unfortunately, we’ll be left holding the consequences these ignorant elites foist upon us.

Addendum: the Chamber also had limited success with their support of the irrigation water metering bill. They used the guise of water conservation for this bill but it was bunk – water operators stated it was easy to conserve water by simply limiting irrigation to certain days (turning of the system on ‘non-water’ days) etc. What they had attempted (pushing expensive water meters onto everyone) was likely to result in cheaper, smaller water operators being forced out and effectively creating water monopolies and to favor developers. That danger still exists and there’s a question if Utah’s aquifers will be harmed (irrigation water significantly replenishes the aquifer).

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End Exploitation: Illegal Immigration, Tax Credits, ID Theft, And The Border Crisis

I was tipped off to a 2015 KSL article in the comments (thanks Jen). The report is super as it has several illustrations for today: Republicans say Obama giving immigrants ‘amnesty bonuses’

Armed with new Social Security numbers, many of these immigrants who were living in the U.S. illegally will now be able to claim up to four years’ worth of tax credits designed to benefit the working poor. For big families, that’s a maximum of nearly $24,000, as long as they can document their earnings during those years.

Obama has issued executive orders shielding about 4 million immigrants from deportation. Some were brought to the U.S. as children; others are parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents.

They’re referring to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It’s something that should sound familiar if you’ve read this blog. It involves illegal aliens not only engaging in identity fraud but tax fraud as well and the IRS basically doesn’t care. To catch up, read the posts on WTHR’s Bob Segall’s outstanding investigative reporting on this issue. Better yet, check out all his reports from the source: WTHR Tax loophole investigation.

Based on the above, it may be possible for one of the illegal aliens who used a fake ID to ‘game the system’ and get a huge EITC for ineligible family members to turn around and file again (thanks to Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty) but under the new social security number they were assigned. Thus, they could double their take of taxpayer funds.

One means that this may be prevented is if the IRS flags their earnings documentation as having already been reported under a different SSN but, given Segall’s findings, that appears unlikely.

Then there’s the identity theft aspect that goes hand-in-hand with illegal immigration:

How does Social Security know when it receives taxes from immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally? There is no foolproof method, Goss said. One way is by tracking reported wages in which the Social Security number does not match the name the agency has on file.

Some of these are clerical errors or unreported name changes, But Goss estimates that a majority of these wages come from immigrants who have made up Social Security numbers or used someone else’s.

The numbers are huge.

It’s well known and well documented that illegal aliens engage in identity theft (along with credit fraud and medical ID theft) and leave plenty of innocent victims in their wake (besides those murdered, drunk/other vehicular deaths, and sexual assault and decades long humanitarian/drug border crisis). Amnesty, HB116 and/or cheap labor proponents like the media, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints prefer to ignore it and hope no one notices the one-sided compassion for the perpetrators and blind eye to victims. But so does the Federal Government.

The IRS upper echelon obviously doesn’t care. Even before Obama’s amnesty, Segall found frustrated IRS officials upset at the abuse and blind eye to the identity theft. The Treasury Inspector General wasn’t happy either. With Obama’s amnesty, the “supporting documentation” they provide will clearly, again, indicate earnings via a fraudulent social security number. Fortunately, you can count of IRS chief, Koskinen, to thumb his nose at victims, citizens/legal immigrants, IRS workers and the IG.

The IRS accepts these tax returns without reporting the taxpayers to immigration authorities, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. That encourages the workers to pay taxes.

“We don’t enforce the Social Security laws, we don’t enforce the immigration laws,” Koskinen said of his agency. “In fact, the reason illegal immigrants file taxes with us is they know we aren’t sharing that data with anybody. We treat it as taxpayer-protected information.”

The IRS was supposed to finally take action with a rule change but I have no idea if it was ever implemented (Segall’s investigation ends there).

Finally, the article ends with a line that unwittingly exposes and condemns the Chamber of Commerce:

“Let’s not forget that these workers receive the lowest wages for what they contribute to their communities and local economies,” said Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli, policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center. “What do we as a nation gain by further impoverishing them?”

This is an admission that points that illegal aliens are getting paid below market rates (thereby likely artificially depressing wages and innovation) and underpaid employees are dependent on these credits. Unscrupulous employers (and the Chamber of Crony Capitalists) are quite happy to have taxpayers subsidize their lust for cheap labor.

This exploitation of various victims needs to end. The wall must be built and it is essential that E-Verify be implemented to turn off the magnet and perverse incentive to hire underpaid, illegal labor for competitive advantage.

Illegal Immigration, Govt Mission Creep Claim New Victim: Utah County Law Enforcement

This report is really a two pronged argument against illegal immigration and government creeping outside core functions. Here’s the headline from the Daily Herald:

Utah County Sheriff resigns during commission meeting over funding shortfalls

So what caused the funding shortfall? Read down to the 3rd paragraph:

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is short on funds by about $800,000 to $1 million, Tracy told Commissioners Ivie and Bill Lee during Tuesday’s commission meeting. Commissioner Greg Graves was not in attendance. That shortage is due, in part, to large medical needs by one patient that Tracy said he couldn’t discuss because of medical privacy laws..

But keep reading…all the way buried in the 15th paragraph:

Ivie said the person whose medical bills had caused the crisis is in the country illegally, and the county is also looking into finding funding from federal partners.

The county clearly needs to address funding shortfalls. Sticking to core government functions would be a start (forget the rec centers, art stuff, among other hobbies). An illegal alien tipping the balance is simply unacceptable. Either way, the Sheriff had enough of the fiscal mess and quit.

This brought to you by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and other associated open-border lobbying groups and special interests demanding government fund their business/hobbies.

Official: The Utah Tax-And-Spend Legislature Raised Your Taxes (Again), Will Use Legal Plunder For Political Cronies

On Wednesday, the Utah Legislature met for a special session to raise your taxes…again. Politicians say that because the State hasn’t collected sales tax from internet purchases, it has “lost” millions in revenue. First off, that isn’t the state’s/government’s money – that money belongs to citizens. It represents a portion of their labor. The government lost nothing to begin with.

You’ll notice that the state is funding things just fine and is not running a deficit. So rather than leaving us alone they’ve used this “government losing millions” to raise taxes and create a windfall for themselves to spend on their pet projects etc. This windfall comes on top of the property tax increase scheme they created earlier this year. In the case of the extra money this time, they’ve decided to dish out your money to their favored businesses (also known as crony capital).

To incentivize those companies, the state has allowed them to keep up to 18 percent of collected sales taxes. That incentive will end once the law requiring companies to collect taxes takes effect in January….However, about $55 million has already been earmarked for a tax break for manufacturers that lawmakers approved…

See, they know much better than you where you should spend your money and will even choose the businesses for you – how kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is behind this especially given that Sen. Curt Bramble was the sponsor. The whole thing really embodies Bastiat’s principle of legal plunder.

On the local level, Representative Ray Ward voted for the increase (he loves raising taxes and spending people’s money for his own interests) and Senator Todd Weiler also voted for it. I have no idea why Ray Ward purports to be conservative, he’s not. At very best, he’s a very liberal republican but he should just be honest and run as a Democrat.

Then again, per KUTV’s article, maybe even some Democrats might have a problem with which cronies Ward wants to fund:

“When do we say enough to manufacturers, enough to EnergySolutions, enough to private little tax cut deals to people?” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat.

The tax administration requirements will also hit small businesses harder with serious overhead that many have noted will likely harm them and favor big business as they can easily afford the overhead (lower per unit cost):

The requirement to collect sales tax will apply to companies that do at least 200 sales or $100,000 worth of sales in Utah in a year.

Essentially, they’ll provide competitive advantage to big businesses (who afford lobbyists, and entrenched political power players, like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). So government will pick winners and losers.

On the up side, the legislature was apparently shamed into addressing the income tax increase they imposed on middle class families (they knew about it during the general session and ran it anyway). Do note that I’ve heard it was only a partial adjustment so some will still see an increase.

Thanks To Count My Vote And SB54, Primary Election Nominees Are Elected By The Minority

Just one more data point in the junk that is Count My Vote (2014’s SB54). I’m limiting this to Davis County but anticipate the same thing occurred or will occur in other counties/cities as well and will continue to do so.

Political elites and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce felt a threat to their power base so they teamed with the media and foisted “Count My Vote” drive on us which culminated in their swampy legislative cronies (Senator Bramble, naturally) shoving SB 54 down or throats in 2014. It allows candidates to circumvent the accountability of the neighborhood caucus system and pay cash to gather signatures to go directly to the primary ballot where their money provides them a key advantage over otherwise good candidates from the “great unwashed” (see video at above link).

They used the sophistry of ‘every vote counting’ and not wanting ‘anyone to be disenfranchised’ to justify their power grab while also being certain to…not provide for a run off election in the event a candidate doesn’t get over 50% of the vote. We’ll here are some nominee* vote totals we now have thanks to their dumb scheme:

Utah House of Reps, District 20 – Melissa Ballard 41% (59% did not vote for her).

Davis County Commission – Lorene Miner Kamalu 41% (59% did not vote for her).

So, who feels their vote “counted” now…do we all have a warm enfranchised feeling? No? Maybe we should tell the elites to stuff it, support restoring our voices and return to a level playing field with KeepMyVoice.

UPDATE: I changed the post title after I looked at a Salt Lake race near Davis County. This one shows the CMV/SB54 impact for the Democrat Party:

Utah House of Reps, District 24 – Jen Dailey-Provost 35% (65% did not vote for her).

*Note: Be aware that this isn’t a hit on the nominees. They may well have been able to pull the majority in a run-off but we’ll never know thanks to SB54/Count My Vote effectively muzzling the majority’s voice.

Gov. Herbert: Thou Shalt Be Duped And Like It

Ok. The title is somewhat facetious but it’s the best I could come up with in a rush.

It seems that Governor Herbert thinks that if you are tricked or pushed into signing onto a ballot initiative which you don’t agree with or no longer support after researching it, you shouldn’t correct the error (Governor Herbert weighs in on more ballot initiatives, says people shouldn’t remove signatures from petitions):

The governor chastised those now pushing to get people who signed petitions to remove their signatures ahead of the May 15 deadline to validate and qualify the initiatives for the ballot.

I’ve seen the initiative signature drives and rarely do people pause to ask details. Frankly, many of those collecting the signatures are clueless themselves (especially if they are paid collectors – usually by well funded interests/political elites). Most of those who later learn more and regret adding their signature, are unaware that the can correct the record, so I have no problem with other folks providing the other side of the issue and informing them that, yes, you aren’t stuck with your mistake (especially when it can have legal implications if the measure is successful).

Herbert says “Let’s hear the pros and cons and vote and let the people speak.” Well there’s nothing wrong with letting signers hear the cons and letting “people speak” isn’t limited to signing a petition – not signing is an equally valid form of speech.

Besides this, I think the Governor is employing this sophistry because he’s really a closet supporter of “Count My Vote” which benefits incumbents (him), the entrenched political elite and big donors (his friends, like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). They really don’t like neighborhood caucuses where candidates from the ‘great unwashed’ have an equal chance at election as one of their politically-connected anointed candidates. Count My Vote undermines the system (and co-opts party sovereignty) to favor the highly-funded political elites.

Please get informed on Count My Vote and the caucus system before signing anything. If you want an alternative to Count My Vote and make sure folks “hear the pros and cons”, support the competing initiative, Keep My Voice.

Again, get informed prior to signing onto a petition. If you messed up (all of us do), correct the mistake. That’s how you make your real voice heard.

Addendum: I understand Kirk Jowers and Doug Wright are whining about people removing their names and Wright is going on about Dan Jones polls being gospel or something. No surprise, since Jowers, Wright, and Jones where at the initial meeting in 2011 that our political ‘betters’ plotted out destroying the caucus system (eventually settling on Plan C which is in effect right now).

Addendum II: Doug Wright’s whining is even funnier: He got all flustered on his radio show and kept cutting off, talking over and filibustering a Keep My Voice representative he invited onto his show. Wright tried casting his guest as right wing (maybe it never occurred to Wright that he’s on the leftwing side of the party, thus everyone else is “rightwing” to him). Funniest was Wright kept guffawing that anyone would ignore polls, especially a Dan Jones poll! Not that Dan Jones wouldn’t have a conflict of interest when polling on the caucus system or anything….

…but, c’mon, leftwing Doug is right. Polls from our elite SmartSet™  are gospel. After all, Hillary won by a landslide and Evan McMullin only lost Utah to Trump by a point (courtesy, Dan Jones polling, naturally).

Utah’s Neighborhood Caucus System And Democracy In America

I was reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America. In a section on public officials, de Tocqueville observed the need for paying those in public office as unpaid offices creates “a class of wealthy and independent officials, to form the core of aristocracy.” He further concludes:

I regard the complete absence of unpaid offices as one of the most visible signs of the absolute empire that democracy exercises in America. Services rendered to the public, whatever they are, are paid: thus, each has not only the right, but the possibility, of rendering them. [Emphasis added]

It struck me that while we don’t have unpaid offices per se, we are headed to ‘bought offices’ and a new form of aristocracy/oligarchy on the electoral side of government. Part of this is perpetuated by the political-media elites in the form of “Count My Vote”/SB54 sophistry and their ongoing 2011 war to crush the neighborhood caucus system. If they succeed, we may retain the right of public office but will virtually lose the possibility of public office.

Through County My Vote and 2014’s SB54 (by State Sen. Curt Bramble), private political parties’ rights were usurped and the state (run by the politically entrenched) dictate how they will conduct business. Now candidates are strongly pushed to circumvent the neighborhood caucus and gather signatures to get on the ballot. This takes large sums of money which the candidate must already have or be aligned with political and media elites.

Furthermore, these elites bank on the fact that bypassing caucuses (where they may fail your neighbor delegates’ vetting), they will automatically trigger a primary race. Primaries cost more money and, again, the advantage goes to the elites with their access to funding and large media backing, particularly if you don’t have a significantly engaged electorate (in contrast to a neighbor delegate). Essentially, they fiscally steamroll better candidates.

Facing a caucus with engaged delegates, the ‘little guy’ without a big saving account who is honest and upholds local area principles and values has the possibility to defeat the big-money backed guy who may have splashy handouts and kitsch but no depth. This happened enough that the rejected political entrenched and Chamber of Commerce got upset. See my post on the neighborhood caucus for specifics on why it is the equalizer and best means of electing good men/women to lead in a republic.

Please don’t fall for their flattering sophistry. Support Keep My Voice and your neighborhood caucus. Let’s keep the possibility alive!

If you’re a delegate, thank you for the time and research you put in to selecting the candidates who best represent your neighborhood. Please consider voting for those candidates who did not gather signatures and stayed with the caucus only – if the signature gatherers’ are so darned keen on a primary, make sure they get one and have an opponent.

For all caucus posts, click here.