Friday, February 9, 2007

Live Blogging the HB 148 Senate Floor Debate and Vote

2:00 PM—Arrive, but banished to the overflow room.

2:08 PM—What an unexpected surprise! US Rep. Bishop gives a speech on earmarks, blaming Democrats for all the ills in the world. However, seeing him in a bad sweater reminds me why I don’t vote for him or trust him in general.

2:21 PM—Begin debate; Sen. Bramble notes that there are several amendments. Surprising.

2:24 PM—Sen. Griener wants to amend to require background checks for teachers; also concerned about “one school district in Washington County” (i.e. the Hildale schools) that could take advantage of the vouchers.

2:26 PM—Amendment fails on voice vote; when roll call starts, Bramble gets up and states from code that private schools “may” require background checks already. Roll call fails.

2:29 PM—Sen. Jones speaks, gets numbers from fiscal analyst saying the costs of educating voucher students from k-12 would be $327 million; Bramble thinks that amount is a wonderful amount of money. My prediction: in less than 5 years, sponsors will fight to move voucher funding away from the general fund and take it from Uniform School Fund. They’ll say the budget is tight and we need to put all education spending in one fund.

2:33 PM—Sen. McCoy asks whether students could move into the state and qualify for a voucher; Bramble says yes, great, wonderful.

2:35 PM—McCoy amendment tries to get voucher $ back if child comes back to public school. Of course it fails.

2:38 PM—Sen. Bell does not appreciate the “disingenuous attitude of the advocates against this bill” and this bill tries to “buy off the public education establishment.” Asks for “modest voucher program.” Rep. Allen must be either laughing or crying. “A myth to say that this will be exploited…After a few years, we’ll know that vouchers works.” How we will know that, they really have no idea.

2:43 PM—Sen. Davis is on his A game; makes it clear this is not about the children, but about giving taxpayer dollars and giving it to private industry. Just an amazing speech about how we fund this instead of full dental and vision for Medicaid, how some of these private ventures will fail and will cost taxpayers, will take a chance.

2:47 PM—Sen. Niederhauser claims this will bring more $ into the public education system. How? Both Bell and Niederhauser state they wouldn’t want mitigation $ if they were drafting it. Another prediction: Sponsors will repeal mitigation $ in 2 years.

2:49 PM—Sen. Mayne finally makes Bramble admit there are no attendance (day/time) requirements for the schools, private schools cannot discriminate against any applicant…

2:51 PM—Pres. Valentine notes that Sen. Buttars’ statements have no point.

2:52 PM—Mayne gets Bramble to admit that private schools can teach any manner of sexual positions and ideas.

2:57 PM—Mayne and Bramble get into it about how the bill has been railroaded through the Senate without any opportunity for real study.

2:59 PM—Mayne brings up a good point (which Bramble really misses) that there are no requirements for private schools to make building provisions consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or similar state laws.

3:01 PM—Mayne amendment to streamline administrative review procedures. It fails also.

3:05 PM—Overflow room starts to really fill up after Sen. Romero’s motion to circle fails. A Committee meeting is scheduled in overflow room now; they are always late, but it makes me wonder when they will turn off the TV and tell us to leave.

3:07 PM—Now we have to move. Into next door room; it’s getting ready for a committee meeting, but a Senate committee.

3:11 PM—We get in the room just in time for the suspension of rules to start voting.

3:12 PM—My Senator, Dan Eastman, votes yea, even though he stated he wanted a small test program during the town hall meeting earlier this year.

3:14 PM—Sen. McCoy expresses “solidarity” with Sen. Stephenson’s anger at suspension of the rules for the Divine Strake resolution.

3:15 PM—Sen. Stephenson votes yea, will make majority; argues this is an appropriate use of suspension. Again using the false and disingenuous argument that because the nation’s schools are failing, we should automatically conclude that Utah’s schools are failing. It is apparently the responsibility of the legislature to fulfill the dreams of Milton Friedman, and not the needs of their constituents.

3:21 PM—Valentine closes vote; recites same old arguments: helps schools, no $ for religion, blah, blah.

3:24 PM—Passed 19-10. We will live to regret this day.

1 comment:

Precinct Chair said...

Along with you I am very surprised that Sen. Eastman made no effort to add some sort of accountability to the bill. In the past he has been easy to reason with. On this bill he seems to be blind to any improvements. I suppose he thinks this is a perfect bill?