URGENT: Stop one party rule in the Utah executive branch!

January 30th, 2017|Action of the Week|6 Comments

There is a BAD BILL up for House vote at 11AM, and it’s called HB 11 – State Boards and Commissions Amendments. 

HB 11 State Boards and Commissions Amendments (Rep. Norman K. Thurston) – This bill eliminates the political affiliation requirement from 29 state boards & commissions, removing current requirements for bipartisan appointments by the Governor. This bill is undemocratic and dangerously creates one-party rule in the executive branch.

If you haven’t already called your state representative, we need you to call this morning!

Last Tuesday before the bill went into the House Government Operations Committee, we put out a call to action for our members to call on the members of the committee to oppose the bill. Despite receiving many calls, the committee members voted to pass the measure anyway. On Friday we ran another calling campaign, and HB 11 got stalled on the House floor in order to allow for amendments. Over the weekend, Rep. Arent attempted to amend the bill, but the sponsor was unwilling to reach a suitable compromise, and now the bill will get a vote on the House floor again TODAY at 11AM.


Help us oppose this terrible and undemocratic bill by:

  1. CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THIS MORNING! Don’t contact your Senator yet. Contact your representative. You can use the talking points below to tell your representative to oppose HB 11. Find your representative by clicking here.
  2. SHARING THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA NOW! Spread the news far and wide so Utahns become aware of this bill and of what they can do to stop it.
  3. Let us know what you’ve done – Help us track which representatives have been contacted, what their responses were and which local media has been contacted about this issue by filling out the form below about what you have done.
  4. If the bill passes today – If HB 11 gets a vote of support today it will move on to the Senate and Action Utah will continue to mobilize the community against it. Stay tuned for future calls to action, including calling campaigns to our state senators. If you are interested in writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, please contact us, and we will provide you with resources and support.

Who to call

After our calls last week, we know that the House Democrats are with us on this one. Rep. Arent, Rep. Chavez-Houck and Rep. King have all confirmed they are on our side. We need constituents calling these representatives:

  • Douglas Sager
  • Craig Hall (leaning no)
  • Lowry Snow (undecided)
  • Susan Pulsipher (undecided)
  • Derrin Owens (leaning yes)
  • Robert Spendlove
  • Francis Gibson (leaning yes)
  • Keith Grover
  • John Knotwell (undecided)
  • All other Republican representatives

Talking Points

– Bipartisanship on state boards is a tenant of democracy and true representation, and removal of the bipartisanship requirement creates a system of one-party rule and absolute power in the state legislature. Watchdog groups like the Alliance for a Better Utah have raised concerns that this measure effectively silences minority party voices in the state, whether Democratic, Independent or other. Please see this article on HB 11 in the Daily Herald.

-Diverse perspectives are good for good public policy. Bipartisanship on state boards and commissions ensures that multiple concepts and perspectives are properly considered (and either adopted or discarded) in order to help determine what is good and what is bad policy. Please see this article from Utah Political Capitol on why they gave HB 11 a red flag as a grab for absolute power.

– Thurston says these are non-partisan commissions, but there is no consensus on this point, and he didn’t get democratic consensus that these are non-partisan commissions. Diverse perspectives are good for good public policy. The argument about this being an administrative burden, but both Reps said they’ve never been contacted. he didn’t reach

– Rep. Norm Thurston (the bill’s sponsor) claims that the focus of the boards and commissions included in the list are non-partisan commissions. However, there is no consensus on this point and it is merely a matter of Thurston’s opinion versus a consensus gained through democratic process. Furthermore, the responsibilities of many of the boards selected cover issues where differing political perspectives would come into play.

– Rep. Thurston also claims that the partisan requirement for these boards prevents the most qualified experts from appointment, and that the requirements add an undo administrative burden to the selection process. During the hearing on the bill, both Rep. Patrice Arent and Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck questioned whether the administrative burden was indeed as problematic as Rep. Thurston claims.  Both suggested that perhaps the governor is not casting a wide enough net for these appointments (such as reaching out to Democratic Representatives for help), stating that they had never been contacted by the governor’s office to help fill appointments with qualified democrats. Please see this article on their testimony.

– 8 of the affected boards have authority over partisan issues including Environmental Quality, Drinking Water, Water Quality, Health Advisory Council (UT Health Code), Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Labor Code, Oil/Gas/Mining, Proposed Energy Producers States Agreement (Federal regulations for EPA, Endangered Species, federal access lands issue). Here is the website for the Utah State Boards & Commissions listing all the boards and their authority. The 29 boards affected by HB 11 include:

  • Air Quality Board
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission
  • Board of Business and Economic Development
  • Board of Aging and Adult Services
  • Board of Financial Institutions
  • Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining
  • Board of Parks and Recreation
  • Board of Tourism Development
  • Board of Utah Geological Survey
  • Board of Water Resources
  • Committee of Consumer Services
  • Drinking Water Board
  • Energy Producer States’ Agreement Board
  • Health Advisory Council
  • Health Data Committee
  • Labor Commission Appeals Board
  • Livestock Market Committee
  • Merit Commission
  • Passenger Ropeway Safety Committee
  • Public Utilities Public Service Commission
  • Quality Growth Commission
  • State Money Management Council
  • Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism
  • Utah Department of Workforce Services Appeals Board
  • Utah Housing Corporation
  • Utah State Scenic Byway Committee
  • Waste Management and Radiation Control Board
  • Water Quality Board


  1. Matt Styles January 30, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I live in Keith Grover’s district. I’ve just sent him a text expression my opposition, asking him to vote against it. Not sure if/when he’ll respond.

  2. Julia F Vinson January 30, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I called and left messages for Hemingway and Iwamoto.

  3. Lee Udall Bennion January 30, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I just spoke with my representative, Derrin Owens, R-district 58 about HB11. I had sent an email to him and all committee members about this bill on January 27th. (I only heard back from Val Peterson and that was telling me that it was a good bill.) I had a good conversation with representative Owens. He explained to be that small committees (say a water board) have a hard time finding people of both parties to fill out their group and often with a small group, it is a non-partisan issue and the party thing can get in the way. As a rural person, I understand this. I explained to him that my trigger on this issue was thinking about how our congressional districts have been gerrymandered over the last 40 years I see “one party boards and commissions” and this is what I think of and he understood my point of view. I suggested that perhaps HB 11 needs to be tabled and reworked to address the type of board or commission as to whether it needs to be represented by both parties and he liked that idea.

  4. Jane January 30, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Brad Last # is disconnected.
    Utah House of Representatives

    350 North State, Suite 350
    P.O. Box 145030
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
    Phone: (801) 538-1029
    Fax: (801) 326-1544

  5. Nora Somer January 30, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Called John Knotwell at 0945 and left a message urging him to vote “no” on house bill 11.

  6. Andrea Himoff January 30, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Great conversation, Lee! Thank you so much for calling your legislator and taking the time to have a respectful and thoughtful conversation. I also understand the “burden” argument for supporting HB 11, except that according to Democratic representatives, the Governor has never reached out to them for help filling positions. In addition, none of the boards contacted admitted to every having difficulty finding good appointees to fill their positions with the bipartisan requirements. This evidence, to us, nullifies the “burden” argument.

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