BAD BILL ALERT: Block one-party rule in the executive branch (HB 11)!

We called you to action to stop one party rule in the Utah executive branch, and you responded. Because of your calls to your representatives in the Utah House, HB 11: State Boards and Commissions Amendment, was amended before it was passed by the Utah House of Representatives.

The original bill removed the requirement for 29 state boards and commissions to have appointees from more than one political party.  Due to your efforts, the bill was amended to exclude the DABC, the Air Quality Board, the Water Quality Board, the Public Service Commission and the Commission on Service and Volunteerism from these changes.  The bill’s sponsor Rep. Norm Thurston acknowledged on the House Floor prior to the vote that he and other representatives had received a flood of calls on this bill.

HOWEVER, the Senate sponsor, Sen. Dayton, has proposed a substitute that would add back in all of the energy and environmental committees that we helped get removed before it was heard by the Senate.

They must not think we’re paying attention. HB 11 is a grab for absolute power and a danger to the democratic process and representative government.

HB 11 (now called HB11S03: State Boards and Commissions Amendments) is being heard TODAY at 3pm in the Utah Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee.


  • Contact  the members of the SGOPS Committee TODAY BEFORE 3PM, and also contact your own state senator, to vote ‘NO’ on “HB11S03: State Boards & Commissions” Diverse perspectives are essential for good public policy. HB11S03 is a grab for absolute power by one party and a danger to democracy. Sen. Dayton’s proposed substitute is unacceptable. More talking points below. Find the name and contact info for your state senator by clicking here. Be sure to mention that you are a constituent!
  • Show your opposition at the public hearing today by attending or even testifying. Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee hearing: Friday, Feb 10, 3:00p (#3 on the agenda), 415 State Building (map). Contact us if you plan to come.
  • Write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper. Never written a letter to the editor? That’s okay! Check out these great tips on how to write an effective letter to the editor on our Resources page.
  • Let us know what action you took and how senators responded!

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee members:

1. Sen. Don L. Ipson, Chair –; 435-817-5281
2. Sen. J. Stuart Adams  –; 801-593-1776
3. Sen. Margaret Dayton (Senate sponsor) –; 801-221-0623
4. Sen. Luz Escamilla –; 801-550-6434
5. Sen. David P. Hinkins  –; 435-384-5550
6. Sen. Jani Iwamoto –; 801-580-8414
7. Sen. Peter C. Knudson –; 435-730-2026
8. Sen. Daniel W. Thatcher –; 801-759-4746
Find the name and contact info for your own state senator by clicking here.
Use email subject header: “Vote ‘NO’ on HB11S03: State Boards & Commissions”

Talking points for your calls or letters:

– 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 on state boards. 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.

– 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

*** Are you interested in bills like this that affect state government and voter rights policy? Join our Government/Voter Rights Action Team and help impact state policy during the short 2017 state legislative session! Please contact us to learn more. ***

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