Live from the Utah State Capitol, it's your favorite state representatives and senators on TV near you.
Anyway, that's the intent of a resolution sponsored by Rep. Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake. Under the resolution, a task force would be established to determine if it is feasible to televise the Utah Legislature when it is in session.Pignanelli told members of the House Human Services Committee Wednesday that the task force also may study in the future how to televise city council and county commission meetings.
"You've all seen C-SPAN (the cable television affiliate that brings Congress to millions of homes daily.) What we'd like is to have U-SPAN," said Pignanelli.
But representatives of the state's rural communities say they fear that towns that do not have cable access may be at a disadvantage because they would not be able to watch the Legislature in action.
And Rep. Robert Slack, R-Washington, expressed concern that some legislators would misuse the air time. "My concern is there may be some grandstanding. But I suppose there already is," Slack said, half-joking.
Pignanelli agreed that televising the activities of the House and the Senate could be a "double-edged sword." But he said he believes the broadcasts may prompt legislators to use their time more efficiently.
Richard Goldberger, a private citizen who urged the committee to adopt HJR2, said one need only to examine the success of C-SPAN to understand how valuable it would to Utahns to watch their Legislature in action. C-SPAN, Goldberger said, has taken "Washington beyond the Beltway."
He said C-SPAN was "better than a soap opera. It's real life."
Goldberger said televising the state legislature was "common sense. It's government by objective."
The committee unanimously approved the resolution and moved to the House for further consideration.
- The House Human Services Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would provide civil service employees, mostly police officers, the right to appeal suspensions that exceed three working days.
"They heretofore have not had any right to an appeal," said sponsor Rep. Jerrold Jensen, R-Salt Lake. The bill would enable officers to appeal civil service commission decisions to the Utah State Court of Appeals.
Under the current statutes, police officers have no right to appeal unless the suspension is longer than 15 days, said David Greer, spokesman for the Utah Coalition of Police. He said a 15-days suspension with no pay "represents an enormous penalty, especially if he has no recourse."
"In the past practices of my department (Salt Lake City), I know of police chiefs who specifically suspended for 14 days so that officer couldn't have it reviewed," Greer said.
Police officers may be disciplined for violation of departmental rules, incompetence, failure to perform assigned duties or violation of civil service regulations or infractions of local, state and federal laws, Greer said.
Jensen said the Utah League of Cities and Towns and police organizations have reviewed and concur with intent of the legislation. Greer said the bill would put city police officers on par with county deputies and state highway troopers, who already have such grievance procedures.
"What keeps internal action on the up and up is outside review," Greer said.
The committee approved the bill and forwarded it to the full House.