Senators agreed to allow the Utah Sports Authority, the group that will spend $56 million on local Olympic facilities, to borrow money from the state's general fund to further the construction plan. But the authority will have to repay the money with competitive interest rates, not the 6 percent rate the authority sought.
The difference between the 6 percent rate and the higher rate that the state treasurer has traditionally been getting on state investments would mean a $1 million loss over half a dozen years, said Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem, the Senate's budget chairman.- "Politicians" from both sides of the political aisle are holding hostage two term-limitation bills that deserve a public hearing, charged two lawmakers in a Wednesday press conference.
"Our fellow colleagues will not even allow the people of Utah to make these decisions," said Minority Whip Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan.
Atkinson is sponsor of a bill that would increase Senate terms from four years to six years and House terms from two years to four years. The bill also would limit lawmakers from serving no more than three terms in each house.
Rep. Bill Wright, R-Elberta, is sponsor of a bill that would limit the terms of representatives, senators and constitutional officers to no more than eight consecutive years in office. Wright's bill would require a public referendum since it deals with positions created under the state constitution.
Both bills have been released by the Rules Committee, but they have been repeatedly pushed to the bottom of the House calendar. Neither has been heard by a committee.
"We would submit to you there is an effort not to hear this issue," Atkinson said. "This bill is hated by both parties."
Given a chance to vote on the issue, Atkinson said he believes voters would approve term-limitation proposals. Similar legislation has been introduced in 26 states, and three states - Oklahoma, California and Colorado - have adopted term limitation legislation.
Atkinson conceded the prospect that the chances of having either bill heard this late in the session is slim. "It's a dead issue unless you (the press), as our eyes and ears, get people calling their legislators and ask them to hear this issue."
- The state currently has more than $52 million tucked away in an emergency account, the so-called Rainy Day Fund. And with demands far exceeding revenue, more than a few lawmakers have cast a covetous eye on the fund.
But Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Young Ward, wants a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate before such funds could be spent. He may not get it.
The House Wednesday voted to gut HJR31 by replacing the two-thirds language with "constitutional majority" language - authority lawmakers already have without Olsen's bill.
"If you don't trust majority rule, you don't belong in this body," said House Minority Whip Kelly Atkinson, D-West Jordan.
Olsen had argued that raiding the Rainy Day Fund was like "shooting a rain barrel with a shotgun: It will never hold water again."
Olsen is still trying to salvage the bill.
- Proponents of a plan rescinding Utah's call for a constitutional convention suffered a setback Wednesday when the House refused to allow the measure to be assigned to a committee for a public hearing.
HJR8, meanwhile, remains in the House Rules Committee.
Many years ago, Utah and about 30 other states called upon Congress to convene a constitutional convention in order to pass a balanced budget amendment. But Rep. Reese Hunter, R-Salt Lake, wants to rescind Utah's call for a constitutional convention, saying once a convention was called there would be no limiting the agenda of the convention.
There is fear among conservatives that liberals would dominate the agenda of a constitutional convention and that a balanced budget amendment would take a back seat to issues like the Equal Rights Amendment and gay rights.