A Utah group dedicated to ensuring “that every man, woman, and child may enjoy the benefits of good government” has recently released its 2008 legislative report in which, among other things, it noted that Democratic Sen. Scott McCoy has the least conservative career of any Utah politician currently serving.
Utah Grass Roots, which supports what such conservative principals as limited government, participatory democracy, free market economy, the separation of government powers and “family,” released its report on May 1. The report ranked Utah legislators based on their support for bills that uphold or oppose what Utah Grass Roots refers to as “constitutional principals:” opposing governmental growth, statewide health insurance coverage, increased property taxes, and illegal immigration. These bills included HB 140, which mandates that children under eight years old be placed in booster seats; HB 326 which allows all eligible children to be enrolled in the government-funded Children’s Health Insurance Plan; SB 157 which ensures that Utahns’ second amendment rights will not be infringed upon in a state of emergency; and SB 81 which allows local law officers to enforce illegal immigration laws. The report also listed Utah Grass Roots’ position on each bill.
The group did not mention any of the bills this term that dealt with the subject of gay rights. However, Utah’s gay legislators consistently ranked in the bottom 25 list of senators and representatives for voting contrary to Utah Grass Roots’ positions. The report ranked openly lesbian Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, in 11th place for the 2008 session and 19th for her entire career. Likewise, openly lesbian Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, who introduced legislation to end workplace discrimination against gays and transgender people this session ranked 15th in the session and 20th in the lifetime category. Openly gay Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, did even worse. McCoy placed 24th out of 29 Senators in this session and dead last in the lifetime category.
McCoy received his low ranking due in part, perhaps, to his authorship of SB 14, which bans drivers from smoking in their vehicles if they are driving with children. Utah Grass Roots opposed this controversial bill on grounds that it was an example of the government “attempting to control how parents raise their children.”
Foes of gay rights legislation in both houses fared better in the report. Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, placed 11th in this session and 10th for his career record. This year Buttars (along with former Representative LaVar Christensen) introduced legislation aimed at blocking a domestic partner registry proposed by Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker. Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, who authored legislation seeking to ban gay-straight alliances, also took 2nd place in both categories.
Last year, the group's report said the House voted "correctly" an average of 47 percent of the time, and the Senate 48 percent.
The full report is available for download at utahgrassroots.org/annual/2008/index.html.