Democrats lend support to U during 45-day legislative session

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series, which looks at the way many legislators up for re-election voted on issues affecting the U.

Proposals made by legislators in committee meetings or floor debates reveal their priorities. With half of the State Senate and every member of the House of Representatives up for re-election this year, voters will be looking to see if the priorities of their legislators match their own.

Some legislators made proposals to fund the U and higher education as a whole, while others made proposals to not give funding or to restrict the autonomy of U administrators.

In the subcommittee that makes proposals for higher education funding, Minority Caucus Manager Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake City, was an advocate for proposals that would serve the U.

Rep. Jones is married to Dan Jones of Dan Jones and Associates, a political survey and polling firm. Dan Jones is also a professor of political science at the U and a co interim president of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Rep. Jones spoke against the committee’s final decision to not fund fuel and power, operation and maintenance and enrollment growth costs at state universities.

“We’re putting these costs on the backs of the students,” she told the committee.

Jones tried to stop the committee’s investigation of the School of Medicine’s admissions office. Allegations were made in years past that the school accepted too many minority students. The committee said they were pleased with the current policies of the school but wanted to continue the investigation.

During a committee meeting about the statewide nursing initiative to improve nursing education, Jones opposed a motion that would have sent some nursing students out of Utah for education. The suggestion made by legislative fiscal analyst Boyd Garriott would have copied a plan that gives money to dental students to go out of state because Utah doesn’t have any dental programs. State nursing educators present audibly laughed at the proposal.

Jones, whose daughter studies nursing at Westminster College, proposed at a later meeting to give money to the nursing initiative. Garriott had suggested funding the engineering initiative, but not the nursing initiative. After Jones’ motion, nearly all committee members said nursing education was a priority for them.

When the proposal was finally debated on the House floor, Jones spoke against amendments to give the money to nursing schools with more legislative representation but less need.

Jones voted against the bill of Sen. Michael Waddoups, R Taylorsville, which would allow guns on the U’s campus. Jones also supported amendments made on the House floor to fund renovations of Marriott Library.

She also proposed giving money to the campus contact initiative, which funds service learning, and to students with disabilities, after they were left out of the budget proposal.

Representative Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, is an adjunct professor in the U’s College of Architecture.

He was the only member of the building projects subcommittee who advocated the renovation of the Marriott Library.

After the committee proposed to fund nearly all of the projects but Marriott Library, which was given second-highest priority by the state Board of Regents, Becker was the only one to bring it up.

He was also one of only 14 out of 75 to vote against the bill to allow guns on campus.

Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-Salt Lake City, and House assistant minority whip Karen Morgan, D Salt Lake City, both made last minute attempts to add the renovation of the Marriott Library to the budget bill. Both proposals failed.

Sen. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, is not up for re election this year but was the only one to vote against the gun bill in committee.

She cited Brigham Young University’s policy to ban guns as her reason, saying it has successfully improved safety there.

She also made a failed final attempt to allow the Regents to decide which nursing schools needed the most money for the nursing initiative, and to add Marriott Library’s renovation to the budget.

[email protected]