Month: January 2014

Dabakis Diary Day 4



Governor Herbert’s State of the State

The Governor’s speech was interesting. The event took place in the House Chamber. No seats for Senators. It is a very big and beautiful hall. There were sooo many members there. Everyone was talking. No order. No decorum. Those House people are just ‘out of control’. Nonetheless in the sea of chaos, I finally found a friendly face in Senator Steve Urquhart. We sat on the last bench in the far corner. Outer darkness. Good spot for Steve and I.
The Governor took a couple of lines that we suggested on respect to non-discrimination for LGBT people. While still defending “traditional” marriage, he made clear that “there is no place–and I repeat, no place–in our society for hatred and bigotry.” He was so close, but the rest of the sentence SHOULD have been ‘and that’s why I support, along with 73% of Utahns, Senator Urquhart’s statewide non-discrimination bill.’
 Schedule Thursday, January 30th
I just cannot believe anyone loves their job as much as I do. I just love being a Utah State Senator. The alarm doesn’t go off until 5:30, but it is only is 5:03AM and I gotta get up now. I’m a little too excited to get going.
6:45AM Meet my ‘day’ intern Matt at Capitol (I have an official intern Zaida, who is amazing. I also have an unofficial-shadow intern for most days. Today, for example, Matt from the U is the shadow intern). Matt and I will head out to Grand America.
7:00-7:15 Breakfast with Utah Petroleum Association reception. I get the idea that maybe they don’t like me all that much but I like them. I also like to make sure we have plenty of clean air and not-ravaged land for Utah.
7:15-8:00 Meeting with delegation to plan Diversity Day. Gonnna be a rowdy, racious, rolling rally at the Capitol!
8:00-11:00 Zero based budgeting meetings continue with Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations subcommittee. Or, as I refer to it sometimes, the ‘remind me again–what does the constitution says about the feds owning 66% of Utah lands gripe committee’. Really I enjoy this committee and have learned a lot about water rights, prairie dogs, and how genuinely warm and decent our rural Senators are. I would be proud to call any of them my friend. For example, David Hinkins (84.65 voting WRONG on the DabakisMeter) is a delightful guy that I would trust with about anything.
11:00-12:00 Floor time. The bills start a rollin’ and we start a votin’. I need to have read every bill by the time they get on the board, although some bills get skimmed more then others. We will have more than 1,300 bills in the next 43 days. I am a real conservative–I say lets limit it to 10 bills a session with sessions every 3 or 4 years.Now, it gets tricky. Want to know why I have put on a few extra pounds?…
12:00-12:08 Pop by amazing Young Democrats Lunch at Capitol Board Room
12:15-12:45 Head to Uintah Elementary School for lunch in the cafeteria and briefing on crisis in school lunches. More about this meeting in the next DD.
12:48-1:30 Regular Lunch with Democratic Senate Caucus
1:30-2:00 Run to office for short staff chat about constituent emails, phone calls (I owe Tom Love a call), and my pending bills
2:00-4:00 Zero based budgeting with Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations subcommittee.
4:00-4:30 Meet with Dean Peterson, President and CEO of Harmons about his dazzling, new(ish) City Creek store in my district. Jobs! The store was greatly needed downtown and I hope we will have time to chat about how Harmon’s can help us get more Utahns registered to vote.
5:00-5:20 Go home to pick up Stephen (together in sin for 27 years, married 17 days, now who knows) and zoom over to Governor’s Mansion for a legislative reception (no booze). I will tell the Governor how proud I am of his fight for Medicaid Expansion. Time for a quick laugh (and a policy issue or two) with other legislators.
5:20-6:00 Run to Channel 4 for the ‘every Thursday’ 4 minute joint appearance commentary with former GOP Chair Thomas Wright. We hammer away at issues. Thomas is VERY tough on me. Plus he is young and photogenic–in a Justin Beiber kind of way. However, you can’t just find better folk than Thomas–although he frequently needs my tutelage on complex issues. Stephen will be dragged along.
6:00-6:10ish Thomas Wright and I live on ‘Together for Utah’ news segment.
6:30- 8:00 Stephen and I enjoy a dinner with our old neighbors Rick Schwartz and Faith Gartrell.

8:00 Home. Get to a zillion emails, read all bills for Friday, make phone calls, etc. Sometime after 11pm, I predict, Stephen will declare, “If you don’t get your nose out of that computer you will be part of Utah’s first gay divorce!” To which I will answer, something along the lines of “the Governor has stayed ALL actions concerning marriages–I just don’t see how you can divorce me.” Pretty much impossible.


Dabakis Diary Day One!

The “Clean Air, No Excuses” rally (great nod to the whole team who put the rally together) on Saturday was exhilarating. A clean Air Voting scorecard came up with a numerical and letter grade for every Utah legislator. The GOP just loves grading–just ask our teachers. For clean air, there were 12 A’s. There were 27 F’s. The Clean Air folks wanted me to read the names of the F’s to the thousands at the rally. Right. In a clear political, gutless, pander to some of my low scoring good friends in the Senate for the next 45 days, I negotiated to read the 12 A’s not the 27 F’s.  Biggest surprise on the Senate scorecard, Senator Evan Vickers the pharmacist from Cedar City, who is truly one of the classiest guys I know, got a 100% score and an A. Of course rest of the Senate A’s were Democrats. DD (Dabakis Diary) gathered together a group of some of the clever protest signs.

Clean Air Rally Signs (40 of 101)

If you would like to see more pictures,

click here:

Utah Senator and fabulous candidate for 2nd District US Congress Luz Robles was shocked when her long-time boyfriend, Arizona Representative Juan Carlos Escamilla, was surprisingly granted a few moments of Senate floor time and he used the opportunity to pop the question. I released the following:
“Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Senator Luz Robles and her new fiancé, Arizona Representative Juan Carlos Escamilla, who we trust will be moving to Utah. I am trying to work out a trade where we ship a couple of GOP Utah representatives to Arizona in exchange for Rep. Escamilla. Negotiations are ongoing.”


Maybe the Governor and I are back on track after a patch of tough sledding last session. Although, I was sorely disappointed when he did not select me to serve as Lieutenant Governor when the vacancy came. We spent 45 minutes together last week. Brandie Balkin was there. It was a productive chat. Despite a little grumbling from a few Dems, I am there 100% to support Gov Herbert on his gutsy decision on not rejecting Medicaid Expansion. The easy tact would have been to just say NO, NO, NO. Lots of red state GOP Governors have done just that. Good politics. Terrible, heartless policy but it keeps the red meat rank-and-file satiated for a while. Don’t know where we are going with Expansion but with Gov Herbert’s decision, a lifeline of healthcare for 123,000 Utahns is still on the table.

utah gov herbert

Wow! It was a pretty tame opening day on the Senate side, but on the House side sparks were flying at the opening as Speaker Lockhart went after Governor Herbert. In a world where passive-aggressive is king, we haven’t seen a direct assault that out-front since… Jon Huntsman endorsed John McCain over Mitt. Speaking of the Speaker, congratulations to Speaker Lockhart. In addition to a few duties over the next 45 days, her beautiful, enthusiastic daughter Emily married Max Britton on Friday. Emily met her new husband as they were both interns in the legislature! Had a chat with the Speaker in her office last week. She was all wrapped up in a shawl, fighting off that dreadful flu. Hope it all went away before the blessed event. Presumably the state of Utah will have no objections to Max and Emily’s marriage. LOL.

Becky Lockhart

Senator Margaret Dayton, represents Provo and is conservative very, very, very conservative. Did I say very? But truth be told (and at some risk to her political future), I like Margaret. The Senator is completely upfront. She is a believer. I am a believer. We just believe in different things. I can respect that, we are both representing our constituents with passion.  When we disagree, there is always respect, civility, and a dose of good humor. There are times we find common ground. I reckon that Senator Dayton and I will find at least one bill (like we did last session) where the two of us are the only NO votes!