My name is Steven Rinehart. I am a registered patent attorney residing in Davis County. I obtained my Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah College of Law in 2003, and did my undergraduate work at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. Before becoming a lawyer, I started and sold several Internet companies. I am also a weekend talk show host on K-Talk (AM 630), where I discuss issues of Utah culture, politics, history and religion. I have interviewed politicians like Rocky Anderson, Rob Bishop, Mark Shurtleff, Jason Chaffetz, Nancy Workman, and authors like Richard Lyman Bushman. I am a concealed-weapons permit holder and a pilot. Once upon a time I received my Eagle Scout. I have served as a state and county Republican delegate, and have seen the ups and downs of different bills.
And most importantly for the purposes of this dispatch, I am also the seventh Republican to join the race in Utah's open seat in House District 17, now that Julie Fisher has resigned. If I manage to win the special election in District 17, I will focus my energy on the office and well-being of my district. Basic competence, conservative principles and a zeal for Utah's future are what is most important in a state legislator.
Utah is not as conservative as most voters would have you believe. Although Utah has a reliable conservative voting record in national races, we have some remarkably liberal laws at the state level. Many out-of-state businesses are reluctant to relocate to Utah due to its sixth highest taxes in the country. Property taxes are on the rise. Utah is very soft on illegal aliens. Utah recently enacted a hate crimes bill ad the behest of the homosexual lobby, wasted a billion dollar surplus, and elected a governor (Huntsman Jr.) who, while a good man, sought to established global warming pacts with California, supported gay civil unions, and gave away soccer stadiums. The only distinction between Republicans and Democrats is the set if conservative principles that republicans claim to cherish. It's important for us to vote for Republicans who believe in those principles, rather than candidates who have proven they are nice guys/gals, but who will vote with the Democrats 50% of the time.
| MY VIEWS ON THE LEGISLATURE |
Most of our legislators are great people; however, some of Utah's legislators are so anxious to avoid the appearance of provincialism that they push unexplainable bills that do everything from give in-state tuition and drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants to hate speech protection to the homosexual lobby. Utah immigration laws are so liberal that even Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama said they would not support them in the Democratic President debates after Elliot Spitzer recommended enacting them in New York. I hate to wonder sometimes, but often do, if a few of our legislators are victims of the same conditioning as those who regularly introduce themselves to me around the valley, explaining "I'm from Utah . . . unfortunately," or "I'm from Utah - but I lived in California for two years."
If you take any cross-segment of the Utah population, you will find Utahans who have lived in a hundred foreign countries (often on LDS missions). SAT scores in Utah are higher than any other state. We endured while a former Chapter Head of the ACLU served as mayor of Salt Lake for a decade. Utahans abuse the same drugs, watch the same movies, and surf the same Internet as anyone else. Utahans are better, stronger and smarter than they're given credit for. The only people living in the Utah bubble are those who think there is one - and we don't need half of Mexico to move into Utah to prove we're enlightened or compassionate.
| UTAH TECH BUSINESSES & ECONOMIC GROWTH |
Utah's tech businesses need help. Despite bold initiatives like the Utah Fund of Funds Bill, along with sincere efforts on the part of Governors Leavitt, Huntsman, and Herbert, companies such as Intel, 3M, Micron and other large corporations which planned on building factories in Utah have all pulled out at the last minute -- thanks in part to the legislature's failures to control taxing and spending (in addition to other factors, some market driven). Iomega abandoned their Roy facility in a near state of bankruptcy. Gateway is gone. Novell is all but gone. Adam Aircraft, gone. eBay may soon build a data center here, and we should encourage that. I hope that Internet companies in particular can be a larger focus of initiatives in the future. As a patent attorney helping these businsess, I would like to be part of the continuing effort to solve this problem.
| MY GENERAL VIEWS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES |
Each year the Utah State legislature enacts hundreds of new laws. Each year the Utah Code grows thicker and thicker, and that doesn't include all the bylaws and regulations adopted by Utah administrative agencies, like the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL). Not all, but many legislators spend too much time trying to enact laws that serve mainly to pad their resumes and give them bragging rights after the legislative session ends (many of which they don't even fund). The net result being: Utahans suffer under an ever-increasing amount of laws too extensive for anyone but attorneys to sort out and we have the sixth highest tax burden in the country to fund the legislature's whims. Utah has largely squandered billion dollar surpluses. Recently, entirely pointless laws and regulations were enacted across all levels of Utah's government and its agencies, from making criminals of people whose hot-tubs are hotter than 104 degrees to paying for a soccer stadium that - if past attendance serves as a guide - only the Huntsmans and Tom Cruise will attend.
I will be signing two pledges: the first will be from the Utah Coalition on Immigration Reform which asks candidates to commit to reforming Utah's immigration laws. The second is Grover Norquist's and American for Tax Payer's no new tax pledge.
| SPECIAL INTERESTS & ENGERGY SOLUTIONS|
I'm not an environmentalist, but I sympathize with a few of their views. Even some of the low-level nuclear waste Energy Solutions is putting in their Clive waste facility has a half-life of hundreds of thousands of years. During that time, Utah will urbanize straight through Clive, and Energy Solutions will abandon the facility. My forebears did not chance death crossing the high plains and settle in the land where pure hearts dwell in 1847, only so a New York industrial conglomerate that thinks Utahans are gullible and easily manipulated can turn Utah into a toxic waste dump for Italy. Even if you believe the chemicals are safe, does Energy Solutions stifle Utah's economy by discouraging those who don't think they're safe from relocating here? On a related issue, I don't want to see Utah archeological sites, like Nine mile canyon, ruined by oil companies either.
I think conservative lawmakers need to resist the temptation to continually toughen criminal penalties around the State only to prove to their constituents that they're tough on crime. A lot of their actions are motivated by defensive attribution bias. We don't need to spend billions on a new prison. I do not support hate crimes bills. I do not support the original animal cruelty bill recently proposed that would have made abusing an animal a more serious crime than abusing a human being. Even when it comes to more serious crimes, I would be reluctant to impose harsher penalties than we have now. Legislators should procced very carefully enacting bills that give criminals more prision time for hurting someone than for murdering them -- lest the law have the effect of encouraging the latter. A felony was a crime in medieval England for which you could be put to death. If we make jaywalking a felony, what are we saying about convicted felons? Prosecutors' conviction rates have been dropping nationwide for two decades in part because jurors can't stomach sentences being imposed on the convicted, and criminals are walking free as a result of some tough-on-crime efforts. I'm also concerned by all the police shootings around the state. We're nearly in a situation in Utah where you're more likely to be shot to death by a cop than by a criminal.
| MY VIEWS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGATION|
The numbers are alarming. We should be compassioinate to illegal immigrants while also recognizing the disturbing facts. Three out of every four people moving into the State of Utah are illegal immigrants. They commit 89% of social security fraud in Utah, and 90% of identity fraud. Soon, they will constitute a third of our ingoing prison population (see http://citizensfortaxfairness.org/x_subpage.asp?id=33
for details). They're bankrupting hospitals and school districts nationwide. Each year in the US, more Americans are killed by illegal alien drunk drivers than American soldiers who've died in Iraq. Economics considerations alone should not be dispositive in Republicans' decisions about legislation, so I don't think hearing arguments about the economics of illegal immigration. Despite what liberals want you to believe, Republicans whom I respect should, and do, care more about the long term security and well-being of all Utahans than any short-term benefits to the Agricultural community.
Many legislators have flip-flopped on immigration from one-year to the next, voting only as seems most politically expedient to them at the time, with no real conviction on the issue. Orin Hatch is a perfect example. If elected, with what power a state representative has, I intend to see tha Utah deals with this issue to the extent a state can. WE MUST:
REPEAL laws and policies giving illegal immigrants favored status, such as our in-state tuition and sanctuary protections.
PRESSURE Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to put more ICE agents in Utah.
FORCE all employers to verify that those they hire are here legally using eVerify.
CREATE disincentives for employers to hire illegal immigrations, including stiffer criminal penalties.
If you are a delegate reading this, it is my hope that I will persuade you that I will be a conservative legislator who will contribute to the public good, rather than that I will alienate you with any one or two disagreements we may have. I hope that these thoughts reach you in the spirit I intend them to, which is a spirit of optimism that celebrates Utah's culture, history, geography, people and politics - and that seeks to protect the same from those companies, individuals and influences that would weaken them.
I have numbered my shortcomings, and as plentiful as they are, I care intensely about the welfare of the State of Utah. If I manage to win the special election in District 17, I will focus all my energies on the demands of the office and well-being of District 17. Conservative principles and Utah's future.
Republican Candidate in House District 17
Do you support the rights of hunters and gun-owners?
| OTHER QUESTIONS PEOPLE HAVE|
-You bet. I have a concealed weapons permit and own more than ten firearms. I'm upset the U of U tried to usurp the authority of the legislature on concealed weapons. Just wait until there's a mass shooting up there and there's not someone like me around to stop it.
What are the issues you care most about?
-Illegal immigration and economic growth are at the top. Long terms, trying to cure the idea in New England the South that Utahans are living in a bubble is important to improve economic well-being. I think we need a little bit of youth and class in elected officials to do that.
What do you think about the credit union's tax bracket?
-Frankly, I'm more concerned about other issues, and I like credit unions just fine.What other issues do you care about that nobody will ask you?
-I'm concerned about Nevada stealing water from western Utah farmers in Juab County. Nevada is already a leach on the economy of the State of Utah, and shouldn't be on its natural resources too.
-I'm concerned that Utah schools, from elementary school to medical school, seem to be nothing but government-subsidized, politically correct landing pads for the wholesale delivery of the prevailing left-wing agenda. This is discouraging young men from attending college at all, and one of the reasons male enrollment is dropping (which is not meant to be a snub to women, whose enrollment is apparently holding fast).
-I did not want to see the death penalty by firing squad abolished in Utah two years ago.But Steve, what about Utah's antiquated, ridiculous liquor laws?
-Why should Utah apologize for its prejudice against alcohol? There is no reason to be ashamed of our most defining traditions. Utah's laws liquor laws relating to grocery stores, alcohol displays, and double-drinks are to meant to prevent children from being exposed to alcohol. Utah's alcohol laws are not that restrictive. In over 20 states, alcohol can't even be sold after 10:00 pm.What else?
-It's not the government's job to micromanage Utahans. We shouldn't pass laws making criminals of parents whose kids play violent video games. We shouldn't raise the minimum mandatory insurance coverage for motorists so lawyers can get higher settlements from insurance companies. We shouldn't make plastic grocery bags or sugary illegal. We shouldn't pass laws that make it illegal for kids to ride motor-powered scooters. We shouldn't pass laws criminalizing truckers pulling triples. We don't need spousal rape laws. We don't need laws forcing you to publish your birthday to register to vote. And we certainly shouldn't be forcing second-graders to take a test that helps them determine whether or not they are gay . . .
-Nevada now only holds its legislative session every two years, rather than every year, to avoid legistlators getting overzealous and passing a bunch of useless laws. As a legislator, I will earn my keep by voting ‘no' rather than ‘yes' on pointless legislation. Even when it comes to things like transfat and motorcycle helmets, it's not within the legislature's mandate to force all people to conform to the majority's notions of propriety (in most issues). At the rate we're going, soon the government will tell you what time you have to wake up, what you have to eat, what you have to say, and what you have to drive.