Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Rep. Daniel Thatcher talks to city and county officials at a caucus meeting sponsored by Tooele City Feb. 5 at the State Capitol. Thatcher received a 100 percent rating by the 2013 Utah Taxpayers Association Legislative Scorecard.

April 2, 2013
County lawmakers get high marks from Utah Taxpayers Association

One state legislator representing Tooele County is perfect, according to the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, received a 100 percent rating on the 2013 Utah Taxpayers Association Legislative Scorecard.

Thatcher’s Senate district includes Tooele City and Stansbury Park.

The 100 percent rating was more by chance than a deliberate attempt to get a high rating, said Thatcher.

“While I agree with the Utah Taxpayers Association in principle, I have in the past disagreed with them on specific legislation,” he said.

In 2011, Thatcher’s first year in the Senate, the association gave him a 77 percent rating. Last year, Thatcher’s association scorecard was 90 percent.

“I prefer getting my information directly from my constituents, not through a special interest group,” he said.

For example, Thatcher said he only has two elementary schools left to visit and he will have visited all the schools in his district to discuss education issues with principals and teachers.

Two other state Senators, Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, and Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, also rated 100 percent on the association’s scorecard.

The lowest rating by the association in the Senate was 57.9 percent, which was earned by Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City. The average Senate score was 88 percent.

Sen. Pete Knutson, R-Brigham City, who represents rural Tooele County, scored 95 percent on the association’s scorecard.

Knutson’s 95 percent ties his score with that of Sen. Howard Stephenson, who is president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Both Knutson and Stephenson voted against Senate Bill 226.

SB 226, which was approved by the Senate but was not considered by the House, would have allowed the state to collect sales tax from some Internet transactions.

In the House, five representatives scored 100 percent and the lowest rating was 45.9 percent earned by Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City.

Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, scored 82.6 percent and Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, scored 86.4 percent. The average score in the House was 81 percent.

“I don’t necessarily follow the Utah Taxpayers Association positions,” said Nelson. “I vote my conscience and my principals, including protecting the taxpayer’s pocket book and keeping taxes low.”

Nelson ran afoul of the association on four of 23 bills used to rate representatives.

Nelson voted against Senate Bill 34, a bill that required bonds and tax related issues to be voted on only at the regular November election; Senate Bill 82, which created a website for parents to access a student learning profile; and Senate Bill 271, a bill that made changes to previous legislation in school-grading.

The association supported those bills.

Nelson voted for HB 197 that would have created a state earned income tax credit. The association opposed that bill.

Sagers joined Nelson in opposing SB 271 and SB 82. Sagers also voted for HB 372, which would have added an additional tax to nicotine cartridges used with e-cigarettes. The association opposed HB 372.

Each year the association selects key legislation and reports how often legislators’ votes agree with the association’s position.

This year the association selected 23 bills for the House scorecard and 22 bills for the Senate scorecard.

The complete scorecard can be viewed at www.utahtaxpayers.org.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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