Rolly: Legislators weigh pulling dues from liberal U.S. group

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A number of Utah lawmakers are so upset at the liberal tendencies of the National Conference of State Legislatures they are thinking of picking up their marbles and going home.

Or at least staying home next year.

Several dozen Utah legislators attended the NCSL convention in Philadelphia last week and were enraged at the "liberal" positions adopted by the body.

The NCSL passed resolutions supporting health-care reform and cap-and-trade legislation, as well as a number of measures backed by labor unions.

Utah wasn't the only conservative delegation upset with the direction of the NCSL, legislative sources say. Oklahoma and Texas, and a number of delegates from Virginia, showed open hostility toward the liberal tendencies of the organization.

One source said the NCSL always has leaned toward the left, but this year revealed a more blatant liberal agenda than past years.

Between the Senate and the House, the Utah Legislature pays about $100,000 in dues annually to the NCSL. Some lawmakers now are saying that money could be better spent. They're also taking a harder look at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as an alternative national association for legislators who traditionally takes conservative and pro-business stands on most issues.

Speaking of ALEC » I have written about the unfortunate group of 50 or so lobbyists who, because they represent clients with deep pockets and need the good will of the Legislature to get their agenda passed on behalf of those clients, are constantly being hit up by lawmakers for money.

There are campaign fundraisers and golf tournaments and party fundraisers and legislators' pet causes and nonprofit organizations that put legislators on their boards for a little extra muscle to lean on these poor lobbyists for donations.

There have been fundraisers to pay for a portrait of former Gov. Mike Leavitt. There now is a proposed fundraising campaign to build a statue of the late Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller.

Now, Republican Sens. Curtis Bramble of Provo and Wayne Niederhauser of Sandy have sent a letter to our hapless lobbyist friends asking for more money -- this time for an ongoing "scholarship program" for ALEC. The "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?" entreaty is asking for donations ranging from $500 to $2,500 annually to "help offset those costs and expenses associated with participation [whose, I wonder?] in local and national ALEC meetings and policy and task force summits."

To idle or not to idle » Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's executive order for city employees to turn off their vehicles instead of letting them idle and his plea for city residents to do the same has not gotten the attention of everybody, apparently.

Friday morning at least a half dozen Salt Lake City police cars were parked between 1300 South and 2100 South along Wasatch Boulevard while the officers stood outside the cars to manage traffic as runners in the July 24th marathon passed by.

Every car was left on with the engine idling for at least an hour. A police spokesman says if the overhead flashing lights were on, that would be the reason so the battery wouldn't run down. But only one of the six had its flashing lights on.