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All opinions on this site are my own, not my employer's.

What Rep. Watkins teaches us about party and ideology

Rank-and-file legislators know which side their bread is buttered on.

Political scientists have made a parlor game of calculating ideology scores for elected officials based on their voting records. The gold standard for the US Congress is the DW-NOMINATE algorithm; you can find those scores back to the founding at Keith … Continue reading

Who voted ?nay? the most in the 2017 Legislature?

The House had its lowest failure rate in half a decade.

As I posted earlier, the Utah Legislature is almost a bipartisan lovefest. Legislators just don’t like voting “nay.” In general, if something gets to the floor, it’s going to pass. In 2017, only 2% of Utah House floor votes had a … Continue reading

Who missed the most votes in the 2017 Legislature?

Absenteeism declined  in 2017.

My previous two posts had some good news about the 2017 Legislature: Vetting time improved a little, giving the public more time to see most bills, and bipartisanship remained the order of the day. But now it’s time for a … Continue reading

Utah lawmakers loved to agree in the 2017 Legislature

Most bills that make it to a vote pass comfortably with bipartisan support.

The partisan rancor that pervades national politics seldom reaches the Utah Legislature. Simply put, Republicans control such an overwhelming supermajority of seats that they have no need to fear Democrats. And since they don’t fear them, they are more open to their … Continue reading

The 2017 Utah Legislature passed a record number of bills but slightly improved vetting time

We're not back to the good old days of 2007-2008, but legislators definitely did better this year at getting their bills out earlier

Back in January, I heard a lot of chatter that this would be one of the busiest sessions ever. Folks were saying that legislators had submitted some 1200 bill requests to drafting attorneys. Though it’s true that the 2017 Legislature passed a … Continue reading

How corrupt is Utah?

On the whole, Utah has lower-than-average levels of political corruption.

At length, former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is finally scheduled to face a jury this week. No matter how Swallow’s story ends, however, it marks an aberration. Federal statistics show that Utah has had very low levels of corruption and political … Continue reading

My wonderful family, Oct 2010

Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward.
Dieter Uchtdorf

Course announcements

Poli 110, Introduction to American Politics

Peer review bug

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016. Several of you are emailing me to report a peer review bug. If you're having a problem where the website serves you the same essay to read twice in a [continued ...]

Poli 110, Introduction to American Politics

Welcome to Poli 110!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016. Yep. You've found the course website. I'll periodically post announcements here. The most recent announcement will always appear at the top. If BYU [continued ...]

Poli 325, Politics of Wilderness, National Parks, and Public Lands

Ready to study public lands by visiting public lands?

Friday, April 1st, 2016. Thank you for your interest in this course! We'll start in the classroom, then visit Rock Canyon, Utah Lake, the Provo River, Arches National Park, [continued ...]

Note that this list may be up to 12 hours out of date.