Conservative citizens group scores Oda high, Herbert low

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:38 AM

Bryon Saxton

OGDEN — Gov. Gary R. Herbert received a score from a conservative citizens group that was well below his average because of his willingness to allow government to grow and his decision to override gun legislation during the 2013 legislative session.

But while Herbert floundered with the group, Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, flourished once again, earning the praise of the citizens group.

The 2013 Utah GrassRoots Report, released Monday, lists Oda as the top Top of Utah lawmaker based on his voting record meeting with its platform 75 percent of the time.

Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, received the top score of any lawmaker, with 92 percent. Oda finished sixth overall in the House of Representatives with his score of 75 percent, said Don Guymon, chairman of UtahGrassRoots, established in 1992.

The scores the governor and lawmakers received were based on an analysis of 25 bills and the percentage of times the lawmaker’s vote met with the approval of GrassRoots, which opposes any legislation infringing on the U.S. or state Constitution, or that adds or expands government regulations.

The full scorecard can be found at

Oda, a four-term lawmaker and former Clearfield city councilman, is the only politician north of Salt Lake County to receive mention from the group.

“Oda is a good representative, and I think Davis County is lucky to have him,” Guymon said.

Sticking to his values, and the values of his constituents without having to poll them before every vote, Oda said, likely contributed to the score he received from the group.

“I don’t get swayed by emotion,” he said.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Provo, with an 82 percent score is listed as the group’s top state senator.

But while Republicans Roberts, Dayton and Oda scored high, the GOP governor was off from his usual mark.

Herbert received a 27 percent score, compared to his lifetime average of 60 percent, Guymon said. The 27 percent score the governor received is equivalent to the lifetime average of former Gov. Mike Leavitt, and below the lifetime averages of former Govs. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Olene Walker, he said.

“The governor should be a check on the Legislature,” Guymon said, yet the governor vetoed only one bill, it being a bill UtahGrassRoots supported.

“The one time he chose to veto a bill, we felt it was a good bill,” Guymon said of House Bill 76, which would have allowed Utah adults to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

“The governor is fully aware there are those who disagree on the veto of HB 76, but he was elected to represent the entire state of Utah, not just fringe special-interest groups,” said Ally Isom, deputy chief of staff for the governor’s office.

“Sometimes you agree to disagree, and then you move forward in order to get things done.

“The governor is proud of his consistent conservative principles, including empowering the private sector, balancing the budget, enhancing the state’s Rainy Day Fund, limiting government growth and investing in education to ensure an educated workforce and job growth,” Isom said.

But Guymon and his group see things differently.

“Big Government struck back this year,” Guymon said. “Bills which grew government spending, infringed on rights, including the Second Amendment, passed.

“We were extremely disappointed in the sheer volume of bills passed. In all, 524 bills passed, or 17.5 per day, including the Senate, which passed 70 bills in one day. Hardly an exemplary record for what is supposed to be a deliberative body. Liberty is never well-served by an excess of legislation.”

He added: “We hope in the future the governor will be a check on the Legislature and not a rubber stamp.”

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