Legislative Udpate

Dear Friends:

Tonight at midnight we will reach the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. We will not meet again as a full Legislature until next January, unless Governor Herbert calls us into a Special Session or the Legislature decides to have a veto override session. We will, however, still meet for regular meetings (described below) throughout the year.

I will continue to do my best to stay in touch with you and hope you will do the same with me. I appreciate hearing from you all times of the year about issues that are important to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the coming months.

 

The Process from Here

While many bills will be passed by both the House and Senate during the session, that does not mean that they will have become law quite yet. Before they reach that status, they must first be considered by Governor Herbert. When considering a bill, the governor has three options: sign the bill and make it law; refrain from signing the bill for 20 days, after which it becomes law; or veto the legislation. So if you have concerns about bills or appropriations that passed this session, now is the time to contact Governor Herbert and ask him to veto the bill.

If the governor chooses to veto a bill, the legislature then has the option of calling a veto override session. If that happens and the vetoed bill passes with the support of two-thirds of legislators in both houses, it then becomes law. Veto override sessions are rather rare, but they are occasionally held. 

 

End of Session Updates

The Legislature's award-winning website allows you to search for all bills considered this year, as well as in past sessions. By using the search bar at the top of the webpage, you can find a bill's page, which shows the text of the bill and other information about the legislation. If you click on "status" at the top of the bill's page, you can find each step of the process the bill has passed through. If the most recent status of the bill is listed as "prepared for enrolling," that means the bill is awaiting the governor's consideration. If it says "signed by the governor," then the bill is now a law. Most laws take effect 60 days after the session ends.

Also, tomorrow our website will contain reports prepared by our staff summarizing which bills passed and failed and the major bills passed during the session. Budget information will also be available.

We had a fairly good year for clean air legislation and appropriations. You can find the status of the session's proposed clean air bills and appropriation requests here. The column on the far right will list the status of the legislation and appropriations as of late tonight. But things could change before midnight, so always check the status on the legislative website.

 

Upcoming Interims, Committees and Task Force Meetings

While the Legislature is constitutionally-bound to only meet as a body to pass legislation for 45 days a year, we still meet the rest of the year to consider bills and appropriations for the next legislative session. Except for April and November, legislators will meet on the third Wednesday of each month to consider proposed legislation. These are called "Interim meetings." I encourage you to write me about your ideas for proposed legislation and any bills you may have concerns with that are being considered during Interim meetings. As always, you can find our agendas on our website: www.le.utah.gov

We will be traveling during our April Interim meeting to learn about issues in rural Utah. The two-day site visit will include stops in Piute, Millard, Iron, Garfield and Sevier counties.

Various other committees and task forces will also meet periodically throughout the year. I already have a variety of assignments and anticipate receiving a few more by April.

The bipartisan Clean Air Caucus will meet most Tuesday nights before our monthly Interim meetings. We welcome your ideas on how to improve our air quality.

 

Money Owed to You

Occasionally I like to share useful tips that I learn up at the Capitol. The state provides a lot of helpful services that not many people are aware of yet. One such service is MyCash.Utah.gov, a website that helps Utahns find "lost" money that is owed to them. Each year millions of unclaimed dollars are turned over to the State Treasurer from a variety of sources, such as unused bank accounts or uncashed insurance checks. 

By following this link, you can enter your first and last name and the website will search the state's database to see if there is any unclaimed money that belongs to you. Now aren't you glad you're on this mailing list?

 

Visitors at the Capitol

  House District 36 constituents visited for International Women's Day

 

House District 36 constituents visited for International Women's Day

Public testimony on HJR 18 - Joint Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship

Public testimony on HJR 18 - Joint Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship

  House Pages work hard all session!

 

House Pages work hard all session!

Former Utah Senate Intern and constituents Bryce Whittaker and his sons

Former Utah Senate Intern and constituents Bryce Whittaker and his sons

 

Thank You

As the Legislative Session concludes, I want to thank you for the extraordinarily helpful input that I have received from so many of you. As I have said before - your comments help me more effectively represent you in state government. 

I began the session with a binder on my desk in the House Chamber which contained copies of many of your email messages. As the session continued, that binder became a bigger binder, and that binder then became two binders. During debates, I would constantly refer to your messages to know what some you thought about legislation we were considering. Your input truly helped me understand many issues that were new to me. For that, I am very thankful.

I also want to thank my incredible intern, Christian Mower, for his help on these updates and all his other amazing work before and during the session. He is an incredibly talented, bright and hard-working student. I have truly been lucky to have such great assistance on the hill.

After the session, my updates will be less regular, but I encourage you to stay in touch with me about matters that are important to you. I will continue to read all your messages and work to improve the quality of life in our state. 

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We have reached the last few days of the 2017 Legislative Session. Our state constitution mandates that the Legislature meet for 45 consecutive days each year. On March 9 at midnight, we will finish business and adjourn. Between now and when we adjourn, I will be working from 5:00 a.m. to very late in the night debating bills, attending committee meetings, reading email and reviewing legislation. As always, I will personally review all your email messages, but probably will not have time to respond. If it is critical that you receive a response, please let me know.

During the last few days of the session there are often dramatic changes to bills that legislators do not have time to read and that have not been carefully analyzed in a House committee hearing. Unless I am comfortable with legislation, I will often vote "no" even if it sounds like it might be good. More mistakes are made in the last few days of the legislative session than in the rest of the session combined. 

 

Election Law Legislation

There has been more legislation dealing with elections issues than I have seen in the past. In an earlier weekly message, I described HB 204 - Presidential Primary Amendments, which passed the House and is now being considered in the Senate. Two other campaign bills that you may not have heard about yet are listed below.

HB 160 - Campaign Contribution Solicitation Amendments: Government resources should not be used for political purposes. But there have been instances of elected officials using their government email to solicit campaign funds. I had always thought that this was prohibited, but our current law is not clear on that point. HB 160, which I sponsored this session, will make it clear that using a government email to solicit campaign funds is illegal.

HB 160 received unanimous support in both the House and Senate. It will next go to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 133 - Candidate Filing Requirements: Last year Evan McMullin was one of the candidates running for President of the United States on the Utah ballot. His running mate for Vice President was listed as "Nathan Johnson." The problem with this is that the name "Nathan Johnson" was a placeholder. McMullin's real running mate was Mindy Finn. 

HB 133 would require the actual name of the vice presidential candidate to appear on the Utah ballot. What a novel idea! Rep. Carol Spackman Moss is the sponsor of this legislation. I am cosponsoring this legislation, which passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor.

 

Clean Air Legislation

There are many clean air bills and appropriations requests working their way through the House and Senate. A full list and the current status of the legislation can be found here. We will continue to update this list through the end of the session.

HB 29 proposed extending Utah's energy efficient vehicle tax credit, which expired at the end of 2016. The bill lost by one vote. I strongly supported this clean air legislation.

 

Bills of Interest

HB 395 - Health Insurance Amendments: I have received many email messages and phone calls about HB 395, which has already been "substituted" (revised) a number of times by the sponsor, Rep. Dunnigan. This bill allows certain insurance companies to set rates rather than negotiate with physicians, hospitals and physician groups for care provided in emergency settings and other out-of-network situations. 

This is an extremely complex piece of legislation that could have some unintended consequences, particularly in the rural parts of our state. I am not comfortable with the latest version of this bill and think this topic needs additional study during our Interim meetings. But keep watching because negotiations are ongoing on this controversial bill.

HB 369 - Sexual Offenses and Statutory Nonconsent Amendments: A bill that you may not have heard about passed the House late Friday afternoon. I thought you might be interested in some of the language in HB 369:

(1) A person commits nonconsensual sexual conduct when the person engages in sexual intercourse or any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person, regardless of the sex of either participant, and:

(a) the actor knows that the actor is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus; and

(b) the actor engages in the sexual conduct knowing that the victim is unaware of the actor's infected status.

(2) Nonconsensual sexual conduct is a class A misdemeanor.

I have many concerns about this legislation. It singles out one disease, not others that are sexually transmitted such as gonorrhea or syphilis. HB 369 also fails to recognize that people infected with HIV may not be contagious due to treatment or could be taking other precautions during sexual intercourse.

I voted against HB 369, but it passed the House. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration. The Chief Sponsor is Rep. Justin Fawson.

 

Art at the Capitol

Each week we are trying to highlight a few pieces of art you can find as you walk through our beautiful State Capitol.

Winter Landscape is a 1970 piece by artist Everett C. Thorpe. Thorpe began his career as a sports illustrator for The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.

Winter Landscape is a 1970 piece by artist Everett C. Thorpe. Thorpe began his career as a sports illustrator for The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.

 Philo T. Farnsworth is credit as the inventor of the modern television, which he pioneered in Utah. This same statue can also be found in the United States Capitol.

 Philo T. Farnsworth is credit as the inventor of the modern television, which he pioneered in Utah. This same statue can also be found in the United States Capitol.

 

Visitors at the Capitol

Students from Roosevelt Elementary came to visit for Read Across America Day.

Students from Roosevelt Elementary came to visit for
Read Across America Day.

University of Utah football players Mason Woodward, Logan Bateman and Dakota Baker read to students at the Capitol.

University of Utah football players Mason Woodward, Logan Bateman and Dakota Baker read to students at the Capitol.

Former U of U and Weber State football coach, Rob McBride


Former U of U and Weber State football coach, Rob McBride

Karen Kempe, a teacher in House District 36

Karen Kempe, a teacher in House District 36

Jewish and Unitarian Universalist Day on the Hill

Jewish and Unitarian Universalist Day on the Hill

Ashley Koford, a high school student, has been helping me on Fridays.

Ashley Koford, a high school student, has been
helping me on Fridays.

 

In the News

House pulls plug on tax credit for energy efficient vehicles

Idea for runoff election killed after Utah GOP reneges on deal

New emissions requirement targeting Utah County nears passage

After caucus chaos, lawmaker wants Utah to pay for primaries

House passes alcohol bill sponsor says was lesson in 'collaboration and finding balance'

A milestone at the Utah Legislature

'Zion curtain' alcohol reform bill zips through House

 

I appreciate getting your input on the many bills and appropriations requests that are still pending. As I mentioned earlier, during the last few days of the session, I personally read every message, but have very limited time to respond. Please remember to include your home address on all email messages.

It is an honor to serve as a member of the Utah State Legislature. 

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

With only nine business days left in the Legislative Session, the pace at the Capitol has increased significantly. I am working hard to be well informed about all the bills that I will be voting on. Many bad bills and amendments sneak through during this time, so it is important that you stay involved and let legislators and the Governor know about your concerns.

 

HB 206 - Domestic Violence Weapons Restrictions

According to the Utah Department of Health, a Utahn is killed by their domestic partner every 33 days. This is unacceptable. Thankfully, Representative Brian King is sponsoring legislation that seeks to make this less likely to happen. HB 206 replicates existing federal law regarding weapons restrictions, making it illegal for individuals convicted of domestic violence to possess a firearm.

 

By passing this statute in Utah, we strengthen our ability to enforce these restrictions and protect innocent people. This bill will help get deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals, protecting their spouses, children and domestic partners from harm. I am co-sponsoring this legislation, which passed the House unanimously and will next be considered in the Senate. I should mention that it is very unusual to have any firearms legislation pass with no negative votes.

 

Clean Air Legislation

There are a number of clean air bills and appropriations requests working their way through the House and Senate. A full list and the current status of the legislation can be found here. We will continue to update this list.

HCR 18 - Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Utahns to Consider the Smog Rating When Purchasing a Vehicle

Earlier this week, the Senate Government Operation Committee debated HCR 18, a bill I am sponsoring which encourages consumers to consider the "smog rating" when purchasing a vehicle. Much like a fuel efficiency rating, cars manufactured since 2013 have a rating from 1-10 which measures vehicle tailpipe emissions that contribute to air pollution. The smog rating can be found on the right side of the Fuel Economy and Environmental window sticker on vehicles that are for sale. Older models have emissions information under the hood. A vehicle with a rating of 1 produces the most emissions and a vehicle with a rating of 10 emits the least. More information can be found here.  

Nearly half of our air pollution comes from motor vehicles. Purchasing a vehicle with a high smog rating is one of the most effective things an individual can do to help improve our air quality. Transitioning from a vehicle with a smog rating of 5 to one with a rating of 8 results in the equivalent of driving 11,000 fewer miles a year with respect to air pollution.

HCR 18 passed the House, a Senate committee, and will next be considered by the full Senate. Many thanks to my Senate Floor Sponsor, Sen. Brian Shiozawa, for working with me to help raise the profile of smog ratings.

HB 134 - Emissions Testing Amendments

HB 134 (discussed in an earlier email) passed the House late Friday after a very spirited debate. This bill will help reduce diesel vehicle emissions. As the sponsor of this legislation, I am working hard to make sure HB 134 passes the Senate before our session adjourns on March 9.

 

Bills of Interest

HB 29 - Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Credit Amendments: This bill allows taxpayers, living in non-attainment areas, to claim an energy efficient vehicle credit for electric vehicles purchased or leased. I support this legislation, which just passed its first committee hearing in the House.

HB 155 - Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety Revisions: This bill, which passed the House on a 48-26 vote, will make Utah the first state to lower the legal limit for driving under the influence to 0.05% blood-alcohol content. I did not vote for this legislation. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

SCR 6 - Concurrent Resolution on Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms for All American People: This resolution affirms the Legislature's and Governor's commitment to protect the civil liberties, religious freedoms and, dignity of all Americans, legal immigrants, and refugees; expresses the Legislature's and the Governor's determination to protect the constitutional rights of all people; and welcomes any and all efforts to educate and promote understanding and good will among the pluralistic communities that are an integral part of Utah's rich history and heritage. Senator Brian Shiozawa is the Chief Sponsor of this bill. I am the House Sponsor. This bill passed a Senate Committee and should be considered by the full Senate on Tuesday.

SB 56 - Animal Shelter Amendments: This legislation requires animal shelters to use lethal injection instead of gas chambers for the euthanasia of both domestic and wild animals. I support this important legislation. SB 56 passed the Senate and will next be considered in the House.

 

Art at the Capitol

Each week we are trying to highlight a few pieces of art you can find as you walk through our beautiful State Capitol.

A marble bust of Ute Chief John Duncan by Millard F. Malin. Duncan served as a liaison between Native American tribes and the US government following the Civil War.

A marble bust of Ute Chief John Duncan by Millard F. Malin. Duncan served as a liaison between Native American tribes and the US government following the Civil War.

A Day's Adventure by Salt Lake City artist Susan Gallacher 

A Day's Adventure by Salt Lake City artist Susan Gallacher 

 

Visitors at the Capitol

Mary Lou Arveseth of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Mary Lou Arveseth of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Robert Kirby

Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Robert Kirby

Kathy Swift and Skyline High School Seniors

Kathy Swift and Skyline High School Seniors

Rep. King and former Secretary of Labor and newly elected DNC Chair Tom Perez

Rep. King and former Secretary of Labor and newly elected DNC Chair Tom Perez

Maryam Kergaye, a student from the Academy for Math Engineering and Science, joined me in the House Chambers after being acknowledged for her award-winning art.

Maryam Kergaye, a student from the Academy for Math Engineering and Science, joined me in the House Chambers after being acknowledged for her award-winning art.

Rally for Addiction and Mental Health Recovery

Rally for Addiction and Mental Health Recovery

Members of the West High School Environmental Club

Members of the West High School Environmental Club

Students from Ms. Siebach's class at Foothill Elementary are studying air quality

Students from Ms. Siebach's class at Foothill Elementary are studying air quality

 

In the News

Utah bill could make diesel tests mandatory in pollution-plagued counties 

Utah Senate keeps abortion language out of telemedicine bill in first vote

Capitol Conversations: Patrice Arent

 

Thank you for helping me stay informed over the Legislative Session. I have received many emails from constituents over the last five weeks and truly appreciate your willingness to contact me. Please continue to reach out to me regarding issues that are important to you. 

When you write me, please remember to include the number of the bill you are writing about and your home address. Also, it is helpful if you give me a reason for your position on a bill. I read every email I receive, but as my "spare time" generally begins well after midnight, I have limited opportunities to respond during these last few days of the legislative session. So please let me know if you need a response to your message. 

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

There are only 17 days remaining as the Legislative Session enters its final stretch. With most bills still to be heard, the next few weeks are sure to be busy and productive. Also, this is the time of the session that some of the worst bills sneak through with insufficient debate, so I am doing my best to carefully examine each bill.

During the past few weeks I have been working at least 14 hours a day and most waking hours of the weekends, but things are going to be much busier through the rest of the session. I will still be reading every email message I receive, but have less time to respond. When you contact me, it is helpful to know the specific bill number or description of the appropriation you are writing about, the rationale for your position, your home address and whether you need a response. 

 

HB 150 - Custody Amendments Related to Parents with Disabilities

Dan Deuel and Everett Bacon testify in favor of HB 150

Dan Deuel and Everett Bacon testify in favor of HB 150

I am sponsoring a number of bills this year that are all in different stages of the law-making process. Last week, I had my first bill pass both the House and Senate, leaving only a signature by the governor before it becomes law.

In some custody disputes, a parent with a disability might face assertions from the other parent, or assumptions from the court, that their disability makes them less capable of parenting. The current law allows judges to presume or infer that a parent's disability makes them less capable of providing for their child's best interests. The court can draw these conclusions without making a record of the analysis used to reach those conclusions. It then becomes the burden of the parent with the disability to prove that despite their disability, they are fit to parent their own child.

HB 150 properly places the burden on the parent who wants to assert that the disability should limit the other parent's custody rights. This legislation also protects parents with disabilities by ensuring there is a clear record for appeal. The court will be required to document its specific concerns as part of the record and how those concerns are not alleviated by the parent's access to resources and accommodations. Such findings are already the best practice among many members of the Judiciary. HB 150 codifies this practice in statute to ensure it is uniformly applied.

The support shown for this legislation throughout the whole process has been amazing. Although there were many questions asked, not a single negative vote was cast at any stage in the process. I am grateful to the many legal experts and members of the community who worked tirelessly to support this legislation and came to testify in favor of it. When this legislation becomes law, it will truly make a difference in people's lives.

 

HCR 10 - Encouraging Identification and Support of Traumatic Childhood Experience Survivors

There are many meaningful resolutions being presented this year. One which is important to me is HCR 10 - Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Identification and Support of Traumatic Childhood Experience Survivorssponsored by Rep. Ed Redd, who is also a physician. The resolution seeks to bring attention to the research that shows the impact that adverse childhood experiences can have on an individual as they grow and develop. 

In explaining the resolution, Rep. Redd noted that some kids get a disproportionate share of bad experiences in their early lives. These traumatic experiences change the wiring in a child's brain. As a result, there is an increased risk of having negative adverse effects in their lives. These negative effects can range from difficulty in school and substance abuse, to attempts to take one's own life.

I am serving as a cosponsor of this resolution, which passed the House unanimously. It will next be considered by the Senate.

 

Air Quality Legislation

Last week I mentioned a list of legislation being followed by the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus. To help you follow clean air legislation this session, I have posted the Clean Air Caucus tracking sheet on my website. It is a helpful way to follow everything the Legislature is doing to benefit clean air. You can find it here.

 

Bills of Interest

Many of you have written to ask my position about the bills listed below. You can always find the votes on each bill on our website under the "status" of the bill. Just click on the actual vote number on the right side of the page.

HB 241 - School Accountability Amendments: This bill does away with the system that assigns a single letter grade to Utah schools. The grading system has caused problems for schools for a variety of reasons. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation.

HB 207 - Federalism Amendments: This bill appropriates $350,000 for the development of a Federalism curriculum. The bill originally mandated that legislators take the course, although that language was deleted. I voted against this bill. If the state has $350,000 more to spend for education, there are many higher priorities.

Most of you have probably heard about the following two resolutions. The overwhelming legislative support for these proposals was one of the reasons that the Outdoor Retailers decided to move its conference out of Utah.

HCR 11 - Concurrent Resolution urging the President to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument: I support President Obama's designation of the national monument and voted against this resolution. 

HCR 12 - Concurrent Resolution Urging Federal Legislation to Reduce or Modify the Boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: I also voted against this resolution for more reasons than I can list in this message.

 

Art at the Capitol

Visiting the Capitol during the Legislative Session is a great experience. There are many fun and interesting things to do for big or small groups. You can view House and Senate proceedings, sit in on committee hearings or just take a picture in front of our mighty century-old state house. You may not be aware, however, that the Capitol is host to a wonderful art collection. Below are a couple of the great pieces by local artists that are currently on display. I look forward to showing you more each week.

Mackerel Cloud is a 1945 piece by Florence E. Ware, who painted the murals in Kingsbury Hall.

Mackerel Cloud is a 1945 piece by Florence E. Ware, who painted the murals in Kingsbury Hall.

Abandoned was painted by renowned rural landscape artist LeConte Stewart around 1950. In 2002, November 7 was declared LeConte Stewart Day by Governor Leavitt.

Abandoned was painted by renowned rural landscape artist LeConte Stewart around 1950. In 2002, November 7 was declared LeConte Stewart Day by Governor Leavitt.

 

Visitors at the Capitol

SLCC President Deneece Huftalin, Representative Carol Spackman Moss and Community Leaders Jesselie Anderson & Gail Miller

SLCC President Deneece Huftalin, Representative Carol Spackman Moss and Community Leaders Jesselie Anderson & Gail Miller

Michael Ballam from the Utah Festival Opera

Michael Ballam from the Utah Festival Opera

Scott Phillips and Zachary Murray from the Utah Shakespeare Festival

Scott Phillips and Zachary Murray from the Utah Shakespeare Festival

Physicians from House District 36

Physicians from House District 36

Curtis, Willie and Norm from Box Elder County

Curtis, Willie and Norm from Box Elder County

In the News

Bill would change how courts look at parents' disabilities in child custody cases 

House approves $350,000 for education - for lawmakers

House votes to spend $350k on its own federalism refresher courses

2017 Legislative Update

House approves controversial telemedicine bill

 

Thank you so much for reading this newsletter and staying in touch with me throughout the Legislative Session. I have been so impressed with the groundswell of enthusiasm for political activism in the last few months. I encourage you, as we head into the final weeks of the session, to stay informed and active to help make Utah the community we want it to be.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We are just about to the halfway point of the 2017 Legislative Session. It has been a pleasure hearing from you over the last week. I encourage you to continue to reach out to me. On issues not within the jurisdiction of the state legislature, it is also important for you to contact your city, county or federal officials.

 

1st Sub HB 204 - Presidential Primary Amendments

On March 22, 2016, many of us tried to vote in Utah's Presidential Caucus, which was run by the political parties. I attended the caucus at Olympus High School. Like many of you, I spent the entire evening standing in lines and doing my best to help alleviate some of the issues voters and volunteers were facing. 

Most people assumed from the length of the lines that voter turnout was considerably higher than in the past. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In fact, 53% fewer people voted in the 2016 Utah Presidential Caucus than in 2008, when we held a state-run Presidential Primary. The 2016 complications arose from the fact that the state did not fund or run this election as they had in the past. Instead the election was run by volunteers recruited by political parties. As those who participated that evening would likely agree, political parties should be in the business of trying to win elections, not run them.

The Legislature was asked by Governor Herbert, the Democratic Party and even Governor Mitt Romney to fund a 2016 presidential primary. The Legislature refused to appropriate the funds. I am working to make sure this does not happen again. This year I am sponsoring HB 204 - Presidential Primary Amendments that requires the state to fund and operate a presidential primary in 2020 and in all following presidential election years. If the state and our county clerks run the presidential primary, we will have a professionally run election, with early voting, absentee ballots, a full day to vote, adequate parking and accommodations for disabled voters.

It was quite the moment when I presented the bill in the House Government Operations Committee last week when the chairmen of both the Utah Republican and Democratic Parties testified together in favor of my bill. In fact, James Evans and Peter Corroon even shared a hug! I believe that democracy is most effective when all voices are heard. A state-run presidential primary would increase voter turnout, making it easier for senior citizens, the disabled, students, parents, people who work evenings and others to vote. The bill passed the House Government Operations Committee with strong support and will next be debated by the full House. If you support this legislation, you and your friends may want to let other House members know. 

 

HB 159 - Amendments to Voter Registration

If more voices are heard in the political process, our democracy is stronger and our government is more effective. A bill I am planning to cosponsor that makes voting easier is HB 159 - Amendments to Voter Registration by Rep. Steve Handy. This bill creates a process that automatically registers an eligible individual to vote when they apply for or renew their driver's license unless the applicant "opts-out" of voter registration. Making the voter registration process easier and more accessible for Utahns would almost certainly increase the number of participants in our political process. County clerks also think this bill will increase efficiency by providing more current mailing addresses as well as reducing costs. Privacy protections under the current law will remain unchanged.

I heard the first presentation of this bill in the House Government Operations Committee last week. It will be debated again on Monday morning. You are welcome to join us in room 30 of the House Building or listen to the debate online: www.le.utah.gov.

 

Air Quality Legislation

There over a dozen air quality bills and appropriations requests working their way through the legislative process. I have highlighted a few of them in the past weeks and will mention a few more in the future. Most recently, HCR 18, my legislation concerning smog ratings on motor vehicles, passed the House Transportation Committee unanimously on Friday.

If you would like a list of all the clean air bills and appropriations requests, and their current status, please let me know and I will send it to you. Please remember that by the time you open my email message, the status of the bills may have changed.

 

Town Hall Meeting Report

It was great to see so many of you last week at the Town Hall Meeting that I hosted with Sen. Iwamoto, Sen. Shiozawa, Rep. Moss and Rep. Poulson. Though we had some competition with another town meeting that evening, we still had a full house, packed with constituents who care about our community. The issues we discussed included efforts to improve air quality, education, reforms to address opioid abuse and the need to protect our national monuments.

We were all thrilled with the strong showing of support and interest. Turning out and letting your voice be heard is vital. Many thanks to KSL's Doug Wright for moderating the evening and to Holladay City for hosting our meeting.

 

Visitors at the Capitol

Former House Speaker Nolan Karras and Jesselie Anderson, Co-Chair of Education First, testify in Public Education Appropriations Committee

Former House Speaker Nolan Karras and Jesselie Anderson, Co-Chair of Education First, testify in Public Education Appropriations Committee

Craig Bickmore testified in support of HCR 18, one of my clean air bills

Craig Bickmore testified in support of HCR 18, one of my clean air bills

Kate Button, constituent and student at Rowland Hall

Kate Button, constituent and student at Rowland Hall

Retired 3rd District Judge Raymond Uno

Retired 3rd District Judge Raymond Uno

The K9 Mayor of Salt Lake County

The K9 Mayor of Salt Lake County

In the News

There are many reporters covering the Legislative Session who do a great job of keeping the public informed. Below are a few of the news articles I was mentioned in last week:

Legislative committee approves state-funded presidential primary, other election process changes 

Bill requiring state-run presidential primaries advances in House 

Power players and lawmakers to watch in the 2017 Utah Legislature

House committee supports bill to create statewide suicide crisis line
House committee OKs bill requiring paid postage for by-mail ballots

 

Thank you for staying in touch with me. I hope that these messages continue to inform you about some of the happenings at the Capitol. As we enter the home stretch of the Legislative Session, I encourage you stay involved in state politics. It is only with your help that your elected representatives can effectively serve you. Also, remember you can always find out what is going on at the Legislature through our award-winning website: www.le.utah.gov .

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

The second week of the Legislative Session was filled with many interesting issues as a number important bills were debated by the full House and Senate. The pace is definitely picking up.

I have enjoyed hearing from you this session and encourage you to stay in touch. It is important to me to hear how I can best represent the residents of House District 36. When you contact me about an issue, it is helpful if you include the bill number or a description of the appropriations request that you are writing about. It is also important to include your home address, because I respond first to those living in House District 36. And if you do not need a response, please let me know. I personally read every message I receive, but often don't have time to respond until after midnight.

 

Clean Air

I have heard from many of you about the need to improve our air quality. Last week, as our skies remained grey and some of our cities had the worst air in the nation, legislators from both sides of the political aisle gathered for the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus press conference to outline plans to help combat air pollution. Even with many conflicting meetings, one third of the legislature attended the press conference. Here is one of the news stories about the press conference.

Many proposals were presented. I will mention a few here. Others will be highlighted in future newsletters. Representative Handy discussed his bill to fund incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Representative Eliason talked about his legislation to provide grants to low income individuals if their car fails an emissions test and the owner cannot afford to repair the vehicle. Senator Escamilla is proposing a bill to require carefully monitoring and controlling pollution from the construction of the new prison. Senator Fillmore presented legislation that restricts community associations from placing unreasonable restrictions on solar panels. A number of appropriations requests were highlighted, including my request for funding for air quality monitors and staff, Rep. Redd's request for additional resources for air quality research and the request from Rep. Schultz to help fund the Depot District Clean Fuels Tech Center for UTA, which will make it easier to expand the CNG (compressed natural gas) bus fleet and utilize battery electric buses.

These were only a few of the great ideas mentioned at the press conference and there are many more we will hear this session. While our air quality has improved over recent years, we still have a long way to go! There is no silver bullet - no one piece of legislation that will fix our air pollution problem. 

 

More Clean Air Legislation: HB 134 - Emissions Testing Amendments

Friday afternoon I presented HB 134 to the House Transportation Committee. This bill requires counties, that already test gasoline vehicles, to perform emissions testing on diesel vehicles. It only seems fair to require emissions testing on diesel models when similar models of the same vehicles are currently tested. The total PM2.5 emissions from failing diesel vehicles are quadruple the PM2.5 pollution of compliant diesel vehicles and 7-8 times that of an average gasoline vehicle.

One county currently doing diesel emissions testing found that light duty diesels were approximately 8-9 times more likely to fail emissions testing than comparable gas vehicles. Also, in another large county, nearly six percent of new diesel vehicles (2011-2016 model years) failed to meet emissions standards.

I expected some pushback to this legislation, but what happened in committee surprised me. During the public comment section of the hearing, supporters of the bill filled many of the seats in the committee room. I did not know that so many of the people were there to support this important legislation. In the end, not one person spoke against the bill. This kind of vocal support truly matters and it surely played a significant role in the committee's ultimate unanimous support of HB 134. A good article about the debate in the House committee can be found here.

The bill will next be debated by the full House. All House Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus are cosponsors of this legislation. Senator Curt Bramble is the Senate Floor Sponsor. Ashley Soltysiak of HEAL Utah helped me develop and present the bill.  

 

HB 11 - State Boards and Commissions Amendments

In last week's newsletter I mentioned HB 11, a bill that removes the partisan requirements from 29 boards and commissions. This bill was debated by the full House on Wednesday. I spoke against this bill, emphasizing that the people of Utah want political diversity on many of their state boards. I noted that when a similar issue was presented to the public in the 2014 election, by a very wide margin the public voted to retain the political diversity requirement for the Utah Tax Commission. This vote was required because unlike other boards, the Tax Commission's political diversity requirement is in the Utah Constitution. I also argued that if we are going to take out one board requirement, we should look at how that requirement fits into others such as geographic diversity, representation from certain groups, etc. In other words, we should do a more careful analysis of each board on the list before changing the status quo.

HB 11 was amended so that five of the 29 boards and will retain political diversity. But there are still many boards left in the bill that benefit from the requirement that all appointments cannot come from the same political party. HB 11 passed the House by a vote of 51 to 23 - with all Democrats and some Republicans voting against the bill. To become law, HB 11 still must pass a Senate committee and two votes of the full Senate before finally being signed by the Governor. So there is still a chance to defeat or amend this bill.

I would encourage you to contact your state senators and the Governor's Office (whose staff testified for this bill) and let them know of any concerns you have regarding this legislation. You can find the contact information for your state senator at: www.le.utah.gov and can reach the Governor's Office here.

 

Town Meeting - Thursday, February 9th

I will be holding a Town Hall Meeting this week on February 9 at Holladay City Hall from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. with Rep. Moss, Rep. Poulson, Sen. Iwamoto and Sen. Shiozawa. I know each of us would love to see you there as we always appreciate hearing your thoughts and opinions. Holladay City Hall is located at 4580 S. 2300 E. in Holladay. For those who cannot attend, you can always email me with your suggestions and concerns.

 

Visitors at the Capitol

One of the most exciting parts of the Legislative Session is when I get to meet with the various groups who come to the State Capitol. Below are some of the many people who recently came to visit.

Representative Arent with former U.S. Senator, Jake Garn, whose career began as a janitor at the Utah State Capitol

Representative Arent with former U.S. Senator, Jake Garn, whose career began as a janitor at the Utah State Capitol

Research posters on air quality issues by Nicole Burnett and Robert Coffman, University of Utah students

Research posters on air quality issues by Nicole Burnett and Robert Coffman, University of Utah students

Jeff Worley, CTE student leader at Skyline High School

Jeff Worley, CTE student leader at Skyline High School

Actors Adam Johnson & David Powell showed up well-dressed at the Capitol

Actors Adam Johnson & David Powell showed up well-dressed at the Capitol

Thank you so much for staying in touch with me as I do my best to fight for the issues that are important to you.  I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our Town Meeting.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends: 

The 2017 Legislative Session is underway! The Utah Legislature will be meeting until March 9. It has been a busy and exciting week as legislators, constituents and activists from Boulder to Bear Lake and Wendover to Vernal have come to the Capitol, all with the same intention - to help make Utah a better state. There are many different approaches to that goal. This year there are expected to be roughly 1,500 bill files opened, and although most will not make it to both the full House and Senate for a vote, it is still likely to be a record-breaking year. 

 

Women's March

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Speaking of breaking records, the first day of the Legislative Session saw over 6,000 participants inside the Capitol and thousands more demonstrating outside. The Utah Women's March drew more women and men to the legislature than any other gathering I can remember in decades.

This passionate crowd of people filled the Capitol rotunda, watched from every balcony and stretched out several blocks down the street to show their support for a variety of issues. I was privileged to be among the legislators and activists asked to speak.

In my remarks, I talked about the moral core of our country - civility and respect for all people, social justice, inclusion and equal rights, protection for our environment and the arts, and love for all people. I reiterated my commitment to defending equal rights, an ideal that my parents impressed upon me. My family proudly marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I stand with all of those facing oppression today. As a Jewish American and the descendant of immigrants, I vowed to stand up against violations of freedom, including a Muslim registry. If such a registry is enacted, I will register myself. Since the rally, I am also very concerned about recent action taken by our president to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending refugee admission.

It was heartening to hear the cheers of those gathered as we paid respect to the women who have gone before us. We all owe a great deal to trailblazers who have fought for justice and equality. It was truly inspiring to participate in such a joyful, diverse gathering. I can't think of a better way to start the Session.

 

Upcoming Town Hall Meeting

Along with some of my other colleagues, I will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on February 9 at Holladay City Hall from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Rep. Moss, Rep. Poulson, Sen. Iwamoto, Sen. Shiozawa and I will be there to answer your questions. Doug Wright will be the moderator. These town meetings are always a highlight of the session for me and I would love to see you there! For those who cannot attend, you can always email me with your suggestions and concerns.

 

HB11 - Removing Partisan Requirements for State Boards and Commissions

Many of you have contacted me regarding your concerns with House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Norman Thurston. This legislation proposes doing away with the political diversity requirement for the Governor's appointments on 29 board and commissions. These boards vary and some, like the Public Service Commission, Air Quality Board and Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, give me more concern than others, such as the Livestock Marketing Board. The partisan requirements on most of these boards and commissions are vital to assuring a diversity of perspectives and opinions. I have already voted against this bill twice in committee hearings. Unless the bill is dramatically amended, I will work hard to defeat it. This legislation definitely needs more study. We need a careful analysis of all of the membership requirements of most of these boards before making any changes. 

It is likely that HB 11 will be debated by the full House on the morning of Monday, January 30. If you have any concerns or input regarding specific boards and commissions that could be affected by this legislation, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.

 

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee

This year I am serving on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. We covered a variety of topics in this week's meetings including the current education budget. We heard reports from Syd Dickson, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Tami Pyfer, the Governor's Education Advisor. We also heard a recent national report analyzing effective education systems outside the United States and comparing them with US state education programs and funding. Just as a reminder - you can listen to all committee hearings and review the materials online at: le.utah.gov.

Improving Utah's education system is fundamental to our state's success. There are many innovative ways to improve education, but the Legislature must not lose sight of the need for more funding. Utah ranks 51st in the nation in per-pupil spending. Our children deserve better.

 

Honoring our Police Officers

On January 19, the City of Holladay hosted a dinner honoring the police officers who serve Holladay and Millcreek. Held one year after the tragic killing of Officer Doug Barney, this event was a wonderful chance to thank the great women and men who serve our community every day, as well as a chance to reflect on those who gave their lives to protect our community. 

It was an honor to meet Erica Barney and her children at the dinner. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to thank to the police officers and their families who sacrifice so much to protect all of us.

 

I truly appreciate the privilege of serving in the Utah Legislature. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and opinions regarding any pending legislation. Knowing what issues are important to my constituents is how I can most effectively represent you. I personally read every message I receive. If you don't need a response to your message, please let me know. 

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We are less than one week from the beginning of the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins on January 23 and runs until March 9. When not at the Capitol, throughout the year I meet with constituents, educators, business leaders, local community councils and elected officials and other members of our community to learn about issues important to the state and District 36. Below is a brief description of a few of the dozens of meetings I attended last week.

 

Big Block of Cheese Day

In 1837, President Andrew Jackson received a gift of a 1400-pound block of cheese. To make use of all the cheese, Jackson invited the public into the White House lobby to chisel off a chunk of the cheese to keep for themselves. In this tradition, the House Democratic Caucus also welcomed in members of the public to share in cheese and converse with their representatives for our annual Big Block of Cheese Day.

 

I had the pleasure of meeting with many constituents, including the McGregor and Guelker family, whose two children, Jefferson and Winston, donned their 1700's best just for the occasion. It was so great to hear first-hand what issues are important to the citizens of District 36. Clean air, education improvements and the need for defending our public lands were brought up by many people who spoke with me. I hope to see you at next year's Big Block of Cheese Day!

 

Meeting with Local Educators

Utah School for the Deaf and Blind:

Last Wednesday I had the privilege of meeting with Utah School for the Deaf and Blind Superintendent Joel Coleman and Associate Superintendent Michelle Tanner. They gave me and Rep. Carol Spackman Moss a tour of the C. Mark Openshaw Education Center, a new addition to their 3300 South campus. This new center was specially designed to help the students of the school succeed. The facility contains many unique features. For example, textured paneling along the walls helps students find their way to class. And unique plants and water features are scattered throughout the school's sensory garden and tactile playground to let students play in a safe and fun way. This campus serves blind and deaf students from all over the Salt Lake Valley, as well as Park City and Tooele. It is a vital part of the Utah education system.

Meeting with Granite School District Teachers:

Wednesday evening I met with teachers from the Granite School District. They shared their concerns about teachers leaving the profession, students not going into teaching, students with significant needs, teacher preparation time, class size and other critical issues facing our public schools. We also discussed the "Our Schools Now" initiative, which would give citizens the ability to vote on a ballot measure to increase income taxes for education funding. That initiative was also the topic of an evening meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday evening. More information can be found at: https://ourschoolsnow.com

 

Local Entrepreneurs at Outdoor Retailers Winter Market

This past week Salt Lake City once again served as the host to the Outdoor Retailers Winter Market. Our state's incredible public lands are a vital asset to our economy and way of life, attracting innovators and jobs to Utah. The continued success of local companies and entrepreneurs featured at the Outdoor Retailers Expo is a testament to that. A few examples are those I met with on Thursday. Gregory Mountain designs backpacks here in Utah for every outdoor need. Petzl, a company which makes safety equipment for rock climbers and emergency service workers, recently relocated their American headquarters to Utah.

In 2013, Davis Smith and a group of friends met in a cabin in Utah to found Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is an apparel company that is committed to responsible business practices. Their colorful bags are made from reclaimed fabric scraps and the company is dedicated to supporting other charitable organizations that have a proven record of empowering people. As well as being headquartered here, Cotopaxi has two stores in Utah. It is a shining example of an ethical business drawn to our state because of our incredible human and natural resources.

 

My New Intern - Christian Mower

My intern this session will be Christian Mower. Christian is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in political science as well as a resident of District 36. You can reach Christian at cmower@le.utah.gov.

 

As always, I am grateful to the constituents of District 36 for allowing me to be your representative in the Utah Legislature. Please feel free to contact me with issues that are important to you. In messages to me, please include your address, the piece of legislation you are writing about and if you would like a response. I personally read every email I receive because your opinion matters. I look forward to hearing from you and to serving as your representative this year.

Legislative Update

 

 

Dear Friends:

Happy New Year and welcome to the first of my periodic legislative updates for 2017.  As in years past, I hope these brief messages will serve to infrom you about some of the interesting things happening in the Utah Legislature, particularly during the upcoming Legislative Session.  It is my hope that you will always let me know your thoughts about pending legislation as well as how to further improve the State of Utah.  Your input is invaluable.

 

The 2017 Legislative Session

The 2017 Utah Legislative Session begins on January 23 and concludes on March 9.  The Legislature's website is a great way to keep up to date during the session, as well as during our Interim and task force meetings throughout the year.  There you can find legislation, fiscal analysis, committee schedules, video and audio of live and prior proceedings and many other helpful tools to help you follow the Utah Legislature.  The website is: http://le.utah.gov/.  

During the upcoming legislative session, I will serve on the following committees:  House Public Utilities, Energy & Technology, House Government Operations Committee and Public Education Appropriations (joint House and Senate Committee) and International Trade and Relations Committee. I continue to serve as Vice Chair of the Ethics Committee, among a variety of other committee duties.

 

How to Reach Me and Social Media

Your input is vital to helping improve Utah's government and our community.  I always look forward to hearing your thoughts about state legislative issues.  The best way to reach me is through email.  My email address is: parent@le.utah.gov

During the session, I can receive hundreds of emails a day, so I always try and prioritize messages coming from residents of House District 36.  If you could include your home address in your email, it would be of great help to me.  In case I need to reach out to you by phone, please also include the best number to reach you.  If your message is for information purposes only and does not necessitate a reply, please let me know so in the message.  I value your input, so I personally read every email I receive.  Please remember that all email messages sent to me are subject to the Government Records Access and Management Act.

I often comment on legislative issues on social media.  If you are interested, please consider following me on Facebook (where I am most active) and Twitter.

 

January 21, Clean Air, No Excuses Rally

Please join me on January 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm for the "Clean Air, No Excuses Rally" on the south steps of the Utah Capitol Building.  The rally will be a great chance to let the state's lawmakers and public know how important clean air is to Utahns.  Four years ago, I founded the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus.  I helped start this group because I know how imperative it is that the Legislature better understand air quality issues and pass effective and meaningful plans to help clean our air.  I hope you will attend the rally to let your voice be heard.  We need clean air! 

 

It is my tremendous privilege to serve as your representative.  I am always grateful to the residents of Utah House District 36 for the trust you have placed in me, and I am eager to continue to serve you and the State of Utah in the coming months.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

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This is the last day of the 2016 General Legislative session. The session will adjourn at midnight. On Friday morning you can find the final status of all the proposed legislation and appropriations requests on the legislative website. As the session winds down, I would like to update you on a few important matters.

Please excuse any mistakes in this message. I’ve had a grand total of 15 hours of sleep in the past three nights and we will be voting on bills until midnight.

Hot Issues Still to be Determined

There are so many important bills still being debated, that it’s impossible to mention them all. They include medical marijuana, budget issues, election law, juvenile sentencing, and alcohol beverage control proposals. Two of these issues that have generated hundreds of email messages are below.

SB 189 – Death Penalty Amendments

The bill to outlaw the death penalty in Utah divisively passed by close votes – the full Senate by 15-12 and a House committee by 6-5. We anticipate a debate by the full House before midnight.

Utah is one of 31 states that still administers the death penalty and would be the 6th state in the last 5 years to abolish it. During the debates, both sides discussed the problems with the extensive appeals process and the decades-long route for an execution to actually take place for those on death row. They also discussed issues related to moral concerns and discovering exculpatory evidence too late. Arguments in favor of this legislation repeatedly cited the toll that this takes on families of victims, who must revisit the loss of their loved one every time an appeal takes place.

There is also an incredible expense to the taxpayer. A 2012 Utah legislative study found that the increased trial costs of a death penalty sentence were $1.6 million more expensive than serving life without parole.

Those arguing for retaining the death penalty cited cases of incredible murders with very clear evidence. They also talked about issues dealing with plea bargaining.

SB 115 – Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act (STEP)

This very complicated public utilities bill takes some of the authority away from our Public Service Commission (PSC) to regulate our major electric utility. While there are some positive aspects to this bill, they are outweighed by the elimination of an important utility risk-sharing mechanism. This mechanism provides incentives to Rocky Mountain Power to appropriately and responsibly manage fuel price risk in a way that aligns the utility’s financial interests with the best interest of its customers.

Instead of passing this bill, I believe we should give the PSC and their expert staff adequate time to carefully evaluate what implementing SB115 would mean, how it might work, the intended and unintended consequences, as well as the impact on rates and subsidies. The PSC can then report back to the Legislature on its findings.

There have been a number of versions of this bill. 4th Substitute SB 115 was released and debated by the House Public Utilities & Technology Committee on Tuesday. It is an improvement over the past version but there are still many concerns. As a member of the Public Utilities committee, I voted against the bill, but it passed on a 6-5 vote. It will come to the full House for a debate today.  I will continue to strongly oppose this legislation, unless it is dramatically amended.

Some of the Legislation That I Sponsored or Cosponsored

HB 52 – Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments unanimously passed the Legislature. This bill will help the state improve its outdoor infrastructure in both rural and urban settings by providing matching funds for projects such as trails, boat ramps, beaches, restrooms and playgrounds.

HB 130 – Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Amendments passed Legislature. This bill facilitates better air quality through financing for electric vehicle charging stations.

HB 158 – Campaign Funds Restrictions for County and Local School Board Officesunanimously passed the Legislature. This bill restricts the personal use of campaign funds for county and local school board candidates and officials.

HB 237 – Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air passed the Legislature. This bill provides a voluntary option for taxpayers to donate to the Clean Air Fund on their tax returns.

HB 267 ­­- ­Charitable Solicitation Act Amendments unanimously passed the Legislature. This bill reduces over-regulation of certain organizations, such as the PTA, that already have adequate state oversight. It also clarifies other aspects of the state consumer protection law.

HJR 6 – Joints Rules Resolution on Ethics Commission proposed a number of modifications to the current legislative ethics law. One of the most important changes would allow those who are not Utah voters to file complaints against legislators. Utah is the only state with this limitation. Current law would prohibit, for example, a visiting professor from filing a complaint if that professor was registered to vote in another state. This legislation was defeated in a House committee.

HB 275­ – Submission of Nonbinding Opinion Questions to Voters was held in Rules and never allowed a committee hearing. This bill established procedures for submitting nonbinding opinion questions to the voters of Utah.

HB 135 – State Parks Fee Exemption Amendments passed the Legislature. This bill will provide free admission to Utah State Parks for honorably discharged Utah veterans with a disability.

HB 201 – Student Testing Amendments passed the House and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate. This bill would help Utah teachers by prohibiting the use of end-of-level assessment scores in educator evaluations. This is important because of many factors which impact test results and are often outside a teacher’s control.

HB 241 – Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act unanimously passed the Legislature. This bill imposes civil penalties on a person who obtains information from a protected computer without the owner’s permission. It protects employers from computer hacking, information theft, and other increasingly common forms of computer abuse by providing grounds for a civil suit in which the owner has the chance to recover lost information or other damages.

Selected Clean Air Legislation

HB 87 – Clean Fuel Conversion Amendments passed the Legislature. This bill authorizes grants for persons who install conversion equipment for alternative fuel on eligible vehicles and extends tax credits for energy efficient vehicles.

HB 250 – Air Quality Amendments passed the Legislature. Under HB 250, polluting water heaters will be phased out and replaced with the ultra-low NOx heaters. No one will be forced to replace their water heater. Updating a current water heater to an ultra-low NOx water heater reduces pollution emissions by 70-75% at very little additional cost.

SB 49 – Statute of Limitations on Environmental Code Violations passed the Legislature. This bill extends the statute of limitations for prosecuting violators of the Environmental Quality Code.

SB 102 – High Cost Infrastructure Credit Amendments passed the Legislature. This bill provides a tax incentive for refineries to expedite their conversion to the cleaner Tier 3 fuels.

SB 186 – Air Quality Incentives passed the Legislature. This bill assists companies, located in nonattainment areas, to install the best available air pollution control technology.

Clean Air Appropriations Requests –  There are also a number of requested clean air appropriations. Those will be finalized by midnight. Some of the funding tentatively approved includes appropriations for some of the air quality monitors needed, air quality research, and a modern Technical Support Center to improve the efficiency and reliability of our air monitoring program.

Thank you for all of your valuable input this session. The Legislature will begin Interim and task force meetings in a few weeks, so please continue to let me know your suggestions on how we can continue to improve our state government.

Finally, thanks to my wonderful intern Kathryn Macdonald, who has helped write these messages and done so much work for all my bills and committee work this session. I have truly been lucky to work with such an outstanding human being.

It is truly an honor to represent House District 36.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

The 2016 General Session of the Utah Legislature ends on midnight next Thursday. Between now and then, there is an enormous amount of work left to do. The bills that have passed through both the House and the Senate can be found here.

For those of you who are reading this update for the first time, my previous messages can be found in the column to the right.

Hot Topics on the Hill – Healthcare Coverage

The debate concerning healthcare coverage remains very controversial. Recent polls show that most Utahns favor the Healthy Utah plan or full Medicaid expansion. Compared to HB 437 (discussed below), both plans would cover more Utahns at a much lower cost per person and would return millions more federal tax dollars to our state. These are taxes already paid by Utah taxpayers that are being used to cover residents of other states.

Sen. Gene Davis has proposed full Medicaid expansion, which would cover 105,500 Utahns. His legislation, SB 77, passed a Senate committee and is awaiting debate by the full Senate. Rep. Ray Ward’s HB 302 is a proposal similar to the Healthy Utah bill that passed the Senate last year. Unfortunately, the Republicans are holding his bill in the Rules Committee and are not allowing it to be debated. I support both of these bills.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, the House Majority Leader, proposed a more limited approach. HB 437 extends coverage to only 17,000 Utahns in the coverage gap. While this would provide health insurance to more people than are being covered, this proposal benefits fewer people than either of the other plans. Supporters of HB 437 also appear to have very little interest in extending coverage in the future for those remaining in the coverage gap.

HB 437 was debated by the full House on Friday. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck expressed serious concerns about those who will be left behind by the limited legislation. She also pointed out that under the actual language of the bill, coverage may not be maintained even for those in the limited population that are supposed to be included. She also discussed her concern that there is a more beneficial and fiscally responsible option. Rep. Sandra Hollins, a social worker, articulated the dilemma of supporting the individuals who will be covered by this plan versus standing with the large number of people that are being left behind by HB 437.

The bill passed the House (55-17) and will next go to the Senate for their consideration. All Democrats and some Republicans voted against the bill. For all advocates of full Medicaid expansion, this was an incredibly hard decision.

A very informative Tribune editorial evaluating this bill and a cartoon from Pat Bagley, which discusses the bill can be reviewed here. The editorial noted: “Worse, and totally betraying any claims of fiscal responsibility, the Dunnigan plan is so out of keeping with federal incentives that, by limiting its benefits to so few, it leaves some $500 million a year in federal aid unclaimed. That’s half a billion a year that would, with real health care expansion, flow into the state, first to its doctors and hospitals, then to their employees, then to all the people they do business with, multiplying through the state economy over and over, to the benefit of all. Including, through higher tax revenues, the state.”

HB 221 – Immunizations of Students Amendments

Personal exemptions from immunizations for students in public schools are rising in Utah. Rep. Carol Moss is sponsoring legislation that will help protect the children whose parents have exempted them from immunizations. The bill does not change the law allowing parents to opt out of immunizing their children, but creates a 20 minute long education module that prepares those parents on what to do in the event of an outbreak. HB 221 passed the House on Friday with the closest vote possible: 38-37. I voted for this legislation.

Higher Education Building Requests

Democratic Caucus meetings arealways open to the public and we often have a packed room. Last week, University of Utah President David Pershing and Dr. Vivian Lee, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, made a presentation about the need to fund a new medical school building. According to Pershing and Lee, the over 50 year-old facility, which has a number of safety concerns, needs to be replaced with a modern building that can better facilitate the training of our future doctors. The University of Utah trains two-thirds of the doctors in Utah. The vast majority of the cost of the new building would be covered by private donations.

I met with Utah Valley University Vice President Cam Martin, Trustee Jack Sunderlage, along with Presidential Intern, Alex Fish. State budgets are being finalized and they wanted to discuss funding their new arts building. UVU is one of the largest universities in the state and is the fastest growing. Currently their arts students are crowded into the halls, next to auto shops and anywhere they can find room. According to the information we received, the arts building will help to meet demand and continue to enable the university to extend the best educational opportunities for their students.

The Rural Caucus

I attend the Rural Caucus every Friday at 6:45 a.m. This helps me better understand the perspectives of those not living in our urban districts. At our final meeting of the session, we honored Garfield County Commissioner Dell LeFevre, a close friend of mine. Dell has served for 40 years on the commission and is a military veteran. Dell and his wife Gladys, who served on the Garfield County School Board, have hearts of gold. They have adopted 14 children from all over the world. They live in Boulder, Utah.

I appreciate getting your input on the many bills and appropriations requests that are still pending. I personally read every email message I receive but have very limited time to respond, so please let me know if you need to hear back. Remember to mention the specific bill or funding request you are writing about. As always, I will follow-up if I need more information from you. Please include your home address, because I prioritize responding to my constituents first.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

It is hard to believe that the legislative session ends a week from Thursday. We have passed 150 bills and have a lot more work to do! If you have missed my past updates, you can find them in the right column of this newsletter.

I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts on pending legislation. Just a reminder – please include your home address when you send me a message. Also, I personally read every email I receive, but have very little time to respond to messages this late in the session. If you absolutely need a response, please let me know.

Air Quality Legislation

Much of our air pollution is caused by “area sources,” i.e. buildings. One of the most polluting items are water heaters, which make up approximately 45% of a building’s emissions. The nitrogen oxide (NOx) produced by water heaters is a significant contributor to air pollution. There are a few bills that require a transition from low NOx water heaters to the ultra-low NOx water heaters. One I would like to highlight is             HB 250 – Air Quality Amendments, which I am cosponsoring this session. I have worked on this legislation for many months with Rep. Redd, the Chief Sponsor of the bill.

Updating a current water heater to an ultra-low NOx water heater reduces NOx emissions by 70-75% at very little additional cost. Under HB 250, the more polluting water heaters will be phased out and replaced with the ultra-low NOx heaters. No one will be forced to remove a water heater. Beginning in July of 2018, only ultra-low NOx water heaters will be sold in Utah. New homes will also need to be equipped with these new water heaters.

Over the next few years this legislation can make a difference in improving our air quality. The Division of Air Quality reported that if all buildings on the Wasatch Front used an ultra-low NOx water heater, it would reduce more pollutants than removing all of the refineries from our air shed. It is also the equivalent of taking 120,000 vehicles off our roads.

Update on My Legislation

HB 158 – Campaign Funds Restrictions for County and Local School Board Officesunanimously passed both the House and the Senate and now goes to the Governor for his action. This bill restricts the personal use of campaign funds for county and local school board candidates and officials. There are no current restrictions in the Utah Code.

HB 267 ­- Charitable Solicitation Act Amendments unanimously passed both the House and Senate and now goes to the Governor for his action. This bill reduces over-regulation of certain organizations, such as the PTA, that already have adequate state oversight. It also eliminates some red tape for small grant recipients. In addition, HB 267 clarifies other aspects of the state consumer protection law.

HB 52 – Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments unanimously passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment Committee. It will be debated by the full Senate this week. HB 52 provides requirements and funding for matching grants that will be available for communities and nonprofit associations to develop a variety of recreation-related projects such as trails, boat ramps, beaches, restrooms and playgrounds. New and updated outdoor recreational assets build healthier and more connected communities. They help attract and retain employees and new businesses and can foster economic growth by attracting tourism.

HB 130 – Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Amendments passed the House and will be heard this week in the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee. This bill facilitates better air quality through C-PACE financing for electric vehicle charging stations. One of the barriers to driving electric vehicles is having a sufficient number of charging stations in convenient locations. For the past few sessions I have worked on legislation to improve the electric vehicle charging station infrastructure.

HB 237 – Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air passed the House and has been sent to the Senate where I hope it will get a hearing in the Revenue and Taxation Committee this week. This bill provides a voluntary option for taxpayers to donate to the Clean Air Fund on their tax returns.

Hot Topics on the Hill – Marijuana

The debate about the legalization of marijuana is ongoing as SB 89 and SB 73 passed the Senate and will next be heard by a House committee. The threat of a ballot initiative made a big difference in getting the votes needed to pass SB 73.

Another much less controversial resolution, SCR 11, also passed the Senate. This resolution encourages the federal government to change marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug, which would make it easier for extensive research on the drug to be done legally.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

Greetings from the State Capitol! We have completed the fourth week of the session, which means we are more than half way done – at least in terms of calendar days. Ninety bills have passed the House and Senate. But there are over 1200 bill files that have been opened. Many of these bills have not yet been drafted.

Thank you to all of those who have contacted me. I hope you will continue to let me know your thoughts about state legislative issues. For those of you who are getting this update for the first time, links to my prior messages can be found in the right column.

Hot Topics on the Hill – Hate Crimes

SB 107 – Hate Crime Amendments, sponsored by Senator Urquhart, passed a committee last week and will next be debated by the full Senate. The bill defines a hate crime as an offense against a person or person’s property based on a belief or perception about their ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. It provides for enhanced penalties when those beliefs motivate a crime.

According to the sponsor, hate crimes are not only an offense to an individual, but also negatively affect an entire community. During the committee hearing, many witnesses argued that the existing hate crime law is too difficult to enforce. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said there were over 1,200 hate crimes investigated by police in the past 20 years, but only a handful ever prosecuted. Gill testified that “we, as public prosecutors, want a tool available to us so we can effectively address a measure of justice to the community.” In 2014 the FBI reported 50 bias-motivated crimes in Utah. None were prosecuted under Utah’s current hate crime law.

Senator Urquhart stated that his bill does not restrict speech, and that under the First Amendment individuals are free to express hate. He also noted that the law draws a line between thought and action. When someone acts on his or her hate to harm another, Urquhart feels that there should be a harsher punishment.

Senator Todd Weiler, the only legislator to vote against the bill at the hearing, wondered if the hate crimes bill came too soon after last year when the Legislature adopted a landmark law forbidding housing and employment discrimination for the LGBT community. After the hearing, the LDS Church expressed concern that the proposed law could upset the balance of religious liberty and gay rights achieved in legislation passed last year.

Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman’s excellent Op-Ed on this legislation was in Sunday’s Salt Lake Tribune. You can find it here.

My Legislation

Last week, two of my bills passed the House of Representatives unanimously: HB 267 – Charitable Solicitations Act Amendments and HB 158 – Campaign Funds Restrictions for County and School Board Offices. Following its passage in the House, I presented HB 267 in the Senate Business and Labor Committee on Friday, which passed unanimously as well. HB 158 will be debated in the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee on Monday.

HB 237 – Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air, which would give taxpayers the option to voluntarily donate to the new “Clean Air Fund” on their tax returns, unanimously passed the House Revenue and Tax Committee after a lively debate. I look forward to presenting it to the full House for their consideration.

Appropriations Process

Part of our work in the Legislature involves passing the state budget. During the first few weeks of the session each appropriations subcommittee reviewed “base budgets” and considered new requests for ongoing or one-time funding. The number, scope, and type of requests vary dramatically. For example, a few of the many requests presented to the Business Economic Development & Labor Appropriations Subcommittee on which I serve, included funding for: liquor store staff and equipment, tourism marketing, museums and other arts organizations, Columbus Hub of Opportunity, Outdoor Recreation Office, and many local community events.

The prioritization process is difficult because of the number of worthy requests and very limited new funds. It is important that we are wise stewards of taxpayer dollars. You can review all the lists of requests on our legislative website.

Each appropriations subcommittee has completed their review of base budgets and new funding requests and made their recommendations. As a member of House Leadership, I serve on the Executive Appropriations Committee and will be working with my colleagues to review the subcommittee recommendations and create a final budget.

The Compendium of Budget Information (COBI) provides much more detailed budget analysis and can be found here.

Officers Barney and Richey

Last week, the Utah Legislature honored the family of Officer Doug Barney and Officer Jon Richey. As many of you know, on January 17th Officer Barney was killed in the line of duty. Officer Richey was injured in the same incident. Both of these officers worked in Holladay, Utah. Our state owes a huge debt of gratitude to these officers and their families.

Officer Barney had a distinguished 18-year career in law enforcement. He served as a school resource officer before joining the Unified Police Department (UPD), where he was assigned to the Holladay Precinct. I was honored to know Officer Barney. I will never forget his wonderful sense of humor. He loved talking about music and cars. He was truly devoted to his family and our community.

Officer Richey grew up in Holladay. He is well known for his incredible work ethic. He started his law enforcement career in 1984, as the youngest police officer in the state. He has brought national and international renown to the K-9 units he trained. Our community was touched by the eloquent speech he gave about Doug Barney at the Vigil last month. We wish Officer Richey a full and speedy recovery.

Utah Division of Arts & Museums

Last week, I saw some of the collection of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. One of the most interesting exhibits was about State Representative Alice Merrill Horne, a Democrat who was the second woman to serve in that body (elected in 1898). She pioneered legislation to create the first state-sponsored arts agency in the nation, as well as legislation setting aside the land grant for the University of Utah. She also fought for clean air and helped save the Eagle Gate from demolition. Below is a photo of Rep. Horne and one of the first pieces of art bought for our state art collection. It depicts Black Rock at the Great Salt Lake, which happens to be where my parents became engaged to be married in 1949.

Crash Course in the Utah State Legislature

For those of you who would like get involved in the legislative process or just learn more about how the Utah Legislature works, I wanted to include some helpful links to pages on our legislative website. This is just part of the wealth of information available for the public.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We just completed the third week of the 2016 Legislative Session, which means we are nearly half way done. It goes by so fast! Thank you to everyone who has corresponded with me about legislative issues. It is important to me to hear how I can best represent the residents of House District 36. When you contact me about an issue, it is helpful if you include the bill number or a description of the appropriations request. I also appreciate it when you provide your home address, because I respond first to those living in House District 36.

When you email me, please be patient if I do not respond immediately. I read all of my email personally and sometimes receive hundreds of messages in a day. If you are contacting me to find out the status of a bill or when a committee is meeting, you can obtain that information more quickly at: http://le.utah.gov.

Air Quality This Week

It would be hard for anyone not to notice the terrible air quality that we are experiencing. It is far above healthy levels. Last week, areas of Utah reached a level far worse than anywhere else in the United States. I am working hard to pass meaningful air quality legislation and appropriations. As clean air legislation is being discussed and voted on, I am pleased with the work of our bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, which I founded and co-chair.

Unfortunately there are no “silver bullets” which will solve this difficult problem. We are working together on a variety of approaches. I rely heavily on real data and science, which requires additional funding for valid research. If you want a copy of the proposals we are working on this session, please send me an email message.

Earlier last week I was on a KSL TV panel with my friend, Rep. Steve Handy, to talk about what the Legislature is doing on this important topic. We also talked about what we can all do to put fewer emissions into our air.

My Legislation

Speaking of air quality, HB130 – Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Amendments, which facilitates financing for electric vehicle charging stations, unanimously passed the Public Utilities and Technology Committee. Vehicle emissions account for about 48% of our air pollution, so for years I have worked to provide incentives for people to drive cleaner cars. One of the barriers to driving electric vehicles is having a sufficient number of charging stations in convenient locations.

I also presented HB267 – Charitable Solicitation Act Amendments, which unanimously passed the Business and Labor Committee. This bill reduces over-regulating certain organizations that already have adequate oversight. It also clarifies other aspects of the state consumer protection law. During the hearing, the State PTA spoke in favor of this bill.

The entire House of Representatives will consider both of these bills this week. If they pass, the Senate will consider them next.

The Legislative Process Matters

Last week during a floor debate in the House Chambers, we were all given a good example of why the legislative process matters in order to pass legislation fairly. HB69- Qualified Party Amendments, which passed the House Government Operations Committee, was drafted by Rep. Cox to modify minor parts of the Election Code. When the bill was brought up for a full debate of the Utah House, Rep Fawson attempted to substitute the bill with a completely different version which would have reversed last year’s SB 54 (“Count My Vote” compromise legislation) and codify the position of the Chair of the State Republican Party about the primary process. This matter is currently the subject of pending litigation. House members had not had an opportunity to review this proposal.

I quickly moved to “circle” the bill, which holds the bill and stops any action. My goal was to make sure that House members had an opportunity to read the bill and receive public input before voting on such a major piece of legislation. My motion to “circle” was controversial, but eventually passed. If you want to learn a little more about this situation, you can read this helpful article.

Happy 100th Birthday to the Capitol!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the construction of our State Capitol. Richard Kletting was the architect who designed this magnificent building. It is full of wonderful art, architecture and history. I first worked here as an intern for Governor Scott Matheson. For the past few years I have served as a member of the Capitol Preservation Board.

On the Fourth Floor of the Capitol, there is an exhibit that details the process of site selection, design, and the construction process that made it what it is today, including the important role that the Capitol has played in Utah history. I would encourage you to check it out and learn a little bit about this beautiful building and more history about our state.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We have now completed our second week of the 2016 General Session. For those of you who are getting this update for the first time, my prior messages can be found here.

My Legislation – HB 52:  Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments

Last week I presented my bill, HB 52: Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments, which would help the state improve its outdoor infrastructure in both rural and urban settings. This bill provides matching funds to communities and nonprofit associations to develop a variety of projects. It is based on a very successful 2015 pilot project, which funded 19 projects in 13 counties. These projects included trails, boat ramps, beaches, restrooms and playgrounds.

HB52 is supported by a wide variety of organizations that recognize the increased demand for outdoor recreation for Utahns, as well as its importance for economic development in our state. Brad Peterson, who was the first director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, has worked with me on this bill. You can find more information about the legislation on his website: http://www.utahrecreationfund.org/. This bill has been heard in two House committees and if it passes both the full House and Senate, will compete with all of the other appropriations requests for our limited tax dollars.

Hot Topic on The Hill – Medical Marijuana

Last week two bills proposing to make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana both passed Senate committees. They were both studied during 2015, by the Health and Human Services Interim Committee. There has been much controversy around these two different pieces of legislation.

Both bills would legalize medical marijuana, by prescription, for those patients in need. In simple terms, the difference between them is that Senator Mark Madsen’s bill, SB73, would include the whole use of the plant, whereas Senator Evan Vickers’ bill, SB89, would only allow use of the plant where the hallucinogenic chemical component, THC, is withheld. If you have an interest in the outcome of these bills, you can go to the links above and listen to committee debates, and track their progress on our legislative website. If the bills pass the Senate, they will next go to the House

Clean Air Caucus Press Conference

When I founded the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus a few years ago, there were only a few legislators who actively joined the cause. At last week’s press conference, the caucus unveiled 14 bills and five appropriations requests. Over one quarter of the legislature joined me at the press conference – and that was with two competing events. Many community leaders also attended. These legislators and leaders are working to help improve our air quality. There are no easy solutions and it will take a lot of work to make progress.

If you want a current list of the pending clean air legislation, please email me directly. The status of these bills changes every day and I send out frequent updates.  

Utah Students for Clean Air

Last Thursday I was honored to speak to the packed Clean Air Rally which was organized by the Madeleine Choir School. A number of students from other schools also attended. The students’ speeches were great! I also enjoyed meeting with some of the students after the rally. It is wonderful to see kids getting involved in issues that they care about at such a young age, especially with an issue that I care about as much as clean air.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

We have now completed our first week of the 2016 General Session. For those of you who are getting this update for the first time, my prior messages can be found here.

Thank you to all of you who have visited the Capitol or contacted me. When sending an email message, it is always helpful to know the bill number of specific legislation you are concerned about. And, as always, keep in mind that you can access committee meetings, track bills and find other very useful information on the legislative website:http://le.utah.gov/. Also, just a quick reminder – please include your home address on all correspondence and let me know if you need a response or if the email is for information only. I personally read every email, but do not have time to respond to every message.

Dealing with Drug Overdose Deaths

A bipartisan group of legislators led by Representative Carol Spackman Moss held a press conference on Friday to present a number of bills addressing the growing problem of drug overdoses in Utah that could be prevented by the use of Naloxone, a drug that can safely reverse the fatal effects of an opioid overdose. These proposals include HCR 4 – “Concurrent Resolution Declaring Drug Overdose Deaths To Be A Public Health Emergency,” which declares drug overdose deaths a public health emergency and strongly urges Utah’s Departments of Health, Human Services and Public Safety to immediately direct resources to address this crisis. The goal of this legislation, proposed by Rep. Moss, is to save lives by making Naloxone more available to the public. Her companion bill, HB 238, would expand the accessibility to this life-saving drug. It authorizes any individual, including family members, law enforcement officers and substance abuse counselors, to give out Naloxone as long as they receive instruction on how to use the kits and pass on those instructions to others.

I am co-sponsoring both of these proposals. Drug overdose death in Utah is an epidemic that exceeds deaths associated with both car crashes and firearms. Utah’s rate of drug overdose deaths is one of the highest in the nation. A tragic, growing trend like this is heartbreaking. I am grateful the legislature is continuing to address this issue. 

Clean Air Legislation

Our bipartisan Clean Air Caucus is working on a variety of bills and appropriations requests. I will try to highlight some of these each week. One important request is for $500,000 to fund ongoing research efforts. We need to better understand the causes and solutions to our air quality problems. I hear of lots of possible ways to clean our air, but it is important we focus on those that are supported by reliable data.

I was asked to create a way for the public to contribute to clean air programs. For that reason, I am sponsoring HB 237 – “Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air.” Under this bill, Utah taxpayers will be given the opportunity to contribute to clean air programs, just as you are given the option to donate to organ donation, spay and neuter programs, and other worthwhile causes on your tax return. The Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) will administer the fund and work with other donors to find matching grants to stretch the contributed funds. Senator Curt Bramble is the Senate Sponsor.

Appropriations Process

Utah is the only state where all legislators serve on an appropriations subcommittee. As a member of the House Leadership, I also serve on the Executive Appropriations Committee.

The appropriations subcommittee I serve on is Business, Economic Development and Labor. During the first week of the session this committee began reviewing “base budgets” for various departments of state government: Department of Commerce, Public Service Commission, Finance Department, Tax Commission, Financial Institutions and USTAR. 

Executive Appropriations Committee reviews the budgets of all of the appropriations subcommittees and some departments that report directly to our committee. This week we reviewed the budgets of Utah National Guard, Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, Capitol Preservation Board and Legislative staff offices. You are always welcome to join me in these meetings.

Research on the Hill

This week I had the great opportunity to meet some brilliant college students from all around the state, who presented their research projects at the State Capitol. I was fortunate enough to learn about a potential brain cancer treatment from John Peterson, one of my constituents. John is a senior in the Biology Department at the University of Utah.

I also met with Danielle Christensen, who is studying at Utah State University Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Her fascinating project is about the impact of military trauma on levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and relationship quality.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

This week our community and people from throughout our state and nation mourned the loss of UPD Officer Doug Barney. He was shot and killed while searching for a man who had just left the scene in a serious car accident. Officer Barney was working overtime that day to help pay the medical costs for his cancer treatments. He was an honored 18 year veteran who was well known for his devotion to his family and our community. He will be sorely missed. Plans are being made to honor the life of Officer Barney during our legislative session.

On Wednesday night I attended a beautiful candlelight Vigil in Officer Barney’s honor. In addition to a number of wonderful speakers, his colleague, Officer Jon Richey, who worked and grew up in Holladay, spoke eloquently at the Vigil. Officer Richey is also in our prayers as he recovers from injuries he received in the same incident and we are pleased that he was able to go home from the hospital earlier this week.

Gearing Up for the 61st Utah Legislative Session

I am very much looking forward to the start of the General Session, which begins January 25 and concludes on March 10. During those 45 days we review budgets, new appropriations requests, and nearly one thousand pieces of legislation. You are welcome to join us at the Capitol to attend House and Senate committee meetings and observe floor debates. All Democratic Caucus meetings are also open to the public.

There are a variety of helpful resources on our legislative website: www.le.utah.gov. This is the best place to find information on bills, committee schedules, appropriations requests, budget reports, background on legislators, and much more. You can live stream audio and video from the House and Senate floors or audio from committee meetings. There’s more than enough information to keep even the most wonkish nerd happy. And for some additional perspectives on legislation, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

My Committee Assignments this Session

This session, the main committees  I serve on include:

  • Legislative Management
  • Executive Appropriations
  • Ethics (Vice Chair)
  • Government Operations
  • Public Utilities & Technology
  • Business, Economic Development & Labor Appropriations.

I also serve as a member of the House Democratic Leadership Team and am the Co-Chair and Founder of the Clean Air Caucus. A full list of my assignments can be foundhere.

My Legislation This Session – HB119

One of the bills I will be running is HB 119: “Straight Ticket Voting Amendments.” This bill  removes the option on your ballot to simply check one box to vote for all members of a single party. There are several problems with this option. Automatic straight ticket voting causes a lot of confusion for voters. For example, voters may end up not voting at all for nonpartisan races, including judges, propositions school board candidates and constitutional amendments. This is particularly a concern when voters are using mail-in ballots.

Under HB119, voters will still be able to vote for all members of one party, but will have to vote for candidates individually. Addressing these problems by eliminating this outdated practice has become a bipartisan effort around the country. Utah is one of only nine states that still allow this outdated voting option. No other western state allows this method of voting. Michigan just eliminated the practice last month, and in Indiana legislators are pushing to eliminate it this year as well.

How to Reach Me During the Session

The best way to reach me is by email. My email address is:  parent@le.utah.gov.  You can also call my cell number, but please understand that it’s hard for me to pick up during hearings or debates. My number is 801-889-7849. You are also welcome to meet me at the Capitol. If possible, please contact me in advance so I will be available when you arrive.

As I mentioned in a prior message, during the legislative session I will be assisted by my new Hinckley Intern, Kathryn Macdonald, a senior at the University of Utah. She will be helping me with a variety of matters, including scheduling requests. You can reach Kathryn at: kmacdonald@le.utah.gov.

It is truly an honor for me to serve as the representative of House District 36. I look forward to hearing from you.

Legislative Town Hall Meeting Cancelled

Dear Friends:

Unfortunately, the Legislative Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 20th at Holladay City Hall has been cancelled.

In its place will be a candlelight vigil to honor the life and service of Officer Doug Barney, who gave his life protecting our citizens. Instead of politics, I believe it should be a night to show our respect to a beloved fallen officer, as well as to honor the injured officer, Jon Richey, who valiantly tried to save his fellow officer.

The candlelight vigil, sponsored by the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Association, and hosted by the City of Holladay and the Unified Police Officers of the Holladay Precinct, will be directly behind Holladay City Hall on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. I invite the public to attend, to show their respect to Officer Barney's family, his law enforcement family, and to the countless people who benefitted from his devoted service.

Although we will not be meeting Wednesday night, I still want to hear from you about upcoming legislative issues and ask that you contact me at: parent@le.utah.gov or 801-889-7849.

Legislative Update

Dear Friends:

Welcome to my first 2016 legislative update. Through these periodic messages, I will do my best to help you keep up with what is happening at the Utah Legislature. I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on pending legislation and ways to improve our state government.  I always appreciate your input.

The 61st Legislative Session for the State of Utah begins on January 25, 2016 and concludes on March 10, 2016. Leading up to that time and during the session I strongly encourage you to keep up with the Legislature through our website: http://le.utah.gov/. This website includes lots of useful information including committee and floor schedules, legislation and amendments, fiscal analysis and other reports. You can even watch floor hearings and listen to committee debates (current and past).

Beginning last spring the legislature held Interim and Task force meetings as well as appropriations hearings to prepare for the upcoming session. Information from all of those meetings, including legislation considered and reviews of state departments, is also available on our website.

Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, January 20 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Holladay City Hall (4580 South 2300 East)

On January 20th a number of local legislators will be hosting a town meeting to discuss the upcoming legislative session and the important issues that our state will face this year. Legislators joining me are Senators Jani Iwamoto and Brian Shiozawa and Representatives Carol Spackman Moss, Lynn Hemingway and Marie Poulson. The meeting will be moderated by Doug Wright from KSL. I hope you can attend.

How to Reach Me

I always look forward to hearing from you about any state legislative issues. Email is the best way to reach me. My email address is: parent@le.utah.gov. I personally read every message I receive. Depending on what is happening at the Capitol, some days I receive hundreds of emails, so I always try to prioritize reviewing messages from residents of House District 36. For that reason, it is important for you to include your home address in your messages. In case I need to follow-up by phone, please include a number to reach you. If you do not live in House District 36, it is helpful to have a reminder of how we know each other. Sometimes my memory fades at 2:00 a.m. when I am reviewing email. Finally, when you send me an email, please let me know if it is for “information only” and does not need a response.

I truly value your comments and suggestions, but would ask for your patience when waiting for a reply. I am in committee meetings, floor sessions, and other meetings all day and often late into the night. After the meetings are over I review upcoming legislation. I will do my best to respond to your messages late at night or very early in the morning before I leave for work at 6:00. If you do not hear back from me in a few days, please resend your message. Your original one could be lost in cyberspace.

A New Session and a New Intern

Kathryn Macdonald is my new intern for this session. She is a student at the University of Utah and will graduate in May with degrees in English and Psychology, before pursuing a graduate degree in Public Policy. She is also a constituent in House District 36. I look forward to working with her and having her help me to have a successful session this year.

It is an honor to represent House District 36 in the Utah House of Representatives. I look forward to hearing from you.