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.
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.