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.