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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com.
It is truly an honor for me to serve as the representative of House District 36. I look forward to hearing from you.