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 email@example.com.
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.