The second week of the Legislative Session was filled with many interesting issues as a number of important bills were debated in committees and by the full House and Senate. You can find all of this legislation on our legislative website.
Our deadline for opening new bills has now passed. With the record number of bill files that have been opened, it is unlikely that all the bills requested will be drafted before it is too late for them to get a hearing this session.
It is always important for me to hear from my constituents on legislation we are considering during the session. Information on how to contact me is at the end of this message.
Town Hall Meeting - Wednesday, February 7th
HB12: Family Planning Services Amendments
On Tuesday, HB12, which I cosponsored, passed the full House. This bill allows low-income individuals to enroll in family planning services, including the placement of IUDs immediately after childbirth. If the bill passes the Legislature, approximately 28,000 women will be able to take advantage of these services. Other states that have implemented similar legislation have seen government savings and better outcomes for women who qualify to receive these programs.
After a lengthy debate, the bill passed the full House with a 53 to 21 vote. Rep. Ray Ward is the Chief Sponsor of this legislation. HB12 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. You can access the bill text and track its status here.
HB41: Mental Health Crisis Line Amendments
A bill to ensure that Utahns calling a crisis hotline will find someone on the other end of the phone unanimously passed the House on Wednesday. I am a co-sponsor of HB 41, which creates a single crisis phone number across the state. It also creates basic standards for staffing and operations for statewide and local crisis services.
Suicide among 10-17 year olds has risen 22.8% from 2011 to 2015. Crisis services are a proven method to save lives. It is vital that Utahns who need help in a moment of crisis are able to talk to a qualified mental health expert 24/7.
Rep. Steve Eliason is the Chief sponsor of this legislation. HB41 will soon be heard in the Senate. You can find the text and track the status of the bill here.
HCR6: Concurrent Resolution Honoring Justice Christine Durham
On Thursday HCR6: Concurrent Resolution Honoring Former Chief Justice Christine M. Durham, unanimously passed the House and the Senate. I was honored to serve as the Chief Sponsor of this resolution.
Justice Durham is truly one of the most outstanding Utahns in our state's history and has been described by our current Chief Justice as "doing more for the state's judiciary than anyone who has ever served in it." She was the first woman and youngest person to be appointed to a court of general jurisdiction in our state. Justice Durham later became the first woman appointed to the Utah Supreme Court and the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Last year she retired after an incredible 39 year career on the bench.
I ran this resolution to honor her great work, which also includes a lengthy list of awards and accomplishments on the national level. Justice Durham is known for her brilliance, inspired leadership, incredible civility, compassion, work ethic, humility, common sense, and impeccable integrity. Her deep commitment to our state and the positive impact she has had on justice will be felt for generations.
You can find the text of the resolution here.
HB 169: Commercial Waste Fee Amendments
HB 169, sponsored by Rep. Knotwell, will be debated by the full House in the next few days. This bill reduces, by $1.7 million dollars, fees that EnergySolutions pays to fund the permitting and inspection program run by the Department of Environmental Quality, and instead requires that those costs be covered by our state taxes. While EnergySolutions claims they need this tax break to remain competitive, I question why they need this reduction and am concerned that the result could be more radioactive waste in Utah.
You can find the text and track the status of the bill
Utah Legislature 101
With the current political climate, I have had more constituents emailing me than in the past. I am thrilled by the growing level of engagement, and I want to ensure that it continues. I know that getting involved during the legislative session can be daunting at first. Our award-winning website, le.utah.gov, provides everything from committee schedules, to the text of bills and links to the debates. Below are some links to information that will help you learn more about the Legislative process:
Visiting the Capitol
I have enjoyed hearing from you 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. The best way to reach me is through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I personally read every email I receive, but during the session I often receive hundreds of messages a day so I have included some tips for contacting me below.
- I always prioritize email from my constituents in HD36. To ensure that your message gets priority reading, please include your home address and the bill number or name of the appropriations request in the subject line.
- Due to the amount of emails I receive in a day, I often don't have time to respond until my "free time" around 1:00 am. If your message is for informational purposes only and does not need a reply, please include that in your message.
- I may only have time to respond to messages that are personalized and are not template emails. I read form emails, but may not have time to respond if it is the same email as those sent by others.
- Texting is best used to bring an immediate concern to my attention (i.e., a bill about which you have concerns and is going to be debated in a committee or by the full House in the next few hours).
- Calling should be used as a last resort. If you prefer to call, my cell number is 801-889-7849. Please understand that I am often not able to answer the phone, and by the time I am free it is often too late to call you back. If you leave a voicemail message, be sure to include your name, number, home address, and the reason you called.
- If you come to the Capitol, I will try my best to come out to talk to you. It is my job to represent HD36 in debates and I take that position seriously. It can be difficult to leave the House Chambers or a committee meeting if we are debating an important bill. Be sure to put your email address and phone number on your "green slip" request so I can follow up with you if I can't make my way out to the House lobby. So you will know, sometimes it takes 15 minutes for those notes to get to me.
It is truly an honor for me to represent HD 36. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our Town Meeting.