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Week 5

HB295 Wildlife Modifications

Representative Snider has been running a bill, HB295 WildLife Modifications, which has had many different kinds of hunters coming out to speak for and against the bill. In light of the tension, I thought it would be fun to get to the office early and set up a diorama on Representative Snider’s desk that illustrates his bill.

Balancing Emergency Power

Utahns watched the Emergency Management Act in effect for an extended period for the first time in our state’s history with the outbreak of the coronavirus. It became clear the Emergency Management Act is not structured for long-term emergencies such as a pandemic. After listening to Utahns' concerns, the Senate and the House of Representatives began working with the governor’s office to create checks on broad executive emergency powers.

SB 195 Emergency Response Amendments, limits extensive executive emergency powers during long-term emergencies without hindering rapid response. It does not disrupt the executive branch’s or health department’s ability to respond to short-term emergencies, such as natural disasters. In a joint statement released this week, Representative Val Peterson said, “The past year has been unlike any before and each branch of government did their best to address many unforeseen challenges. Moving forward, we must ensure that our actions maintain the appropriate separation of powers during both long-term and short-term emergencies.” You can find the full statement here.

Letter to President Biden

In a joint letter state leaders urged President Biden to reconsider his actions taken against Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. It was signed by Governor Cox, Lieutenant Governor Henderson, Speaker Wilson, President Adams, Attorney General Reyes, Senators Lee and Romney as well as Congressmen Curtis, Moore, Owens and Stewart.

Congressman John Curtis and Senator Mike Lee

Each session, we look forward to visiting with our congressional delegation. This week, Congressman John Curtis joined the House Majority Caucus and spoke of his role in Washington D.C. and how we can work in unison to better the lives of Utahns.

We also enjoyed a visit from Senator Mike Lee as he spoke to us about his policy priorities and the work that he is doing to help improve our state.

Economic Development

In an effort to boost economic growth, the House passed HB 348 Economic Development Amendments. HB 348 reimagines Utah's economic development strategy to support local businesses, help Utah entrepreneurs, bring regional and national headquarters to Utah, and encourage job creation in rural parts of our state. To better understand how this bill is benefitting Utahns and Utah businesses, listen to last week’s podcast found here.

Updated Revenue Numbers

The Governor’s Office, Utah State Senate and House of Representatives released updated

revenue numbers for state fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The revenue estimates show the

longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19.

Speaker Brad Wilson said, “Years of smart and responsible fiscal planning have allowed

Utah to weather recent economic hardships better than many other states and positioned

us for continued economic expansion. Now we are able to maximize the return on that

investment. The Legislature has significantly increased funding for public education, is

working toward tax relief for those who will benefit from it most, and is making strategic

investments to enhance our economy and quality of life. The updated revenue figures are promising and make me optimistic that Utah will continue on a path of economic growth and prosperity for years to come.” Read the full press release here.

Education and Mental Health Council

HB 288 Education and Mental Health Council passed the House this week. This bill creates a council made up of educators, mental and behavioral health experts, and other advocates. The council will provide action-oriented guidance to state leaders on how to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of kids and families in our state.

Housing Affordability

HB 82 Single-family Housing Modifications, passed the House this week. This bill is an important step in addressing Utah’s housing affordability challenges as it helps increase housing availability and relieve pressure on prices by decreasing regulations. Watch this short video highlighting the struggles that many Utahns face as they try to find affordable housing in Utah. Find the video by clicking here.

Child’s Health Insurance

The House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed HB 262 Children’s Health Insurance Amendments. This bill seeks to expand the coverage of uninsured children throughout the state by creating an outreach program.

Honoring Allyson Gamble

The House of Representatives and Senate honored the late Allyson Gamble this week by passing SCR 5 Concurrent Resolution Honoring the Life of Allyson Gamble and SB 185 Capitol Meeting Room Designation. Allyson was a member of the Capitol Preservation Board for 19 years, 11 of those as the executive director and Senate Room 210 will be renamed in her honor.

Honoring Utah’s Gold Star Soldiers

Each year, the Legislature honors Utah’s fallen soldiers and their families. This week, Rep. Wilcox presented a citation honoring the soldiers for their courage, bravery, and selflessness and led the House in a moment of silence. We are beyond grateful for the men and women who sacrifice their lives protecting our freedoms.

Law Enforcement

I had the pleasure of speaking in favor of HB 62 Post Certification Amendments on the floor of the House. Having served in law enforcement I bring a needed perspective to the Utah Legislature. HB 62 allows counsel to issue a warning, suspend or revoke a peace officer's certification if they have been found by their agency to have acted deceptively or engaged in prejudiced conduct.

When HB 232 Community and Police Relations Commission came through one of my committees, the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, Initially I was unwilling to supporting it given the discussion in a previous bill that would allow for oversight committees that would have authority over the police department in direct conflict with city councils. While not perfect in its initial form (no bill is) I was able to work with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Wheatley, and we agree the bill should allow street-level police officers to be on the Relations Commission to incorporate multiple perspectives and address the conflict where it occurs, which is at the street-level. Once this modification was made I could back the bill and spoke in favor of it on the House floor.

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