The final days of the session are quickly approaching! We began the session with 4 policy priorities and are making great progress in each area:
Broaden Economic Success
Build a Connected Future
Extend Opportunity to All
Balance Emergency Powers
To learn more about the 2021 House Majority Policy Priorities, click here.
Putting Money Back Into the Hands of Deserving Utahns
The Utah State Legislature presented legislation that will provide approximately $100 million in tax relief to Utah citizens. Though Utah’s economy is in an advantageous position compared to other states, many Utahns are struggling and lawmakers want to provide tax relief where it will make the biggest difference. Three bills, S.B. 153, S.B. 11, and H.B. 86, help families, veterans, and elderly citizens and will further boost Utah’s economic success.
"Our goal must always be to collect the smallest amount of tax that still allows the state to provide necessary services and prepare for future needs," said Speaker Brad Wilson. "This year, we are able to deliver a $100 million tax cut, targeted to three groups who will most benefit from it: families, veterans, and seniors. Utah's economy is primed for expansion and putting more money in the hands of the people is an important element of our ongoing prosperity."
Senator Mitt Romney
This week, we had the opportunity to visit with Senator Mitt Romney. He joined the House Majority Caucus over Zoom and shared updates from the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. and his plans for upcoming legislation.
In coordination with local health departments, government entities, and the Utah Department of Health, Gov. Spencer Cox has issued an Executive Order updating the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and updating vaccine eligibility criteria. View the full executive order here and learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine here. Vaccines are now available for:
Long-term care facility staff and residents
People age 65 and older
K-12 teachers and school staff
Youth age 16 and older with certain underlying medical conditions (list of medical conditions)
Executive Appropriation Committee Recommends Historic Utah State Budget
The Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) finalized recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget. The recommendations include increased funding for education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure and transportation, and a significant tax cut.
“What’s happening in Utah is remarkable, especially compared to the rest of the county,” said Speaker Brad Wilson. “Coming out of a pandemic, we will set new funding records for education, address our affordable housing crisis, and provide resources to address homelessness all while providing tax cuts for seniors, veterans, and families. We faced difficult decisions but I feel very good about the budget our process has produced.”
Read the full press release here.
HB 98 Local Government Building Regulation Amendments passed the House this week and helps to address housing affordability. While several cities and the Utah League of Cities and Towns initially opposed this bill some lengthy negotiation took place during the session to make a more palatable bill
HB 365 State Agency Realignment passed the House this week and combines the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services into a single agency.
HB 381 Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program creates a grant program for Utah paraprofessionals, school counselor assistants and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or school counselors.
Concurrent Resolution Honoring the 125th Anniversary of the First Utah Legislative Session
On January 4, 1896, Utah became the 45th state admitted to the union. A few days later, on January 7, the first legislative session convened. The first legislature had 18 members in the Senate and 45 members in the House and was tasked with designing a new community and government. Read HCR 16 here.
This Week's Podcast
Why is Utah in such a healthy fiscal state? Representative Moss explains how Utah's foresight put us in a position to issue a $100 million tax cut this year when most states are scrapping for money. Listen to this week’s podcast by clicking here.
As a member of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee I was part of the vetting process for HB 78 Consent Amendments. Like many other legislators, I was concerned with the ambiguity in the bill that would have defined consent to our students. Due to this concern, I voted against the bill and it did not get through the committee.
We did, however, give a favorable recommendation for HB 334 Special Needs Training for Law Enforcement. This bill requires police officers to obtain training to de-escalate situations where individuals with autism or other mental health issues are involved. I voted in favor of the bill in committee as well as on the house floor.
A bill I heard in the Political Subdivisions Committee was HB 338 School District Voter Eligibility Amendments. This bill permits school boards to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in school board elections. Students attended the committee meeting speaking in favor of the bill and made a strong impression on many of the legislators. After listening to the students' arguments I felt this bill was worth being debated in the House. Therefore I gave a favorable recommendation in the committee hearing but concerns about creating a circular line of authority were not resolved and I subsequently voted against the bill on the floor. This was in line with the majority of comments I received from constituents such as yourselves.
Flag Display Amendments
On Friday I was able to present my bill, HB 383 Flag Display Amendments, on the House floor. The bill is a technical change so that the POW/MIA flag does not have to be displayed on the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial at the Capitol. Current law requires the United States flag and the POW/MIA flag to be displayed on all memorial sites at the Capitol on certain days. The problem, however, is that the Law Enforcement Memorial flag is being taken down for the POW/MIA flag to be raised at the Law Enforcement Memorial site. My bill will continue to allow the POW/MIA flag to be displayed on all flag poles at the Capitol complex with the exception of the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial so that the ULEM flag does not have to be removed. I am thankful to my colleagues for passing this bill unanimously.