Beginning of the 2021 Legislative Session
On Tuesday January 19th, we kicked off the 2021 General Legislative Session. With some lawmakers on Zoom and others in person, the 45-day legislative session convened to do the people’s work. Speaker Wilson made the following statement, “We are going to work harder and smarter than we’ve ever worked; and we are going to come together like never before because the moment demands nothing less… Great moments are born from great opportunity.” Read his full speech by clicking here.
Former Speaker and Congressman, Rob Bishop, administered the oath of office to me and 13 new members and 61 returning members. Bishop Oscar Solis from Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City offered the opening prayer, Stacy Godfrey, daughter of the late Rep. Shurtliff led us in the pledge, Dee-dee Darby-Duffin performed the national anthem, and we enjoyed a virtual musical number by performing artists from across the state. Although this session will look different, we are ready to serve the people of Utah and enact policies that will make our state great for years to come.
As we began the session, we did so on a somber note. We honored our friend and colleague, Representative Lou Shurtliff, who passed away only a few weeks ago. She was a lively and knowledgeable part of our body and we mourn her loss. In celebration of her life, we passed HCR 7, Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the Public Service of Representative Lawanna Lou Shurtliff. We presented the resolution and a portrait to Lou’s children. Legislators and staff wore “Lou” pins and Governor Spencer Cox ordered the flags to be lowered in remembrance of her.
Say Hello to My Intern.
I would like to introduce my intern for the 2021 Session, Tabitha Smiel. Originally from New Mexico, she moved to Smithfield and is currently a junior at Utah State University. She is studying Political Science and hopes to attend law school at the University of Utah once she finishes her undergraduate studies. Her father is a retired police officer, so we compare stories of living in a law enforcement home. Tabitha will be helping me throughout the session with my schedule, communications and research. I am very lucky to have her as part of my squad.
Although the session is only a few days old I have co-sponsored several bills related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses. Driving Under the Influence Sentencing HB20, which passed committee with nearly unanimous support, will increase the DUI penalties in egregious circumstances. I am particularly fond of the provisions in the bill which charge an additional offense to the driver under the influence for every person younger than 16 in the vehicle.
A second bill I am cosponsoring is HB47, DUI Revisions, This bill is also known as Sarah's Bill. This bill was named in recognition of Sarah Frei, who at 17-years-old is now paralyzed from the waist down and lost both of her legs as a result of a DUI accident. The driver who struck was released from jail just hours after his arrest. HB47 will allow a judge to deny bail to those who drive under the influence and get involved in an accident causing death or serious injury. The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee met for the first time last Friday, my experience as a law enforcement officer has already paid off in the committee discussions.
Other legislation I am proud to (co)sponsor:
HB150, Public safety Post-retirement Reemployment Amendments
HB60, Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments (Co-Sponsor)
If you have questions about any bills that are in the works you can see them all here. Feel free to reach out to me or Tabitha with any questions or concerns during the Legislative Session.
I want to thank everyone who has sent me an email to tell me a story illustrating their position on policy preferences. I also want to acknowledge those who are reaching out to inquire where I stand on various issues. I am working diligently to personally answer the emails I receive. I am sorry if I miss you. I will be putting out a newsletter/blog every week to keep everyone updated about everything that’s going on up at the hill.
Representative Matt Gwynn
Utah House District 29