Newest Citizens

Newest Citizens

One hundred twenty-five people took the oath become American citizens today

On July 19, 125 people from 38 countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Mexico and Philippines, filled the Capitol Rotunda. Though, these newly-minted Americans path towards citizenship vary, they united today as each of them took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

The naturalization ceremony was organized by Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes congratulated the new citizens and those who helped them, achieve their goal of becoming U.S. citizens. He encouraged the citizens as they live the American dream to give back and help people along the way because that is what makes America great and strong.

“The American dream isn’t a guarantee of success but a guarantee of opportunity,” said Attorney General Reyes.

He then led the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Viviane Quintela, anchor and producer for Noticias Univision 32, who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, shared her experience and dream of becoming an American.

“You are not only dreamers, you are also doers and that’s why you are standing here becoming citizens of a country where dreams can come true,” said Viviane.” There is freedom and opportunity in every corner. I’m here to congratulate you and to remind you the dream goes on.”

Three new citizens spoke at the ceremony

“I would like to say congratulations to everyone,” said Ejlaa Ahmed Alhaj from Sudan. “I would like to say thank you to my teacher and all the staff of Women of the World and my family. I’m so happy to be here.”

“I can now proudly say ‘hello my fellow Americans,’” said Daniel Souza from Brazil. “We may have taken different paths, but we all get here, we all come with the same purpose – looking for a better life and for being so graciously welcomed by this great country. I’m grateful for the privilege that you and I now have now. May we all, current and new citizens, become one indivisible nation under God.”

“So grateful to be an American citizen,” said Eniko Mason from Hungary. “We can all live here in this beautiful country.”

The U.S. National Anthem was performed by Cytel Schults, who has been singing since she was a little girl and enjoys helping others incorporate music into their lives.

Jerold McPhee, immigration services officer for USCIS, presided over the call of countries and presentation of candidates for citizenship. Laura McNeer, field office director for USCIS, administered the Oath of Allegiance.

The new citizens also heard a welcome message from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

“This is a fabulous day and it such a privilege to be a part of this experience,” said Rep. Thurston. “We welcome our newest citizens and hope they enjoy their new found citizenship.”

Following the ceremony, on-site voter registration was available to encourage the new citizens to be actively engaged in local, state and national matters as well as voice their opinion in future elections.

See additional photos here.




New State Work of Art: The Spiral Jetty

New State Work of Art: The Spiral Jetty

The Spiral Jetty, a 15-foot-wide coil that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the Great Salt Lake, was designated as an official Utah state work of land art during the 2017 General Session.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts refers to the Spiral Jetty as “Undoubtedly the most famous large-scale earthwork of the period, it has come to epitomize Land art. Its exceptional art historical importance and its unique beauty have drawn visitors and media attention from throughout Utah and around the world.”

“It truly is a bucket list item for art lovers around the world,” said Rep. Rebecca Edwards, sponsor of H.B. 211 State Work of Art.

In 1970, the Spiral Jetty was created on the desolate Rozel Point shoreline in the Great Salt Lake by Robert Smithson. The Dia Art Foundation leases the lake bed where the Spiral Jetty is located from the State of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Dia collaborates with two organizations, the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College (GSLI) and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah (UMFA), to help preserve the artwork.

While studying for the 2015 AP Art History exam, an American Fork High School class was delightfully surprised to find that one of the 250 works of art was in Utah: The Spiral Jetty.

The AP Art History curriculum features the Spiral Jetty as one of the Top 250 art pieces. The curriculum is designed to focus on the layers of meaning of artworks from around the globe. The emphasis, to study art pieces from political, visual, cultural, historical, societal and economic angles with a focus on the broader cultural context of a smaller number of works of art intended to reflect world history. Some of the other art pieces include the Stonehenge, the Parthenon, Great Pyramids of Giza, Sistine Chapel, Machu Picchu, Westminster Palace, Versailles, Petra, Mesa Verde, Angkor Wat as well as works by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Cezanne, Picasso, Rembrandt and Rodin. See the full list here.

“I think the Spiral Jetty is an excellent example of work that connects cross-culturally and why it was included in the AP Art curriculum,” said, Rep. Edwards, District 20. “It symbolizes how Utahns collaborate and work together to find the best solutions for our communities.”

H.B. 211 State Work of Art passed the Utah Legislature and was signed by the Governor.

Check out some of the stories about the Spiral Jetty being named a state work of art:

New York Times: ‘Spiral Jetty’ Is Named an Official State Work of Art by Utah

Smithsonian Magazine: Utah Chooses New State Works of Art

Apollo-Magazine: Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’ named official Utah state artwork

Salt Lake Tribune: Spiral Jetty and ancient rock art honored by lawmakers

Artnet News: Iconic ‘Spiral Jetty’ Voted Utah’s Official State Work of Land Art

KSL: Utah’s Spiral Jetty to become state work of art

The Davis Clipper: Legislators will be working into the night to wrap things up on Capitol Hill 


Media Alert: Speaker Hughes to hold media availability

Media Alert: Speaker Hughes to hold media availability

Media Alert
For Immediate Release
March 9, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
House Majority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Hughes to hold media availability

Speaker Greg Hughes will host media access to comment on the 2017 General Session.

Speaker Greg Hughes

Thursday, March 9, 2017, at 6:15 p.m.

Office of the Speaker of the House, Utah State Capitol




Aundrea Peterson

Majority Director of Communications

Utah House of Representatives

C: (801) 791-3365

O: (801) 326-1563


l  l

Week in Review: February 27 – March 3, 2017

Week in Review: February 27 – March 3, 2017

Legislative Update: Week #6


Combatting Intergenerational Poverty

HB 240Employability to Careers Program, recently passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for consideration. It seeks to help combat the growing problem of intergenerational poverty in our state and does it in a way that obligates state dollars only if successful.

The program uses a model known as “pay for success.” This model allows an outside foundation or philanthropic organization to provide the capital to a social service provider that will be responsible for the program’s design and administration. The state reimburses the funding organization only when an independent evaluator verifies that very rigorous and specific predetermined metrics have been met. The program also includes an evaluation to determine how much of the benefit to the state can be attributed to the intervention rather than to other factors, like the self-motivation of participants.

The Employability to Careers Program, outlined in HB 240, targets those who don’t have a high school diploma or GED, are unemployed or under-employed and eligible for public assistance. The end goal is to move them toward self-sustainability by providing opportunities to get a high school diploma, develop critical employability skills and start on a career path.

The service provider will work with those individuals who qualify, assisting not only in the completion of their high school diploma and development of job skills, but also in the development of employability skills, including life skills, communication, time management, problem solving and professionalism.

Based on a model developed by Dr. Young, a Legislative Fiscal Analyst, cost reductions to the state are projected to be $32.7 million over the first 15 years and revenue increases during that same period are estimated at $9.9 million. If the metrics are not met, the state does not pay and the money goes back to the state.


Public Lands

This year the Utah Legislature is working on a number of bills that would allow us to better care for our public lands and permit greater recreational access on lands controlled by the federal government. These include:

    • HB 63Hole in the Rock State Park, which creates a state park in the Hole in the Rock area.
    • HB 95Little Sahara State Park Designation, which creates a state park in the Little Sahara Recreation Area.
    • HB 317Antelope Island State Park Funding Amendments, which creates the Antelope Island State Park Improvement restricted account and sets up a way to fund it.
    • HB 385State Monuments Act, which establishes a process for the state to designate its own state monuments and creates rules for the management of them.
    • HB 407Utah Public Land Management Act Amendments, which declares that the state should retain lands in state ownership “for the enjoyment and betterment of the public and state” and requires super-majority support of two-thirds of the Legislature for public land sales.
    • HCR 1Concurrent Resolution to Secure the Perpetual Health and Vitality of Utah’s Public Lands and its Status as a Premier Public Lands State, in order to reiterate that Utah is a premier public lands state and is committed to remaining a public lands state. It asserts that local control of Utah’s public lands would result in greater opportunities for outdoor recreation, as well as economic opportunities for rural Utah.
    • HCR 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation, so as to not place greater restrictions on use of the land and make it nearly impossible for recreationalists to use much of it as they do now.
    • HCR 12Concurrent Resolution Urging Federal Legislation to Reduce or Modify the Boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in order to allow greater use on and around those lands for locals and recreationalists.
    • HCR 23Concurrent Resolution Promoting Continued Access and Recreation on Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which supports expanding state and local control over access and recreation on BLM lands in order to ensure no loss of access.
    • HCR 24Concurrent Resolution on Native American Recreation and Public Purposes Grant, encourages the state of Utah to seek acquisition of the Bears Ears National Monument and supports a governance and management plan that includes southwestern Native American tribes.

American Red Cross Blood Drive

Rep. Mike Kennedy, Rep. Steve Handy, Sen. Brian Shiozawa and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox hosted a blood drive with the American Red Cross. Blood donations are vital to a healthy and reliable blood supply, and legislators and interns enjoyed participating and giving back. There was also a little competition to see which legislative body could donate the most blood. We’re proud to announce the House won the competition! See more pictures here.


The Salt Lake Comic Con Co-Founders Visit

Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, co-founders of Salt Lake Comic Con, visited this week during morning floor time. They expressed their desire to see the show grow here and contribute to Utah’s flourishing economy. Of the many comic conventions around the country, Salt Lake’s event is ranked number three, with more than 100,000 attendees. Read more about the Salt Lake Comic Con co-founders’ plan to become one of the most successful conventions in the world here.


Honoring Dr. Mario R. Capecchi

The Utah House of Representatives recognized and honored Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D. University of Utah School of Medicine, for his extraordinary work in the field of molecular genetics at the University of Utah for the last 44 years. Dr. Capecchi developed revolutionary gene-targeting technology using mice that have contributed to our understanding of, and treatments for, hundreds of diseases. His work earned him the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Daily Buzz: February 28, 2017

Daily Buzz: February 28, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Today is the thirty-sixth day of the 2017 Legislative Session. The House prayer and pledge were led by guests of Representative Curt Webb. The prayer was offered by Mike Wing, a teacher from Ridgeline High School. The pledge was led by a group of high school students: Emily Adams, Hannah Dustin, Caden Bryan, Bridger Jorgenson and Natalie Schvanevelt.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives and the Senate had a competition to see which body could donate more blood to the American Red Cross. We’re proud to announce the House won the competition!


Meet a New Representative: Logan Wilde

Representative Logan Wilde now represents District 53 in Northern Utah. His district covers an area in five counties: Rich, Morgan, Summit, Daggett and Duchesne. While studying engineering at Weber State, Rep. Wilde met his wife. They have been married for over 18 years and have 5 children. Rep. Wilde currently works on his family farm in Croydon, Utah. His life mantra is “Don’t look back. Keep moving forward.” Rep. Wilde has been an incredible addition to the House!


Tweets of the Day:


Tomorrow’s Legislative Schedule

8:00 AM: House Business and Labor Committee
8:00 AM: House Education Committee
8:00 AM: House Health and Human Services Committee

8:00 AM: House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee
10:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
2:00 PM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
4:10 PM: House Judiciary Committee
4:10 PM: House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee
4:10 PM: House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee
4:10 PM: House Transportation Committee

Daily Buzz: February 21, 2017

Daily Buzz: February 21, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Welcome to week five! Today marks the twenty-ninth day of the 2017 Legislative Session. The House prayer and pledge were led by guests of Rep. Francis Gibson. The prayer was offered by Shannon Acor and the pledge was led by Cooper Acor.

During morning floor time, Senator Mike Lee spoke to the chamber about federalism and executive power. He began by recognizing the local representatives are closer to constituents than the state representatives are in Washington. Senator Lee then described the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the ability to undo certain executive regulations, as a law that doesn’t go far enough.

He continually stressed the need to return the power back to the people through a new law. Specifically, Senator Lee would like to return tariff and rate setting power from the executive branch to Congress.


Suicide Prevention Press Conference: Rep. Steve Eliason

Rep. Steve Eliason held a press conference with the Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness about military and civilian suicide.The press conference was held on the Capitol steps with a  display of combat boots from the National Guard and shoes from Deseret Industries lining the stairs to represent the 613 lives lost to suicide in Utah last year.

Of those who lost their lives to suicide, 466 were male and 147 were female. A total of 33 were youth, between the ages of 10 and 18 and 74 were Veterans.


Tweets of the Day:



Tomorrow’s Schedule:

8:00 AM: House Judiciary Committee
8:00 AM: House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee
8:00 AM: House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee
8:00 AM: House Transportation Committee
10:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
12:30 PM: Commission on Federalism
2:00 PM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
4:00 PM: House Government Operations Committee
4:10 PM: House Political Subdivisions Committee
4:10 PM: House Revenue and Taxation Committee