Week in Review – February 13-17, 2017

Week in Review – February 13-17, 2017

Legislative Update: Week #4


HJR 8, Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators

This week the House passed, by a vote of 62-7, H.J.R. 8, Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators. The resolution recognizes the shortage of credentialed public educators in the state, acknowledges the critical nature of public education to Utah’s prosperity and lays out a mechanism for potentially increasing educator salaries.

Because almost 64 percent of Utah is controlled by the federal government, educational opportunities and funding options are severely constrained. Nearly 65 percent of state tax dollars are dedicated to education in our state. Even when combined with federal dollars, over 40 percent of our funds are dedicated for this purpose, the highest level in the nation.

The resolution ends by proposing that 50 percent of any new ongoing revenue from the management of public lands transferred from the federal government to the state would be used to increase salaries of public school teachers.

We know the state is able to manage its lands well for education. The School Institutional Trust Lands Administration, SITLA, currently manages parcels of public land throughout Utah for the benefit of education. The funds generated through activities on these lands are placed into the Permanent State School Fund, which has grown from $18 million in 1983 to over $2 billion in 2015. Interest generated from investments within the fund are then distributed as discretionary dollars for use by Utah’s public schools. This year alone those distributions totaled over $49 million on the management of only about 6 percent of our lands.

This resolution will allow our state to begin to prioritize the ways in which public lands-generated funds could be used and is one small step toward dealing with the issue of teacher retention and public education dollars.

HB 202, Trespass Amendments

The House recently passed H.B. 202, Trespass Amendments, with just one dissenting vote. This bill creates a new definition under the trespass statute called “long-term guest.” It would make it easier for an individual who invites someone into their home temporarily to rescind that invitation without being forced to go through the eviction process.

A long-term guest is defined in this bill as someone who is not a tenant but who is given permission by a resident to stay in their home for a period longer than 48 hours. There have been circumstances where, upon refusal to leave when asked, guests have attempted to establish rights to remain on the premises. Under this law, that guest would be guilty of criminal trespass and law enforcement action could be taken.


HB 146, Partially Filled Prescriptions

Utah, like many states, is facing an opioid epidemic that has led to hundreds of deaths. Seventy percent of those who misuse narcotics report obtaining the drugs from family, friends or off the street. The practice of illegally obtaining narcotics is commonly referred to as diversion.

H.B. 146, Partial Filling of a Schedule II Controlled Substance Prescription, would help reduce diversion by allowing a partial prescription to be filled instead of the full amount, upon request of the prescriber or patient. A partial fill is considered anything less than the initially prescribed quantity.

If a patient chooses multiple partial fills, the total amount allocated cannot exceed the total quantity prescribed and the cost cannot exceed the original cost of the full prescription.  

H.B. 146 will empower patients and prescribers with the ability to request a partial fill of a Scheduled II drug, rather than depending on efforts to safely dispose of unused medication in the case that only a portion of the original prescription is needed.

Daily Buzz: February 10, 2017

Daily Buzz: February 10, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Today is the nineteenth day of the 2017 Legislative Session. The House prayer and pledge were led by guests of Rep. Steve Eliason. The prayer was offered by Imam Shuaib Din. The pledge was led by Jeffery Rechtsteiner.

Congressman Rob Bishop spoke to the House of Representatives today during the morning session. He began his speech addressing immigration and the responsibility he feels to help Americans feel secure. Rep. Bishop believes security is the most important issue at hand with immigration.

He also discussed the imbalance of power between states and the Federal government. Rep. Bishop stressed the importance of finding the correct balance between the two, with both included in the law making process. As he wrapped up, he complimented the Utah House of Representatives on their work and support of the Convention of States.

Hot Topics in Committee: Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety Revisions

Representative Norm Thurston is sponsoring HB 155 to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05. Many countries throughout the world restrict BAC to 0.05 or lower, including societies as diverse as Italy, Switzerland, South Africa and Thailand.

There is a significant increase in risk well before the current legal limit of 0.08, and even low levels of BAC can degrade skills and endanger others on the road. In Utah, drunk driving is the third most common factor contributing to motor vehicle crash deaths over the past 10 years.

Dr. T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, presented data and answer questions about the bill.

House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted to pass H.B. 155 with a favorable recommendation 9-2-1.


Utah for Convention of States Rally held in the Hall of Governors at the Capitol to voice support of H.J.R. 3 Joint Resolution Calling for a Convention to Amend the Constitution of the United States. Presenters included Rep. Merrill Nelson (House Sponsor of H.J.R. 3), Rep. Kim Coleman, Rep. Ken Ivory, Sen. Evan Vickers (Senate sponsor of H.J.R. 3) and Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.

H.J.R. 3 passed the House Natural Resources Committee on January 26, by a vote of 11-2 and passed the full House on February 3rd, by a vote of 45-29.

About the Convention of States Project:

The Convention of States Project is organized in all 50 states, including over two million volunteers, supporters and advocates committed to stopping the federal government’s abuse of power. Reps. Nelson, Coleman and Ivory attended the first-ever Simulated Article V Convention of States in the fall of 2016. Thirty-seven states are currently considering the Convention of States resolution.

Tweets of the Day:



Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, Legislative Schedule:

8:00 AM: House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee
8:00 AM: House Political Subdivisions Committee
8:00 AM: House Revenue and Taxation Committee
10:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
2:00 PM: House Education Committee
2:00 PM: House Health and Human Services Committee REVISED
2:00 PM: House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee
4:00 PM: Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee
4:00 PM: Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee
4:00 PM: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee
4:00 PM: Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee
6:00 PM: Commission on Federalism


Legislative Update: Week #2

Legislative Update: Week #2

Digital Assets

Historically, our personal property has all been tangible and easily identifiable, but recent technological advances have changed that. Unlike in the past, much of what we own today is intangible, digital property and the law is trying desperately to catch up with this new reality. One of the central questions around which new policy has yet to be clearly established is the question of how to appropriately handle virtual property after the death or incapacitation of a loved one.

A proposal before the Utah Legislature this year, HB 13, would allow residents to pass down social media and email accounts after death. With this bill, individuals can select an individual to handle those accounts and specify the level of access.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Lowry Snow, says he has had nothing but positive feedback about the legislation, including from both Google and Facebook.


Evidence – Based Policy Making

According to a recently released study by Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation, Utah is one of five states leading in the application of evidence-based policy making, ranked second in the nation.

State leaders have tended to focus efforts and financial resources on ensuring that policy prescriptions and programs are solving problems not only efficiently, but effectively. As Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes often says, “We let good information drive good decisions.” We can’t afford to do things any other way.

Our state, with its young population, large families and access to significantly less than half the land within our borders, faces many unique challenges. While these challenges impact our ability to fund services to the same level as many other states, they have also led to public policy that tends to prioritize solutions that work well for the right cost. In Utah, we really do more with less.


Bears Ears

The recently designated Bears Ears National Monument was created using the Antiquities Act through executive action. Every locally-elected official in the San Juan area has opposed this monument, as has every one of our state and federal officials who represent the area. The Utah House of Representatives, with the passage of HCR 11, recently expressed strong opposition to the Bears Ears National Monument and urged the President of the United States to rescind it.

Is there a constitutional and legal basis for states to gain control over the public lands within their borders?

Yes. The Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands compiled a world-class legal team of renowned constitutional scholars and litigators to examine the legal theories surrounding the transfer of public lands to the states. They determined that based on the constitutional cornerstones of the Equal Sovereignty Principle, Compact Theory and Equal Footing Doctrine, “legitimate legal basis exist to attempt to gain ownership or control over Utah’s public lands.” It was their recommendation that the commission and Legislature urge the governor and attorney general of Utah to “consider instituting litigation against the United States of America under the Original Jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court.” These legal theories and arguments apply not only to Utah’s litigation efforts, but are largely applicable to other western states as well.

Resource: http://le.utah.gov/interim/2015/pdf/00005590.pdf


The Budget

One of the most important responsibility state legislators have is to pass a balanced budget. You may have heard that this isn’t a “good” budget year. However, our fiscal analyst predicted the budget so accurately that it will be a standard budget year, which happens to follow after a few years of budget surplus. The base budget, which was approved by the Executive Appropriations Committee in December, for fiscal year 2018 is $15.2 billion. That is about $100 million more than the fiscal year 2017 budget. Learn more about Utah’s budget here.


Annual Capitol Event: Tech Day on the Hill

On Monday, January 30, Utah tech leaders gathered with legislators and students for Tech Day on the Hill to express support for collaboration between industry, government, and education. The event focused on a STEM Action Center’s upcoming computer science pathways initiative. Tech industry companies provided hands-on exhibits, including Adobe and Domo. On this same day, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Women Tech Council and Silicon Slopes announced a new partnership to combine efforts on technology workforce development and to ensure Utah’s tech industry continues to be successful.


Utah’s Emmy Award Winning Program

Utah’s own ProStart “TeenChef Pro” show that won two Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy Awards. This television program recently received funding again during the May 2016 Special Session. On TeenChef Pro, Utah teens enter into a cooking competition, and the best chef wins a scholarship to the professional culinary school. This program helps promote the critical school-to-career curriculum into our high schools. The ProStart program is in 62 schools and every district and has been training Utah culinary professionals for 20 years.


Daily Buzz: January 30, 2017

Daily Buzz: January 30, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Today marks the beginning of the second week of the legislative session. The House prayer was offered by Guy Perry, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Representative Pitcher’s daughter, Kaitlyn Barlow.

Committees have been busy working, and now the reading calendars are starting to fill up in both the House and Senate. Wondering how a bill becomes a law in Utah? Find out how here.

Utah’s Own Emmy Award Winning Program: Teen Chef Masters

Speaker Hughes was excited to talk about Utah’s own ProStart “Teen Chef Masters” show that won two Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy awards in his weekly wrap-up video. This television program recently received funding again during the May 2016 Special Session.

On Teen Chef Masters, Utah teens enter into a cooking competition, and the best chef wins a scholarship to the professional culinary school. This program helps promote the critical school-to-career curriculum into our high schools. The ProStart program is in 62 schools and every district and has been training Utah culinary professionals for 20 years.

Tweet of the Day:

From @hcraighall – Most commonly heard phrase at #utleg before your bill is ripped apart: “I appreciate the good sponsor’s work on this bill.” 🙂

Tomorrow’s Legislative Schedule

8:00 AM: Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
8:00 AM: Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee
11:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time
2:00 PM: House Judiciary Committee
2:00 PM: House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee
2:00 PM: House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee
2:00 PM: House Transportation Committee
4:00 PM: House Government Operations Committee
4:00 PM: House Revenue and Taxation Committee



Interim Buzz – November 2016

Interim Buzz – November 2016

The holiday season is fast approaching, it is a great time to take a moment to thank the people who have and currently make a difference in our lives.

The House Majority is thankful for the privilege to serve the people of Utah and have a heartfelt desire to make our communities and our state even better. We will continue to focus on listening to Utahns and making their priorities our priorities. We will serve with diligence and dedication to improving this great state.

Committee meetings, listed below, are open to the public and can be streamed live, here.


The Interim Committee Schedule* for November 2016:

Tuesday, November 15

  • 1:00 PM: Legislative Management Committee CANCELED
  • 2:00 PM: Executive Appropriations Committee
  • 3:00 PM: State Water Development Commission
  • 4:00 PM: Legislative Audit Subcommittee

Wednesday, November 16

  • 7:30 AM: Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
  • 8:15 AM: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee
  • 8:30 AM: Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee
  • 8:30 AM: Judiciary Interim Committee
  • 8:30 AM: Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee
  • 8:30 AM: Transportation Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Business and Labor Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Education Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Government Operations Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Health and Human Services Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Political Subdivisions Interim Committee
  • 1:15 PM: Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee
  • 4:00 PM: Special Session
    • The following items will be considered in the House:
      • Funding for class B and C roads
      • Legislation related to the regulation of solid waste similar to 2016 House Bill 258

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

  • 9:00 AM: Administrative Rules Review Committee

A list of 2016 Interim Committees can be found here.

* committee meetings are subject to change

Legislative Update: April 2016

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Legislative Update: April 2016



Legislative Business During the Interim

Though the 2016 Legislative Session has ended, the work of our representatives continues. Throughout the year, various interim committee meetings are held and one day is set aside most months – generally the third Wednesday – specifically for these meetings. A calendar of committee meetings can be found here.

IMG_5632Unlike during the general session, when the House and Senate each have standing committees comprised of only their own members, interim committees are made up of both representatives and senators. They study key issues facing the state and make recommendations on legislation for the upcoming session.

This year, the Utah Legislature will have its first interim day Wednesday, May 18. Committee meetings are open to the public. These can also be streamed live or listened to at a later date, here.  A list of agenda items that are scheduled to be studied during the interim can be found here.

Legislative leadership and the governor have also agreed to a special session on that day as well, for lawmakers to consider action on the governor’s veto of funding for a number of education initiatives.

May Special Session

A special session will be convened on May 18 in order to address education funding items vetoed by the governor following the 2016 General Session. The special session will look at restoring funding for the following initiatives:IMG_9122

  • $1.5 million ongoing Education Funding, plus intent for an additional $500,000 TANF for UPSTART, an early education initiative targeted toward individualized reading, mathematics and science curriculum.
  • $275,000 one-time Education Funding for ProStart, a culinary arts program that provides career training andcertifications for high school students.
  • $500,000 ongoing Education Funding for Elementary Reading Assessment Tools, a statewide assessment tool used to enhance the evaluation of early education programs.
  • $3 million one-time Education Funding for K3 Early Intervention, a program which addresses early reading through the use of interactive reading software.
  • $500,000 one-time Education Funding for IT Academy, a program that provides opportunities for high school students to obtain basic to advanced certifications in software and network administration, which helps them gain employment after high school.

A concurrent resolution will also be considered during the special session opposing the unilateral use of the Antiquities Act and designation of a national monument in Utah by the Obama Administration.

The special session will be called in conjunction with the regularly scheduled interim meetings. Additional information about the vetoed bills can be found here.



Utah Vietnam Veterans Day

The Utah Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day took place at the State Capitol on March 29. IMG_8866Utah is home to approximately 46,000 Vietnam War Veterans, according to the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Vietnam veterans and their spouses were honored with a commemorative pin, a documentary film, “Long Journey Home” and a Utah 50th Anniversary Commemoration book at the ceremony. New Utah highways signs to honor Vietnam veterans and Purple Heart recipients were also unveiled.

Thank you veterans for your service, dedication and sacrifice to this great nation. See additional photos of the event here.

Naturalization Ceremony


One hundred forty-five people from more than 40 countries became U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony at the Utah State Capitol on March 28. The event, hosted by Rep. Norm Thurston, was the second to be held at the Capitol in recent memory.

The Oath of Allegiance was administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services District Director Angela K. Barrows. Read more about this event and see additional photos here.


Utah 4-H Mock Legislature

Utah State University Extension Utah 4-H youth gathered at the Utah State Capitol to hold4-h a mock legislature. These future leaders had the opportunity to experience the role of legislators and learn first-hand about the lawmaking process.

During the mock legislative session, 4-H members presented and debated bills from the 2016 legislative session on the House floor. The students also held committee meetings where they presented their sponsored legislation. Representative Paul Ray and members of the Office of Legislative Research sponsored the event and observed the proceedings. See additional pictures here.