Week in Review – January 23-27, 2017

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Legislative Update: Week #1

Opening of the 2017 Utah Legislative Session

On Monday morning, Jan. 23, the 2017 Session of the Utah Legislature was called to order by former Speaker Mel Brown. After a prayer by LDS leader Elder Dallin H. Oaks, the Hillcrest High School Vocal Ensemble performed the National Anthem.

The posting of Colors was performed by the Utah National Guard, and Ted Garcia led the Pledge of Allegiance.

After the election that just took place last November, all members of the House were administered the Oath of Office by Mel Brown.

Speaker Greg Hughes’ Opening Remarks

Speaker Greg Hughes spoke on the opening day of the 2017 General Session of the Utah Legislature. His speech focused on a number of issues, including the carnage and human suffering that is occurring within the state as homelessness has proliferated. The Legislature has started to move the needle on the issue, he said, through work done by the Justice Reform Initiative (JRI), Medicaid funding through HB 437 and the Homeless Initiative, as well as coordination and collaboration with local governments to make the system better and provide much-needed assistance where appropriate.

He went on to say that this effort is just beginning, and a critical component of further reform rests on the ability of officials to rid the downtown area of those criminals who would prey on the very vulnerable. With the best of intentions and the idea that economies of scale would most effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the homeless population, we have found that the greatest beneficiary of this consolidation of services has been the drug cartels that have infiltrated the area.

The Speaker also spoke about the recently-designated Bears Ears Monument as proof that the federal government clearly believes they are better stewards of the lands within our state than those families and individuals who have lived on and around those lands – taken care of them, worked on them – their entire lives. He expressed that Utah has become the ATM for political payback to special interest groups as Democrat presidents leave office.

He went on to speak about the state income tax reform under Governor Huntsman in 2007 that gave our state a flatter tax, allowed us to be more competitive with surrounding states and strengthened our economy. If we want more money for education, he pointed out, the very most important policy issue we can focus on is public lands. Those states that spend substantially more money on education aren’t left without 68 percent of their state’s lands to fund that system. We all need to realize that a successful fight for public lands ultimately leads to more education funding.

Speaker Hughes closed by explaining that he and Senate President Niederhauser would be tasking the Commission on Federalism to begin the process of identifying where the federal government has infringed on the state’s sovereignty and right to govern, and submit that information to our federal delegation so changes can be considered at the federal level.

Public Lands:

With the recent designation of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument and changes in Washington, public lands are a big issue and one that impacts Utahns in many ways. Yet, many in the public still have questions. We’re going to try to answer a few of them periodically, so stay tuned.

Has a transfer been done before?

Yes. During the 19th century the federal government controlled as much as 90 percent of all lands between Indiana and Florida. Midwestern and Southern states recognized the toll this was taking, banded together and compelled Congress to pass legislation transferring federal lands to their care and management. Today, less than 5 percent of the land in these states is controlled by the federal government. The transfer of public lands to willing states is nothing new; it has a long and storied history.

Resources: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/10/missouri-transfer-of-public-lands-champion/


 Moving from Homelessness to Self-reliance

After being convicted of a federal crime in another state and spending 21 years in the Utah State Prison, Brandon Kitchen was released into a strange city – homeless, jobless and unsure of where to go next.

Brandon just happened to meet a woman who told him about The Road Home, and that is where he spent his first night of freedom. He still recalls the palpable feelings of despair that permeated the facility and its inhabitants.

At one point, Brandon recalls, he faced losing his bed at the shelter as a consequence of having a job; he was told there was no way for him to have both, because leaving to work a job kept him from standing in line all day for a bed. Eventually, through the efforts of the Pioneer Park Coalition, a workers’ bed program was instituted to help those like Brandon, who were trying to become self-reliant.

The morning after he arrived at the shelter, Brandon met Salt Lake City Police Deputy Chief Fred Ross, who told him about the department’s Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST) program. This program allowed him to secure a job and within three weeks, Brandon worked his way out of the shelter and into transitional housing. Soon after, he moved into his own apartment and is now living with his partner, Heather, and their twin boys, born June 9th.

Despite his past, Brandon understands that self-reliance is the path his future will follow. As he will tell you, “Fred Ross, Scott Howell, HOST, the Pioneer Park Coalition and others, they showed me the way. They gave me hope. Not a handout, but a hand up. That’s the key.”


Did you know?

Last year, in 2016, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that amends the traffic code to allow the operator of a vehicle to cross the double white lines of an HOV lane when necessary to ensure the safety of emergency vehicles and emergency services personnel.

In other words, it is not a violation of the law to cross the double white line when moving out of the carpool lane to clear room for emergency vehicles and personnel on the side of the road.

Annual Capitol Event: Maps on the Hill

Maps on the Hill takes place each year in the State Capitol Rotunda during our Utah Legislative Session. The Utah Geographic Information Council (UGIC) and AGRC put on the event. Students and professional topographers teach electedofficials and the general public about maps and new mapping technologies. These presentations also demonstrate how mapping technologies can be used to support lawmakers in their decisions.

House Floor Debate

The Utah House of Representatives met on the floor to debate eight bills Tuesday, Jan. 24. H.B. 12 stirred the most discussion on the floor before being successfully passed, 74-0-1.

This bill ensures the inclusion of a place for voters to write an email address and phone number on absentee ballot return envelopes. Poll workers will use this contact information if a returned ballot is rejected. A poll worker will then contact a voter via email or text, and the voter will be permitted to correct their rejected ballot.











Legislative Update: Summer 2016

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Legislative Update: Summer 2016



Unmanned Aircraft Over Wildfires

During the special session on July 13, the Legislature considered legislation related to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles over restricted wildfire airspaces.

Throughout this summer’s wildfire season, we’ve seen numerous instances of drone interference in efforts to fight fires throughout the west and here in Utah, firefighting aircraft have been grounded a number of times as a result of drones. This puts members of the pubic and their property at risk, in addition to endangering the lives of those working to put out these fires as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In 2016, Rep. Kraig Powell sponsored HB 126, that would prohibit an individual from flying an unmanned aircraft in certain areas during a fire and provide criminal penalties for violations.

Because of persistent problems just this year, a new bill was proposed and presented to the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee during July interim. The new bill would modify the penalties of the earlier bill and authorize authorities to shoot down or jam the signals of drones flying too close to wildfires. HB 3003 passed favorably out of committee and was supported by the full Legislature and signed by Governor Herbert.


Controlled Substance Database Revisions

In 1995, the State of Utah instituted a controlled-substance database to consolidate information of all such prescriptions within the state. The purpose was to identify over-utilization and misuse of controlled substances.

A number of years ago, concerns were expressed that some law enforcement officers were accessing the database for investigative purposes in violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of those whose private information was being viewed and searched.

In 2015, the Legislature passed SB 119, which required law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant, requiring probably cause, in order to run a search on an individual in the database. This necessary protection inadvertently led to a situation where probation and parole officers were unable to access the database pursuant to their duties. Parolees and probationers agree to searches and supervision as a condition of their release and therefore are not eligible for the same Fourth Amendment protections against searches and seizures as the population at large.

During July interim, Sen. Todd Weiler presented a revision to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee that would allow for access to the database by parole and probation officers without the requisite warrant. The committee voted favorably to recommend SB 3001, sponsored by Sen. Weiler, with House sponsor Rep. Dan McCay, to the full Legislature, which then voted in favor of the bill later that day during the Special Session.


New State Fair Park Stadium

During the third special session of 2016, the Utah Legislature unanimously voted to support HB 3002, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins and appropriating $10 million of the $17 million needed to build a 10,000 seat stadium at the state fair park. The additional funds necessary to build the facility will include a $3 million contribution from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, $2 million from Salt Lake County, $1 million from Salt Lake City, with the remainder coming from private donations.

The stadium will serve as the home of the Days of ’47 Rodeo and will be used throughout the year to attract other large events, concerts and sporting competitions. It is expected to be completed during the summer of 2017.


Additional interim highlights can be found here.

Special Session Details – July 2016


Governor Herbert has issued a call for a special session of the Utah State Legislature on Wednesday, July 13. It will be held in conjunction with the regularly interim meetings scheduled for that day. Items that will be considered include:

1. H.B. 3002 State Fair Park Amendments – Rep. Sandra Hollins/Sen. Luz Escamilla – The appropriation of funds to the Capital Budget and related legislation for the purpose of constructing an arena at the State Fair Park. This will help fund the reconstruction of the new 10,000 chair state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena at the Utah State Fairgrounds. The new facility will serve as the new home of the Days of ’47 Rodeo and will be utilized throughout the year to attract large events like the World Series of Barrel Racing, professional bull riding competitions, concerts and sporting competitions

2. H.B. 3003 Unmanned Aircraft Amendments  Rep. Don Ipson/Sen. Evan Vickers – To consider legislation related to the use unmanned aerial vehicles over restricted wildfire airspaces. The interference of drones with the efforts to fight the Saddle Fire in Pine Valley highlighted the need for additional enhancements to the existing law. This is a follow-up to Rep. Kraig Powell’s H.B. 126, Unmanned Aircraft Revisions bill, that passed during the 2016 General Session. We anticipate amendments such as preventing a plane from taking off as an offense, increase fines, allow the incident commander to remove the drone if necessary, financial responsibility for lost fire retardant and the costs of wasted fuel and prevent owners of unmanned aerial vehicles from selling any footage from restricted wildfire airspaces.

3. H.B. 3004 Criminal Justice Reinvestment Amendments – Rep. Eric Hutchings/Sen. Brian Shiozawa  To consider legislation related to the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. This is needed to properly implement JRI H.B. 348, Criminal Justice Programs and Amendments, which passed in 2015. It was at the top of the Senate Board the last night of the 2016 session but the Senate adjourned at midnight before it was heard. This bill passed the House with one dissenting vote. 

4. S.B. 3003 Judicial Nominating Commissions – Amendments – Sen. Peter Knudson/Rep. Mike McKell   – To consider amendments to the code provisions regarding Judicial Nominating Commissions. This will allow the commission to ensure that there are five names per position that will be considered for appointments, addressing the three simultaneous openings in the Fourth District Court. Without this amendment, three appointments will need to be made from only five names.

5. H.B. 3005 Grandparent Rights Amendments – Rep. LaVar Christensen/Sen. Stuart Adams To consider legislation related to grandparents ability to visit grandchildren adopted by a family member of the child. Upon vetoing this bill earlier this year, the Governor agreed to place H.B. 377, Grandparent Rights Amendments, on a special session call if the sponsor made certain changes, which included a specified time period for the petition, a limit to the number of petitions and notice to the adoptive parents.

6. S.B. 3001 Controlled Substance Database Modifications – Sen. Todd Weiler/Rep. Daniel McCay – To consider amendments to the exceptions to the warrant requirement to the controlled substances database for individuals on probation or parole. A drafting error occurred when a stand-alone bill was folded into another, which resulted in the continued warrant requirement for probationers and parolees being monitored for substance abuse issues. This is a clarification that amends the exceptions to the warrant requirement.

7. S.B. 3004 Continuing Care Retirement Community Amendments  – Sen. Deidre Henderson – This legislation will address the security of investments in continuing care facilities. H.B. 323 Continuing Care Retirement Community Amendments.

8. H.B. 3001 Tax Credit Review Amendments – Rep. Jeremy Peterson/Sen. Curtis Bramble  It passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor, but lacked an enacting clause. This legislation will provide that enacting clause. Similar to H.B. 310 ,Tax Credit Review Amendments.

9. S.B. 3002 Economic Development Revisions – Sen. Curtis Bramble/Rep. Val Peterson – Legislation to consider economic credits including certain sales and use tax exemptions to help encourage new enterprises data centers to built along Utah’s Silicon Slopes. This is similar to Sen. Bramble’s S.B. 178, Economic Development Revisions in the 2016 Session.

The Senate will also consent to appointments made by the Governor.

Schedule for day:

  • Morning Committee Meetings – 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m
  • Caucus  Lunch Meeting  – 10:40 to 12:40 p.m.
  • Afternoon Committee Meetings – 12:50 to 2:50 p.m.
  • Special Session  – 3 p.m.




Legislative Update: June 2016

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Legislative Update: June 2016




State Fairpark 

The Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee unanimously passed, on June 15th, a proposal to build a new 10,000 chair state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena at the Utah State Fairgrounds. The new facility will serve as the new home of the Days of ’47 Rodeo. It will also be utilized throughout the year to attract large events like the World Series of Barrel Racing, professional bull riding, community and cultural events, concerts and other sporting competitions.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pledged to contribute $3 million to help fund this project. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams also committed to work with their Councils to help secure funding for the new facility. Additionally, there is interest from private donors, including Komatsu Equipment Picture1Company, O.C. Tanner, Zions Bank, Gardner Company, Vivint Home Solutions, Maverick and Questar, who pledge to contribute as much $1 million to the project. Some of the companies. If approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the state would appropriate $10 million from the general fund to pay for the remaining estimated $17 million that it will cost to build the new arena.

The State of Utah will own the arena, which is expected to generate at least $1 million in state revenue, and be managed by the newly-organized Utah State Fairpark Corporation Board of Directors. This project is aligned with the long-term vision previous outlined by Fairpark board.

“We were excited to see the support from stakeholders, legislators and private companies to expand the facility and grow Utah’s rodeo presence,” said Roger Beattie, State Fair Board Chairman. “Our goal is to start the demolition of the old arena and begin construction of the new arena this summer in order to host events the beginning of next summer.”

The fairgrounds are an important gem in our state. The renovation of the arena, which enjoys bipartisan support, will enable the fairpark to generate funds that will allow it to be more self-sustaining, as well as preserve the remaining historic structures. This arena is a long-term investment and is in the best interest of the state, fairgrounds and community.


Healthcare Costs

Consumers are quickly finding out that despite promises to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is driving up healthcare costs for everyone. Health insurance rates are up around the country, increasing far faster than inflation, and the middle class is being squeezed.

The ACA included a number of mechanisms that shifted, and intentionally or not, hid its actual costs during the first few years of operation. Two out of three of these provisions – reinsurance and risk corridors – expire this year. The reinsurance program required each insurer to pay a fee per enrollee, which would then be used to help offset costs incurred by high-cost enrollees in the individual market. The risk corridor program established an allowable range for losses and gains by requiring profitable insurers to turn over “excess” profits in order to give that money to less profitable insurers.

Many insurers have warned that 2017 is looking pretty grim, and according to Marilyn Tavenner, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the culmination of changes to the healthcare market that have occurred over the past several years will lead to a drastic rise in insurance rates on the ACA exchanges for 2017.

It’s important to note that increased monthly premiums are far from the entire story. In an attempt to keep insurance rates from spiking even more than they already have, insurers have narrowed networks and increased out-of-pocket costs, both with devastating effects for many consumers.

According to a Chicago Tribune editorial from late last year, “many consumers face rising deductibles of $4,000 or more, making out-of-pocket costs prohibitive and encouraging people to drop coverage . . .” and a study from 2015 showed that 25 percent of consumers with non-group insurance have problems affording healthcare and consequently, forgo needed care. In other words, budgets of healthcare consumers are so strained paying ever-escalating costs for mandatory health insurance with services many don’t want and don’t need, that they don’t have enough money left over to actually visit their doctor, receive recommended tests/treatment, fill their prescriptions, etc. Of those who were lower- to middle-income, nearly 33 percent skipped necessary care because the costs were prohibitive.

None of these problems were unexpected. Many warned that this federal intervention would make healthcare and health insurance less affordable, despite promises from the Obama administration that the typical family’s premium would be cut “by up to $2,500 a year.” Most understood that when you remove provisions limiting coverage of pre-existing conditions, thus incentivizing enrollment when health crises occur; expand the number of services and procedures that must be covered under every single plan, despite the needs of individual consumer; and charge the same for older, sicker enrollees as young, healthy enrollees, you’re going to end up with problems.

Utah has had a system that has worked well for many years. We enjoy some of the very lowest healthcare costs in the nation, and prior to the passage of the ACA, our state had already instituted a small business health insurance marketplace, Avenue H, and established a high-risk health insurance pool that made insurance more affordable for those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to the federal health law, Utah no longer has the autonomy to make the necessary decisions that have for so long allowed for the lower costs and higher value that residents of our state have come to expect.

Although we are left with few options, we remain committed to working with stakeholders to find solutions to these complex issues. Among other things, the Legislative Health Reform Task Force continues to look for ways to innovate and to improve access, at a reasonable cost, for all of our residents. As it has done in the past, Utah will continue to lead the nation as we seek unique, Utah-specific solutions within this new healthcare landscape.

Legislative Update: May 2016

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Legislative Update: May 2016



Special Session

The Utah State Legislature had its first interim day May 18, in conjunction with a special session convened by the governor. The purpose of the special session was to deal with restoring funding for some education initiatives and to vote on H.C.R. 201, declaring opposition to the unilateral designation of national monuments in Utah through the Antiquities Act.

H.C.R. 201 

Within the state of Utah, one can find seven national monuments and five national parks. There is concern that President Obama is planning to unilaterally, without legislative approval or support, establish another national monument in Utah before leaving office. The Bears Ears National Monument that many fear will be proposed is said to encompass approximately 1.9 million acres, yet the Antiquities Act limits a presidential monument designation to the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” This clearly seems to be a misuse of the Act.

A new poll, by Dan Jones & Associates for Utah Policy, shows only 17 percent of Utahns support for a national monument designation of the Bears Ears area. In 2015, the San Juan County Commission, as the duly elected representatives of the people of that area, passed a bipartisan resolution advocating for local control, ownership and management of the lands within the county and strongly opposing the unilateral use of the Antiquities Act. This is the only resolution put forward by the residents San Juan County and not by outside interests and organizations.

On May 17, a press conference was held at tMay 17, 2016he Capitol that included a number of members of the Navajo Tribe from San Juan County. They expressed their frustration with federal interference on their lands and pointed out that many of the tribes advocating for the monument wouldn’t be supportive of a monument on their own lands.

Despite the fact that some say national monuments stimulate the economy and growth in an area, that has simply not been the case for the areas surrounding the seven national monuments in Utah. In our state, those areas have seen a significant loss of population and jobs.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has indicated she will be visiting the state soon to discuss Bears Ears and we hope that she will listen closely to the people and communities that will have to live with the consequences of a potential monument designation which will be, according to Democrat County Commissioner Rebecca Benally, “a devastation for my Utah Navajo grassroots people.”

Education Funding 

During the May Special Session, the Legislature voted to restore funding for a number of education programs and initiatives, including:

  • $1.5 million ongoing Education Funding, plus an additional $500,000 TANF for UPSTART, an early education initiative targeted toward an individualized reading, mathematics and science curriculum. This restored funding will allow about 2,300 additional children to participate in the program, which has been found to be a unique solution especially for rural and low-income families with limited access to pre-K opportunities. Year after year, third-party evaluations have shown UPSTART children to be two to three times as prepared for Kindergarten as children evaluated within a control group.
  • $275,000 one-time Education Funding for ProStart, a school-to-career culinary arts program providing career training and certifications for high school students throughout the state. The ProStart program is in 62 schools and every district, and has been training Utah culinary professionals for 20 years.
  • $500,000 ongoing Education Funding for Elementary Reading Assessment Tools, a statewide program that enhances the evaluation of early education programs. This funding is intended to provide every school district and charter school within the state to access these programs.
  • $3 million one-time Education Funding for K-3 Early Intervention. With this funding, schools can choose from among five different interactive reading software programs to assist in early reading learning. Without these funds, 22,000 students currently receiving high-quality reading instruction through technology would be unable to continue. Third-party evaluations of these programs have shown significant positive effects in kindergarten and first-grade students.
  • $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 that will help prepare them for college and careers. Utah currently leads the nation in this program, with a 22 percent increase in the pass rate of certification exams.

The Governor’s Office and the Legislature will continue to monitor these programs, including visits to participating schools and discussions with participants, to ensure their effectiveness.

Though there was enough support in the Legislature to override Governor Herbert’s veto of these items, agreeing to a special session in conjunctionIMG_0604 with the regularly-scheduled interim meetings saved the state approximately $40,000 in taxpayer funds. Speaker of the House Greg Hughes said, “While the House had the support for a veto override session, it was always our top priority to restore the funding for these programs and that was accomplished when we came together for our interim meetings in May.”

The Interim Process

During the 45-day general session, many items that don’t make it through committee are put on a master study list. The committee chairs then prioritize what should be studied over the interim period based on this list and input from committee members.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate President and committee chairs meet to collectively determine the final list. The Legislative Management Committee then votes on and adopts the interim study items and schedule. Due to the limited number of meetings, committees focus on those issues that are top priority to help ensure a proper vetting.

Interim committees, which are comprised of both representatives and senators, meet throughout the year. They listen to expert and public testimony regarding the particular issues they are studying and determineIMG_6330 whether or not to recommend legislation. The interim committees also vote to prioritize particular bills for the upcoming general session and occasionally for future special sessions, should one occur.

Interim committee meetings are held throughout the year, generally the third Wednesday of the month, are open to the public. They can be streamed live or listened to later at le.utah.gov.

A list of agenda items that are scheduled to be studied during the 2016 interim, and schedule, can be found at UtahReps.net.

Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program

The Utah Legislature recognized 36 students from around the state who received the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship. Since the May 18, 2016 - comcast Scholarship Luncheon May Interimprogram was launched nationally in 2001, Comcast has awarded close to $24 million in scholarships to nearly 23,000 recipients to help them pursue their higher education goals. Congratulations to these students for their hard work and dedication! See additional photos here.


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.