Representative Derrin Owens

Representative Derrin Owens

Our newest Representative Derrin Owens was born and raised in Show Low, Arizona. He’s the eighth of nine children and the product of Mormon Pioneers. After serving an LDS Mission to Chicago, Illinois his family moved from Arizona to settle in Ephraim, where he would try his hand at ranching.


Representative Owens married Heather Owens, and the settled in Fountain Green, where they’ve lived together, with their five children, for 23 years. He and his family enjoy boating at Lake Powell, snowmobiling, camping, fishing, hunting, and anything else Utah’s beautiful outdoors has to offer.


Owens received his Bachelor’s degree in Social Science after studying at Snow College and Southern Utah University. He received a Master’s degree in Education from Grand Canyon University. Representative Owens taught history and coached track, wrestling, football. Now a licensed school counselor, he works closely with the students at Juab High School.


Representative Owens is a member of the National School Counselor’s Association, the Utah School Counselor’s Association and in 1998 was named Coach of the Year after leading his women’s and men’s track teams to state championships.


Representative Owens is a hobby rancher, lover and memorizer of poetry, and incidentally is missing the first day of school today. Maybe the Governor will write him an excuse.


We’re excited to welcome Representative Owens to our esteemed body. We know he’ll represent his constituents admirably and wish him well on his first day!

Special Session | August 2015

An email from Speaker Hughes regarding the August Special Session:


Dear Colleagues,


Governor Herbert has officially issued a call for a Special Session (call attached) to take place next Wednesday, August 19th at 3:00 p.m.  We will still hold our interim committee meetings that morning and caucus in the afternoon.  Also, you are all invited to join us in welcoming our newest member, Derrin Owens, as he gets sworn in at 7:30 a.m. in the House Chamber. 


The schedule for the Wednesday is as follows:


7:30 a.m. :                               Derrin Owens Swearing In

8:00 a.m. – 10:15 a..m:            Block A Committee Meetings

10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.:         Block B Committee Meetings 

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m:              Caucus  

3:00 p.m.:                                Special Session


**Please note that no evening meal will be provided.  If you have special dietary needs please plan accordingly. 


Here is a list of the items that the House will be voting on during the Special Session:


1.  To consider the recommendation of the Prison Relocation Commission as to the building of a new state prison at the location of Interstate-80 and 7200 West in Salt Lake City.

2.  To consider changes to the statute of limitation governing refunds or credits issued for overpayment of corporate taxes. (SB 94 from the General Session)

3.  To consider the statutory qualifications for the Medicaid Inspector General.

4.  To consider corrections to the penalty for an accident involving injury, death, or property damage, and code references within Utah Code section 76-10-503. (Technical fixes to the Justice Reinvestment Initiative) 

5.  To consider clarifications to Utah Code 78B-2-201. (judicial code, statute of limitations, real property)  


In regards to prison relocation, after four years of study, analysis and debate – through an open and transparent process, the Prison Relocation Commission voted, in a bipartisan unanimous decision, to recommend the relocation of the state correctional facility currently located in Draper to the I-80/7200 West site in Salt Lake City.  


The commission believes the recommended site offers the greatest overall value for Utah residents and taxpayers; the best accessibility for employees, volunteers, and visitors; the lowest long-term operational costs; and the greatest opportunity for nearby compatible economic development. Attached to this email I’ve included the three documents provided by Representative Wilson:


1. Comparative Evaluation Matrix – this document compares the four finalist sites and summarizes 85 criteria that the PRC used in its decision

2. Why Not Draper – this document shares some of the obstacles that make rebuilding on the existing site in Draper not feasible

There is also a more comprehensive report on issues related to rebuilding in Draper here:

3. Comparative Cost Summary – this document summarizes the costs associated with the four finalist sites 


If you have any questions regarding this decision please contact any of the PRC members.  I’m extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication from members of the PRC, legislative staff and consultants.  I especially want to thank Representative Brad Wilson for his leadership as Co-Chair of the Commission.  It has been a long journey. 


It is an honor to serve with each of you and I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.  





Greg Hughes

Speaker of the House

Utah House of Representatives 

And a copy of the call:

Special Session August 2015

Representative Steve Eliason Presented With 2015 “Katie’s Hero” Award

Representative Steve Eliason Presented With 2015 “Katie’s Hero” Award




Representative Steve Eliason Presented With 2015 “Katie’s Hero” Award


Parents of murder victim Katie Sepich, along with author and exonoree James Tillman, recognize Representative Steve Eliason for his work on HB212 to require DNA upon all felony arrests


SEATTLE, Washington. (August 5, 2015) – The parents and sister of murder victim Katie Sepich were joined by author James Tillman in presenting Utah State Representative Steve Eliason with the “Katie’s Hero Award”. The Katie’s Hero Award is an honor bestowed by the Sepich’s non-profit advocacy group DNA Saves on individuals for leadership in solving and preventing crime by supporting legislation to expand the use of forensic DNA technology. According to the certificate of award, Representative Eliason was selected for his strong support of HB212 in 2014 to require DNA upon all felony arrests in Utah, to ensure law enforcement is not unwittingly releasing repeat offenders back into the community.


Jayann Sepich, co-founder and president of DNA Saves, introduced the award and 2015 recipients at a Forensic DNA Luncheon event held concurrently during the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators (held this year in Seattle).


In presenting the award, Ms. Sepich said, “The enactment of HB212 will have a profound and lasting impact on public safety in Utah. Representative Eliason’s leadership on this issue will result in getting many rapists and other violent criminals off the streets, and will prevent additional Utah residents from being needlessly victimized.”


The keynote speaker at the luncheon was James Tillman, who spent 18 and a half years in prison convicted of a rape he did not commit until he was exonerated by DNA evidence. Tillman, the author of the book “The Power of Conviction”, addressed the crowd of 100 legislators and their guests, representing twenty-six states. He stated, “Arrestee DNA legislation is needed in every state to make our communities safer places to live.”


DNA Saves is a non-profit association organized to educate policy makers and the public about the value of forensic DNA. Jayann and Dave Sepich formed the association in late 2008, marking the five-year anniversary of the senseless murder of their daughter, Katie. DNA Saves is committed to working with every state to pass laws allowing DNA to be taken upon arrest, and to provide meaningful funding for DNA programs.

Had a DNA sample been taken from Katie’s murderer, Gabriel Avilla, upon arrest for an unrelated crime, the Sepichs would have discovered who killed their daughter only three months after her death. Instead, Avilla remained free to victimize more unsuspecting daughters, while the Sepichs waited for answers. The Sepichs hope that by advocating for better DNA testing laws they can prevent another mother and father from asking “why?”





Utah House of Representatives

Cate Klundt




DNA Saves

Jayann Sepich



Download (PDF, Unknown)

Legislative Fiscal Analyst Reviews Economic Impact of Tech Development



Cate Klundt


Legislative Fiscal Analyst Reviews Economic Impact of Tech Development

SALT LAKE CITY – The office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst released a report Tuesday detailing its analysis of economic impacts should the current prison site be redeveloped as a technology corridor.

 According to the report, a $1.1 billion initial investment in the technology industry could create substantially more economic activity than MGT cited.  The state can expect to see over 23,000 new jobs, $2.4 billion in new state wages, $2.7 billion in economic activity and $178 million in tax revenue.

 Representative Brad Wilson R-Kaysville requested the analysis on the basis that the Master Plan for the Potential Relocation of the Draper Prison, prepared by MGT of America, only studies the economic impact of a retail-centric redevelopment and does not address the impact of a tech-centered approach.

 Representative Wilson commented, “This report, as well as the report requested by Representative Nelson, make it clear that with the right planning the Draper redevelopment can have an incredibly positive impact on the State of Utah without competing with existing business. The key now is to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to establish a climate for success.”


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Jon Cox Announces Resignation

Jon CoxRep. Jon Cox, R-Ephraim announced Wednesday that he would be resigning from the Utah House of Representatives effective immediately. Cox will be joining Governor Herbert’s office as Director of Communications.


Speaker Hughes commented, “Representative Cox has been a valuable asset to this body and has represented his constituents well. Jon worked tirelessly to make good policy better and I have no doubt he’ll take that desire and resolve to the Governor’s office. We’re thankful for his contribution and wish him well.”


The Republican Party is now tasked with choosing a replacement for House District 58, who will then be appointed by the Governor and serve the remainder of the elected term.