Legislative Update: April 2017
Legislative Site Visit Recap
Many members of the Utah Legislature recently returned from a two-day site visit tour of Southern Utah, with stops in Millard, Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Piute and Sevier Counties. In addition to various site visits, the bus ride consisted of presentations from officials in many of the areas through which the lawmakers were traveling. They visited the largest power plant in the state, Intermountain Power Plant (IPP), which, incidentally, produces power mainly for the Los Angeles area. Power seemed to be the theme of the day – from traditional coal-fired to fuel storage to windmills to solar. Southern Utah produces and provides energy for much of the state and beyond and the legislators visited a few of those sites, including Magnum fuel storage, First Wind and the Red Hills solar project.
Another major theme was education. Not only did lawmakers enjoy presentations by representatives of Southern Utah University and Snow College, but were able to hear about many of the challenges facing rural schools. Despite limited budgets and falling rates of enrollment, rural districts are facing their challenges head on in meeting the educational needs of their students.
It was clear that no matter where on the political spectrum one falls, one of the greatest issues facing those in rural Utah is the ever-encroaching power of the federal government as it relates to federal lands, and the need of local officials to have more control.
The opportunity to see other areas of the state and speak with residents, business and education leaders and local representatives in their own communities, had a significant impact on those from more urban areas whose constituents oftentimes face far different challenges. The experience will allow for greater understanding of the unique issues faced by rural Utahns and hopefully lead the state to new ways of solving old problems in our rural communities.
2017 Interim Committees
Interim committees study key issues facing the state, hear public comment and recommend legislation for the upcoming session. Unlike during the general session, when the Senate and House each have standing committees comprised of only their own members, interim committees are made up of both senators and representatives.
On April 11, the Legislative Management Committee adopted a revised interim committee schedule. Four appropriations meetings are scheduled during the 2017 interim. This will allow additional time for thorough review of the budget. There are six interim committee meetings scheduled for 2017 that will be held May through November. A list of interim committees and study items can be found here.
Utah 4-H – Mock Legislative Session
Utah State University Extension Utah 4-H youth gathered at the Utah State Capitol to hold a mock legislature. The future leaders had the opportunity to experience the role of the legislator and learn first-hand about the lawmaking process.
During the mock legislative session, 4-H members presented and debated bills from the 2017 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.
100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering the World War I
On April 6, 2017, a ceremony to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I took place in the Capitol Rotunda, one of many events held around the country.
During the 2017 General Session, H.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the United States and Utah’s Participation in World War I passed the Utah Legislature. H.C.R. 2 helped establish a Utah World War I Centennial Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to develop a statewide awareness campaign to recognize the history of the war, the role the U.S. military played, the impact of the war on America’s and Utah’s society and culture and to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
According to the Utah departments of Veterans and Military Affairs and Heritage and Arts, over 21,000 Utahns went into the Armed Forces of the United States, 10,000 volunteered to serve and 11,000 were drafted. During WWI, 655 Utahns lost their lives and 864 were wounded.