Week in Review – February 15-19, 2016

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Legislative Update: Week #4

Beekeeping Provisions

Two bills this year look to make modifications to the the state’s beekeeping provisions.

H.B. 115, sponsored by Rep. Marc Roberts, amends the Utah Bee Inspection Act by making registration with the state optional, and thus making inspections of hives optional. According to Roberts, the law requiring registration is not currently enforced and changing the language of the statute would simply put it in line with common practice. It would also prohibit a municipality from banning beekeeping.

H.B. 315, by Rep. Kay McIff, makes a number of changes to the same Bee Inspection Act to answer some of these concerns. It states that all beekeepers and apiaries—any place where one or more colonies of bees are located—must be registered with the state, along with verification of location, and that they be monitored to prevent disease, avoid excessive concentration and foster healthy hives. New commercial apiaries may not be situated within a two-mile radius of an already-registered commercial location and must consist of at least 10 colonies of bees. It also spells out requirements for moving an apiary and the process for receiving authorization to do so.

Many beekeepers, particularly those who function commercially, are very concerned about the potential for the spread of disease and inability of hives to effectively produce honey if areas become overpopulated with bees.

Both bills are still in committee.

 

School Funding Amendments

The 2015 Legislature took a major step toward equity in public education by bringing up districts with a lower property tax base in line with others around the state having a much higher property tax base, with the passage of S.B. 97. This legislation sought to make the school funding formula more fair and provide greater opportunity for all children, wherever they might live throughout the State of Utah. Charter schools, though, were left out of that equalization.

Last year the Legislature established the Charter School Funding Task Force to look at this issue and investigate possible solutions. The task force was given the responsibility of studying charter school funding provisions and the method for determining their enrollment for funding purposes.

The culmination of the research and review of the task force has come in the form of S.B. 38, sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson and Rep. Steve Eliason. It includes a number of the task force recommendations to ensure that charter schools students are funded on par with traditional public school students.

The State of Utah is constitutionally mandated to provide a free education for all of its children, and it has chosen to do so through both traditional and charter schools. It is incumbent upon the Legislature to ensure that all of these students are given an equal opportunity for success.

Honoring Officers Barney and Richey

On Tuesday, February 16 the Utah House of Representatives paid tribute to Officer Douglas S. Barney who was tragically killed in the line of duty. We also honored Unified Police Officer Jon Richey, injured in the same incident, for his many years of service.

Officer Douglas S. Barney was killed on January 17, 2016. He began his 18-year law enforcement career as a Corrections Officer with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office before being hired a year later as a Deputy Sheriff. In 2005, Officer Barney went to work for the Taylorsville Police Department where he Picture12served as a school resource officer at Eisenhower Junior High. In 2012 he joined the Unified Police Department and was assigned to the Holladay Precinct, working patrol in Holladay City.

Officer Barney was a devoted husband and father who loved spending time with his family, teaching his three children about gun safety and helping them develop an appreciation for cars. Utah lost one of its finest citizens, and we owe a debt of gratitude to him for his service.

Officer Richey began his 32-year law enforcement career with the West Jordan Picture13Police Department where worked as a patrol officer before spending several years in the K-9 unit. He was then recruited by Salt Lake City Police Department and remained there for the next 19 years. After retiring in 2007, Officer Richey joined the Unified Police Department and earlier this year he returned to patrol in the Holladay Precinct, where he is currently employed.

On January 17, 2016, Officer Richey sustained gunshot wounds during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect while responding to a call for assistance. That incident subsequently led to the shooting of fellow Officer Barney. We wish Officer Richey a speedy and full recovery and sincerely thank him for his devoted and professional service to our communities.

Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol

The annual Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol was held on Wednesday, February 16, Picture12016.  The Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs (MCA) invited 8th and 9th grade students to visit during the legislative session in order to give them an opportunity to engage in the process, as well as emphasize the importance of becoming educated and informed citizens. It was a great experience for the students and educators involved and we were happy to have them visit.