Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We kicked off the 2020 General Legislative Session on Monday, January 27th. The opening day is largely ceremonial, and we were fortunate to have Elder Ulisses Soares from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints offer the invocation, the Utah Air National Guard present the colors, and the Utah Symphony perform the national anthem.
One of the first bills we passed this session was a bill I was the floor sponsor on, H.B. 185 Tax Restructuring Revisions – Repeal which, as the name suggests, repealed all parts of the tax reform package we passed in December. While we still need to address the state’s budget structural imbalance issues, it became clear during the signature gathering for the referendum that many citizens had strong concerns around the tax legislation passed over a month ago. Repealing the bill also helped remove legislative budgeting uncertainties. It would have been difficult to pass a balanced budget for the year without knowing our revenue outlook beyond November. H.B. 185 passed unanimously in the Senate, and with only one dissenting vote in the House. We do not plan to pass major tax reform legislation during this session.
Passing a balanced budget each year is always a top priority. We spend the first few weeks of the session meeting in appropriations subcommittees to consider how we spend money in each area–for example, public education, social services and transportation. Within the first few weeks, we pass base budgets, which allow the government to continue functioning on a basic level. This prevents the state government from shutting down. Once the base budgets are passed, the Executive Appropriations Committee continues to meet and negotiate the “bill of bills,” a complete and comprehensive line-item budget including new one-time and ongoing funding.
Proposed vaping legislation became an immediate priority during the first week of the session. Legislators and industry experts are teaming up to combat the dangers of vaping among youth. From taxing vape products to implementing strict policies on vape prevention, all proposals are being considered. In the Senate, some bills include S.B. 37 Electronic Cigarette and Other Nicotine Product Amendments and S.B. 40 Youth Electric Cigarette, Marijuana, and Other Drug Prevention Program. As more vaping-related legislation comes through, I will continue to inform you.
Daylight Saving Time
Each year in the spring and fall, I receive emails from constituents on daylight saving time. Many have stressed the inconvenience of the change in time twice a year twice-a-year time changes for young children, and others suggest it may not be necessary anymore. This year, S.B. 59 Daylight Saving Time Amendments seeks to end Utah clock changes. The bill proposes Utah stay on Mountain Daylight Time year-round. Congressional approval and at least four other western states must pass similar legislation before it can take effect.
Currently, the federal government allows states the option to either participate in or abstain from daylight saving time changes, which was a choice states had to make when DST was adopted nationally. For those who chose to abstain from daylight saving time, the federal government only permitted the use of standard time. If this bill passes, Utah will be one step closer to year-round Mountain Daylight Time — spring forward and stay forward.
You can listen to the committee presentation here.
In the News: KSL
Water banking could facilitate local, voluntary and temporary transactions that generate income for water right owners. It would increase access to water to better support Utah’s increased water demands. S.B. 26 Water Banking Amendments creates a local, voluntary and temporary pilot for water banking. Over 70 stakeholders weighed in on this meeting, and nearly two dozen outreach meetings were held throughout the state to solicit input. The bill addresses legal barriers to water market activity, incentivizes the use of water banks and creates a governance structure for water banking, among other things. This pilot will be tested through three-demonstration projects in specific watersheds and has a 10-year sunset period that can be extended or repealed. You can learn more about water banking at utahwaterbank.org. Cache County is prepared to create a project. This bill passed the 2nd reading in the Senate with unanimous support.
Constitutional Amendment – Session Start Date
Did you know the start date for the general legislative session has changed multiple times in the last 20 years? Currently, the Utah Constitution dictates that the legislative session begins on the fourth Monday in January. S.J.R 3 Proposal to Amend the Utah Constitution – Annual General Session of the Legislature, would remove the specific start date to allow the legislature to adjust the start date when needed. There would be limitations: the session would still be required to begin in January and run for 45 consecutive days, exempting Martin Luther King Jr Day and Presidents Day. Flexibility is important. When the Olympics or other major events come to Utah, session scheduling can be adjusted without having to change the Constitution each time we need to change the date.
I would like to thank each of you who took the time to complete my pre-session questionnaire. I received over 200 responses. From the questionnaire I learned that many of your top overall top 3 priorities include: education, health care affordability and air quality. I also learned that many of you rank public education as your top budget priority and would like to see us increase teacher salaries.
Please Join Me!
I’ll be holding town hall meetings every Saturday morning at 7:30am during the session at the County Council Chambers in the Historic Courthouse at 199 North Main in Logan. Please join me! Bring your friends, thoughts, and ideas about how to make Cache City, Utah a better place. If you cannot attend in person, the town halls will be livestreamed on Facebook on the Cache County Facebook page.
You can connect to me online via Facebook (Senator Lyle W. Hillyard) or on my favorite, Twitter (@senlylehillyard). I can also be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 435-757-0194. You’re welcome to join me at the Capitol any time this session – you would be a welcome guest.
Senator Lyle Hillyard