Senator Hillyard: Legislative Session: Week 2

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you all stayed safe on the roads this last week with all of the snow. While many schools and government entities closed last Monday, we still held our normal meetings in the legislature. After two weeks, we have passed 30 bills. During week 3, we will more than double the amount of time we spend on the Senate floor, which will mean the passage and failure of more bills.

Here are a few highlights from Week 2:

Mother of the Year

Each year I like to take a moment during Senate floor time to honor and recognize the Utah Mother of the Year. This year’s Mother of the Year, Barbara Booth, is the mother of seven children and has served her community over the last 27 years as a foster mother to over 100 additional children. She has chosen to care for some of the most vulnerable children in foster care, children with special medical needs. She is truly a remarkable mother!

Budget

This week we reviewed and passed nine base budget bills representing different appropriations subcommittees. These bills are based on each subcommittee’s budget from the previous year. Passing these bills during the second week of the session eliminates the possibility of a government shutdown. During the last week of the session, we will pass the “bill of bills,” which includes a complete budget for the year, including new funding for programs and other line items.

Here is a list of each of the base budget bills passed this week:

H.B. 1 Public Education Base Budget Amendments
H.B. 5 Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Base Budget
H.B. 6 Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget
H.B. 7 Social Services Base Budget Amendments
S.B. 1 Higher Education Base Budget
S.B. 4 Business, Economic Development and Labor Base Budget
S.B. 5 Retirement and Independent Entities Base Budget
S.B. 6 Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget
S.B. 7 National Guard, Veterans’ Affairs and Legislature Base Budget

Fetal Remains

Utah law does not ensure women who have experienced a miscarriage or abortion have the right to request the fetal remains for burial or cremation. There is nothing in current Utah law protecting a woman’s right to make this decision in any clinic or hospital. S.B. 67 Disposition of Fetal Remains seeks to give women the right to choose the final disposition of fetal remains following an abortion or miscarriage and requires the hospital or clinic to handle those remains in a respectful manner. There is a misconception circulating that this bill would require women to bury or cremate the aborted or lost child. This bill simply gives women the option to bury, to cremate or to make no decision on the final disposition of the fetal remains. Nothing is required of parents wanting healthcare facilities to handle the final disposal.
This bill passed in the Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee and will likely be debated on the Senate floor next week.

Energy Storage Grant

New energy storage technology shows promise in our ongoing efforts to improve Utah’s air quality. S.B. 78 Energy Storage Innovation, Research, and Grant Program Act, will establish a grant program to advance solar and wind powered energy systems and store the excess energy generated. This one-time appropriation of $5 million will fund an initial market in Utah. It will help increase demand and drive down price and will require no ongoing state investments. Energy storage will afford Utahns added security by providing power during natural disasters or power outages.

The bill passed in the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee and will soon be debated on the Senate floor.

You can listen to the committee presentation here.

In the News: Deseret News

Red Flag Bill Dropped

For the last three years, we have seen red flag gun bills introduced in the Utah House of Representatives only to stall out early on in the process. Red flag gun laws allow family members and law enforcement officials to petition the courts to remove firearms from a person in crisis who has been determined to be a danger to them self or others. This week the sponsor of this legislation for this year announced they would likely not run the bill due to lack of support.

In the News: Deseret News |

Statewide Rail Plan

As the population of our state continues to grow, wise infrastructure planning becomes increasingly important. S.B. 92 Statewide Comprehensive Rail Plan, requires the Utah Department of Transportation to conduct a study and create comprehensive plans for expanded use of fixed rail for freight, commuting and long-distance travel. The study will include enhanced freight service along the Wasatch front, specifically with the Utah Inland Port in mind.
Upgrading FrontRunner by “doubletracking” will allow trains to run faster and more frequently. The goal is to help rail travel compete with freeway travel in terms of convenience and speed. The viability of high-speed rail will also be considered in the long-term, connecting our metropolitan areas with each other and those of additional Western states.

This bill passed in the Senate committee with a favorable recommendation.

You can listen to the committee presentation here.

Bigamy Laws

Utah has some of the harshest bigamy laws in the United States. Our strict penalties for practicing plural marriage have resulted in unintended consequences, with some practitioners of polygamy not seeking legal help in cases of abuse. Our polygamy laws have not successfully prevented the practice of polygamy, but they have enabled abusers to oppress victims in a shadow society. S.B. 102 Marriage and Bigamy Amendments, seeks to remove the fear of government persecution for those practicing polygamy by reducing the crime of bigamy from a third-degree felony to an infraction. The law will not condone polygamy or make it legal in Utah. The hope is that by reducing the severity of the crime, other crimes will be more freely reported, and polygamous communities will become more integrated in society, seeing greater benefits in legal representation, healthcare and public education.

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 lhillyard@le.utah.gov 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