Legislative 2021 Updates – Senator Sandall

 


Week Six of Our Legislative Session

Dear Friends & Neighbors,
This last year, as the pandemic began to adversely effect Utah’s economy, it was hard to know how bad it was going to get. It also put us as a legislature in a tough place. We had to carefully work to protect vulnerable Utahns without destroying everybody’s ability to make a living. That’s a tough balancing act. After a few months, one thing became very clear. The careful budgeting that Utah has done over the last few years put our state in a much better fiscal position than most other states. It’s always smart to plan for tough times ahead and that planning made Utah better prepared to provide services to people in a tough spot.

The Utah Legislature named week six “Utah Saves Week” to encourage Utahns to learn about saving strategies, build wealth and connect with free resources to achieve financial goals. One way to start saving is to search our state’s unclaimed property database, mycash.utah.gov, at least once a year for unclaimed property, as well as for property belonging to family, friends, deceased relatives and organizations you support. When a business owes money to an individual or organization and cannot locate them, the funds are remitted to the Utah Unclaimed Property Division of the Office of State Treasurer after three years of non-contact the owner. Each year, between $30 to $60 million in unclaimed property is turned over to the state. Read how to check if you have unclaimed property here.

Here is a link to my Week 6 Video

Tax Cuts 
Last week, we announced the state will provide approximately $100 million in tax relief to Utah citizens. Though Utah’s economy is in an advantageous position compared to other states, many Utahns are still struggling, and the Senate wants to provide tax relief to those who need it most. The tax relief package targets families, veterans and elderly Utahns and will be accomplished by three bills: S.B. 153S.B. 11 and  H.B. 86.

S.B. 153 Utah Personal Exemption Amendments, restores part of the dependent tax exemption, which was reduced in the 2017 federal tax reform, increasing taxes for many Utah families. In 2018, the Utah Legislature brought back a portion of the exemption and is now seeking to restore even more of the exemption to further reduce taxes for families in our great state.

S.B. 11 Retirement Income Tax Amendments, targets men and women who served in the armed forces by eliminating individual income tax on military retirement pay.

H.B. 86 Social Security Tax Amendments, eliminates income tax on some social security income, benefitting many Utah seniors living on a fixed income.

These tailor-made policies will provide a significant benefit to Utah families, veterans and senior citizens and will ensure that Utah continues to thrive.

Peace Officer Training Amendments 

Over the last year, the state has had substantial conversations regarding police reform. One of the conversations has been about the importance of de-escalation training for law enforcement officers. H.B. 162 Peace Officer Training Amendments, requires 16 hours of additional training for law enforcement, including mental health, crisis intervention and de-escalation control courses. Providing officers with the latest resources and training will help them perform their job and build trust with individuals in their communities. Law enforcement and the community have been closely involved in the creation of this bill and have shown full support. H.B. 162 passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor.
Educational Deadline and Fiscal Responsibility 

School districts across Utah worked tirelessly to respond to the needs and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. S.B. 178 Educational Deadline and Fiscal Responsibility, provides school districts with flexibility regarding deadlines and spending restrictions in response to the pandemic. For instance, any money originally meant to be spent during the pandemic will be extended for the following year to allow flexibility as more students return to the classroom and participate in extracurricular activities. S.B. 178 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

 

Local Education Agency Policies Amendments 

Last year, we heard that some schools with smaller student populations in rural communities did not have the same opportunity to provide input to find the best strategies for their students and district during the COVID-19 pandemic. S.B. 187 Local Education Agency Policies Amendments, gives local control back to schools and communities regarding public health orders. If this bill passes, the governor, Department of Health or the local health department agency would be required to consult with local school districts to understand and respond to needs during public health orders. This will not eliminate input from local health boards and is not meant to support or oppose any COVID-19 measure. S.B. 187 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

 

988 Mental Health Crisis Assistance

When people experience a medical emergency, the default solution is to dial 911. For decades, that option has worked well for most people. However, for those experiencing a mental health crisis, that solution hasn’t been as effective. As well intentioned as our first responders are, they are not equipped to assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. For people who do reach the proper Utah mental health crisis line, 90 percent of the time, they are stabilized over the phone at the cost of about $40. This prevents police or EMS from being dispatched and eliminates potential hospital or ambulance bills for the individual in need.

Last year, Congress established 988 as the national mental health crisis hotline number. S.B. 155 988 Mental Health Crisis Assistance, helps Utah get ready for the launch of the new hotline number, which begins in July 2022. S.B. 155 does three things:

·        Applies for Medicaid waivers to help pay for treatment.

·         Creates an account for crisis response funds to pay for the call center, mobile teams and follow-up treatment.

·        Adds additional members to existing commissions to assist in the rollout of 988.

S.B. 155 passed the Senate. Listen to the bill presentation here.

In-person Instruction Prioritization 

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and the White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator visited Utah in November and encouraged state leaders to resume in-person learning. Recent reports found that several schools throughout Utah have closed for 40 percent of the academic year, leading to a 600 percent increase in students failing all classes. After extensive conversations with the school board and the superintendent, parents who wanted their children in the classroom felt they had nowhere else to turn except the Legislature.

S.B. 107 In-person Instruction Prioritization, ensures students have the opportunity to learn in the classroom. With this bill, parents will once again have the ability to determine what is best for their child, whether that be in-person or virtual learning.  As it stands, the bill has two objectives:

1.     Keep all Utah schools open at least four days a week.

2.     Implement the “test to stay” program for schools that reach the 2 percent positivity rate to prevent soft closures.

Parental permission is required for testing students under the age of 18. S.B. 107 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

In the News: Deseret News

 

Higher Education Speech 

Currently, broad and ambiguous anti-harassment policies are one of the most common ways universities censor free speech. The federal law addressing this issue comes from a U.S. Supreme Court case that defines when speech crosses the line to criminal conduct. While higher education institutions are legally and morally responsible for addressing student harassment, they also have a constitutional obligation to do so without infringing on students’ free speech rights. H.B. 159 Higher Education Speech, sets a standard all state universities can all follow to ensure free speech is respected on campus. H.B. 159 passed in both the Senate and House and will now go to Governor Cox for his consideration. Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

In the News: KCPW

 

Vehicle Registration Renewal Notices 

Last year, the Utah Tax Commission discontinued postcard mailers reminding vehicle owners when their vehicle registration renewal is due. Since this practice was discontinued in September, Utahns have asked for these mailers to be sent again. H.B. 170 Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice Requirements, officially requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to resume the use of mailers to remind owners when their vehicles are due for registration renewal. This bill passed on second reading with unanimous support in the Senate.

 

Grant Program for Small Businesses  

Many businesses felt the impact of COVID-19 this year. Small businesses in particular were hit hard by financial losses. S.B. 202 Grant Program for Small Businesses, creates a grant program that will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for small businesses that experienced significant loss due to the pandemic. The grant will open in phases to ensure businesses that experienced the greatest losses will have the first opportunity to apply for the grant. The grant covers three months of fixed costs, including payroll, rent, utilities and insurance. The first phase will open to businesses that experienced a 90 percent loss or greater in 2020. The grant will then open to businesses that experienced an 80 percent loss and continue in that pattern until the fund is fully utilized. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

 

Budget Revenue Estimates  

The Senate, House and Governor’s Office released updated revenue numbers for state fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The revenue estimates show the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19. The new consensus revenue estimates identify $112 million in additional ongoing money and $315 million in one-time money. This year, a historic $400 million increase will go toward public education, and a significant portion of ongoing funds will be dedicated to increased enrollment in Medicaid expansion. The Legislature will also give a significant tax cut to certain Utahns, including families, veterans and seniors. Read the full press release here.

 

Online Impersonation Prohibition  

Last year, an individual created a fake account pretending to be the wife of a law enforcement official in Utah. The statements made on this fake account were inflammatory and resulted in the officer being placed on leave. Ultimately, he and his wife had to move after receiving threatening messages based on the fake account’s statements. Law enforcement has since been able to identify the individual who created this fake account; however, no action could be taken as it was not illegal to impersonate an individual online. H.B. 239 Online Impersonation Prohibition, makes it a criminal offense to impersonate an individual online with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten any individual. This bill passed with unanimous support in both the Senate and House and will now go to the governor.

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Update 
The latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), further targeting small businesses impacted by the pandemic, is open until March 10. Learn more about the guidelines and how to apply by visiting the Small Business Administration here.

Covid-19 Data
State Data (as of February 28th)
Total Cases:                           371,235
Total People Tested:               2,205,791
Total Hospitalizations:            14,695
Total Deaths:                          1,935
Estimated Recovered:            352,303
Vaccines Administered:          716,536

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:     19,843
Box Elder:          4,843
Cache:                14,865
Rich:                   135
Recovered:        19,232
Box Elder:            4,681
Cache:                 14,429
Rich:                     122
Deaths:                79
Box Elder:             43
Cache:                 36
Rich:                     0
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:     25,993
2nd Dose:    14,929
Total:          40,922

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                 5,902
Hospitalizations:                                                           199
Deaths:                                                                         33
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                         30.44
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases         43
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:      8,688
2nd Dose:     4,574
Total:          13,262

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.

I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.

I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

Until next time,


Week Five of Our Legislative Session

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week five of our legislative session is finished and we have passed 144 bills. Every year, the legislature passes bills, and the content of those bills will be justifiably debated over the next year. Every session, we have the privilege of taking part in some things that are undeniably good. On Thursday the 18th, we had the special honor of recognizing Utah’s fallen soldiers. This was a truly sobering experience as the families of these fallen soldiers joined us in the Senate gallery. Many women and men from Utah have laid down their lives in the service of our great nation. We are humbled by their sacrifice and share our heartfelt sympathies and appreciation to their families. You can watch the recognition here.

Here is a link to my Week 5 Video

Confinement of Egg-laying Hens

Large-scale egg producers in Utah have taken notice of ballot initiatives in surrounding states that prohibit farm owners from confining egg-laying hens in enclosures that are not considered cage-free housings. Working with some animal advocacy organizations, these egg producers proposed a self-imposed date to achieve cage-free hen environments. This also allowed them to communicate with their lenders the costs associated with making these changes in their operations. My bill, S.B. 147Confinement of Egg-laying Hens sets this deadline as January 1, 2025. The bill also designates the Department of Agriculture and Food as the enforcer of the provisions in the bill. S.B. 147 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

Emergency Response

Throughout the last year, the Legislature and Utahns watched as the Emergency Management Act went into effect with the onset of COVID-19. What was originally intended to address a crisis for a short period, such as 30, 60 or 90-days, was enacted for nearly a year. S.B. 195 Emergency Response Amendments, creates checks on executive powers during long-term emergencies without hindering rapid emergency response.

This bill is a direct result of the concerns we heard from Utahns across the state and does not disrupt the executive branch’s, Utah Department of Health’s or local health agencies’ ability to respond to day-to-day emergencies, such as natural disasters. S.B. 195 creates checks and balances between the different branches of government as well as between state and local governments, including health departments during long-term emergencies. It also increases transparency and allows for public input.

The Senate and House of Representatives and the Governor’s office have all been involved in the process and are supportive of the updates. The pandemic showed that adjustments, including increased public input, were needed in order to adequately face our next extended emergency.

COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available for those 65+ 

This week, Gov. Cox announced that Utahns 65 and older now qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine. By vaccinating those 65 and older, we will drastically reduce our state’s COVID-19 fatalities. Learn more about Utah’s vaccine distribution plan here.

In the News: KUTV | KSL | ABC 4 | Fox 13 |

Canine Caused Injury

There isn’t a clear procedure or law clarifying liability when a dog that is wandering is injured or killed when encountering another dog in an enclosed or fenced area on private property. H.B. 213 Canine Injury Amendments, clarifies liability that the dog owner that attacks is not liable for any injury or death of a wandering dog on enclosed property. This bill passed in the Senate with an amendment that clarified the immunity only applies in situations where the attacking dog is inside an enclosed or fenced area. The bill will now return to the House for concurrence to the changes made while in the Senate. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Pharmacy Benefit Amendments

Utah has several health clinics that federally qualify for 340B drugs, a program that provides discounted medication. These small clinics across the state support diverse populations, low-income families and underserved areas. S.B. 140 Pharmacy Benefit Amendments, clarifies that clinics that qualify for 340B medications may bill the insurance company for the full price of 340B medication and capture the additional profit to improve their healthcare systems. S.B. 140 passed in the Senate with unanimous support. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Mental Health Day for Students

This week, the Senate heard H.B. 81 Mental Health Days for Students, which adds mental health as a valid excuse for a school absence. Other states that implemented this attendance policy have seen a decrease in youth suicide rates. H.B. 81 passed in the Senate and was sent to the governor for consideration.

Honoring the Life of William E. Christoffersen 

William E. Christofferson, a Cache Valley Native and local hero, was honored in the Legislature this week. William Christofferson served in World War II and dedicated his life to helping veterans. He advocated for veterans across Utah and helped create the first veterans nursing home in Salt Lake City. Read the full resolution here.

To all our Veterans who put their lives on the line of defense, we thank you wholeheartedly.

Utah Film Economic Incentives

Did you know Footloose, The Sandlot and The Lone Ranger were filmed right here in Utah? Such films have led to other production opportunities to showcase Utah’s desert beauty and high alpine mountains. The film industry has generated more than 7,600 jobs and $147 million in salaries in our state in 2019. We are considering S.B. 167Utah Film Economic Incentives, which would provide tax credit certificates for productions, films and series when they film in Utah. This bill would strengthen rural communities by investing in local jobs, stimulating the economy and increasing Utah’s profile as a filming destination. S.B. 167 passed in the Senate on its second reading. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

Sex Offender Revisions

S.B. 165 Offender Registry Revisions, permits an individual who has served their full sentence on the Sex Offender Registry to apply for removal. This bill aims to prevent instances where individuals are kept on the registry past their original sentencing time due to reporting errors. S.B. 165 passed in the Senate on its second reading. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

Citizen Advisory Boards

S.B. 157 Citizen Advisory Boards, directs the Department of Public Safety to implement resources to assist cities and counties that would like to have citizen advisory boards. The department would provide counsel and support for these agencies, but would not require cities or counties to adopt these advisory boards. S.B. 157 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

Designated Vehicle Routes Amendments

Several years ago, a law was passed that made some off-road vehicles street legal. One resort community, Moab, felt the impact as tourists in off-road vehicles created loud noises and disturbed residential communities. S.B. 168 Designated Vehicle Routes Amendments, aims to alleviate these issues without affecting tourism or the local economies by allowing resort communities to pass ordinances that restrict the use of a street-legal all-terrain vehicle on certain city-owned roads between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

Covid-19 Data
State Data (as of February 21st)
Total Cases:                            367,789
Total People Tested:               2,172,963
Total Hospitalizations:            14,520
Total Deaths:                          1,865
Estimated Recovered:             346,157
Vaccines Administered:          623,876

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:      19,610
Box Elder:           4,787
Cache:                14,700
Rich:                   123
Recovered:       18,884
Box Elder:           4,599
Cache:                14,166
Rich:                   119
Deaths:               76
Box Elder:           42
Cache:                 34
Rich:                     0
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:     22,960
2nd Dose:    11,745
Total:          34,705

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                     5,752
Hospitalizations:                                                               193
Deaths:                                                                             30
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                             30.87
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases             48
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:     7,748
2nd Dose:    3,874
Total:         11,622

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.
I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

Until next time,


Week Four of Our Legislative Session

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re officially halfway through the session and have passed over 90 bills. It’s been an eventful week. As many of you may have heard, Paris Hilton visited the Senate. I think it is fair to say that most of us form opinions about celebrities without knowing much about them. As a teenager, Paris Hilton was subject to abuse and trauma that no person should have to endure. She faced this abuse right here in Utah. Instead of languishing in anger, she decided to do something about it. Ms. Hilton was here to speak to a Senate committee about her experience and to advocate for changes to our laws so that other children don’t endure the same treatment. She isn’t being paid to do this. She’s doing it because it’s the right thing to do. So many of the bills that we pass come from people who see a need and devote their time, talents and energy to fix that need. Luckily, they don’t all need to be celebrities. Utah is full of people who want good things for our state and I’m grateful for Paris Hilton’s testimony and for so many others who do their part to make Utah better.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=243367100786300

Livestock Amendments
Rural county commissioners and prosecutors have been struggling with an increased number of cows and horses being shot in their jurisdictions. Many are also dealing with the occasional theft and killing of livestock guardian dogs.

A bill I’m floor sponsoring, H.B.166 Livestock Amendments, increases penalties for the destruction of livestock, including livestock guardian dogs. Occasionally, individuals traveling in the backcountry, either on Forest Service or BLM land, will see working livestock dogs and assume the dog has been abandoned or lost. In their desire to be helpful, they take the dog, leaving herds vulnerable to predators. The bill clarifies ownership standards for livestock and livestock guardian dogs. H.B. 166 passed in the House and in the Senate. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Higher Education Scholarship Amendments (Owens approved)
Last year, the Legislature passed a bill to expand the Regents’ Scholarship eligibility to include Western Governors University, Westminster College, BYU and Ensign College. This year, S.B. 136 Higher Education Scholarships Amendments, renames the Regents’ Scholarship to the Opportunity Scholarship, deletes outdated language from the program and sunsets the New Century Scholarship. Essentially, this bill merges two separate technical education scholarships that were separate before the Legislature joined Utah’s systems of higher education in 2020. It will take effect Fall 2021 for the graduating class of 2022. S.B. 136 passed the Senate and will now return to the House for their consideration. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Sarah’s Bill 
It was a special privilege to have Sarah Frei and her parents join us on the Senate floor this week as we voted to pass H.B. 47 DUI Revisions, nicknamed “Sarah’s Bill.” Last summer, Sarah and three of her friends were hit head-on by a drunk driver, paralyzing Sarah from the waist down and resulting in the loss of her legs. The drunk driver had a blood-alcohol level four times higher than the legal limit but was released on bail while still under the influence. H.B. 47 would deny bail to drunk drivers who injured or killed someone until they have gone before a magistrate (civil officer or judge). This bill underwent changes in the Senate and will now return to the House for their concurrence. You can watch the Senate floor debate here.

Recognizing U.S. Space Force
Utah has benefitted from housing Hill Air Force Base. By hosting this base, Utah has received government contracts and projects that have created desirable jobs and improved Utah’s economy. This week, we passed H.B. 57 Armed Forces Amendments, which formally recognizes the U.S. Space Force in our code and qualifies Utah to work with the new military branch. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Expanding Health Care Access 
Utah is currently experiencing a shortage of doctors. As such, mid-level care providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) help meet our healthcare needs throughout the state, particularly in rural communities. This year, the Senate is considering various bills to expand physician assistants’ scope of practice. Last year, a supervising physician for a PA in rural Utah passed away, preventing the PA from seeing and treating patients he had been treating for years due to the supervising physician’s loss.

In the midst of a pandemic, we need to ensure that Utahns throughout the state have access to healthcare.

  • The first bill, S.B. 27 Physician Assistant Act Amendments, expands the scope of PAs’ practice to allow a pathway for PAs to operate without a supervising physician once they receive sufficient training.
  • The second bill, S.B. 28 Physician Assistant Mental Health Practice, focuses specifically on our psychiatric health care shortage in Utah by allowing a PA who specializes in psychiatric mental health to engage in the practice of mental health therapy if they meet specific training requirements.
These bills each passed their second readings in the Senate, but are currently circled to allow for more stakeholder input before final passage.

Emissions Testing
Three years ago, the Legislature passed a pilot program for counties along the Wasatch Front to conduct emissions inspections for diesel vehicles. Through this program, Utah was able to eliminate 1,250 tons of pollutants from the air. S.B. 146 Emissions Testing Amendments, made this a permanent program due to its tremendous success. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Regulatory Sandbox Bill
In Utah, we want our businesses to thrive. While regulations provide helpful protections for both the industry and the consumer, sometimes the red tape of regulation can prevent new businesses from thriving and limit innovation. One example of this is the regulations that made it difficult for Utah breweries to create and sell hand sanitizer in the pandemic’s early months. H.B. 217 Regulatory Sandbox Program Amendments, creates a “sandbox” program where companies can suspend certain regulations for a limited period of time while they are testing new ideas. This will allow companies to see if their ideas will work before enacting regulations. It is important to note that H.B. 217 does not suspend regulations pertaining to public health and safety measures. This bill passed with unanimous support on second reading in the Senate. You can watch the floor discussion here.

In the News: Fox13 | KSL | Forbes

Public Education Funding Amendments 
After months of discussions with members of the education community, S.B. 142 Public Education Funding Amendments, aims to make sure Utah students receive equal funding by assessing our public education revenue and current funding structure. S.B. 142 would allow the legislative Public Education Appropriations Committee to make recommendations to better distribute funds throughout the state. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Epinephrine Auto-Injector (EpiPen) Access
Last year, we addressed a series of solutions to combat the state’s insulin crisis, including an option for patients to buy insulin at a discounted price through the Public Employees Health Program (PEHP). This year, the Legislature wants to extend beyond insulin discounts by introducing H.B. 206 Epinephrine Auto-Injector Access, which would allow patients to purchase EpiPen medication at a discounted price. Often, this life-saving medication is expensive, and the generic brand is not always available to patients in need. The PEHP program indicates that there are funds to cover the costs of this program and will not add additional expense to the general fund. This bill passed on the second reading calendar and will be considered on the third reading calendar. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Improving Air Quality
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen working from home greatly decrease traffic volume and increase air quality. Many people have also noticed that working from home does not impact productivity and can improve an employee’s work/life balance.  S.B. 15 Workforce Solutions for Air Quality Amendments, requires that state agencies provide and measure teleworking options for state employees during bad air quality days. The bill also requires the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to notify state agencies of mandatory air quality action days and special circumstance days so those agencies can encourage teleworking for their eligible employees. S.B. 15 passed in the committee and will now be heard on the Senate floor. To listen to the committee meeting, click here.

Parole Amendments
Depending on the conviction, individuals charged with homicide have the option to be released on parole. S.B. 124 Parole Amendments, provides that individuals who have been convicted of homicide in Utah cannot be released on parole if the victim’s remains have not been found or if the offender does not cooperate with the recovery of the victim’s remains. S.B. 124 passed unanimously in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Human Services Oversight  
This week, Paris Hilton provided testimony in favor of  S.B. 127 Human Services Program Amendments, during the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. Hilton and others spoke of their experiences in youth residential treatment centers. S.B. 127 increases transparency and proposes to end abusive practices in Utah’s congregate care programs. The bill sponsor worked directly with the Utah Office of Licensing to enhance guardrails in congregate care programs. S.B. 127 passed on its 2nd reading in the Senate. To hear the committee presentation, click here. For the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

In the News: The Hill | KUTV

Use-of-Force Standards
The protests this past summer raised questions about law enforcement practices and accountability. In Utah, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been involved in conversations with various law enforcement organizations, including Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and the Department of Public Safety. These groups worked towards a common goal of addressing law enforcement use-of-force standards in the state of Utah. S.B. 106 Use of Force Amendments, requires that POST establish statewide use-of-force standards and conduct an annual review of those standards. S.B. 106 passed unanimously in committee and will now be heard on the Senate floor. To hear the committee presentation, click here.

In the News: Deseret News

Statewide call for Volunteer Vaccination Distributors
This week, Governor Cox announced Utah’s goal to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to every adult who wants one in the state by the end of May. In order to reach this objective, Lt. Governor Henderson issued an official call to action for volunteers who are licensed medical professionals to administer COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the state is also looking for anyone willing to assist in tasks required within the vaccine distribution process, regardless of medical licensing or experience. Those interested can register at utahresponds.org. For more information on volunteer opportunities, click here. 

Substitution for Test to Stay in K-12 Schools 
Many schools are concerned about students’ ability to complete their coursework and progress toward graduation with the numerous transitions from in-person to online learning. These closures negatively impact students’ ability to learn. This week, the Senate made a substitution to S.B. 107 In-Person Education, providing schools the option to continue learning in the classroom with enhanced testing. It also raises the threshold needed to implement the Test to Stay program to 2 percent. This gives schools more flexibility at the local level to remain open while managing COVID-19, ensuring our students get the best education possible. The substitution passed unanimously in the Senate. Watch the floor presentation here. 

Contraception for Inmates 
Currently, jail or prison facilities provide inmates with their medications with the exception of contraception methods. H.B. 102 Contraception for Inmates, will require jail and prison facilities to provide inmates with the option to continue medically prescribed methods of contraception. Contraceptives also provide management of medical concerns non-related to pregnancy. This bill passed on the second reading calendar and will be considered on the third reading calendar for further debate. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Covid-19 Data
State Data (as of February 15th)
Total Cases:                            361,756
Total People Tested:               2,125,510
Total Hospitalizations:            14,209
Total Deaths:                          1,796
Estimated Recovered:             335,049
Vaccines Administered:          525,033

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:       19,310
Box Elder:            4,723
Cache:                 14,465
Rich:                     122
Recovered:        18,428
Box Elder:            4,527
Cache:                 13,785
Rich:                   116
Deaths:               72
Box Elder:            41
Cache:                 31
Rich:                     0
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:     20,586
2nd Dose:    9,397
Total:          29,983

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                      5,607
Hospitalizations:                                                               188
Deaths:                                                                             27
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                             42.29
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases             53
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:      6,960
2nd Dose:     2,848
Total:         9,808

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.
I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week three is done, and the legislature has passed 50 total bills. We’ve seen some great bills that are the culmination of years of work. The great thing about the Utah Legislature is that almost everyone up here tries hard to be open, respectful, and collaborative. Even though we’ve heard a lot about unity in the last few weeks I think that many people get it wrong. Unity is not about getting people to think the way that you do. It is all about people with many different perspectives united in purpose to work toward common goals. Even with all our differences, we all still share some common goals. We all want Utah to have a booming economy, a first-rate education for our kids, clean air, affordable and accessible healthcare, recreational opportunities, and safe communities.

I appreciate all of you who have taken the time and effort to share your viewpoints so far. Please, keep it up and stay involved.

Here is a link to my Week 3 Video

Senate Art Contest
This week, the Senate honored the finalists in the Senate Visual Arts Scholarship Competition. Every year, amazing artists from high schools all over Utah enter their artwork and we are always blown away by the amount of talent and skill that we have in the state. Here is a link to a gallery with all of the finalist’s artwork.

I am proud to say that three of the finalists receiving scholarships are in my Senate District.

Here is their art:

From Tooele High School – Emily Wiley’s art, “Fry Sauce”
From Box Elder High School – Ethan Tingey’s art, “My Great-Grandpa’s Old Farmall”
From Ridgeline High School – Abigail Cook’s art, “Spirit of Hope”
Honoring Officer Nathan Lyday 
The Utah Legislature paid tribute and honored the exemplary life of Officer Nathan Lyday from the Ogden City Police Department. On May 28, 2020, Officer Nathan Lyday made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his life for the protection of others. That day will remain a date of significance and honor for the city of Ogden and the state of Utah. May we remember and thank our law enforcement officers for protecting our communities. Listen to the floor time presentation here.  Read the full citation here.Law Enforcement Weapons Amendments 
Equipping our law enforcement officers with the latest resources to address incidents is critical to protecting the public. S.B. 68 Law Enforcement Weapons Amendments, would create a pilot program that would help the Utah Highway Patrol in purchasing technology to assist law enforcement agencies in police incidents where firearms are involved. This technology would allow firearms to record the number of shots fired and indicate when it was fired. This simple modification would improve the effectiveness of police investigations where firearms are used. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.Conceal Carry Firearm Amendments 
Utah currently has an “open carry” law that allows individuals who are legally able to possess a firearm to open carry in public. H.B.60 Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments, would allow anyone over 21, who is legally allowed to possess a firearm, to carry a concealed weapon in public without a concealed carry permit. Additionally, this bill would establish a Suicide Prevention and Education Fund and a portion of funds collected from the concealed carry permit class will go toward suicide prevention efforts and firearm safety. This bill will not discontinue the concealed carry permit class or change specifications on how firearms can be carried in public. H.B. 60 passed the Senate and will be sent to the House for their consideration. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.

Law Enforcement Qualifications 
Many of the brave men and women in our nation’s military are not citizens of the United States. Though they are legal residents, citizenship is not required for them to serve. However, in Utah, those who protect our local communities in law enforcement are required to be U.S. citizens. S.B. 102 Peace Officer Training Qualifications Amendments, changes Utah law to allow lawful permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years to serve as police officers. This change will help create police departments that more closely resemble the diverse communities they serve. S.B. 102 passed in the Senate will now be considered in the House. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.
In the News: KUTV News | Deseret News

Deceased Voters
Although Utah works hard to have accurate and secure elections, ballots occasionally are mailed to deceased voters. H.B. 12 Deceased Voter Amendments, creates a more uniform process to rectify this issue. When a Utahn passes away, the bill requires that the death certificate be sent from the state registrar to the Lieutenant Governor’s office within five business days of the certificate’s registration. The certificate will then be sent to the County Clerk’s office where the deceased name will be removed from the voter rolls. Before each election cycle, the Lieutenant Governor’s office will also cross-check each name against United States Social Security Administration data. H.B. 12 passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor.
To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Utah State Flag
Some people believe Utah’s current flag falls short when it comes to representing the state in a simple and purposeful way. S.B. 48 State Flag Task Force, creates a State Flag Taskforce to assess whether a new state flag should be created. Though some may think that such an undertaking is not important, a state flag can be compared to the logo and branding of a state. Most people quickly recognize the bear seen on the California state flag or the star of Arizona. An iconic state flag can be a rallying point and marketing tool for the state of Utah. S.B. 48 passed on the Senate and is headed to the House. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

In the News: Daily Herald | ABC4

Driver License Changes 
This week, we considered legislation that would make changes to the driver’s license requirements for new drivers. H.B. 18 Driver Education Amendments, would extend the term of a learner permit from one year to 18 months. This change does not prevent youth from getting their license upon turning 16. In addition, this bill would remove the required six observation hours for driver education observation for 15-17-year-olds. This bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Holocaust Education
Many adults learned about the Holocaust during their K-12 years; however, it seems this important, historic lesson is slowly diminishing in our children’s education. S.C.R. 1 Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education, highlights the importance of Holocaust and genocide education for students and encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to provide Holocaust and genocide content for schools. This bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

Recognizing COVID-19 Efforts
The last year has been hard on everyone as we’ve learned to live life during a pandemic. Many have been sick or lost loved ones. Thousands lost jobs and some lost businesses. Students, teachers and families had to adapt to a new style of teaching. During this challenging time, many individuals in our state and local health departments worked tirelessly to produce, publish and promote accurate information to help us navigate this pandemic. This week, the Senate passed H.C.R. 6 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing COVID-19 Efforts, to recognize and express our appreciation for these individuals. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

Financial Relief for Businesses Harmed by COVID-19
Over the last year, we made significant efforts to provide economic support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. S.B. 25 Corporate Tax Amendments, provides more targeted relief to businesses by allowing them to carry back a Utah net loss realized during 2020 for up to three years. The idea is if a business was profitable in the three years leading up to 2020, but then suffered a loss in 2020, the loss is very likely to have been caused by the economic hardship brought about by the pandemic. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

Asset Forfeiture
In 2018, the Utah Supreme Court ruled in Savely v. Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) that a state district court has jurisdiction over property held in civil asset forfeiture cases. The ruling stems from an incident in 2016 where a motorist had $500,000 seized by a UHP trooper without being charged with a crime. Though the money was initially seized by UHP, a federal magistrate filed a warrant to seize the money for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). S.B. 98 Asset Forfeiture Amendments, clarifies the process for seizing property. Property seized by local law enforcement is to be handled in a state district court. If the local agency wants to turn property over to a federal agency, the reasons need to be explained first in a state district court. S.B. 98 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Covid Data

State Data (as of February 5th)
Total Cases:                            352,489
Total People Tested:               2,061,926
Total Hospitalizations:            13,755
Total Deaths:                          1,728
Estimated Recovered:             318,034
Vaccines Administered:          382,881

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                  5,410
Vaccines Given:                                                            7,209
Hospitalizations:                                                            178
Deaths:                                                                          23
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                          37.39
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases          56

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:     18,808
Box Elder:          4,619
Cache:               14,072
Rich:                  117
Recovered:       17,713
Box Elder:          4,382
Cache:               13,241
Rich:                  90
Deaths:             66
Box Elder:          38
Cache:               28
Rich:                  0
Vaccines Given:   1st Dose:     16,507
2nd Dose:    4,620
Total:          21,127

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.
I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

Until next time,


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

After two weeks of session, we’re hitting our stride and getting a lot done. One comment I hear quite often from constituents is that we are just passing way too many laws. There is some truth to that. What Utahns may not know, is that many, if not most bills make very small changes to Utah law. In fact, quite often, bills repeal laws that were passed years ago. So, it is not all about adding more laws, it’s also about fixing what is already on the books. The last few years have seen more of a push to remove burdensome regulations that don’t improve the lives of Utahns or make us any safer.

Occasionally, a law is passed and months later, it is found that there are unintended consequences to that law. It can be something as simple as replacing the word “shall” for the word “may.” It is important that we fix mistakes and do everything we can to get government out of people’s lives while also protecting their rights. Of course, we’re all imperfect and we need your help to get things done. For years, Utah has been ranked the most well-run state in the nation because we have an intelligent, educated, hard-working citizenry that are engaged in the process. Please, continue to be involved in this process. We can’t do it without you.

As always, I’ve provided some summaries of bills that we are considering. You’ll find links to the bill text, to video of debates, and occasionally, news coverage of the issues involved.

Here’s a link to my Week 2 Video

I chair the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Confirmation Committee and this last week we met with the nominee for Commissioner of the Ag and Food Department, Craig Buttars. Mr. Buttars brought a green “yes” button to encourage the committee to approve his nomination.
Animal Feeding Operations

Utah continues to have more and more people moving into the state. That population growth puts pressure on the relationship between new residents, current residents, and production agriculture. In the last few years there has been contention in county commission meetings about the placement of concentrated animal feeding operations.

My bill, S.B. 130Regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, is designed to help counties create plans that are completely transparent in their requirements. It will also allow a county to consider petitions for new concentrated animal feeding operations using distinct criteria outlined in the bill. The bill was considered in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee and passed with a favorable recommendation. It will now be considered on the Senate floor. To listen to my presentation in the committee, click here.

Mental Health Treatment

The nationwide push for a mental health crisis hotline began here in Utah. It has become increasingly clear that mental health services need to be improved, and first responders are often not trained to help people experiencing a mental health crisis. This session, more is being done to put trained professionals in positions to help people in crisis. S.B. 53 Behavioral Emergency Services Amendments, make additional mental health crisis training available for emergency services professionals. Agencies throughout Utah can create teams of appropriately trained professionals to respond specifically to mental health emergencies. These professionals will be licensed to triage people and get them the resources they need. S.B. 47 Mental Health Crisis, Intervention Council creates a council of stakeholders from various agencies to design the statewide training offered to these emergency services professionals.

Additionally, S.B. 41 Mental Health Access Amendments, require health benefit plans to cover telehealth services for mental health treatment if the plan also covers in-person treatment of the same mental health conditions. All three bills passed in the Senate and are now in the House for consideration.

To view the bill presentations on the Senate floor, click here: S.B. 41S.B. 47 and S.B. 53.

In the News: Deseret News | KCPW

Criminal Penalties

The Utah Sentencing Commission is responsible for advising the Legislature, governor and judicial council regarding sentencing and releasing policies for those who have committed crimes. Last year, the Commission reviewed S.B. 50 Juvenile Offender Penalty Amendments and recommended its passage in the Legislature. The bill came from an issue where a young adult was charged as an adult for a crime committed as a 14-year-old. As a result, they served 10 years in state prison and were put on the sex offender registry. The bill would help ensure that if individuals commit a crime, they face the appropriate level of punishment based on their age when the crime was committed. Currently, if a crime report is delayed until after the perpetrator is an adult, they are tried as an adult.

In Utah criminal law, gang enhancement provisions were applied to help alleviate issues with street gangs or organized criminal enterprises. Since the provisions were originally created, the requirements for applying the enhancements have been considerably loosened. The enhancement was recently used against protesters who committed acts of vandalism. The broad nature of the provisions allowed vandalism to be raised to the level of a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum life sentence. S.B. 51 Group Gang Enhancement Amendments, raises the bar so that the enhancements are only used in violent offenses and increases the requirement for the number of assailants involved.

S.B. 64 Domestic Violence Amendments, proposes to change Utah law to make domestic violence a third-degree felony in certain situations. If it is a third-time offense in a 10-year window, it will be charged as a third-degree felony.
All these bills passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

To view the bill presentations on the Senate floor, click here: S.B. 50S.B. 51 and S.B. 64.

In the News: KUTV | Salt Lake Tribune

Sales Tax

Double taxation is an issue brought forth by the Utah Tax Commission in which a tax is being paid twice on the same source of income. S.B. 95 Sales Tax Revisions, creates a one-time tax collection for services, a tax break that already exists for retail. Currently, when a business owner needs to purchase items in order to provide a service, the business owner is taxed for the items needed and then the consumer is taxed again for the cost of the service. This bill makes retail and service tax equal by taxing goods and services only once. S.B. 95 passed in Senate Revenue and Taxation committee and is currently placed on the second reading calendar.

Emission Test 

According to Utah Highway Patrol, there were 1,633 accidents due to car malfunctions related to headlights, taillights, brakes and bad tires in the period of one year. Of those accidents, there were seven fatalities and 734 injured. S.B. 93 Emissions Test Amendments, sets a requirement for emissions inspectors to inform car owners if their car lights and lamps are functioning; however, no mandatory repair or official enforcement will be put in place. Emission inspectors will have the opportunity to make additional revenue if they wish to sell bulbs at the time of inspection. This bill aims to increase safety measures to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused on Utah roads. This bill passed in committee and is currently on the second reading calendar.

In the News: Salt Lake Tribune

Price Controls

Since 2005, the Price Controls During Emergencies Act was not used or modified until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. S.B. 86 Amendments to the Price Controls During Emergencies Act, makes necessary changes to the act to ensure consumers are not price gouged and protects Utahns from false claims during an emergency. S.B. 86 targets four changes to the act, including checkpoints before an investigation, transparency in changes to the cost of items, privacy protection for those accused until after adjudication and higher evidentiary standards. This bill passed in Senate Business and Labor committee.

In the News: Salt Lake Tribune

Budget

This week we passed our base budget bills. These bills traditionally use the previous year’s ongoing appropriations as a starting point. This was the first year we included $95 million in new money for education growth and inflation in the base budgets, making it the first year we have included these items in our base budgets. In addition, we also included an increase in per-pupil spending to restore last year’s 6 percent WPU increase. Overall, our base budgets we passed this week they also include over half a billion dollars in new state spending for high priority items such as education, Medicaid and COVID-19 response.

As part of our base budget, we passed the following bills:

Consumer Alcohol Purchasing

Last year, we passed a bill that would allow consumers more options when ordering alcohol through the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC). This included allowing participation in subscriptions like Wine of the Month. The bill required funding that was ultimately rescinded due to the pandemic. This year, we are revisiting the change through S.B. 59 Consumer Alcoholic Beverage Purchasing. This new bill addresses some deficiencies in the DABC’s special order program and create a Consumer Purchasing Division of the DABC to implement the changes. The Senate passed the bill with unanimous support and will now be considered by the House.

Cosmetology Services

Thousands of young women throughout the state visit hair salons or ask a friend to style their hair before prom. It might surprise you to learn that individuals who try to make a little extra money by styling their friend’s hair for prom do so illegally. To address this, S.B. 87 Professional Licensing Amendments, creates an exemption from licensure for individuals who only dry, style, curl, shampoo, condition or hot iron hair. Individuals who choose to offer these services without a license will need to display a prominent sign in their place of practice stating they are unlicensed. Additionally, they are subject to sanitization standards established by the Utah Department of Health and accountable to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing should they go beyond the exempted services. Stakeholders were engaged throughout the process of this bill to ensure the changes made do not diminish the credibility and stature of licensed cosmetologists. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

Covid-19 Data
State Data (as of February 1st)
Total Cases:                            347,208
Total People Tested:               2,028,163
Total Hospitalizations:            13,515
Total Deaths:                          1,668
Estimated Recovered:             307,848
Vaccines Administered:          311,785

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:       18,513
Box Elder:            4,575
Cache:                 13,824
Rich:                    114
Recovered:         17,290
Box Elder:            4,262
Cache:                 12,938
Rich:                     90
Deaths:                60
Box Elder:             34
Cache:                  26
Rich:                     0

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                 5,180
Vaccines Given:                                                            5,248
Hospitalizations:                                                           169
Deaths:                                                                         21
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                         38.41
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases         37

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.
I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

Until next time,


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Well, week one of our general session is in the books and, like everything right now, it has been different. For one thing, it’s much quieter. The Capitol is pretty much closed to the public, which could be problematic, doing the public’s work. Of course, we still need input, so changes have been made to follow Covid-19 guidelines while also giving you access as we discuss bills and budgets.

We also started session a week earlier this year, so we ended up starting the same week as the inauguration. With as crazy as things have been recently, I think it really drives home the point to us as legislators that we need to take our work seriously. I really hope that we as a legislature and you as constituents can work collaboratively together to make Utah a better place to live.

Thanks for this opportunity.

Here’s a link to a video intro to this year’s legislative session.

Public Access during the 2021 General Session
Due to public safety and COVID-19 concerns, adjustments have been made to ensure public participation options are available during the legislative session. Committee meetings now have audio and video, making it easier to view presentations and know who is speaking.  Here’s how you can be involved during the session.

  • You can virtually attend committee meetings and provide public input. Learn how here.
  • The Utah Senate holds daily press availability where the media can ask Senate leadership and bill sponsors questions. This takes place every weekday during the legislative session. You can watch media availability on the Senate’s Facebook, here.
Honoring Representative Lou Shurtliff
The Utah Legislature presented HCR7Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the Public Service of Representative Lawanna Lou Shurtliff, in honor of the late state Rep. Shurtliff’s legacy to the Utah House of Representatives, Weber County, and across Utah. We had a moment of silence in the Senate chamber to recognize her contributions. Her presence will be missed.Address to the Utah Legislature 
The Utah Legislature was addressed by the executive branch and Utah Courts to update Utahns on the successes and challenges of our state. Gov. Spencer Cox held his first State of the State address where he encouraged Utahns to read the One Utah Roadmap, “a Plan for the first 500 days of the Cox-Henderson Administration with detailed goals and initiatives to strengthen our foundation.” Chief Justice Matthew Durrant gave the State of the Judiciary addressing how COVID-19 impacted our judicial system. He also stated the need to identify biases in the process, resume in-person jury trials and increase internet bandwidth in rural courthouses.
Listen to the State of the Judiciary address here.
Listen to the State of the State address here.$43 Million Tax Cut Proposed
The first bill debated in the Senate on the first day of the session was S.B. 11Retirement Income Tax Requirements, which seeks to remove the tax on Military Retirement Income and reduces the tax on Social Security Income. This bill would create a $43 million tax cut. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the floor debate here.
In the News: Deseret News | Press ReleaseSecurity Cameras
HOAs can currently prohibit an individual from installing security cameras at their residence. S.B. 31, Condominium and Community Association Regulation Amendments, prohibits an HOA from disallowing owners to install security cameras on their own units or lots. This bill passed in the Senate with unanimous support and will now be considered in the House.

Sarah’s Bill
Last summer, Sarah, a Utah high schooler, and her three friends were hit by a drunk driver. The accident paralyzed Sarah from the waist down and resulted in the loss of her legs. As she was still receiving urgent medical care just hours after the accident, the man who hit her was already released on bail. Sarah’s bill, or H.B. 47DUI Revisions, would allow a judge to deny bail to drunk drivers who have injured or killed someone if the court has sufficient evidence to support the charge. These individuals would be held in custody until their trial. This bill passed in the House with unanimous support and will be considered in the Senate next week.
In the News: KSL

Budget
As a Legislature, our Constitutional responsibility is to pass a balanced budget before the close of the General Legislative Session. It is a responsibility we take seriously. As such, we spend the first few weeks of the session meeting in appropriations subcommittees to consider how we allocate money in each area, such as public education, social services and transportation.
Eight appropriations subcommittees prepare base budgets for their assigned subject area over the first couple of weeks of the session. These subcommittee base budgets are passed in the early weeks of the session, which allows the state to continue functioning at a basic level. This prevents the state government from shutting down. Then, typically during the final week of the session, we pass what is known as the “Bill of Bills,” which is the comprehensive budget bill that includes additional appropriations not included in the base budgets. You can learn more about the state’s budget here.

In-person Instruction
In November, state leaders met with Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator. State leaders were told that the spread of the virus primarily occurs in communities rather than in schools and that schools should resume in-person learning. Out of the 41 public school districts in Utah, 40 are providing an in-person option for their students. Salt Lake School District is the only one that does not. During the first quarter of online instruction at Salt Lake School District, 364 secondary school students failed all their classes, an increase of 600 percent.
S.B. 107In-person Instruction Prioritization, gives parents the option of taking their students out of online-only schools and moving them to another school that offers in-person instruction. Funding would then follow the student to the new school. The bill does not force any student to return to in-person learning, it simply gives parents options if their students are struggling under the online format. The bill passed its second reading in the Senate.
Listen to the debate on the Senate floor here.
In the News: KSL | ABC 4 | Senate Twitter | Fox 13

K-9 Policy in Law Enforcement
Last year, bodycam footage of an arrest in Salt Lake City prompted the Salt Lake City Police Department to launch an official review of its K-9 program. The review analyzed 27 instances where individuals were bitten by police dogs in 2018. Eighteen of those instances were investigated by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office for possible criminal charges, and the city’s K-9 program was suspended indefinitely.

S.B. 38K-9 Policy Requirements requires that police dogs and handlers in the state of Utah undergo an annual certification process. It also amends Utah law to provide liability protection for officers and agencies if the dog acts in a way contrary to the officer’s commands. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and will now be considered by the House.
Listen to the discussion on the Senate floor here.
In the News: KUTV

College for Veterans
For years, senior citizens in Utah have been able to audit courses offered at state institutions of higher education. This means that seniors can attend and participate in classes for a small fee. They don’t have to take tests, write papers, or do any homework, and they won’t receive any college credit. S.B. 45Higher Education Classes for Veterans, gives Utah veterans the same opportunity. The bill passed unanimously on its second reading in the Senate.
Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

Covid-19 Data
State Data (as of January 25th)
Total Cases:                            337,264
Total People Tested:               1,969,659
Total Hospitalizations:            13,054
Total Deaths:                          1,597
Estimated Recovered:             285,852
Vaccines Administered:          229,575

Bear River Health Department
Total Cases:   17,955
Box Elder:          4,449
Cache:                 13,408
Rich:                   98
Recovered:     16,480
Box Elder:          4,055
Cache:                 12,342
Rich:                   83
Deaths:           56
Box Elder:          31
Cache:                 25
Rich:                   0

Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases:                                                                 5,042
Vaccines Given:                                                            2440
Hospitalizations:                                                          148
Deaths:                                                                         20
7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day                         44.34
Total Tooele County School District Active Cases              53

I Look Forward to Hearing from You!

Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/.
I’ll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can also be reached by email at ssandall@le.utah.gov. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551.
If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

Until next time,