|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. 130, Regulation 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. 41, S.B. 47 and S.B. 53.
In the News: Deseret News | KCPW
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. 50, S.B. 51 and S.B. 64.
In the News: KUTV | Salt Lake Tribune
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
Box Elder: 4,262
Box Elder: 34
Tooele County Health Department
Total Cases: 5,180
Vaccines Given: 5,248
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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,