Legislative 2021 Updates – Senator Wilson

 


2021 Legislative Session Recap

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last night of the session. We stayed a little after midnight to congratulate everyone who made the process possible.

It has been an honor to serve with my Legislative colleagues. I am also especially grateful for our local law enforcement and their dedication.

Legislative highlights from the 502 bills that passed in the 2021 general session
(You can see a list of all the bills that passed this session here.)

Budget
It is our Constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget each year. Early in the session, we pass smaller, bare bones base budgets to ensure our state continues running even if there is a breakdown during negotiations. Near the end of the session, the Legislature passes what is referred to as the “Bill of Bills,” which allows us to supplement the base budgets with expanded appropriations based on the latest revenue estimates shared mid-way through the session.

Our total state budget this year was a remarkable $23.4 billion, including both state and federal funding. In this recent session, the “Bill of Bills” was more specifically known as S.B. 3 Appropriations Adjustments.

Education
This year, the budget provided historic levels of education funding, with over half our state funds appropriated solely for public and higher education. This funding included providing $121 million for teacher and staff COVID-19 stipends, restoring a 6 percent (WPU) increase in per student funding and allocating $127 million for future education spending to ensure we keep our commitment to fund public education enrollment growth and inflation. After all is said and done, we will have put aside nearly half a billion dollars for public education ongoing funds. That’s half a billion dollars each year, every year, from now on.

Transportation and Infrastructure
The Legislature appropriated $1.1 billion for transportation infrastructure to be spent over the next several years to fund infrastructure projects in every corner and region of the state. Investing in roads and transit over several years will help limit new debt while reducing overall debt over time.

Medicaid
During the 2021 General Session, the Legislature fully funded Medicaid growth and inflation. At the same time, we fixed a $56 million structural imbalance in Medicaid expansion.

The images below show a high-level summary of the budget and where the money is going. You can learn more about the budget at budget.utah.gov.

Business and Economic Development

Regulatory Sandbox 

In an effort to help our Utah businesses thrive and allow for more innovation, we passed H.B. 217 Regulatory Sandbox Program Amendments, which creates a “sandbox” program where companies can suspend certain regulations for a limited period of time while they test new ideas. This allows companies to see if their ideas work before enacting regulations. It is important to note that H.B. 217 does not suspend regulations pertaining to public health and safety measures. 

Economic Development – Strategic Planning 

H.B. 348 Economic Development Amendments, reworks the state’s economic development strategy by creating the Utah Economic Opportunity Commission. A decade ago, the sole priority of the state was to attract jobs. While this proved successful, we now have additional needs due to the growth in our state. The goal is to shift our focus from economic development to economic opportunity, which includes ensuring that Utah citizens can acquire housing, college graduates can find work, families can have financial stability and stay-at-home parents can re-enter the workplace when, and if, they desire. This bill also creates a grant program designed to enhance broadband services in rural Utah. This is an important step forward in our long-term economic development and opportunity planning.

Education 

Teachers and Counselors 

Utah is currently experiencing a shortage of teachers and school counselors in public schools. Several school districts are working on innovative approaches to meet teacher needs. H.B. 381 Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program, creates a grant program to assist Utah paraprofessionals, school counselor assistants and school counselor interns in obtaining licenses to become teachers or school counselors and provides a scholarship to certain school employees.  

 

Parents and Students 

In a continued effort to address learning losses due to the pandemic, the Legislature passed S.B. 148 Public Education Modifications, providing transparency for parents and educators to address any learning loss students may have experienced during the pandemic.

S.B. 226 Online Education Program Revisions, allows online course providers authorized by the Board of Education to offer classes for students through the Statewide Online Education Program. In 2011, Utah was recognized for allowing students access to free online courses. This bill will ensure students have additional options to courses that best fit their needs and learning styles. 

 

Energy & Air Quality

Workforce Solutions for Air Quality Amendments 

In the first few months of the pandemic, we experienced less traffic and improved air quality as a result of an increase in people working remotely. S.B. 15 Workforce Solutions for Air Quality Amendments, allows more state employees to telecommute during bad air quality days to decrease the number of cars on the roadways.

 

Health 

Affordability 

This session, we passed several bills in support of healthcare affordability for Utahns. H.B. 206 Epinephrine Auto-Injector Access, allows patients to purchase EpiPen medication at a discounted price. The Legislature also passed HB 262 Children’s Health Insurance Amendments, which seeks to expand the coverage of uninsured children throughout the state by creating the Children’s Health Care Coverage Program.

  

Mental Health 

Expanding mental health services to all Utahns and decreasing suicide rates continues to be a priority for us. Below are just a few of the bills passed that create additional services and further enhance these efforts. 

 

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 by applying for Medicaid waivers to help pay for treatment, creating an account for crisis response funds to pay for the call center, developing mobile teams and follow up treatment and increasing additional members to existing commissions to assist in the rollout of 988.     

  

                        Youth Services

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 24. In an effort to target services to our youth, we passed H.B. 81 Mental Health Days for Students, adding 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. Additionally, we passed H.B. 93 Youth Suicide Prevention Programs Amendments, which expands the education of suicide prevention to elementary and secondary grades and requires the programs to be age appropriate. 

Higher Education

Access to Higher Education 

Data shows that education can reduce the odds that incarcerated people will reoffend once they are released. H.B. 279 Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth, provides students in custody with concurrent enrollment credits through a virtual learning program administered by Dixie State University. 

 

In another effort to expand higher education accessibility in Utah, the Legislature passed S.B. 45 Higher Education Classes for Veterans, allowing veterans to audit courses offered at state institutions of higher education for a nominal fee. 

Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Training 

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. 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. 

 

Law enforcement officers are usually the first to respond to 911 calls, regardless of the reason for the call. Quite often, people who call 911 are trying to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis, which most police officers aren’t trained to resolve. S.B. 53 Behavioral Emergency Services Amendments, makes additional mental health crisis training available for emergency service professionals. Agencies throughout Utah can create teams of appropriately trained professionals to respond specifically to mental health emergencies. These professionals will be licensed to treat individuals and provide them with proper resources. 

 

Taxes

We passed legislation that will provide approximately $100 million in tax cuts to aid familiesveterans and elderly citizens and further boost Utah’s economic success. 

S.B. 153 Utah Personal Exemption Amendments, restores part of the dependent tax exemption, which was reduced in the 2017 federal tax reform and increased 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. 

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

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

Logan Regional Vaccine Clinics This Week – Vaccines Available

Here is some information related to COVID-19 Vaccines.

  1. Our community vaccination clinic will only be on Thursday, March 18 with the Pfizer vaccine this week.
  2. They still have plenty of openings for patients to sign up this week – spread the word and notify your friends and family who are eligible to sign up.  via intermountain.com/covidvaccine.
  3. Feel free to share this Facebook post.
Stay Connected
Thank you for your support and engagement. I look forward to hearing from you. Stay in touch regarding any questions, comments, or input.
Sincerely,

2021 Legislative Update: Week Seven

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

That’s a wrap! My first legislative session in the Utah Senate is now complete! We passed a balanced budget – an important responsibility we face as a Legislature and one that is required by the Utah Constitution. This year our budget totaled roughly $23.5 billion for fiscal year 2022, of which we allocated $100 million for tax cuts, appropriated historic levels of funding for education with nearly half a billion dollars in on-going money going to public education and replenished the Rainy-Day funds that were utilized during the pandemic.

As I reflect back on the work of these past 45-days, I want to express my greatest appreciation to my constituents and community members for their support. I will continue to inform you of the latest developments and encourage you to keep reaching out.

Local Announcements:
Springville Museum of Art: All-State High School Art Show  
An impressive 23 pieces by 21 students in Senate District 25 were accepted for exhibition at the Springville Museum of Art. Within that group, Congressman Moore’s office chose Swede Winborg’s Seaport View as the piece that will represent Utah’s first congressional district in Washington D.C.

Congratulations to the students and their magnificent artwork! View the online gallery here.

Rich Middle School Second Trimester 2020-21 Honor Roll
Congratulations to the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Rich Middle School who made the Honor Roll second trimester. I am always amazed by how talented our students are, especially in my senate district, and you are definitely no exception. Keep up the good work! (For letters of recognition, please email me at cwilson@le.utah.gov) Read the student names here.
Town Halls
A big thank you to The Cache County Republican Party for organizing weekly virtual town halls during the legislative session. Our next virtual town hall is on Thursday, March 11 at 7:00 PM. You can find the Facebook Live and all recordings here.
Week 7 Highlights:
Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth 
Access to education in prison can lower the odds of an individual committing additional offenses. H.B. 279 Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth, provides students in custody with concurrent enrollment credits through a virtual learning program administered by Dixie State University. H.B. 279 passed in the Senate and will now be sent to the governor.Religious Accommodations in Higher Education 
S.B. 244 Student Religious Accommodations Amendments, allows the Utah System of Higher Education to provide religious accommodation policy to all institutions. For instance, if a student has a firmly held religious belief that conflicts with an exam or academic assignment, then a written notice will allow for the exam or assignment to be done before or after the original due date. S.B. 244 passed in the Senate and will now be sent to the governor for consideration.

Suicide Prevention 
The fight against suicide continues to be a priority in the Legislature as suicide is the leading cause of death for Utah children ages 10-24. H.B. 336 Suicide Prevention Amendments, creates a reporting process for the Utah Medical Examiner to obtain youth suicide data for the Health and Human Services Interim Committee to study. The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health will also be required to provide training to healthcare organizations. It also changes a coupon program to a rebate program that incentivizes individuals to obtain a biometric gun safe. Another bill, H.B. 93 Youth Suicide Prevention Programs Amendments, expands the education of suicide prevention to elementary and secondary grades and requires the programs to be age appropriate. Both of these bills passed in the House and Senate and will now be sent to the governor for consideration.

Housing Affordability 
Housing prices are rising at a rate of 12 percent annually, and economists estimate that Utah has a gap of over 53,000 affordable housing units for individuals with average or low incomes. S.B. 164 Utah Housing Affordability Amendments, creates a program that permits political subdivisions to take an inventory of surplus government properties throughout the state that cities could grant for future affordable housing developments. The bill also provides funding and support for low-income renters who may be at risk of eviction.

Free Speech 
Recently, there have been numerous accusations of censorship leveled against social media corporations. It has become apparent that social media platforms are not transparent in the way they moderate content, and more specifically, that the platforms are harsher in moderating certain political and religious beliefs. S.B. 228 Electronic Free Speech Amendments, requires social media companies to clearly state their moderation practices and policies, as well as give users advance notice of their policies before they limit speech. The bill passed in the Senate and House and will go to the governor for his consideration.

Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program 
Utah is currently experiencing a shortage of teachers and school counselors in public schools. Several school districts are working on innovative approaches to meet teacher needs. This week, the Senate passed H.B. 381 Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program, which supports school districts by creating a three-year pilot program to provide scholarships for paraprofessionals working toward becoming licensed teachers or licensed school counselors.  This allows school districts to work with individuals they already know will be excellent teachers and counselors to become licensed professionals.  This bill passed in both the Senate and House and will now go to the governor for his signature.

LEFT (Presenting S.B. 169 School and Institutional Trust Fund Office Amendments during House Education Committee with State Treasurer David Damschen.)  
RIGHT (S.B. 169 passed in the House and will now go to the governor.) 
COVID-19 Update:
Gov expands COVID vaccine eligibility to 50+ and additional comorbidities. Read more here.

Transmission Index Update. Cache and other counties move to “Moderate” level. Read more here.  

Stay Connected

Thank you for your support and engagement. I look forward to hearing from you. Stay in touch regarding any questions, comments, or input.

2021 Legislative Update: Week Six

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week six of the general session has been both challenging and rewarding. There were great discussions regarding our budget for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, with revenue estimates showing the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19. This year, a historic $400 million increase will go toward public education. Read the full press release here.

On the more challenging side of things, we have been presented with a number of bills that involved emotional testimony and required a great deal of careful deliberation. A constituent requested that I explain my opinion of one of these difficult bills, HB302 Preserving Sports for Female Students, in my newsletter. I appreciate the opportunity to do so as this is important legislation with the potential for far-reaching consequences.

HB302 Preserving Sports for Female Students
My concerns with HB302 include 1-constitutional challenges resulting in costly litigation for the State and taxpayers, 2-economic impact from the loss of events, tournaments, sponsorships, etc. who withdraw participation from Utah because HB302 is not in accordance with policies established by athletic associations at every level, and 3-the detrimental effect on vulnerable youth of the LGBTQ community who are at an increased risk of suicide. Of the 80,000 high school athletes in the state of Utah there is currently not a single transgender participant. However, in our community of Cache Valley, there have been 13 young people who have died by suicide in just the past 8 weeks! I do not know the particulars or if LGBTQ issues were involved, but regardless of the reasons, this is extremely concerning to me.

As a father of five daughters, four of whom played sports on a high school level, I support ongoing conversation and legislation that resolves concerns and appropriately advocates for female athletics. HB302 was not defeated in committee. The vote to adjourn the meeting grants an opportunity to step away from the emotional intensity for a time and the possibility of resuming additional deliberation of an extremely complex issue. I would invite you to listen to all of the HB302 hearings with an open heart and mind to considering both sides of the issue and all the potential unintended consequences. https://le.utah.gov/~2021/bills/static/HB0302.html

I am very appreciative of all the input I am receiving from you. I recognize it is frustrating when your elected officials may not handle a bill exactly as you want. Please know that I do hear you and that I care about your concerns.  I am honored by your trust and support in electing me as your senator, and I remain committed to decide my vote in accordance with my conscience, the Constitution, and my constituents.

Highlights from this week’s legislation:

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. Instead, there is a national mental health crisis hotline where 90 percent of individuals are stabilized over the phone at the cost of $40. This process 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 passed the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

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 Amendmentstargets 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, benefiting many Utah seniors living on a fixed income.

In-Person Instruction Prioritization 
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. S.B. 107 In-Person Instruction Prioritization, ensures students have the opportunity to learn in the classroom, whether that be in-person or virtual learning. S.B. 107 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

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. H.B. 159 Higher Education Speech, sets a standard all state universities can follow to ensure free speech is respected on campus. H.B. 159 passed in both the Senate and House and will now go to the governor.

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 registration renewal reminder mailers. 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, particularly small businesses. 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 covers three months of fixed costs, including payroll, rent, utilities and insurance. S.B. 202 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House.

(Left) Presenting my bill, S.B. 197 Trust Deed Amendments
(Right) S.B. Trust Deed Amendments passed in the senate and will now be considered in the House.
Announcements:
Join My Town Halls 

The Cache County Republican Party has organized a weekly virtual town hall on Facebook Live (here) every Thursday at 7:00 PM throughout the General Session (until March 11) to inform you on the latest developments in the Legislature. We are expecting to have late floor time debate on Thursday, March 6 and my schedule will not permit my attendance for the upcoming town hall. However, I plan to attend the following town hall on Thursday, March 11 at 7:00 PM.  “See” you there!Please submit your questions by filling out the form (here) by Wednesdays at 6:00 PM.

Utah Saves Week Campaign

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. Read how to check if you have unclaimed property here. 

(Left) Unclaimed property in my senate district alone.
(Right) This is Bill. Bill came to visit us in the senate floor as we kicked off Utah Saves Week.
Stay Connected

I will be sending a weekly newsletter update during the session. I have also been assigned my legislative intern, Tony Victorino. He will help me stay organized and ensure you’re being heard. Tony can be reached via phone/text at 385-441-0601 or tvictorino@le.utah.gov

I am excited to work my very first session in the Utah Senate. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.


2021 Legislative Update: Week Five

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have just completed week five of the 2021 General Session during which we recognized the service and sacrifice of Utah’s fallen soldiers, honored the life of Cache Valley native, William E. Christofferson, and passed a number of important bills. I have appreciated your correspondence this week and encourage you to continue to reach out with your suggestions and concerns.

Utah’s Fallen Soldiers
We must never forget that freedom is bought and paid with a price by men and women who selflessly put their lives in harm’s way to protect others. We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of all our military and truly saddened by the loss of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and gratitude to their families, some of whom joined us in the Senate gallery. Watch the Senate’s fallen soldier recognition here.

(Family of fallen soldier)

Honoring the Life of William E. Christoffersen 
William E. Christofferson, a Cache Valley Native and local hero, was also honored in the Legislature last 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.

(Left: William Christofferson)
(Right: Veterans and family of William Christofferson)

Highlights from this week’s legislation:
Emergency Response
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 ability of the executive branch or the Utah Department of Health or local health agencies 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.

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.

Pharmacy Benefit Amendments
Utah has several health clinics that qualify for 340B drugs, a federal 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.

Canine Caused Injury
H.B. 213 Canine Injury Amendments, states if a wandering dog is injured or killed when encountering another dog in an enclosed or fenced area on private property that the owner of the attacking dog is not liable. 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.

Confinement of Egg-laying Hens
S.B. 147 Confinement of Egg-laying Hens, prohibits farm owners from confining egg-laying hens in enclosures that are not considered cage-free housings and sets January 1, 2025, as the self-imposed date to achieve cage-free hen environments in Utah. It also designates the Department of Agriculture and Food as the enforcer of the provisions in the bill. Large-scale egg producers worked together with animal advocacy organizations on this legislation. S.B. 147 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.

(Presenting my bill, S.B. 143 Revenue Bond and Capital Facilities Amendments)
Announcements:
Join My Town Halls 

The Cache County Republican Party has organized a weekly virtual town hall on Facebook Live (here) every Thursday at 7:00 PM throughout the General Session (until March 11) to inform you on the latest developments in the Legislature. Please submit your questions by filling out the form (here) by Wednesdays at 6:00 PM.I am committed to listening and learning from you. Hope to “see” you there!
(Cache County Republicans Facebook Zoom Town Hall)
COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available for those 65+ 
Last week, Gov. Cox announced that Utahns 65 and older now qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can learn more about Utah’s vaccine distribution plan here. Also, if you have any trouble scheduling your vaccine through your local health department, you can reach the Utah State Health Department’s COVID-19 immunization hotline by calling 1-800-456-7707.

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

Stay Connected

I will be sending a weekly newsletter update during the session. I have also been assigned my legislative intern, Tony Victorino. He will help me stay organized and ensure you’re being heard. Tony can be reached via phone/text at 385-441-0601 or tvictorino@le.utah.gov

I am excited to work my very first session in the Utah Senate. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Sincerely,

2021 Legislative Update: Week Four

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re officially halfway through the session. Last week has been quite busy with numerous meetings, constituent emails, phone calls, and committees. I am working hard to represent you and am especially appreciative for your support and input. Keep voicing your concerns and input with me.
Presenting H.B. 69 Traffic Code Amendments during senate floor time debate.
Join My Town Halls 
The Cache County Republican Party has organized a weekly virtual town hall on Facebook Live (here) every Thursday at 7:00 PM throughout the General Session (until March 11) to inform you on the latest developments in the Legislature. Please submit your questions by filling out the form (here) by Wednesdays at 6:00 PM.
I am committed to listening and learning from you. Hope to “see” you there!Senate District 25 Highlight
I want to congratulate Jisung Lee from Logan High School for being named one of the top two youth in Utah for the 26th Annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The program honors students for their volunteer service focused on addressing the challenges of our changing world. Click here for the news release announcing this prestigious award.
I am very proud of you and grateful for your hard work. Way to represent Logan!Utah State University Day on the Hill
I enjoyed meeting Utah State Student Body President, Sami Ahmed, and Jenn Ha, Student Advocate VP, when they visited last week. Thanks for all you do to advocate for the students at Utah State University! (And thanks for bringing Aggie ice cream with you!)
Highlights from this week’s bills:

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. This bill passed on the second reading calendar and will be considered on the third reading calendar. You can watch the floor presentation here.

Human Services Oversight  
Last 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. To hear the committee presentation, click here. For the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
In the News: The Hill | KUTV

Regulatory Sandbox Bill
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. 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.

Use-of-Force Standards
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

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. S.B. 15 passed in the committee and will now be heard on the Senate floor. To listen to the committee meeting, click here.

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. H.B. 166 Livestock Amendments, increases penalties for the destruction of livestock, including livestock guardian dogs. The bill clarifies ownership standards for livestock and livestock guardian dogs. H.B. 166 passed in the Senate and will return to the House for concurrence. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.

Have a Happy Presidents’ Day! This day honors all U.S. presidents, past and present, for their efforts on behalf of our great nation.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

After three weeks in session, we are hitting our stride and getting a lot accomplished. We passed a total of 50 bills last week alone and have observed the culmination of years of work and negotiation result in some good legislation. I have been impressed by the efforts of many in the Utah Legislature to be open, respectful, and collaborative.

One comment I often hear from constituents is that we are passing way too many laws. I share that concern and will work hard to ensure that legislation is relevant, efficient and needful. However, I have also found that many bills, rather than adding more laws, make small technical changes to existing Utah statutes – fixing what is already on the books. 

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. I appreciate all of you who have taken the time and effort to share your viewpoints. Please, continue to be involved!

Meet Tony

My legislative intern, Tony, is a Utah State University student and is five steps ahead of the game in ensuring I am prepared and reviewing emails and social media posts to keep me informed of your concerns during the busy days of the session. Thank you so much, Tony!

You can’t see from our masks, but I promise we are smiling!

Below you’ll find summaries of a few bills under consideration with links to the bill text and video of debates. Please let me know if there are specific bills that you would like to see highlighted in subsequent newsletters.

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.

Deceased Voters
Although Utah works hard to ensure 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.

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.

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.

Have a great week and keep reaching out!

Stay Connected
I will be sending a weekly newsletter update during the session. For constituent services or meeting requests, contact my legislative intern, Tony at 385-441-0601 or tvictorino@le.utah.gov

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.