Keeping Heart on the Hill

“Another Olympics has started and it’s wonderful to see athletes from all over the world competing together. We celebrate with them and the uniqueness of humanity.
We were happy to hold the Olympics in 2002. We are maintaining the Olympic arenas here for future athletes and for the use of our residents to share in a wonderful experience.” -Senator Wayne Harper


Today was Heart on the Hill Day where we recognized heart health with the American Heart Association. Ironically, it was also National Pizza Day.

Today concluded week three of the Legislative session. We’re coming up on being halfway through the session, so it’s a perfect time for a quick reminder about our FacebookTwitterPinterest, Instagram and two great blogs: Senate Site (you are here) and Utah Senate Democrats. We live stream every minute of Senate Floor debate (check out le.utah.gov for that), and our Daily Media Briefing via FaceBook Live gives you the chance to meet with us in the Senate President’s office every day with your questions.

With all the committee work happening the reading calendars are starting to fill up in both the House and Senate. The end of week one is great time to review how a bill becomes a law and why it seems to take so long to get a law on the books.

BY THE NUMBERS

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Total Bills PASSED
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Days of UTLEG Session Remaining
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% of Utahns in favor of hosting the Winter Olympics again

WEEK 3 TOP ISSUES

Budget

In Utah we are required to pass a balanced budget every year by the end of session. As we’ve seen recently from our federal government, when the legislature doesn’t pass a spending budget, the government shuts down. In Utah, we mitigate the threat of a government shut down by passing base budgets within the first few weeks of session. By doing this it allows us to have the minimum expenses covered so no one can hijack the budget bill and threaten a government shutdown. Before the end of session we will pass a more complete budget bill.

In the News: Salt Lake Tribune |

Tolling

The Senate considered a bill (SB71) that would allow the Department of Transportation to implement a toll system in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The guiding principle of the bill, according to President Niederhauser, is that those who use the road will pay for it. President Niederhauser explained that a toll road does not mean toll booths. The technology to electronically scan toll passes has existed for quite some time and has been implemented on our HOV lanes on the interstate highways in our state. This bill also gives the Department of Transportation the ability to monitor toll roads and mail fines to those who do not pay the tolls. On the floor, SB71 was substituted with another version that allows UDOT to implement tolls on any highway in the state via an open, transparent rule-making process.  This bill passed the Senate and will be heard in the House next.

In the News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune |

Transportation Governance

Utah is expected to double in population within the next 50 years. This knowledge and a desire to plan for our future is motivating many of our bills this year. SB 136, Transportation Governance, seeks to create foundational changes to better prepare for the future growth in our state as it relates to transit. Notably this bill will restructure the governance of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), enhance the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) governance, create a new fund for transportation and modify some of the funding sources, as well as allow for statewide planning for transportation through UDOT. This bill does include some fee and registration increases that are still undergoing changes and negotiations. This bill passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation and will be considered on the Senate floor.

In the News: Deseret News |  Salt Lake Tribune |

Legal Gender Change

When state law does not adequately spell out legal processes currently taking place in our court system, it leaves judges no option but to legislate from the bench. Senator Todd Weiler said that is what is taking place right now when Utahns petition to legally change their gender. Weiler’s bill, SB138 Gender Change Amendments is designed to create a court process for a gender change petition.

There has been a law on the books in Utah since the 1950s that allows judges to grant petitions to change both name and gender. But those petitions are not always granted and the Utah Supreme Court is currently deciding what to do with cases where judges refuse to grant gender changes. In the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee, there were questions about the one-year residency requirement and Senator Weiler explained that it has always been a requirement in the statute and it was left in place. SB138 passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation and will now go to the Senate floor for debate.

Listen to the Committee meeting here.

In the News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune

Olympics

The state is in the process of considering hosting the Winter Olympics again in Salt Lake. In a recent poll, over 83% of Utahns favor the idea. Unlike many former Olympic Hosts, most of the facilities in Utah are still in operation. This resolution (SCR9) says, in essence, that Utah is ready willing and able to host the Olympic games again. This doesn’t guarantee the Olympic committee will choose Salt Lake but it will serve as Utah’s official application.

In the News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune |

Free Range Kids

Senator Fillmore is concerned that, across the country, parents are being arrested and children are being taken from their homes for neglect without a clear definition of what constitutes neglect. In some cases, it has involved kids playing at a park or walking home from school. His bill, SB65 Child Neglect Amendments changes the state’s definition of neglect. Senator Fillmore believes that the changes strike a proper balance so that true abuse and neglect can still be prosecuted and children protected without allow children the freedom to explore and experience life. SB65 passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.

Click here to see Senator Fillmore’s presentation on the Senate Floor.

In the News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune |

Daylight Savings

Every year we hear from a few constituents about their desire to opt out of Daylight Savings. SCR 5, would seek to eliminate daylight savings changes in Utah and request Congress to amend federal law to allow states to stay on daylight savings year-round. This bill was debated in committee but did not receive enough votes to pass out for consideration on the Senate floor. You can listen to the committee debate here.

In the News: Deseret News |  Salt Lake Tribune |

Nurse Demand

We know there is a nursing shortage in Utah, but we don’t have as much detailed data as we would like to be able to make informed decisions on how best to take action. SB 147, Nursing Initiative, requires a statewide report to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee on nursing demands throughout the State, and especially rural Utah. This bill also creates a process for funding future nursing programs once we have more data. This bill passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation and will be considered on the Senate floor. You can listen to the committee debate here.

In the News: Deseret News |

Police Quotas

Senator Howard Stephenson’s bill, SB154 Prohibition of Law Enforcement Quotas would prohibit law enforcement agencies and political subdivisions from imposing arrest, citation, stop, or other quota on a peace officer. Senator Stephenson presented his bill on Thursday in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee with the help of two former police officers who had to deal with quotas during their law enforcement careers. Though Stephenson wants to work with law enforcement in order to find compromise, he did say that it is unethical for any law enforcement agency to have these requirements. The bill passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation and will now go to the Senate Floor for further debate.

Listen to the committee meeting here.

In The News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune


Blood Draws

This summer an unfortunate arrest of a nurse at the University of Utah for refusing to allow an officer to make a blood draw on an unconscious patient became national news. To prevent a situation like this from happening in the future, Representative Hall is sponsoring legislation (HB43) to clarify the law in regards to police blood draws. The bill clarifies that a police officer must receive a person’s consent, a warrant or a judicially recognized exception to a warrant before drawing blood.  This bill has passed both Houses and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Resolution in Support of a New National Park in Escalante SCR8

This bill (SCR8) declares Utah’s support for Congressman Stewart’s effort to create the Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve, and the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, Escalante Canyons National Monuments. This bill passed committee and will be heard on the Senate Floor next.

Cannabidiol Products

Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown promise as a treatment for Epileptic conditions.  Two years ago, HB58 by Representative Froerer allowed patients suffering from epilepsy to use medical CBD for treatment. The law was silent, however, about where people could get the CDB, though most patients in Utah obtained it from Colorado.  Since then, CBD products have become more widely available here in the state but are almost completely unregulated.  Some CBD products are laced with potentially harmful substances like THC and fentanyl, which has led to medical complications and even hospital visits–the the causes of which are due to the additives, not the CBD. This bill creates a regulatory infrastructure for CBD sales in Utah.  Under Utah law, only Epileptic patients can use CBD products and this does not change under this bill.  SB130, sponsored by Senator Vickers, authorizes the Department of Agriculture to regulate CBD the products that are currently being sold to Epileptic patients. The company selling the CBD must register their product with the state and pay a fee. The fee would be used to test the integrity of the products, determining if the product CBD, nothing less and nothing more.  Listen to the committee hearing here.

FOR THE RECORD


Join us every day after morning floor time for a media availability hosted in the Senate President’s office.  Every day you can have a front row seat -via YouTube- to a meeting with some of Utah’s most influential legislators and the press. As you tweet, email, and text in your questions for our senators and we’ll ask them live. Here’s the embed from today’s availability:

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