Utah Cap Haps Blog

Friday, January 29, 2016

Week One Review

Capitol Pic of the Day

The first day of the session started with the recognition of fallen officer Officer Doug Barney. 

His funeral was held on opening day and I had the opportunity to attended the service. 

The outpouring of love and support for the Barney family touched all of our hearts. Please keep them in your prayers.

Later that morning, the Legislature started official business. The Legislature is off to a great start. with a full reading calendar meant for two days worth of work, the House was able to adjourn early after getting through every bill on the reading calendar. These bills were debated, voted on and passed out of interim committees since the end of the last legislative session, and rather than adding to current code, many were repealing language that was confusing or unclear in the law. 

Every bill that passed came out of an interim committee with unanimous, bipartisan support and no fiscal note. We accomplished many major reforms during the 2015 General Session and the work that our interim committees did over the past year has allowed us to start off with great momentum. Click here to watch the full video.

Additionally, we welcomed Congressman Chris Stewart and Congressman Rob Bishop. Congressman Stewart discussed three issues the United States faces: economic growth, national debt and national security. Click here to watch his remarks (13 minutes). 

Congressman Bishop and former Utah Speaker of the House discussed public lands and military issues during his visit to the House. Click here to watch his remarks (12 minutes).


HB 151, Acupuncture Licensing Board Amendments - In the 2012 session, legislation was introduced that allowed legislative committees to hear input from various licensed medical boards on legislations that impacts their respective industry. The omission of acupuncture board was an oversight. This bill includes them as one of the listed boards. 

Charter School Closure (not yet numbered) - Last year, there were two charter schools that closed. This was the first time the state had experienced a school closure so there were inherent barriers in existing law that resulted in limitations for the students who had to quickly transfer to another school. This bill addresses closure plans and the requirement to have them in place prior a closure. 


SLCo Caucus
Salt Lake County Caucus - I have the privilege of co-chairing the Salt Lake County caucus which is made up of all of the Salt Lake County legislators, county mayor and other stakeholders of the County. 

The topic for this week was homelessness. It was found that 88% of our homeless population are from Utah. Four bills are being proposed to tackle the homelessness issue. The four pieces of legislation will deal with enhancing data sharing coordination, increasing the affordable housing supply, funding new shelter needs and services, and addressing the funding of these needs. 

One of the main goals is preventing families from going to the shelter by redirecting them to immediate resources that help them get through a transition period of their lives. The county has experienced a 44% success rate in this area and will continue to focus on improving that rate. Complimentary to this are initiatives to provide counseling and mentoring services to teach skills such as financial planning and parenting. 

House GOP Caucus - The caucus listened to an overview of the legal analysis that evaluated viable legal arguments that could be pursued in the event that the state chooses to move forward with a case to transfer federal lands to the State of Utah. 


To view a list of the bills and hear the discussions, click on one of the committees below. The bill that came before us this week were non-controversial issues that passed out of committee and will go to the House floor. 


EOCJ Appropriations Subcommittee 
Retirement and Independent Entities - The committee listened to base budget overviews of the Career Service Review Board, Utah Education and Telehealth Network, and the Department of Human Resource Management. It was interesting to see how much fiber and connectivity has been put in place since 2012. We have come a long way in delivering internet access and redundancy across the state. 

Elected Officials and Criminal Justice appropriations committee - We heard presentations from Corrections, Public Safety and the Board of Pardons and parole. All three departments have experienced phenomenal progress in the last year. Specifically, there has been a decrease in the prison population and there have been more opportunities for women throughout the incarceration, probation, and parole process. Most notably, the average wait time at the Drivers license Office in West Valley City has been reduced from 24 minutes to four minutes, while experiencing an increase of 7,000 customers to over 11,000. 


The fourth grade class of Neil Armstrong Academy visited the Capitol this week. 

They met the Lt. Governor, ssang the state song to the Senate, received a tour of the Capitol, and had the chance to ask me a lot of questions. My favorite questions was, "Why don't you pass a law to make the chamber floor a ball pit?"