Utah Cap Haps Blog

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week Three Review

Capitol Pic of the Day
House mural reflects a monumental event that occurred on Valentine's Day:
Seraph Young casts a first ballot by a woman in 1870 when women first gained the right to vote in Utah. 


I thought it might be helpful to review how a bill becomes law. In a nutshell, proposed bills come from many sources. Bills come from constituent concerns, requested clean-up language from previously passed legislation, bills that ran out of time in the previous session, policy changes desired by impacted stakeholders or interest groups, desired initiatives, etc.

In Utah we have a bicameral legislature, which is comprised of a House and Senate. In order for a bill to pass, it must be approved by each body. House bills are generated by representatives in the House, while senate bills are generated by senators in the Senate.

All bills must be approved by both chambers before going to the governor for final passage or to be vetoed. In other words, House bills must be approved in the House before being passed in the Senate, and Senate bills must be passed in the Senate before being approved by the House. The movement of a House bill would look something like this:

HB is drafted --> HB goes to House Standing Committee where it passes or fails --> if passed, HB goes to entire House chamber where all members vote on it --> if passed, HB goes to Senate Standing Committee where it passes or fails --> if passed, HB goes to entire Senate chamber where all members vote on it --> if passed, HB is signed by Senate President and sent back to House for Speaker signature --> HB is sent to governor for approval or veto --> if no veto, HB is enacted into law

If the bill originates from the Senate, it would begin in the Senate and follow the same path. A bill can die at any stage of the process. This filtering process allows proposed legislation to be reviewed and scrutinized multiple times before being enacted into law.

Here are some additional sites and clips to outline the process:

Utah Legislature | click here.

Utah Citizen Network | click here.

If you prefer to learn through video, here is a oldy but a goody.

Last but not least, here is the School House Rocks video.


HB 151, Acupuncture Licensing Board Amendments was heard by the Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee on February 10th, where it passed unanimously. It is now on the Senate's consent calendar and will likely be voted on this upcoming week. If the Senate passes the bill, it will go the Governor for his signature and be enacted into law.

HB 289, Charter School Closure Amendments will likely be heard in a House Education Standing Committee later this week. I have been working with the Utah State Office of Education and the Charter School Board to develop a substitute that will improve the first draft. I will include the substitute in next week's update.

HB 351, Attorney General Fiscal Amendments  I have been working with the drafter and the Attorney General's Office on the language of this bill over the past couple of weeks. This bill addresses an audit recommendation to re-evaluate the way the office bills other state agencies for provided legal services.

HB???, Department of Administrative Services Rivisions will also be numbered and available in the next week or two. This is a clean-up bill that repeals unnecessary and antiquated accounts that are no longer used.

Capitol Pic of the Day

Salt Lake County Caucus

This week we talked about the various education bills being heard this session. Here is a summary of the bills we discussed.

HB 200, Student Assessment Modifications: This bill allows districts and charters the choice to eliminate the year end assessment for the 11th grade. This would allow more time for college preparation.

HB 201, Student Testing Amendments: This bill eliminates the use of year end assessments as an evaluation for teachers. This proposal stems from teachers being held accountable for circumstances beyond their control. Additionally, this has added to the challenge of teacher retention and recruitment.

HB 28, Grants for Educator Professional Learning: This bill provides resources to teachers in schools for professional development. If this passes, it will free up money in the WPU for schools to use to address other needs.

SB 67, Partnerships for Student Success: This bill establishes a public-private partnership that targets schools with at risk students.

HB 42, Optional Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments: This bill adds to the existing Optional Enhanced Kindergarten (OEK) program which currently has about 214 participating schools. This bill would increase the level of participating schools to about 500. Many studies indicate that high school success can be predicted by reading proficiency at the third grade and that the best place to start for achieving proficiency by the third grade is at the kindergarten level.

HB 301 School Bus Route Grant Program: In order for school busses to run routes, there must be a 1.5 or 2 mile distance between the school and the route stops. This bill creates a grant program to provide additional routes in cases where the existing walking route is unsafe.

This upcoming Thursday, we will talk about air quality and water infrastructure and hear from bill sponsors proposing legislation in this area. Health care will likely be heard next week. Watch for updates in next week's blog update.

House GOP Caucus

During this week's meetings, we heard various presentations from House members regarding their proposed bills. Our recent meetings have been used as a forum to get more in depth on some of the bills that are up for debate. This helps save time on the floor as a lot of our questions will be already be answered.

Here is a snapshot of where we are with the volume of bills this session.

Source: Legislative Research and General Counsel


Click on the committee meetings below to see the list of bills we discussed in committee.

House Transportation Standing Committee


This week, our appropriations subcommittees prioritized budget requests. The final prioritized lists of each committee will be presented by the chairs to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) in the coming weeks. EAC is made up of the leadership of both parties and both House and Senate. If you're interested in watching these appropriations items, you can attend in person or listen in on the discussions online.

EAC will hear from all nine subcommittees (EAC represents its own as well), and after the new revenue estimates are announced, we will know how much money is available (or not) to appropriate to the requested needs. Once the new revenue estimates are presented, EAC will begin prioritizing these budget items and a newly revised list will be presented.

To see the Elected Officials and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee's final prioritized list, click here.

To see the Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee's final prioritized list,  click here.


This past Saturday, I was invited to speak to a group called Kava Talks. This is a group made up of Pacific Islander men who are being certified as advocates to address the issue of domestic violence. I was impressed by the level of grass roots community engagement that is occurring in West Valley City, as well as the commitment and passion directed towards strengthening the future generation of Pacific Islanders in the valley.

This week, we had a few notable visitors on the House floor. We were visited by Taya Kyle, wife of Navy Seal and American hero Chris Kyle, Mark Geist, co-author and American hero of the tragic story behind the film 13 hours, and Donald Trump Jr.

Friday was PTA Day at the Capitol. I was able to speak to members at the UEA lunch and was pleasantly surprised to see my 8th grade art teacher in the room. This was the highlight of the session so far. It was also fun to have my daughter sit on the House floor with me and to run into teachers from her school.

Hearing from constituents is important to me. Please fill out my survey and help me better represent the district. I would like to get as much input as I can over the next two weeks. Please share with your family members and neighbors as well. Additionally, I am hosting a few more town halls in the coming weeks: February 20th, February 27th and March 19th. I will share the final results of the survey on my blog and at the March 19th town hall.