Week three is done, and the Legislature has passed 50 total bills. We’ve seen some great bills that are the culmination of years of work and negotiation. The great thing about the Utah Legislature is that almost everyone up here tries hard to be open, respectful, and collaborative. Even though we’ve heard a lot about unity in the last few weeks I think that many people get it wrong. Unity is not about getting people to think the way that you do. It is all about people with many different perspectives united in purpose to work toward common goals. Even with all our differences, we all still share some common goals. We all want Utah to have a booming economy, a first-rate education for our kids, clean air, affordable and accessible healthcare, recreational opportunities, and safe communities.
I appreciate all of you who have taken the time and effort to share your viewpoints so far. Please, keep it up and stay involved.
Occasionally, the work we do in the legislature directly impacts the lives of our friends and loved ones. 26 years ago, we lost someone dear in our community. Her remains have never been recovered. This is tragic and the pain continues for those impacted.
My bill, S.B. 124, Parole Amendments provides that someone who has been convicted of homicide in the State of Utah will not be released on parole if the victim’s remains have not been found or if the offender can’t show by a preponderance of evidence a good-faith effort to cooperate with the recovery of the victim’s remains. So far, S.B. 124 passed unanimously in committee and on its second reading in the full Senate.
Although Utah works hard to have accurate and secure elections, ballots occasionally are mailed to deceased voters. This session, I’m the floor sponsor of H.B. 12Deceased Voter Amendments, which 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.
Honoring Officer Nathan Lyday
The Utah Legislature paid tribute and honored the exemplary life of Officer Nathan Lyday from the Ogden City Police Department. On May 28, 2020, Officer Nathan Lyday made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his life for the protection of others. That day will remain a date of significance and honor for the city of Ogden and the state of Utah. May we remember and thank our law enforcement officers for protecting our communities. Listen to the floor time presentation here. Read the full citation 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.
Driver License Changes
This week, we considered legislation that would make changes to the driver’s license requirements for new drivers. H.B. 18Driver 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.
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. 1Concurrent 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.
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. 6Concurrent 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.
Financial Relief for Businesses Harmed by COVID-19
Over the last year, we made significant efforts to provide economic support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. S.B. 25Corporate Tax Amendments, provides more targeted relief to businesses by allowing them to carry back a Utah net loss realized during 2020 for up to three years. The idea is if a business was profitable in the three years leading up to 2020, but then suffered a loss in 2020, the loss is very likely to have been caused by the economic hardship brought about by the pandemic. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
State Data (as of February 5th)
Total Cases: 352,489
Total People Tested: 2,061,926
Total Hospitalizations: 13,755
Total Deaths: 1,728
Estimated Recovered: 318,034
Vaccines Administered: 382,881
Utah County Dept of Health
Total Cases: 85,826
Current Cases 3,697
Total Tested: 411,054
1st Dose: 48,849
2nd Dose: 12,102