The 2015 Utah general legislative session is in the books. Our State constitution instructs that the legislative session will last for 45 days – not one minute longer. On March 12, at midnight, we finished our work. Needless to say, things went fast and furious this last week. Due to the high number of bills, they were prioritized, and we voted on as many as we could. Thank you so much for all of your support. It is truly an honor to represent the great residents of District 33. Here are some highlights from the last week:
Events at the Capitol
- More Rallies at the Capitol
One of the great things about the Session is all of the buzz at the Capitol. It is wonderful to see so many groups so passionate about issues that are important to them. This week we had some of the largest rallies I’ve ever seen at the Capitol, including this one for education. Regardless of what side you are on, it is great to see a forum where concerned citizens can express their views.
- Anti-Discrimination Bill Press Conference
On Wednesday, the Utah Legislature passed an anti-discrimination statute. It was truly historic, in that so many different groups came together to endorse the bill. These groups included the LGBT community, the LDS Church (Elder L. Tom Perry attended the press conference), the ACLU, etc. Here’s my view during the press conference, looking at the Governor, Lt. Gov., the Senate President and the Speaker of the House:
- Best Wife Ever
Here’s a photo of my wife who came to visit at the Capitol this week. I’m so grateful for my family’s support throughout the legislative session.
Of course, you can always watch the new reports. But the best way to track any legislation is at the Legislature’s website at http://le.utah.gov. Here are a few of the more interesting bills that were discussed this last week:
- The Legislature tackled some big issues this year. Here is a look at where some of the key issues ended up: [Trib] [AP] [AP] [Fox13]
- A bill that would reform parts of the state’s criminal justice system, lowering drug possession sentences and enhancing treatment options, passed and has Gov. Herbert’s approval. [Trib]
- Families of police officers and firefighters will receive more death benefits under a bill passed on Thursday. [Trib] [DNews]
- Although the legislature failed to take any action regarding Medicaid, all the parties (Senate/House/Governor) have said they hope to have a solution by July 31. [DNews] [Fox13] [ABC4] [UtahPolicy]
- Despite numerous attempts to overturn last year’s Count My Vote compromise, lawmakers officially decided to let it stand. [Trib]
- Gov. Herbert signed the historic SB296, which gives non-discrimination protection to the LGBT community and provides safeguards for religious liberties. [Trib] [DNews] [Fox13] [ABC4] [AP]
- Government transparency will be increased under a bill the Legislature passed to allow records-seekers to appeal local government decisions straight to the State Records Committee and open up complaints against telemarketers. [DNews]
- Lawmakers sought for a compromise on the issue of cell phone use while driving, but decided to scrap the idea and try again next year. [Trib]
- Minors may have a harder time buying e-cigarettes with a new bill passed by the Legislature that would require businesses to obtain licenses to sell the nicotine vaporizing devices. [Trib]
- Lawmakers passed a bill that would attempt to solve years of boundary disputes among cities and unincorporated land in Salt Lake County by giving the county’s townships a choice to become cities or metro townships. [Trib]
- After lots of talk about partisan/non-partisan school boards, the legislature chose to maintain the status quo, and keep the State School Board non-partisan. However, the current method may be overturned by the Courts. [Trib]
- Cockfighting in Utah will now bring tougher penalties. [Trib] [DNews]
- A bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state was defeated in the Senate by just one vote. [Trib] [Fox13] [KUER] [DNews]
Rep. Hall’s Legislation
I have several bills this session, here are a few:
- HB81 – Local School Board Meetings Requirements – PASSED! – I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed 48-25 in the House and 27-0 in the Senate.
This bill requires local school boards to have their school board meetings within their geographical districts.
I became aware over this last summer that a school board had an official meeting at Snowbird Ski Resort, miles away from their constituents. I believe school board meetings should be within the geographical boundaries of the district so constituents can easily participate. Two news reports – Here and here.
- HB20 – Jury Duty Amendments – PASSED! – I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed 70-0 in the House and 28-0 in the Senate.
This is a follow-up from a bill that I passed in 2013. The goal of this bill is to make make sure that courts spread out jury service to as many people as possible. This will help prevent the situation where some get called for jury service every six months, while others go decades without getting called for jury duty. Passed 70-0 in the House and passed 28-0 in the Senate. Waiting for the Governor to sign.
- HB154 – Jury Duty Exemption Amendments – PASSED! – I am a co-sponsor of this bill. Passed 74-0 in the House and 24-1 in the Senate.
HB154 exempts a nursing mother from jury duty. There are some judges that already dismiss nursing mothers from jury duty. But others do not. This bill would make it mandatory. Here’s a great story regarding the bill.
- HB120 – Modifications to Election Law – PASSED! – I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed 66-4 in the House and 24-0 in the Senate.
As it stands now, each political candidate is required to file a financial disclosure statement on August 31. The next report is not due until a week before election day. The problem is that many voters receive their vote-by-mail ballot in early October. This bill changes the filing date from August 31 to September 30. That way, when vote-by-mail voters are voting, they have the most recent information from candidates, at the time when they are actually voting. This is a good bill which increases transparency by political candidates.
- HB248 – Campaign Finance Reporting Revisions – PASSED! – I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed 53-15 in the House and 25-0 in the Senate.
This bill proposes a change to the fine structure when political candidates fail to report their campaign donations on time. The current structure excessively punishes late reporting for small contributions, compared to late reporting of large donations. This bill will fine late reporting for both small and large contributions at the same rate.
- HB348 – Criminal Justice Programs and Amendments – PASSED! – I am a cosponsor of this legislation. Passed 67-2 in the House and 23-0 in the Senate.
This bill makes serious reforms to the State’s criminal justice program. The overall goal of this bill was to reduce the recidivism rate. To accomplish this goal, the bill greatly enhances treatment options for inmates struggling with addiction and/or mental illness. It also drops drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor and reduces the punishment for some traffic offenses. It also institutes a new screening survey to identify offenders who have an addiction or a mental illness and directs them into treatment while they are incarcerated and when they are released.
- HB14 – Appropriations Limit and Mathematical Formula – PASSED! – I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed 67-0 in the House and 23-0 in the Senate.
This bill can only be loved by math nerds like myself. There are sections of the state Code that deal with technical issues regarding where money comes from and where it should go. Instead of just writing these technical instructions in text, it will be simpler (for those who have to actually implement the policy) to put such instructions in formula mode. This bill provides the mechanism necessary to put together more of these in the future, if it proves helpful.
- HB93 – School District Amendments – Did not pass. I am the chief sponsor of this bill. Passed the House 56-8. Was not heard in the Senate.
HB93 protects communities from unfair school district splits. It basically prohibits cities from cherry-picking its best tax base and creating its own school district, leaving their less affluent neighbors high and dry. This bill would have protected all families, students and taxpayers within District 33.
Here is a good news report regarding this bill: “In short, Hall is trying to take away the profit motive for splitting up a district and trying to avoid the creation of rich districts at the expense of poorer areas. . . . The plan will no doubt generate controversy, insomuch as any discussion of school district splits generate such discussions. But Hall should receive credit for approaching the issue from a different perspective that cuts to the core of education and education funding in the state.”
Town Hall Meetings!
Thanks for all those who attended any of my three Town Hall meetings throughout the session. Above is a photo of some of those who came to one of the meetings. I greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and opinions.
The regular Session is done. There’s a chance we could have a Special Session, or a veto-override Session. But other than that, all the legislators (including me) go back to their regular lives and jobs for the rest of the year. We do meet in “interim sessions,” which happen one day a month, to discuss possible bills, to study issues, and to recommend bills to the Senate or House for consideration. If you have an issue that you would like to discuss, or you would like me to look into some topic for next year’s Session, please feel free to contact me at any time. I will still have the occasional Town-Hall meeting, and I will keep you informed on when those will be held. I will also send out email updates after each “interim session.” For those that want more frequent updates follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/
We stayed to work on bills until 12:00 midnight on March 12. This is a photo of the Capitol at 1:30 a.m. after I left the Capitol. It has truly been an honor to represent District 33. Thank you for the opportunity!
Thanks for your support. Contact me anytime.
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Representative Craig Hall
Legislative email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cell phone: (801) 573-1774