Another eventful week has come and gone here on the HIll. With more than half of this year’s general session under our belt, we’re continuing to work hard and tackle the difficult issues within our state. As always, I welcome any questions, comments, or concerns, and look forward to hearing from you.
Here is a quick overview of the bills in discussion here in the House.
The House passed a controversial bill that would reinstate the firing squad as a way of carrying out the death penalty in Utah. HB 11 would allow Utah law to use a firing squad as a means to carry out the death penalty if the drug cocktail necessary for lethal injection was unavailable. After the presentation and arguments for and against the bill, the vote sat deadlocked at 35-35 as lawmakers and a gallery of spectators waited for the return of three representatives who had walked out before the vote. When they did cast their votes, the final tally ended at 39-34. A minimum of 38 votes is required for a bill to pass the House.
Children who are severely disabled would receive more financial support from the state under the bill HB 199 that cleared the House. The House passed HB 199, which instructs state officials to apply for a federal Medicaid waiver to help such children. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Edward Redd, a doctor, said many families spend tens of thousands of dollars a year beyond what their private insurance covers, and many make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. He said that results in some taking low pay to qualify for Medicaid, or they go into a financial hole.
HB 79 a bill that would make not wearing a seat belt a primary driving offense in Utah. Has passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday. HB 79, sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry, passed 42-32. HB 79 was amended to allow only a warning for a first offense. It would also waive a first fine later if a driver were willing to take a free, online safety course. Perry said these changes show the bill’s emphasis is education, rather than punishment. HB 79 allows officers to stop and ticket drivers if they think the driver or any of their passengers aren’t wearing seat belts. Perry said he is attempting to pass HB 79 because of an accident and death of a family friend’s child and another teenager in a rollover accident. The bill makes it easier to enforce seat-belt laws.
(Here is Utah State University winning the Lt. Governor’s Campus Cup. A competition for registering students to vote and student voter turnout.)
Why is voter turnout so low in Utah? The House decided it isn’t worth spending $109,000 to try to find out. The House voted 30-42 to defeat HB 200, which proposed creating a task force to find out why Utahns have a low voter turnout, and how it could be improved. Rep. Arent, the Bill Sponsor said, many people have theories about the causes of low turnout, but no one is really sure. During debate I said it may make more sense to put the money into teaching our students more about civics, so they will grow up and learn the importance of voting.
Schools may be required to ensure that their mobile computers have filtering to prevent students from viewing pornography. The House voted 61-13 on Thursday to approve HB 213. Rep. Stratton, the bill sponsor, said he pushed the bill after an elementary school in his district recently had a student access hard-core pornography. He believes it shows schools need to install filters in mobile electronics for school use. Stratton said the bill would also require teaching good “digital citizenship,” that shows how to use technology safely so students can avoid the places they should stay away from.
(Above are politically active students visiting the Hill)
Message from our Federal Representatives
Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Mia Love, Rep. Bishop and Sen. Hatch spoke to the Utah Legislature, they all gave similar messages of Utah pride and a commitment to reducing the power of the federal government. They all agree that the states should have much more power over local
Rep. Mia Love said, “When all is said and done, I’m actually doing more undoing than doing.” She later said, “I’m removing a lot of these layers of federal regulatory burdens on businesses, states and people. … If I can make Washington less powerful, then I would see that my time there would be a success.”
(Mia Love addressing the House)
(Above are students attending Education Day)
It has been an exciting and rewarding week. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Thank you for the honor of representing you in the House.