We are now officially past the half-way point in the legislative session. Thank you for being interested in and following the issues of state.
One of the most moving and meaningful events of the week was a visit from some of Utah’s WWII Veterans. They visited the Senate as part of the recognition being given to the Utah Chapter of the Honor Flight. The Honor Flight is a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect veterans with the memorials that were erected in their honor. To that end, they provide means for veterans to travel to these memorials to visit and reflect in person. The Utah chapter has sponsored five major fights to Washington DC and helped over 200 Utah veterans see their memorial. In Utah, we still have over 8,000 veterans – and it is appropriate that we honor these brave men and women by helping them witness the perpetual symbols of our respect and enduring gratitude. It is significant to note that, but for those who have preserved our freedoms, the Utah Legislature would not be allowed to convene and do the people’s business.
One of the soldiers from Utah who joined the WWII effort was my own dad. I wish he were still with us and could be part of these Honor Flight trips. Here is one of my favorite pictures of him.
The decision on Medicaid expansion is definitely one of the most important decisions that will be made this session. We basically have four options:
One is the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan, another is Senator Christensen’s proposal that would offer a minimal expansion with a focus on charity care, the third is a bill from Senator Davis that would constitute full expansion, and the fourth option is to do nothing and leave it as it is. It is frustrating that we have to make the decision. The dilemma is the result of federal overreach. I do not support the fedralizaiton of health care.
Here is a link that explains the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” option:http://www.senatesite.com/
Here is a link that explains Senator Christensen’s bill that was passed out of committee this week:
And here is a graphic that shows what states in the rest of the nation have done thus far: http://media.thestate.com/
Here is a link to Senator Hillyard’s thoughts on how he might vote on the issues and why: http://www.cachevalleydaily.
It is tradition that every member of our Congressional delegation visits the Senate while we are in session and present a report. This week we had visits from both of our US Senators, as well as from Congressional members Rob Bishop and Mia Love.
As we are in the midst of our budgeting process, I was appreciative of Congressman Bishop’s thoughts on being cautious with the acceptance of federal funds.http://www.standard.net/
Senator Mike Lee brought the popular pollster Frank Luntz.
At least twice a week, the Senate Republicans have a working lunch caucus meeting. Our caterer of choice is Marvellous Catering. We have many delightful caterers in Utah – but Marvellous Catering has become a senate favorite and the one from whom we purchase our lunch most often. (btw – It is fun for me to remind the senators that Marvellous Catering – and their ever popular Mollys Restaurant – are in my Senate district.) On occasion we have visitors join our lunch meeting. You just never know who will run into in the lunch line!
Senator Jenkins has a bill that addresses the quagga mussel problem in our state. The tiny, fast growing, and very destructive quagga mussels cause a great deal of damage to fisheries, beaches, pipes, canals and dams. The goal is to contain and maintain their destructive potential. Without a preemptive move, the state could end up spending more than $15 million a year to manage the problem. Last session we passed and the Governor signed SB 212 that will create inspection stations where boats and water vehicles going in and out of the lake will be checked for quagga mussels. This bill requires a licensing fee for boats to help fund the maintenance project.
I am grateful that the tenor of the Utah Legislature is one of economic prudence. We are not the only state that has a constitutional requirement to balance our budget, but it is disturbing how many other states choose to follow the lead of Washington D.C. and just spend and spend. Here is an interesting but disturbing graphic on the amount of debt each president has contributed to the country’s deficit.http://www.washingtonexaminer.
Utah ranks at the top of many lists, but did you ever think about this one?
There was a Senate Art Competition last year that invited high school students to create their best representation of the state capitol. The winners of the Senate Art Competition were recognized on the senate floor this week. Their artwork submissions were truly amazing and unique. There were almost 200 entries and awards went to 26 students. One of these winners was Madeline Reinhard of Utah County. All of the entries will be on display on the third floor of the Capitol throughout the month of March.http://www.senatesite.com/
(Madeline Reinhard getting her award)
George Washington’s official birthday was this week. Few could argue that he was perhaps the greatest president our nation has ever had. This article identifies “character” as his overall defining trait. “What, then, made Washington the greatest man of this great generation? It was his character. George Washington stands out, even among men of the caliber of the founders, for the greatness of his character.”http://dailysignal.com/2015/
We remember President Washington this weekend on his birthday – and remember again that we are indebted to him, the founders, and all who have fought to preserve our freedom. May we ever do our part.
For more information on happenings in the senate (more budget information, updates on prison or the all-important water bills on which I am focused) remember that you can follow the senate live or even listen to the recordings. Here are some of the links below:
The Senate unveiled a new website this week. Take a look and tell me what you think.http://senate.utah.gov/
Yours for Freedom,
Senator Margaret Dayton
PS: Enjoy your weekend and remember that the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo is taking place this weekend at the Salt Palace . Come learn about preserving our conservation and culture of hunting. www.huntexpo.com