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Week 4 Update
February 22, 2013
Dear Friends and Neighbors ~
Today is the birthday of our first President, George Washington. I am old enough to remember when his birthday was, appropriately so, a national holiday. As a little girl, I enjoyed having the day off of school on Feb 22 and Feb 12, which was also a national holiday honoring President Abraham Lincoln. We learned songs, poems, and stories about these great men in grade school. Sadly, many now think that the holiday in Feb is a day to honor all presidents and refer to it as Presidents Day. Some states do label it thus, but in Utah (and many other states) the holiday in Feb is call Washington and Lincoln Day in honor of those 2 great men. Below is the Utah State Code:
63G-1-301. Legal holidays — Personal preference day — Governor authorized to declare additional days.
(1) (a) The following-named days are legal holidays in this state:
(i) every Sunday;
(ii) January 1, called New Year’s Day;
(iii) the third Monday of January, called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
(iv) the third Monday of February, called Washington and Lincoln Day
Remembering these great former leaders helps us to reflect on our history and our freedoms. Our freedom comes with a price; it is – and ever will be – blood. Interestingly enough today in the senate we also acknowledged the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We passed HJR 6 recognizing the 50th anniversary. The last few lines of the resolution sponsored by Senator Jenkins were, “Now, Therefore, be it resolved, that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein, recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and those who fought, suffered, and died in the conflict. Be it Further Resolved that the Legislature and the Governor urge the citizens of Utah to reflect on the service and sacrifice of many during the Vietnam War.”
Next, holding with our annual tradition, we honored members of our Armed Forces and recognized the fallen soldiers from our state. Ten units from Utah have deployed members. Eight of those units were represented on the floor. But our recognition was happily incomplete. I am pleased to report that no members of our military Utah Units were killed in the past year.
If you would like to see pictures of these tributes, they are on the Senate Site.
It was a tender and emotional time for all of us in the senate, and brought to my recollection so many memories of growing up in a military family. My Dad was career Air Force. We moved often with his transfers. Seeing men in Air Force blues brings comforting memories of childhood. My Dad was in three wars; Korea, WWII and Vietnam. I remember being a young high school student in California during Vietnam. I had several classmates who protested the war. My Dad was gone to war for over a year – a long year for our family. As an Air Force officer, he had serious responsibilities during that conflict. Here is a picture of him during WWII.
Remembering the Vietnam marker, I also include a picture of my husband serving in the Air Force during that time. (this was before I met him – but I’m so glad he served in the same branch of service as my Dad. I proudly acknowledge that I have several other family members currently serving in the Air Force.)
Okay – lots of reflections – but it is important that we remember our history, our freedoms, and the high cost of such blessings. One of the themes President Neiderhauser has emphasized this year has been “Lest we forget.”
Much time was spent this week on Budgeting. Be reminded that Utah always functions on a balanced budget – and not in the red. As mentioned before, most of our tax dollar goes to education.
Public Education receives the largest portion of the state’s money in the state budget. Just over half the state’s $13 billion budget goes directly to the State Board of Education (public k-12 education) and the State Board of Regents (higher education).
Here is a break down of where the State Board of Education gets the money they are given to spend. About ten percent comes from the federal government. The rest is from various state and local taxes. The Utah Constitution mandates that every bit–100%, of all individual and corporate income tax be spent on education. All of the profits from the sale of alcohol in the state are spent on K-12 public education. A portion of the state sales tax goes to education; money collected from our Trust Lands fund about 1% of the education budget. Just over half of all property tax revenue goes directly to public education.
It is a little complicated, but we try to focus on keeping track of how it is spent and making those expenditures transparent. Senator Thatcher is running a bill that will help with this problem. It won’t take any authority away from the State School Board nor will it be a burden to the schools because they are already collecting the information of how they spend the money, but it will make the expenditures available to the public. Government expenditures should be transparent and easy to access. Senator Thatcher’s bill is now in the House. Every member of the Senate voted in favor of the bill. Here is a link to the bill: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillint/SB0128.htm
On a different topic is SB60 – one of the bills I am sponsoring http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillamd/SB0060.htm
It requires the State Health Department to annually report data to the Health and Human Services Committee on abortions performed in the state. The data is already collected and sent to the Federal government. This bill simply requires that it be reported to the state legislature as well.
Another bill I ran in the Senate this year is SB17. This is one of a series of bills I have run in the last 10 to 12 years strengthening the USDC (Utah State Developmental Center) I took time to give a short history of the Developmental Center in my presentation – and while doing so, I invited 4 guests on to the floor. Dr. Dean Robinson, Mary Paulsen, Carola Zitzman, and Director of Human Services, Palmer DePaulis. The first 3 represent a dedicated advocacy community – and I have worked with these 3 dedicated souls for over a decade now. They, together, have given over 110 years of service and advocacy to the most severely handicapped – and Director DePaulis has come to our aid. He has been a valued partner and advocate. This is a cause of great significance to me. I hope you will take time to listen to the presentation.
Another Bill that is receiving media attention is Senate Bill 72 sponsored by Senator Jenkins. This bill would examine relocating the state prison. SB 72 creates a board that would study the possible relocation of the state prison in Draper. If the decision to relocate the prison were made, the board would then study possibilities and oversee new development of the land. The major reasons that relocation of the prison needs to be considered are: modernization, rehabilitation needs, and potential economic development.
Also this week, President Holland stopped by to talk UVU issues with me. All of the Utah County legislators are united in our support of UVU which is in urgent need of a new classroom building to accommodate the growing number of students. There is also a crucial need for equity funding; UVU gets less money from the state per student than any other institution in the Utah State Higher Education System. Fortunately for us, Rep Keith Grover (my rep) is the House Chair of Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. He is an effective legislator and an asset to the Utah County delegation.
We honored the Utah Mother of the Year, Judy Cook, and the Utah Young Mother of the Year, Michelle Lehnardt. Judy Cook lives in Senate District 15.
Other visitors to the senate this year include our United States senators. Senator Mike Lee spoke to us on Tuesday. He talked a lot about the pending budget cuts. These cuts will have a significant impact on national defense spending. One thing Senator Lee found “stunning” was that even though they knew the cuts were coming, the Pentagon has done nothing to prepare for them. Once again I am proud of Utah. We have prepared for pending budget cuts. Last November, each state agency created a plan for how they would cut their budgets in the event of 5% or 25% cut of federal funds. If our funds are cut, it won’t be easy, but at least we have a starting point, even if we don’t know when the cuts are coming or how severe they will be.
On Wednesday, Senator Hatch visited. His message was similar: Sequestration will likely happen; there seems to be no real effort to pass a federal budget; “We are going to go through some trying times.”
Here is a link to Senator Lee’s remarks:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElHrruZ87RA
And here is one to Senator Hatch’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eVbnO4x9E4
A few constituent connections:
Last Saturday I attended the Open House of Kirkham Motorsports in my district. Special order factory made cars (no overseas outsourcing) – Orders for 2013 are sold out already. (notice the box of Dayton tires)
My 2 year old Grandson said “I wish I will have that car.”
It was fun visiting with Jeff and Becky Strain at the Capitol. Becky is the Legislative Chair for District 61, and does a fabulous job. Jeff is a precinct chair.
Every day on the senate blog, we post the Senate Journal. It is a fun way to keep track of the events of the day. The link to the blog ishttp://www.senatesite.com/home/
You can also follow what is happening during session on Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.
If you want to connect with me, please contact my intern William Kleinman at 253-273-7172
Will is legally blind – but instead of asking for entitlements, he insists on being a contributor (which he is – what a Republican idea!) and I appreciate his little family supporting him in this endeavor
Thank you for following the issues in the Legislature.
Yours for freedom ~
“Liberty is lost gradually to the uniformed, the uninterested, and the uninvolved.” Thomas Jefferson