Dear Friends in Senate 15 ~
Our legislative session has passed the half way mark. There is still much to be done – budget issues to solve, many proposals to be heard. Thank you for your continued interest in state government.
The assisted suicide bill appears to be defeated for this year. The issues of car safety inspections, concealed gun carry, marijuana research, as well as many other topics, are still being debated. One of the issues that received significant attention this week was the make-up of boards and commissions. That is an issue that came from the House – and I am the Senate sponsor for the bill. Many of the state boards and commissions here in Utah require that no more than a certain number can belong to the same political party. Originally, these requirements were meant to ensure the boards benefitted from multiple opinions but in reality, this requirement has created staffing problems. This bill is meant to eliminate all references to partisan affiliation. Under this bill, neither the Governor nor the Senate are allowed to consider partisan affiliation as a prerequisite to the service on a board and make quality the determining factor, not partisanship. Rather than type out an explanation, I will just add a link here (not really – I don’t know how to do that – but I will have my intern add a link) of the debate for you to watch if you are interested.
Under the ‘Index’ tab located under the video which shows the proceedings of the day, scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on ‘2 HB 11 State Boards and Commissions Amendment, Dayton’ to watch the debate on the Senate Floor.
Premarital Education and Counseling
After passing out of committee with a favorable recommendation, SB29 Marriage Commission Amendments was read on the Senate Floor. As the Senate Chair of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Christensen sees firsthand the enormous burden placed on the State of Utah by broken families. This bill was designed to incentivize those applying for a marriage license to engage in premarital counseling or education. The couple would pay an additional $20 when applying for their license and would receive the $20 back once the education or counseling had been completed. The additional funds from those who did not take advantage of counseling or education would go to fund the Utah Marriage Commission.
Research has shown that premarital education can make a big difference in keeping marriages together or in dissuading some to not marry in the first place. Up to 10% of people who engage in premarital education and counseling choose not to marry because of red flags discovered in their relationships. The discussion on the Senate floor was lively and the bill passed on its 2nd reading. On its 3rd Reading, the vote was extremely close and the bill failed to pass out of the Senate this year.
President Niederhauser asked me to run the Senate Floor yesterday. I enjoyed conducting from the Dias for most of the morning. My intern joined me on the Dias.
There are many different groups that come to the Capitol during the Legislative session. One day this week featured promotion of the arts- and performing groups from various schools performed in the Capitol rotunda.
Several days ago was UVU at the Capitol- and in honor of the university, my intern and I wore UVU wardrobe enhancements when we met with UVU Vice President Cameron Martin. Today was Higher Education Day on the Hill; students and school administrators from all of the Utah Systems of Higher Education visited the Capitol. I was pleased to meet with some of the student leaders from UVU.
This weekend is a three-day weekend for many – for schools, the post office, and the legislature – as we celebrate a holiday. The holiday in Utah is called Washington /Lincoln Day in honor of two great presidents whose birthdays were separate national holidays until about 20 years ago. Please pause to remember these 2 great leaders and talk about them with your families.
“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” – George Washington
“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
As always – you can listen to committees or watch Senate (or House) debate live or archived by going here: http://le.utah.gov/. The tabs on the left of this site will allow you to access various legislators, bills, and committees. The ‘Audio · Video’ tab in the middle of the screen will allow you to listen to live and past committee meetings if you do not have the opportunity to visit the Capitol. The House and Senate Floor while the ‘Calendar’ tab with show the times and locations of these meetings.
It is my honor to represent District 15 – the best district in the best state in the best nation in the world.
Yours for freedom ~