The Issues


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Perspectives from the House

2014 Session Week 1 

Monday marked the start of the 2014 General Legislative Session, but our work started before the gavel fell. Last week members of the House Clean Air Caucus met outside the Utah Capitol to unveil a package of bills aimed to help improve Utah’s air. This bipartisan group of legislators introduced bills designed to encourage the use of electric vehicles, buy transit passes, convert from wood-burning primary heat sources to natural gas, and educate the public on ways each of us can improve air quality throughout the state of Utah.

The Republican Caucus also met to discuss the control of Utah’s public lands.  The federal government’s mishandling of Utah’s National Parks this summer is just one example, in which it is clear that sovereignty is better with the state.  As the Speaker said in her opening remarks, “The cause of state sovereignty is not a new talking point in a permanent political conversation, it is the birthright of every single one of us.”

We look forward to representing our constituents to the best of our ability this legislative session, and hearing from those with questions, comments, or concerns. 

Week 2

The start of our second week here on Utah’s Capitol Hill was met with hard work as our appropriations subcommittees continued to meet diligently and discuss the budget. These subcommittees reviewed state departments, audits, and spending, and then brought forward a base budget. The base budget is presented in bill form and is essentially a guideline for spending for the year. The legislature continues to keep Utah fiscally responsible by balancing the budget every year.

This session, the legislature will introduce a solution that has been years in the making. By consolidating the 9-1-1-system across the state of Utah, we hope to ensure every Utahn will receive the best possible emergency response. Reforming the dispatch system will eliminate confusion, save money, shrink emergency response times and save lives.

Later in the week the Utah House of Representatives had the privilege of honoring fallen Sgt. Derek Johnson and his family with a citation on the House floor. As legislators, and as Utahns, we are grateful for the sacrifices law enforcement members and their families make every day. 

Week 3

We’re wrapping up week three of the 2014 legislative session here on the hill. This week we continued to meet in appropriations and standing committees, as well as debate House and Senate bills on the House floor. We spent time discussing the Utah School Readiness Initiative (HB 96), election laws (HB282), and a variety of other bills, including HB 283, a bill that enacts the Nonprofit Entity Receipt of State Money Act. 

Week 4

We are officially halfway through the 2014 General Legislative Session, and things are progressing up here on the hill. Every day more and more bills receive committee hearings, debate on the House floor, and are passed over to the Senate. This year alone there have been 1,216 requests for legislation. Of those, 595 bills have been numbered, 314 have been dropped, and 257 are still being drafted. Utah’s legislative process is unique and this session we’re enjoying the opportunity to be part of the policy-making process. 

Week 5

This week at the Capitol we received the state’s latest revenue projections and are now working to finalize the state budget. We’ve already passed a base budget as a guide, but we now we can confidently appropriate new ongoing and one-time revenue. Overall, new estimates show that one-time revenue is up $11 million and ongoing revenue is up $47 million, with most of that increase in the education fund. In total, the state has $144 million in new one-time revenue and $253 million in ongoing revenue.

It’s important to recognize the difference between the two types of revenue. We can expect the source of ongoing revenue to remain about the same year to year, but one-time revenue can only be used once. Except in cases of emergency, the state of Utah does its best to avoid paying for ongoing costs with one-time revenue.

Utah continues to be well positioned for what lies ahead. Our consumer confidence levels are well above national averages, and our unemployment rate, at 4.1 percent, is well below the national average.

Every year, legislators are tasked with balancing the budget. This means making hard choices when it comes to what the state should and should not fund. This session the House has made funding public education, air quality initiatives, and providing for Utah’s most needy top priority. It’s in imperative that our school children are given innovative ways to learn, that Utahns can feel safe about the air they breathe, and that those that need help, are given help. 

Week 6

We have one week left on the Hill, and it will be full of meaningful floor debate and final budget negotiations.

Now that final committee meetings have been held, most of our work will be done on the chamber floor. Between the House and the Senate, more than 700 bills were numbered this session. But that doesn't mean we'll pass that many new laws. Some bills are cleanup bills, making technical changes, and some fix problems or update existing law.

Of the bills that don’t make it to the floor, some are abandoned; others fail to make it out of committees and the rest fail on the floor of the House or Senate.

The state constitution requires that the general legislative session only lasts 45 consecutive days. That 45 days includes weekends, which means that the legislature has even less time to do the work of the state. This limited time frame, and the sheer volume of bills introduced, requires long days and judicious decisions from legislators.

We expect there to be more than couple late nights, and a lot of great debate during the next week. However, regardless of time constraints, we will pass a balanced budget totaling nearly $13 billion, we will increase education funding, continue to find responsible solutions for air quality, and better prepare the state of Utah for the future, and we’re pretty proud of that. 

Week 7

We’re wrapping our last week here on the hill, and tonight at midnight, Utah’s 60th Legislature will adjourn sine die. Apart from a few interim sessions throughout the year, today we complete most of our legislative work.

Most notably, this week we passed a $13.5 billion dollar budget with no tax increase. The Utah House and the Utah Senate came together to discuss and negotiate how best to serve the citizens of the state of Utah. We were able to appropriate a great deal of money to public education and to higher education. There is enough money in the budget to fund growth and increase the WPU (per pupil spending) by 2.5 percent. We also were able to appropriate a substantial amount of money to higher education, including $50 of equity funding.

This Wednesday the final report from the House Special Investigative committee was presented. This concludes the House investigation into the actions of former Attorney General John Swallow. If you would like to read the final report you can view it here: The House Special Investigative Committee had a difficult task, and the state of Utah should be proud of the responsible and fair way the investigation was conducted.

Serving as your Representative this session has been a privilege and an honor. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.