The Issues


"I have known Dean both professionally, politically, and personally for years and I know that he will be a great asset to the district and will represent us well. We'll do more than well to have him representing us."

Learn More

Perspectives from the House

2015 Session Week 1 

The 2015 General Session of the Utah Legislature is now underway. 

This week the eight Appropriations subcommittees were tasked with reviewing a specific portion of the budget and making recommendations to the executive appropriations committee. This year, each government department had been asked to represent to these committees what a 2 percent budget cut would look like and what types of adjustments they would make if necessary.

The purpose of the 2% reduction was threefold: 1) to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of current expenditures; 2) to stress test the budget and give us a sense of the need to increase our reserves / savings; 3) to find real opportunities to reprioritize existing spending.   

Standing committees also began meeting this week.  It looks to be yet another frenetic session of activity.

Week 2

Base Budgets and This Year's Challenge

During the first few weeks of the legislative session, House members spend their mornings in appropriations subcommittees designing a base budget. This budget acts as a backstop if no final agreement is reached between the House and Senate during the legislative session, which this year ends at midnight on March 12.

The base budget is intended to avoid mishaps like the government shutdown experience Federally just over a year ago.  The base budget is never intended to become the final budgets, but rather is considered our starting point. 

Once this task is complete, we will start the work of building a new budget and working with the Senate to finalize it over the next month.

We’ve also spent this week hearing and debating bills in committee, as well as on the House floor. We’re making good progress and look forward to hearing your comments and concerns over the course of this 2015 General Legislative Session.

Weeks 3 & 4

Tuesday, February 10th marked the last day for the Legislature to either pass or defeat the base budget bills. As was discussed last week, much of our time up to this point has been focused on composing the base budgets; therefore, presenting these bills before the deadline on Tuesday has been a priority. If you would like, full details for the bills that have passed can be found by clicking here. 

While Tuesday is successfully behind us, the task of compiling a complete and finalized budget still stands. With the deadline fast approaching, there are other responsibilities that also command my time and attention during the legislative session. As has been noted in the news, there is a large number of proposed bills this session. As a result, the amount of time spent on the chamber floor this past week increased to twice that of weeks previous. Juggling a full schedule amid the other tasks and responsibilities is difficult, but will be well worth it in 4 weeks’ time. 

Final Weeks and Wrap Up of 2015 Session

Reviewing the 2015 Legislature from a big picture perspective helps bring into focus the magnitude of what was accomplished during the just-concluded 45-day session. Cooperation heretofore not seen by the House and Senate resulted in several generational lawmaking achievements.

There was plenty of heavy lifting starting with S.B. 296, historic Anti-discrimination and Religious Freedom legislation. This grand compromise brings together all of the various stakeholders in ensuring protection against discrimination in sexual preference, gender identity and religious expression in employment and housing. This, and companion bill S.B. 297, are the culmination of significant work over a period of many years and features contributions from both the House and Senate members.

S.B. 296 and S.B. 297 are game-changing in recognizing the rights of individuals to the expression of personal beliefs, prohibiting discrimination against employees for that expression outside the workplace. Additionally, S.B. 296 forbids discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of sexual preference or gender identity.

H.B. 348, will result in millions of dollars of reinvestment into the criminal justice system by changing the way we sentence and treat many offenders.

Integral to this reform is the rebuild of the Utah State Prison and building a new state-of-the-art facility capable of accommodating the types of treatment and rehabilitation programs proven to reduce recidivism and return offenders to society better prepared for reintegration.

The 2015 budget was largely achieved with a minimum of rancor between the House and Senate and many programs were able to see funding increases.

The State Board of Education had requested a WPU funding increase of 2 percent and received 4 percent, without opposition in either legislative body. This amounted to the largest increase in WPU funding in nearly a decade and was joined by a $50 million allotment for enrollment growth.

Higher education also saw a boost, with $170 million budgeted for new buildings and maintenance. State employees will also benefit from receiving a 3 percent salary increase.

The process in the House saw some changes this session as legislators were given more time in committees to dive deeper into the issues before them. This also sped up the floor process as House members were able to debate bills more confidently knowing they had previously been vetted by colleagues on the appropriate committees.

Throw in incalculable hours of study and debate, motions and substitute motions, and you have a historic legislative session.