2018 Legislative Session – Week Four Report
If you haven’t taken the survey, this will likely be the final week. Your opinions are important to me. Please take the Legislative Survey
I enjoyed lots of great experiences this week. I enjoyed having Dr. Kenneth Richardson join me on the House Floor. He’s a physician and constituent of our district.
We got to hear from Congressman Rob Bishop.
It always a solemn and tender experience to honor our fallen soldiers. I’m so grateful for their service. Their, and their family’s, ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms is a powerful experience each year.
Thank you to members of the Alpine School district for joining me to discuss legislation.
I was honored to receive a Leadership Award from the Healthy Workplace Coalition.
It was a proud Grandpa moment to have two of my granchildren give the prayer and the pledge on the House floor on Thursday.
It was also a proud Father moment to have my son, Keven Jr. come as an expert witness to testify on HB186: Limited Liability Company Amendments.
Thank you for your emails, texts, phone calls and visits to the Capitol. Your opinions and insights are invaluable.
News from the House…
Week FOUR: February 12 – 16
Utah is 4th in the Nation for Opioid Overdose
On average 24-25 Utahns die each month from opioid overdoses. The Utah Legislature is considering a resolution that calls upon the Attorney General to take immediate legal action against prescription opioid manufacturers. Serious allegations have been raised regarding deceptive marketing practices used by manufacturers and distributors.
Utah ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose deaths, an average of six per week in 2014. These horrid statistics are more than just numbers; they represent the loss of human lives.
Measures are being taken in Utah to help combat the crisis, but we need to work to change the practices of companies that threaten the safety of our residents for their own financial gain. Sixteen states, dozens of local jurisdictions and Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Washington and Weber counties have already filed separate lawsuits against prescription opioid manufacturers to seek damages for the public costs of the opioid crisis.
Joining a multistate lawsuit with a myriad of other states does not allow us to adequately represent the needs and losses of Utah victims, and won’t necessarily lead to a change in business practices by these companies. HJR 12, Joint Resolution Calling Upon the Attorney General to Sue Prescription Opioid Manufacturers, calls upon the Attorney General’s Office to file a separate lawsuit against those companies whose practices and products have harmed Utahns. The goal is to change prescribing practices and put a stop to the rising rate of overdose deaths, maximize monetary gain to help reimburse the state for expenses associated with opioid abuse and hold accountable those whose actions created this destruction..
Update on Education
State dollars dedicated to education have grown at historic levels, since 2015. Education clearly is and has been a priority for the Utah State Legislature, so much so that in the past three years, K-12 funding has increased by more than $800 million – nearly 20 percent. In addition, the past two years, education spending accounted for the most significant portion of new money appropriated by the Utah Legislature.
This year is no exception; we will continue to prioritize education funding and aspire to do it without increasing the taxes of hard-working Utahns.
HB299 aims to dedicate approximately $700 million to public schools over the next three to four years, and do it in a way that directly and positively impacts teacher pay. This legislation would also prioritize funding for improved teacher training, metrics to ensure children meet reading standards by third grade and technology in the classroom.
Martha Hughes Cannon was the Talk of the Legislature!
On February 14, 1870, the first American woman to cast a vote in a state-wide election, Seraph Young, did so right here in Utah. Fast forward 148 years to February 14, 2018, when a concurrent resolution to have Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon represent Utah in the nation’s Capital passed the House.
“Why Martha?” you may ask. Martha Cannon was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. She obtained two medical degrees, from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in public speaking from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia.
In 1870, women were granted the right to vote in Utah—50 years before the 19th Amendment granted that right nationwide—but Congress removed it in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. Martha was a key player in ensuring that the right of women to vote and hold public office were included in the Utah Constitution in 1895.
Shortly afterward, Martha ran for Utah State Senate and won against a number of candidates, including none other than her own husband. She became the first-ever female state senator in the United States in 1896, more than 20 years before most women in the country were even able to cast a vote.
Each state is represented by two historical figures in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., with ours being Brigham Young and Philo T. Farnsworth. SCR1 proposes to replace Farnsworth’s statue, which has been there for 32 years, with one of Martha Hughes Cannon.
2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. As our nation commemorates women’s suffrage in 2020, Utah should stand up and celebrate its own historic and groundbreaking role in this effort.
Learn more about Martha by watching a short video here.
Utah Represented at the White House Roundtable
Speaker Greg Hughes represented Utah at the roundtable discussion on infrastructure, held at the White House, with President Donald Trump and governors, mayors and legislative leaders from around the country.
During the meeting, President Trump shared his initiative to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure by increasing local authority, eliminating unnecessary regulatory barriers, investing in rural economies and better preparing our workforce.
Utah will benefit from the proposal, as it assists in effectively and efficiently planning for future needs. Leaders in our state have routinely looked ahead to plan for the future, and we will continue this path moving forward as we prepare for growth and anticipated expanded infrastructure needs.
New House Member
Rep. Travis Seegmiller was administered the Oath of Office on February 14, becoming the newest member of the Utah House of Representatives. He was selected in a special election to fill the vacant seat in House District 62.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to represent the good people of District 62,” said Rep. Seegmiller.
Seegmiller is an associate professor of law, economics and management at Dixie State University. He has worked on presidential political campaigns and public policy issues since 1996, including service as a strategy staffer for Mitt Romney and as a Judiciary Committee staffer to Senator Orrin Hatch. He has also worked as a management strategy consultant and attorney in the areas of finance, investment, law and policy. After completing his undergraduate degree with departmental distinction at Yale University, Rep. Seegmiller received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, graduating cum laude from both universities.
Film Day on the Hill
Lights, camera, action! February 14 was Film Day on the Hill. The film industry educated lawmakers and visitors on the work it takes to create a movie. Utah’s backdrop has been home to more than 1,400 films, including 127 Hours and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
Aerospace Day on the Hill
Aerospace Day on the Hill took over the Capitol Rotunda on February 8 for the third year in a row. Legislators and industry experts discussed ways to help strengthen the industry and generate more jobs.
Pharmacy Day on the Hill
White coats flooded the Rotunda as pharmacists, pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians presented information about medicine and research during Pharmacy Day on the Hill. In the center of it all, various free health screenings were offered to visitors including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and pulmonary (lungs) function tests. Some representatives stopped by to see how they are holding up now that we are halfway through this year’s legislative session. Results showed we have some healthy people representing Utah. Watch here.
Lucky Student to See Hamilton
The Utah Legislature and the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts have teamed up to give high school students an opportunity to see the Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical through the New Nation Letter Writing Competition. The purpose is to get young people engaged in the legislative process and in their local communities.
To participate in the competition, a high school student must write a letter to one of their elected officials about an issue of concern in the community and include a proposed solution.
Each student who submits a qualifying entry will be entered into a random drawing to see the musical here in Utah. The competition closes at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 20. Learn more about it and apply here.
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