BOX ELDER COUNTY - January 25, 2021 - Utah Sen. Scott D. Sandall
Dear Friends and Neighbors, Well, week one of our general session is in the books and, like everything right now, it has been different. For one thing, it’s much quieter. The Capitol is pretty much closed to the public, which could be problematic, doing the public’s work. Of course, we still need input, so changes have been made to follow Covid-19 guidelines while also giving you access as we discuss bills and budgets. We also started session a week earlier this year, so we ended up starting the same week as the inauguration. With as crazy as things have been recently, I think it really drives home the point to us as legislators that we need to take our work seriously. I really hope that we as a legislature and you as constituents can work collaboratively together to make Utah a better place to live. Thanks for this opportunity. Here's a link to a video intro to this year's legislative session. Public Access during the 2021 General Session Due to public safety and COVID-19 concerns, adjustments have been made to ensure public participation options are available during the legislative session. Committee meetings now have audio and video, making it easier to view presentations and know who is speaking. Here's how you can be involved during the session.
You can virtually attend committee meetings and provide public input. Learn how here.
The Utah Senate holds daily press availability where the media can ask Senate leadership and bill sponsors questions. This takes place every weekday during the legislative session. You can watch media availability on the Senate’s Facebook, here.
Honoring Representative Lou Shurtliff The Utah Legislature presented HCR7, Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the Public Service of Representative Lawanna Lou Shurtliff, in honor of the late state Rep. Shurtliff’s legacy to the Utah House of Representatives, Weber County, and across Utah. We had a moment of silence in the Senate chamber to recognize her contributions. Her presence will be missed. Address to the Utah Legislature The Utah Legislature was addressed by the executive branch and Utah Courts to update Utahns on the successes and challenges of our state. Gov. Spencer Cox held his first State of the State address where he encouraged Utahns to read the One Utah Roadmap, “a Plan for the first 500 days of the Cox-Henderson Administration with detailed goals and initiatives to strengthen our foundation.” Chief Justice Matthew Durrant gave the State of the Judiciary addressing how COVID-19 impacted our judicial system. He also stated the need to identify biases in the process, resume in-person jury trials and increase internet bandwidth in rural courthouses. Listen to the State of the Judiciary address here. Listen to the State of the State address here. $43 Million Tax Cut Proposed The first bill debated in the Senate on the first day of the session was S.B. 11, Retirement Income Tax Requirements, which seeks to remove the tax on Military Retirement Income and reduces the tax on Social Security Income. This bill would create a $43 million tax cut. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the floor debate here. In the News: Deseret News | Press Release Security Cameras HOAs can currently prohibit an individual from installing security cameras at their residence. S.B. 31, Condominium and Community Association Regulation Amendments, prohibits an HOA from disallowing owners to install security cameras on their own units or lots. This bill passed in the Senate with unanimous support and will now be considered in the House. Sarah’s Bill Last summer, Sarah, a Utah high schooler, and her three friends were hit by a drunk driver. The accident paralyzed Sarah from the waist down and resulted in the loss of her legs. As she was still receiving urgent medical care just hours after the accident, the man who hit her was already released on bail. Sarah’s bill, or H.B. 47, DUI Revisions, would allow a judge to deny bail to drunk drivers who have injured or killed someone if the court has sufficient evidence to support the charge. These individuals would be held in custody until their trial. This bill passed in the House with unanimous support and will be considered in the Senate next week. In the News: KSL Budget As a Legislature, our Constitutional responsibility is to pass a balanced budget before the close of the General Legislative Session. It is a responsibility we take seriously. As such, we spend the first few weeks of the session meeting in appropriations subcommittees to consider how we allocate money in each area, such as public education, social services and transportation. Eight appropriations subcommittees prepare base budgets for their assigned subject area over the first couple of weeks of the session. These subcommittee base budgets are passed in the early weeks of the session, which allows the state to continue functioning at a basic level. This prevents the state government from shutting down. Then, typically during the final week of the session, we pass what is known as the “Bill of Bills,” which is the comprehensive budget bill that includes additional appropriations not included in the base budgets. You can learn more about the state’s budget here. In-person Instruction In November, state leaders met with Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator. State leaders were told that the spread of the virus primarily occurs in communities rather than in schools and that schools should resume in-person learning. Out of the 41 public school districts in Utah, 40 are providing an in-person option for their students. Salt Lake School District is the only one that does not. During the first quarter of online instruction at Salt Lake School District, 364 secondary school students failed all their classes, an increase of 600 percent. S.B. 107, In-person Instruction Prioritization, gives parents the option of taking their students out of online-only schools and moving them to another school that offers in-person instruction. Funding would then follow the student to the new school. The bill does not force any student to return to in-person learning, it simply gives parents options if their students are struggling under the online format. The bill passed its second reading in the Senate. Listen to the debate on the Senate floor here. In the News: KSL | ABC 4 | Senate Twitter | Fox 13 K-9 Policy in Law Enforcement Last year, bodycam footage of an arrest in Salt Lake City prompted the Salt Lake City Police Department to launch an official review of its K-9 program. The review analyzed 27 instances where individuals were bitten by police dogs in 2018. Eighteen of those instances were investigated by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office for possible criminal charges, and the city’s K-9 program was suspended indefinitely. S.B. 38, K-9 Policy Requirements requires that police dogs and handlers in the state of Utah undergo an annual certification process. It also amends Utah law to provide liability protection for officers and agencies if the dog acts in a way contrary to the officer’s commands. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. Listen to the discussion on the Senate floor here. In the News: KUTV College for Veterans For years, senior citizens in Utah have been able to audit courses offered at state institutions of higher education. This means that seniors can attend and participate in classes for a small fee. They don’t have to take tests, write papers, or do any homework, and they won’t receive any college credit. S.B. 45, Higher Education Classes for Veterans, gives Utah veterans the same opportunity. The bill passed unanimously on its second reading in the Senate. Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here. Covid-19 Data State Data (as of January 25th) Total Cases: 337,264 Total People Tested: 1,969,659 Total Hospitalizations: 13,054 Total Deaths: 1,597 Estimated Recovered: 285,852 Vaccines Administered: 229,575 Bear River Health Department Total Cases: 17,955 Box Elder: 4,449 Cache: 13,408 Rich: 98 Recovered: 16,480 Box Elder: 4,055 Cache: 12,342 Rich: 83 Deaths: 56 Box Elder: 31 Cache: 25 Rich: 0 Tooele County Health Department Total Cases: 5,042 Vaccines Given: 2440 Hospitalizations: 148 Deaths: 20 7 Day Rolling Average Cases Per Day 44.34 Total Tooele County School District Active Cases 53 I Look Forward to Hearing from You! Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: https://senate.utah.gov/. I'll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My mobile phone number is (435) 279-7551. If you’d like to meet with me in person during the interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at email@example.com. He’ll help us get in touch. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention. Until next time,