It’s hard to believe we are already at the end of week three of the session! As of this week, 535 bills have been numbered and 58 of those bills have passed in both the House and the Senate. We only have 4 weeks to go!
This week I presented many of my bills on the Senate floor, including two house bills. The Senate started meeting twice a day on the floor which means we were able to vote on a lot of legislation. I also had the opportunity to speak to the Utah Association of Chambers of Commerce for their annual conference about my bills and I met with students from Timpanogos Middle School during their Capitol visit! This was a fun opportunity to answer questions the students had about legislative processes and to teach them about some interesting issues. Finally, I was able to meet with the various groups from GO Utah Aerospace and had an interview with L3HARRIS.
We have a lot of work to do, but we are making great progress. Below is an update on a handful of the bills we considered this week.
National Board Certified Teachers
This week, we were happy to recognize 30 wonderful teachers who have gone the extra mile to become National Board Certified Teachers. National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and goes beyond required state licensure. We commend these teachers for their efforts and wish them continued success in their professional endeavors.
Tuesday, February 1, was National Unclaimed Property Day. One in five Utahns have lost money, and each year the state receives tens of millions of dollars of Utahns’ lost money and tangible property. At the end of 2021, we received $66.7 million in lost property online, waiting to be claimed. I encourage each of you to search our state’s unclaimed property database at mycash.utah.gov for any unclaimed property you, your family, friends, deceased relatives or organizations might have.
Election ballots, especially longer ballots, are expensive to print. Currently, the legal language of each referendum or ballot initiative is printed on election ballots in its entirety, which considerably increases printing costs. Not only are longer election ballots costly to print, but it has been found that the longer a ballot is, the more difficult it is for the average voter to understand.
S.B. 38 Ballot Amendments wouldallow initiatives and referenda to be summarized in plain language on the ballot while also referring the voter to a separate insert or website containing the entire initiative or referendum text. We estimate this change will save the state almost $500,000 per election. S.B. 38 passed in the Senate and House and will now be considered by the governor. Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Voting History Amendments
In 2020, 30% of voters were not listed on voter roles because they chose to keep their information private. This discrepancy caused some individuals to worry about election transparency and integrity. S.B. 32 Voting History Amendments will remove the discrepancy by requiring an election officer to, when reporting voting history for an election, include certain information relating to a voter whose voter registration is classified as private, without disclosing the identity of the voter. S.B. 32 passed in the Senate and the House and will now be considered by the governor. Listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
School Board Expansion Requirements
Utah is the fastest growing state in the nation. This growth has made it difficult for school districts to predict where population growth will occur. In high growth areas, equal school board representation can be a problem. For example, in Jordan School District, one of the seven school board members represents half of the households in the district as a result of uneven population growth.
S.B. 78 School Board Expansion Requirements would allow local school boards to expand when population growth warrants it. S.B. 78 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. Listen to the Senate floor presentation here.
Electronic Vehicle Registration Amendments
S.B. 99 Electronic Vehicle Registration Amendments would permit a driver to display a photograph of a registration card on a mobile device instead of showing a paper form. This change would follow similar laws already in place for showing proof of insurance on a mobile device. The Senate passed S.B. 99, and the House will now consider the bill. Listen to the floor presentation here.
Bereavement Leave Amendments
The Senate passed S.B. 63 Bereavement Leave Amendments, which extends Utah’s current three-day paid bereavement leave to mothers and fathers who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. State, county and municipal governments will now be required to provide paid bereavement leave to these employees just as they have previously done for employees who have lost immediate family members in any other circumstances. S.B. 63 is the first bereavement amendment of its kind in the U.S. and recognizes that parents need time away from work to mourn and recover from their loss. S.B. 63 passed in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. Listen to the Senate floor presentation here. Learn more about the bill here.
Military Vehicle License Plate Amendments
Some people purchase surplus military vehicles to maintain the vehicle's original condition and preserve its unique nature and history. Under current state law, these vehicles cannot be driven without an attached license plate. However, some of these vehicles do not have a place for an exterior license plate. S.B. 77 Military Vehicle License Plate Amendments allows an exemption from the requirement to display a license plate on a military vehicle and allows drivers to keep the license plates inside the car. This bill is patterned after laws in other states, and helps keep these vehicles in pristine condition. S.B. 77 passed in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. Listen to the Senate floor presentation here.
Cosmetic Manufacturing Certificate Program
Many jurisdictions outside the United States require a good manufacturing practices (GMP) certificate for certain imported cosmetic goods. Countries use this certificate to give assurance about manufacturing standards. However, there is no effective process in Utah for companies to obtain GMP certificates. This issue specifically affects our essential oils industry. S.B. 83 Cosmetic Manufacturing Certificate Program creates a program where the Utah Department of Agriculture would oversee the process of issuing a GMP certificate, helping Utah cosmetic companies participate in international markets. S.B. 83 passed in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. Listen to the Senate floor presentation here.
Omphalocele Awareness Day
This week, we recognized those born with an omphalocele birth defect and the medical professionals who assist children and their families following a diagnosis. An omphalocele occurs when one major organ is formed outside an individual’s body. Those with an omphalocele birth defect often spend months in the NICU and experience lifelong health challenges. We recognized individuals directly impacted by an omphalocele diagnosis for their strength and determination despite their difficult circumstances. Read the citation here.
Thursday afternoon, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude for the brave first responders who gave their lives protecting Utahns across the state by joining their families and friends in a moment of silence on the Senate floor. We are blessed to live in a state with such incredible individuals willing to give their all on our behalf. Read the citation here.
Election Schedule Amendments
This year the candidate filing period falls in the middle of caucus. Attendees may not know who is running for each office when they meet, which could cause confusion. S.B. 170 Election Schedule Amendments, fulfills requests from leaders of the Utah Republican Party, the Utah Democratic Party and county clerks to move the candidate filing period to before the caucus dates. This change will prevent possible confusion in the democratic process. Additionally, after reviewing other states’ election filing deadlines and working with both major party officers, starting in 2024, this bill will move the filing and intent to gather signatures period to the week before the general legislative session. S.B. 170 will be heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Read more here.
Public School Curriculum Requirements
S.B. 114 Public School Curriculum Requirements establishes an open process for parents to review and recommend instructional materials for board approval. This bill requires:
1. Parental involvement when school boards consider changes to district-wide curriculum resources that are pre-approved by the board.
2. A public hearing before a board adopts and approves district-wide materials and resources.
3. School districts to inform teachers and parents of the district’s own standards for supplemental materials that teachers can select.
This bill does not place restrictions on the materials teachers may use or place any additional requirements on teachers. It does, however, grant parents the right to see and give their opinion on the materials considered by their local school boards or charter schools. S.B. 114 passed in the Senate Education Committee and will now be considered on the Senate floor. Listen to the committee presentation here.
Wireless Communication Device in a Motor Vehicle
S.B. 102 Wireless Communication Device in a Motor Vehicle prohibits an individual from using a wireless communication device to view or take a photograph while operating a motor vehicle with certain exceptions such as using GPS, medical emergencies and reporting a safety hazard or criminal activity. If this bill passes, those who violate these provisions are at risk of a suspended driver’s license. S.B. 102 passed in the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee and will now be considered on the Senate floor. Listen to the committee presentation here.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26