Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Week 6 of the 2022 Legislative Session is complete, and we are officially on to our last week. We have passed 223 bills so far, but the final days of session will be our busiest yet! This week I spent a lot of time in committee meetings and on the floor passing legislation. My own legislation was presented in House committees all week and on the House floor. It was an exciting week as SCR4, SCR8, and SB146 passed in the House and are now sent for enrollment. Additionally, this week I was able to meet with County officials during the County Day at the Capitol. This was a wonderful event to be able to visit with individuals who do so much for the counties in my district.
Below you will find an update on some bills we heard and groups/individuals we were able to recognize.
Russian/Ukrainian Conflict Discussion
As most are aware, earlier this week, Russia invaded Ukraine in an unprovoked and unjustified attack. Bombs are currently dropping across the country, and I condemn Russia’s use of military force against the Ukrainian people. This event has been tragic and traumatizing for innocent civilians, many of who are fleeing their homes. I also recognize the strains most European countries face in this situation. Like the United States, our allies have implemented sanctions to economically punish the Russian government for its actions. However, many of these countries are dependent on Russian oil and natural gas for their energy sources, creating additional difficulties. While we will continue to make thoughtful moves to more sustainable energy sources here and abroad, I am hopeful that this situation will spark a conversation about utilizing Utah’s and the US’ natural resources to eliminate the financial ties between Russia and their European consumers. In the meantime, I continue to pray for Ukraine and that peace and freedom will prevail.
You can watch Senate leadership discuss the topic here.
Manufacturing Modernization Grant Program
With the recent worldwide supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, we have seen the need to lessen our dependence on manufacturing overseas and bring more manufacturing back to Utah. S.B. 212 Manufacturing Modernization Grant Program creates a program to administer grants to local Utah businesses, helping maintain or develop manufacturing in the state. This program will support companies expanding automation and innovation, bringing jobs to Utah and contributing to our economy. S.B. 212 passed in the Senate and is now in the House for consideration.
Supporting Services for Veterans
The Salt Lake Veterans Home is Utah's oldest and smallest veteran nursing home, but it also serves the largest veteran community in the state. As we worked to keep these veterans safe and healthy during the pandemic, we saw a need to update the facility. H.J.R. 11 Joint Resolution Supporting Services for Veterans encourages the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs to submit a federal grant application for replacement and expansion of the Salt Lake Veterans Home. Once the home is developed, it will become state property. We appreciate this opportunity to help just a few of the Utahns who selflessly sacrificed for our country. H.J.R. 11 passed in both the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor for his consideration.
Parent Access to School Data Comparison
Utah parents have many options when deciding where their children should receive an education, including charter, STEM, dual immersion language and neighborhood schools. H.B. 270 Parent Access to School Data Comparison will help parents navigate these options and make informed decisions by creating an online school comparison tool. This tool, which has proven successful in other states, will compare relevant factors between public schools near a family's home. H.B. 270 passed in both the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor for his consideration.
Hill Air Force Base Families
On Thursday, we honored all Airmen, Guardians, Department of Defense civilians, and their families assigned to Hill Air Force Base. Military families selflessly sacrifice to support their loved ones as they defend our liberties at home and abroad. They are resilient in adapting to ever-changing circumstances, and Utah is a stronger, safer and more vibrant state because of their service. I want to thank all military service members for their sacrifice to the peace we all enjoy in this country. Watch the recognition on the Senate floor here.
Firearm Preemption Amendments
As highlighted a few weeks ago, we value protecting our freedoms, including the right to bear arms without unnecessary government interference. Current Utah code prohibits cities and counties from imposing regulations on the ownership, possession, purchase, transfer or transport of a gun. But in some recent cases, local governments have attempted to exploit loopholes in state law to regulate firearms. S.B.115 Firearm Preemption Amendments, which has passed the Senate and House, clarifies local governments do not have the authority to regulate firearms and protects citizens from local government gun regulations that contradict state law. Listen to the Senate discussion here.
Water Conservation Modifications Amendments
H.B. 121 Water Conservation Modifications Amendments implements key changes for state entities to encourage conservation, which includes:
Limiting lawn and turf in new state facilities
Reducing outdoor water usage by 5% by 2023, and 25% by 2026
Not watering outdoors from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
In addition to these new guidelines for state entities, homeowners may also be offered incentives to “flip the strip,” which means installing drought-resistant landscaping. The bill also instructs the Water Development Commission to study water conservation on public and private lands and make reports on potential improvements. The goal is to improve conservation in Utah by offering incentives to Utahns, increasing research on the subject and setting an example at the state level. The bill has passed the Senate on the second reading. You can listen to the Senate discussion here.
Navajo Nation Leadership Recognition
We were grateful to have leaders from the Navajo Nation join us in the Senate on Wednesday. Navajo Nation Council Delegate Pernell Halona and others were recognized for their contributions and accomplishments. The Navajo Nation contributes to our state in meaningful ways and we were grateful for the opportunity to highlight their community and strengths. Watch the recognition here.
Association of General Contractors Recognition
We were able to recognize 100 years of work by the Associated General Contractors of America, Utah Chapter. Founded in 1922, this group represents over 600 members that lend a hand in creating and maintaining an impressive group of contractors in Utah. They lead the industry in workforce development, skills training, safety training, apprenticeship, leadership training for project managers and project superintendents while emphasizing integrity and responsibility. We were excited to have them join us on the Senate floor. You can watch the recognition here.
Honoring the Work of Primary Care Providers to the Citizens of Utah
Utah has top-notch healthcare providers who deliver exceptional healthcare, resulting from dedicated medical professionals and staff. The health of Utahns is paramount, and these individuals devote countless hours to improving the health and wellbeing of those in our state. H.C.R. 11 Honoring the Work of Primary Care Providers to the Citizens of Utah recognizes their efforts and expresses our immense gratitude passed in the Senate and House. You can listen to the Senate presentation here.
When a violent criminal is charged and convicted, the perpetrator of that crime is often offered a plea deal without the victim’s knowledge. For a victim who fears for their safety, it can be disconcerting to find out that the person who hurt them has avoided prison as a result of a plea deal. H.B. 134 Victims' Rights Revisions requires that victims involved in a violent crime be notified when a plea bargain may take effect in their case. H.B. 134 passed in the Senate and House and now goes to the Governor’s office for his consideration. Watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Refugee and Immigrant Student Policies
Enrollment in school is often a refugee family’s first meaningful interaction with a Utah institution. H.B. 230 Refugee and Immigrant Student Policies Amendments helps support refugee students throughout the school enrollment process. The bill addresses three challenges refugee students may experience, including:
Age Recognition – Occasionally, the age of refugee students is inaccurately documented on their paperwork. The bill provides a remedial procedure for students who don’t have documentation or if the documentation is inaccurate.
Transcript Repository – The bill creates a space for collaboration between schools receiving students from the same region. For example, if two Afghan students attended the same school in Kabul but are enrolled in different schools in Utah.
Conditional Enrollment – When immigrants and refugees first come to the United States, they go through medical screening for communicable diseases and quite often receive a number of vaccinations. The first doses of some vaccines are administered between 3-6 months before arrival and the second doses 1-2 months after arrival. H.B. 230 standardizes a conditional enrollment period which allows these students to attend school while finalizing their vaccinations.
H.B. 230 passed in the Senate and House and will now go to the Governor for his consideration. Watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
As always, I have enjoyed connecting with constituents and urge each of you to reach out with your feedback and concerns!
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26