Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached the end of the 2022 Legislative Session. Week 7 is complete and with that, we have finished our time up on the Capitol for now! We passed 513 pieces of legislation in total.
It is an honor to represent you, and I appreciate all the work you do to make our district and state the wonderful places they are. Below you will find an update on some of the final bills we considered.
The Legislature passed the final budget and funded education and social services at record levels while significantly investing in water and infrastructures. We also implemented a $193 million tax cut for Utahns, the second tax cut in two years.
Budget highlights include:
$193 million in tax cuts.
$383 million for education, a 9% increase.
$124.6 million for the state’s basic school formula, bringing the total increase in the value of the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) to 6%.
$9.6 million ongoing and $9.4 million one-time spending for early literacy outcomes improvements to increase 3rd-grade reading scores across the state.
$15 million to fund housing preservation.
$55 million to help address homelessness.
$1 billion for transportation infrastructure.
$38 million for improved access to outdoor recreation and state parks.
We were able to fund important issues and programs while still strategically planning for the future because of sound fiscal policy.
Monday night, the Utah State Capitol glowed in blue and yellow as an estimated 2,000 Utahns showed up in support of Ukraine. I joined my colleagues in the Senate and House and the Governor and Lt. Governor and Utahns as we stood in solidarity with Ukraine. Earlier that day, The entire Legislature voted unanimously to pass H.C.R. 21 Concurrent Resolution Concerning the Conflict in Ukraine, which denounces Russia for its unprovoked invasion and urges the federal government to take action to restore peace in Europe. Watch the rally here. Watch the presentation of H.C.R. 21 on the Senate floor here.
Last year, the federal government officially recognized Juneteenth as the holiday commemorating the end of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, enforcement of the proclamation relied on the advancement of Union troops. As the most remote state in the confederacy, Texas was the last confederate state with institutional slavery. Freedom for those slaves finally came with General Order Number Three, announced June 19, 1865, by Union Army General Gordon Granger. The holiday has been celebrated on June 19 in various parts of the country since 1865.
H.B. 238 State Holiday Modifications provides for the observation of Juneteenth National Freedom Day each year as a holiday throughout the state. Like many state holidays, if Juneteenth falls anywhere from Monday to Friday, it will be observed on Monday. If it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be observed on the following Monday. H.B. 238 passed in the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor. Listen to the bill presentation in the Senate here.
Utah’s elections are the most secure and well-run in the nation. Our state has taken extraordinary measures and implemented procedures to ensure our election process is fair and safe. We do not shy away from taking opportunities to review elections or other processes to enhance security and efficiency. Utah is a national leader in elections, and part of the process is inspecting the system. H.B. 313 Election Security Amendments, includes a number of provisions that further secure the integrity of our elections. This bill:
Ensures individuals are not voting in multiple states in the same elections.
Requires voters to show a valid identification when registering.
Provides 24-hour video surveillance for ballot drop boxes.
Ensures ballots are only printed within the state.
Includes registration audits.
Utah is the gold standard for elections because we are proactive and always looking for ways to improve our election process. H.B. 313 continues to enhance our state elections process. It passed in both the Senate and House and will go to the governor for his consideration. Watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Birth Certificate Amendments
Within hours of giving birth, many Utah mothers are required to complete a lengthy survey before they can leave the hospital or receive a birth certificate. These surveys contain personal medical questions and do not allow an option for consent or the ability to remove data. This paperwork can be burdensome for parents who are recovering from birth and want to spend quality time with their new baby. H.B. 341 Birth Certificate Amendments alleviates this burden on parents by:
Limiting the number of questions asked on the survey to 27.
Requiring the survey to clearly show which questions are optional.
Requiring the survey to include a disclaimer that explains the uses of the data and the length of time they will hold on to the data.
Allowing a parent the option to remove their data from the system.
This bill also creates a process for the Health and Human Services Interim Committee to investigate ways to eliminate or significantly reduce birth certificate fees. H.B. 341 passed in both the Senate and the House and was sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.
Utah Rural Jobs Act Amendments
Based on the recommendations from a recent legislative audit, H.B. 25 Utah Rural Jobs Act Amendments provides tax credits for interested parties to invest in eligible small businesses in rural Utah. Rural small businesses are an important part of our local economies and communities. This bill will help small businesses thrive. H.B. 25 passed in both the Senate and the House and was sent to the governor for his consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.
Missing Child Identification Program
Nationwide, about 400,000 children go missing each year. S.B. 220 Missing Child Identification Program creates an initiative to provide a fingerprint and DNA collection kit to a parent or legal guardian of a child entering kindergarten. Families can store these kits in their homes and, if their child goes missing, choose to give the kit to the law enforcement agency looking for their child. This bill does not create a database of the information or require parents to disclose any information. S.B. 220 passed in both the Senate and the House and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.
First Responder Mental Health Services
First responders often put themselves in harm's way for the health and safety of our community. This can sometimes result in significant trauma for them. H.B. 23 First Responder Mental Health Services Amendments supports these heroes by requiring all first responder agencies to provide mental health resources for employees, spouses, children and retirees. The bill also sets up a process to administer grants to these agencies to help them carry out the resources. First responders are there when we need them most, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to support them. H.B. 23 passed in both the Senate and the House and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.
Energy Efficiency Amendments
S.B. 188 Energy Efficiency Amendments provides low-income households assistance in paying their energy bill and replacing low-performing furnaces and heaters. These low-performing and high-polluting appliances have a negative impact on our airshed and tend to cause more expensive energy and utility bills. This program does not raise taxes or utility bills; it merely takes advantage of a pre-existing fund. S.B. 188 also allows the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to use federal funds to establish grant programs to improve our airshed and energy efficiency. S.B. 188 passed in both the Senate and the House and is now with the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.
State Film Production Incentives Amendments
Utah was once the filming site for many motion pictures. However, due to other states and locations offering better incentives for the film companies sponsoring these endeavors, we have lost most of these projects. Not only has this been a financial detriment to the state, but it has resulted in a significant loss of income for businesses that serviced these companies and all the individuals they employed. Motels and restaurants alone have reported millions in losses. Film companies going elsewhere has had a negative impact overall, but specifically in rural areas.
S.B. 49 State Film Production Incentives Amendments, addresses this issue by allowing the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to issue a tax credit incentive for certain motion picture productions. Film companies who do their work in rural Utah counties will be able to claim back a certain portion of their spending per fiscal year. By making this benefit available, we hope to bring the film industry back to Utah, and their business back to rural areas. Listen to the Senate discussion here.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26