2023 Session - Week 3
Updated: Mar 14
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It was another exciting week at the Capitol. This session has been flying by and we are almost halfway through! Last week, we considered several Senate and House bills on the Senate floor and discussed important topics in committee. I feel privileged to work with my fellow legislators as we try to find policy solutions that best suit Utah’s needs.
I enjoyed visiting with several organizations and colleges that came up to the Capitol. It was great to see everyone show their support on issues they care deeply about. I have received many messages and was honored to hear from so many of you. I appreciate your involvement in the legislative process.
This week was Water Week. Much of our time and effort was focused on bills that addressed this vital resource. You will find a description of these bills below, along with other important events that occurred and proposed legislation that was discussed.
Thank you for all you do. If you would like to get in touch with me, please reach out to my intern Gracia Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah Water Week
The Legislature celebrated Water Week. Water Week is a combined effort from Senate and House members to emphasize the work the Legislature is doing to conserve, protect and enhance Utah's water resources. As a desert state, water will always be an important focus of the Legislature. However, Utahns can also take steps to help conserve water. By discussing water issues during Water Week, we hope to increase awareness of water conservation efforts in our state. Below are a few highlights of water-related legislation the Legislature is working on during the 2023 General Session.
H.B. 150 Emergency Water Shortages Amendments
H.B. 150 originated from H.B. 111 in 2022, which created a study for water emergency situations. This bill provides a framework and outlines the process for declaring a temporary water shortage emergency while addressing water use preferences during an emergency water shortage.
Water Infrastructure Funding Study
S.B. 34 Water Infrastructure Funding Study creates a study of water costs, and the use of property tax to fund water infrastructure, treatment and delivery. The study would be directed by the Department of Natural Resources, and they would make a recommendation for future funding based on their findings. With the study outlined in this bill, the Legislature would be able to better utilize property taxes and make the best water investments possible. Learn more here.
S.B. 53 Groundwater Use Amendments
Groundwater is a critical component of Utah's water. Many areas of the state rely on aquifers for water. Several counties in Utah have already begun taking steps to recharge aquifers. It has come to the Legislature's attention that current statutory language prevents local districts from recognizing artificial recharge of groundwater as “beneficial,” but rather allowing organizations or water users to recharge groundwater aquifers if there is an intent to recover the water. S.B. 53 changes state statute to allow critical management areas to recharge groundwater aquifers without withdrawing the water, allowing local districts to mitigate the decline of aquifers. You can read the bill here.
S.B. 144 Water Instream Flow Amendments
S.B. 144 Water Instream Flow Amendments modifies provisions related to instream flow. The bill allows for changes related to the delivery of water to reservoirs and outlines the role of the state engineer in the process. This bill is intended to help those who face water curtailment. It will be a voluntary option for communities at-risk and will offer a way to keep Utah’s water in the state, where it can be managed and protected from export. The bill passed the committee and will now be heard by the Senate. You can learn more here.
H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways
H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways proposes creating a statewide public-private partnership called the Utah Water Ways. The program will aim to help educate Utahns, coordinate efforts to optimize the use of water and focus policy discussions about Utah’s water supply. Utah Water Ways will provide tools to help Utahns know why conservation efforts are so important and how we can become conscious water consumers. Learn more here.
How to Navigate the Legislative Website
Staying informed and knowing how to use government resources are important parts of being involved in the legislative process. With this in mind, we have created video tutorials that explain how to best utilize the legislative website (le.utah.gov). We will be highlighting a new tutorial each week of the session, and we hope that they will be both helpful and instructive.
This week’s tutorial walks you through the steps of finding a committee’s agenda.
Social Media Regulation
The more people study the effects of social media on teens, the more we learn about its negative effects. Social media has led to a rise in teen depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. It’s important to provide parents with more tools and control when it comes to their kids' social media. S.B. 152 Social Media Regulation Amendments adds age verification, sets time restrictions on when minors can use social media and prevents social media companies from collecting data on minors. S.B. 152 unanimously passed the Senate committee and will be heard on the Senate floor.
Celebration of Diwali
Many religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism celebrate Diwali, a religious festival similar to Christmas for Christians. Diwali is often referred to as the festival of lights, due to the tradition of lighting diyas, candles or lanterns in homes, temples and workspaces. The festival celebrates light over darkness and good conquering evil. Many Utahns participate in Diwali celebrations every fall. As a result, the Legislature is examining S.B. 46 State Holiday Modifications, which would make Diwali an annual commemorative period in Utah. If passed, Diwali would be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartik, which is usually from the end of October to the beginning of November. You can track the progress of the bill here as it continues to move through the legislative process.
Kind regards, Senator Ron Winterton Utah Senate District 20