2023 Session - Week 4
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week was both busy and productive here on Capitol Hill. I had the chance to meet with many individuals and organizations. Having the opportunity to interact frequently with such caring and thoughtful Utahns reminds me how lucky I am to represent our district and state.
This week, we focused on many important topics that are covered below. I appreciate your support and insights. Please continue to reach out and be involved in the legislative process. If you would like to get in touch with me, you can reach out directly or via my intern Gracia Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providing Scholarship for Law Enforcement Careers and Honoring Sen. Mayne
S.B. 128 Public Safety Officer Scholarship Program was originally sponsored by former Sen. Karen Mayne, who retired from the Senate in January due to health reasons. The bill creates a public safety officer scholarship program for high school students entering law enforcement careers. Prospective law enforcement officers can only officially join the force at the age of 21, this program helps prepare those interested in public safety careers. It was an honor to support this bill and its renaming to the Karen Mayne Public Safety Officer Scholarship Program. We were grateful to have Sen. Mayne join us on the Senate floor during our consideration of the bill. We recognize the essential role performed by those in public safety careers and would like to support the efforts of those pursuing this honorable profession.
How to Navigate the Legislative Website
To be involved in the legislative process, it is important to stay informed and know what government resources are available. With this in mind, we have created video tutorials that explain how to best utilize the legislative website (le.utah.gov). We will highlight a new tutorial each week of the session, and we hope that it will be both helpful and instructive. This week’s tutorial explains how to use the legislative tracking service.
Preserving Utahns’ Right to Bear Arms
Our most important duty as legislators is to preserve freedoms, including the freedom to bear arms without unnecessary government interference. A few bills have been proposed to encourage safe, responsible and accessible firearm ownership for those wishing to exercise this constitutional right. The following bill has passed the House and is now in the Senate for our consideration:
Fee Waivers for Educators
H.B. 107 Concealed Weapons Permit Fee Amendments waives the fee for a school employee, educator or staff member to obtain a concealed weapons permit in certain circumstances. To be eligible, employees must work on school grounds for at least 50% of the days when school is in session. Read the bill here.
Increasing Postpartum Medicaid Coverage
S.B. 133 Modifications to Postpartum Medicaid Coverage extends Medicaid coverage to women for a full year following the birth of a child. The transition from pregnancy to full recovery is when many women experience unmet health needs. Some of the most dangerous pregnancy-related complications–preeclampsia, blood clots and heart problems such as cardiomyopathy–may not surface until weeks, or months, after delivery. Extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women will help ensure new moms have continuous, uninterrupted access to healthcare to address their ongoing health needs. S.B. 133 unanimously passed the Senate and will now be considered in the House. Learn more about the bill here.
Honoring A Medal of Honor Recipient
Last Friday, we honored Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, Green Beret John Wayne Walding, former NFL linebacker Donnie Edwards, and Utah-native Mike Siaperas. Staff Sergeant Romesha and Green Beret Walding were recognized on the Senate Floor for their dedicated and heroic service to our country and our freedoms.
Staff Sergeant Romesha was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership on the battlefield in February 2013. Of the 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been only two instances in battles where a Medal of Honor was awarded, and Romesha is one of them. Green Beret Walding was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart because of his bravery in battle. John had been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. During the battle of Shok Valley, John lost his right leg to sniper fire. Alongside his brothers, he continued to fight while wounded for four more hours.
Our two other guests, Donnie Edwards and Mike Siapera, did not serve in the military, but serve members of the armed forces through their generous work. After retiring from a successful NFL career, Donnie and his wife Katherine formed the Best Defense Foundation, and have made it their mission to give back to those who gave us our freedoms. Mike Siapera has donated his time, effort and ranch in Utah to be a permanent place for America’s warriors to find peace, brotherhood, and fun. He has helped veterans heal and find connections and jobs after their return. It was an honor to have these four gentlemen at the Capitol.
Protecting Utah’s Waterways
S.B. 112 addresses the spread of quagga mussels, a problem for Utah’s waterway. Resources and funding have already been allocated to try and mitigate this issue. S.B 112 places a $20 per boat fee for in-state boats and $25 for out-of-state boats. The funds will go towards hiring staff and other resources that will directly help mitigate the spread of mussels throughout more of our water systems. Quagga mussels have been in Lake Powell since 2013, but the state’s efforts are to stop any additional movement north. This bill will help mitigate the aquatic invasive species spread through Utah’s waterways.
Increasing Education Opportunities
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption in many areas of our lives, including our children's education. Despite the hardships experienced during the pandemic, Utah students were less affected than other states, and experienced fewer learning losses than almost every other state in the country. A contributing factor to the resilience of our education system was the Legislature’s proactive integration of virtual and online learning in schools. As part of the hybrid education system in our state, Utah developed a statewide online education program that allows students to attend school in person and online. This program has been useful for students seeking a well-rounded education, especially in rural areas. The Legislature is examining an expansion of this online education program with S.B. 45 Statewide Online Education Program Amendments, which would allow sixth-grade students to participate. S.B. 45 passed out of the Senate favorably and will now be considered by the House. You listen to the discussion on the bill here.
Improving Utah’s Air Quality
Another focus this week was on Utah’s air quality, especially along the Wasatch Front. For the past several years, Utah has successfully reduced statewide air emissions while meeting federal air quality standards. A press conference was held for legislators to present their bills to further improve air quality now and in the future.
The Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) Free Fare February was highlighted as a way citizens can join efforts to reduce emissions. From February 12-21, 2023, passengers will be able to ride UTA services for free, including UTA FrontRunner, TRAX and all bus services, including Ski Bus, Paratransit and UTA On-Demand.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 20