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2024 Session - Week 1

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Friends and Neighbors, 

  

This week marked the beginning of the 2024 General Session! For the next 45 days, I will be working alongside my fellow legislators to consider legislation on a variety of issues. Expect to receive weekly updates from me about bills and significant events at the Capitol. As your representative, I would love to hear from you regarding what policies you support or oppose.  

  

I encourage each of you to reach out with your questions and thoughts. If you would like to get in touch with me or schedule a time to meet, please reach out to my new intern Elijah Clark at 385-441-0602. He is a wonderful resource, and I am already impressed by the caliber of his work. 

  

I am confident that we will accomplish great things in the coming months, including funding for affordable housing, water conservation and education, as well as cutting taxes and progressing towards energy independence. I am proud to be a Utahn and I am optimistic about our future. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.   

 



Senate Opening Ceremony 

January 16th marked the first day of the 2024 general legislative session. I have worked hard for the past nine months to proactively prepare for the session by attending interim committee hearings, engaging with constituents and crafting legislation. 

  

As we begin this session, we will focus on what makes Utah strong. Our commitment to enhancing our quality of life, fostering a thriving economy, nurturing the spirit of innovation and our unwavering work ethic make Utah among the best states in the nation, and I am certain it will continue to get better and better. 

  

Our focus on putting Utah first will include looking for solutions that positively impact Utahns today and for years to come. This session, we want to ensure the American dream is attainable for all Utahns by cutting taxes, making our communities safer, addressing the homelessness cycle and having access to affordable housing and energy solutions. Read more about our priorities here

 

How to Participate in this General Legislative Session 

Staying informed and knowing how to use government resources are essential parts of being involved in the legislative process. I invite you to be engaged throughout the session over the next six weeks and follow the topics of interest to you. With this in mind, we have created video tutorials and corresponding documents 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 they will be both helpful and instructive.  

  

This week’s tutorial is “How to Find a Bill.” It walks you through the steps of finding bills on the legislative website. Also, click here to learn more about how to participate in the lawmaking process this session.




State of the State Address  

As part of our first week of the session, we had the privilege of hearing from Governor Spencer Cox in his State of the State address. In his remarks, Governor Cox highlighted what makes Utah the best state in the country. Utah’s uniquely beautiful landscapes, people, and culture are among the many reasons why our state consistently ranks highest in the country for social mobility and the creation of win-wins in government. To show how good governance positively impacts Utahns, the Governor pointed to the legislative wins we have crafted in recent years. The nearly $1 billion in tax cuts over the past three years, coupled with the largest direct teacher salary raise, demonstrate why Utah consistently comes out on top. Also, Utah’s impressive water conservation practices prove that Utahns can accomplish anything when we work together.  

  

His positive outlook for our great state is refreshing and spot-on. I look forward to working with him and my legislative colleagues to deliver more wins for all Utahns. Listen to Governor Cox’s address here. 

 

State of the Judiciary 

In this session’s State of the Judiciary address, we heard from Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. Joined by his four fellow justices, the Legislature was given an update on the priorities of the judiciary and received well wishes for a productive session from the Judicial Branch. Among his words, Chief Justice Durrant highlighted the need for fairness, tolerance, integrity and honesty, all to drive fair results and the protection of rights within the walls of our courthouses. Many of our judges around the state exemplify these qualities, and it is a comfort to know our Judicial Branch is in the hands of public officials with exceptional integrity and fair-mindedness. 

  

Watch the State of the Judiciary address here 

  

Equal Opportunity Initiatives 

In Utah, we're dedicated to equal opportunity and removing barriers to ensure all students can succeed. H.B. 261 Equal Opportunity Initiatives focuses on supporting students in Utah's universities, colleges and K-12 schools, ensuring these institutions and government entities remain neutral on political issues and protecting freedom of speech on campuses and in the workplace. 

  

Utah's colleges and universities are some of the best in the nation. This legislation ensures higher education institutions remain a free marketplace of ideas and knowledge and protects free speech and open dialogue on campuses.  

  

Each and every student deserves to have opportunities for success. H.B. 261 Equal Opportunity Initiatives will also invest in "Student Success Offices" providing support, guidance and resources for all students, including those who have a higher likelihood of not completing college, such as first-generation college students, individuals with disabilities, veterans and people with a low socioeconomic status. This effort will include more students and help everyone succeed. 

  

H.B. 261 Equal Opportunity Initiatives aims to:  

  • Remove barriers and ensure fairness so all students can succeed.  

  • Guarantee higher education institutions remain a free marketplace of ideas and knowledge and protect free speech and open dialogue on campuses. 

  • Ensure common-sense policies in state agencies and higher education institutions by no longer requiring applicants to provide submissions or attend trainings that promote political ideologies. 

  • Prevent discriminatory practices based on an individual's race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, gender, religion or gender identity.  

Learn more about H.B. 261 and track it here. 

 

Protect Utahns from Unconstitutional Federal Overreach 

At times, the federal government proposes a rule or regulation that is overreaching and unconstitutional based on the rights reserved to the state under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Legislature is considering a bill that will defend Utah's interests and stand up against unconstitutional federal policies and regulations that negatively impact the state. S.B. 57 Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act sets up a legislative framework and a legal process for the Utah Legislature to restore the proper balance between the state and federal government.  

  

S.B. 57 also has checks and balances to ensure due process. It requires any proposed concurrent resolutions to go through the legislative process and abide by and respect the U.S. Constitution and the courts. Read more about the bill here.   

  

Fair Athletic Environment  

We welcomed swimmer Riley Gaines to our majority caucus meeting to share her experiences as a competitive female athlete in women's sports. Hearing her experiences provides us valuable insight as we tackle sensitive issues concerning privacy, fairness and the competitive nature that Title IX was created to protect – a fair athletic environment. 

  

In 2022, the Utah Legislature passed a bill to preserve the integrity of women's sports by creating a commission to make unbiased, evidence-based and data-based decisions on a case-by-case basis regarding a transgender person's participation in K-12 gender-designated school sports. 

  

This year we are working to enhance privacy and incorporate into state code the best parts of Title IX, requiring government entities to ensure girls and boys have access to equal facilities and athletic opportunities. 


Visit from France Delegation 

Last year, lawmakers joined Gov. Cox on a trade mission to two of Utah's largest trade partners – France and the United Kingdom – to expand on partnership opportunities. President Renaud Muselier of France's Région Sud visited Utah early this month to reinforce the connections established last year. Legislators had a chance to meet with President Muselier to discuss how the Legislature can contribute to future relationships. 

  

During the 2023 trade mission, Gov. Cox signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with President Muselier. The letter outlined areas where Utah and Région Sud could collaborate, including education, film, tourism and business. Expanding our relationship with Région Sud will benefit Utah communities as we continue innovating in these essential areas.  

  

Utah is the crossroads of the West and is working to become the crossroads of the world. International trade missions create opportunities to bolster Utah's international presence and connect local businesses with foreign partners. Utah will continue to lead in building strong international relationships that will contribute to the state's economic stability and opportunities.  

  

I look forward to continued collaboration with France in the coming years.



100th Anniversary of Utah Film 

Utah’s natural and diverse beauty, coupled with our strong economy, makes our state a prime spot for filmmaking. In fact, Utah has been one of the preferred filming locations for moviemakers for 100 years. “The Covered Wagon,” the first movie filmed in Utah, was released 100 years ago. This silent film captured the beauty of Southern Utah’s red rock landscapes to create a Western theme in the movie. 

  

The Utah Film Commission has placed a "100 Years of Utah Film and Television" exhibit at the State Capitol to celebrate this historic event and milestone. This exhibit features film history in Utah through pictures and stories, displaying what makes Utah one of the country's best and most unique filmmaking locations. 

  

We invite you to learn more about Utah’s film history by visiting the fourth floor of the Capitol from now until December 31, 2024. Learn more about the exhibit and Utah’s film industry here.


Best, 

Ron Winterton 

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