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2024 Session - Week 5

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,       

  

The week was as busy as usual, but I am proud of what we have accomplished. I have spent many hours in committee meetings hearing proposed legislation and in the Senate Chamber debating bills. I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into the legislation we’ve considered thus far. 

 

I invite you to read about the process here to better understand how we spend our time during the general session. I look forward to continuing this process with my colleagues as we head into the final two weeks of the 2024 General Session. 



Below, you will find a description of some items addressed and events from last week. I will continue to send regular updates during the remaining two weeks of the session.

 

Fallen Soldiers 

We expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and utmost appreciation to the families of our fallen military members. My heart aches for these families that have lost their loved ones. America is a symbol of hope and liberty worldwide, and the Utahns who serve our country make us proud every day. We will remember and be forever grateful for those brave individuals who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. 

 

Chief Wade Carpenter Citation 

Our state is lucky to have the best police chiefs and officers. We acknowledged this truth on the Senate Floor this past week when we recognized Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter for his accomplishments. Chief Carpenter has been in law enforcement for over 30 years, 22 of which were spent as Police Chief for Park City. Recently, he was elected President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Chief Carpenter has served in many leadership positions throughout his career, including as the President of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. Similarly, he co-founded Leaders for Life, an anti-bullying program. 

  

Chief Carpenter’s contributions to law enforcement both within the state of Utah and nationally are noteworthy. He has consistently demonstrated exceptional expertise and dedication to law enforcement. We express our appreciation for Chief Carpenter’s contributions to the safety and security of the state of Utah, and we extend congratulations and well wishes to him in his new responsibilities. 



How to Navigate the Legislative Website          

This week’s tutorial explains how to stay involved in the legislative process by utilizing the legislative website (le.utah.gov) is how to find which legislators represent you.   


 

Legislation 

 

Condemning Oppressive Communist Regimes 

The Senate unanimously passed S.J.R. 5 Joint Resolution Condemning Communism and Socialism this past week, reaffirming our commitment to the fundamental principles of life and liberty enshrined in our U.S. Constitution. This bipartisan effort underscores the critical importance of maintaining a free market, which allows individuals in Utah the autonomy to shape their lives and engage in economic activities as they see fit. 

  

During the debates on this bill, we heard many stories from survivors of oppressive communist and socialist regimes from across the world. These first-hand accounts of abuse, despotism and repression proved to my colleagues and me that we must condemn this form of government in the strongest of terms. In Utah, we cherish the freedoms that define our way of life, standing firm against any ideology that stifles individual liberties. As stewards of freedom, we remain steadfast in our commitment to preserving and defending the principles that make our state strong. 

  

Learn more about the bill and watch the debate here. 

 

Honoring Utah’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities 

Utah has deep connections to the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Much of our culture and history is intertwined with theirs. In the 1880s, many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders migrated to Utah to assist the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in constructing the Salt Lake City Temple. Many of those migrants then found a permanent home in the Salt Lake Valley. Today, about 59,000 members of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community live in our state, making Utah home to the largest population of Pacific Islanders in the continental United States. Furthermore, Salt Lake City boasts the distinction of hosting the largest Tongan population in the nation, with one-fourth of all Tongans calling Utah home. 

  

Their invaluable contributions to Utah's rich tapestry of culture and history were celebrated this week on the Senate floor through S.J.R. 9 Joint Resolution Honoring Utah’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Cultures and Communities. Unanimously passed in the Senate, this resolution now awaits consideration in the House, a testament to the enduring respect and appreciation for the remarkable legacy of these communities in our state. 

 

Creating Spaces for AI Development 

As generative AI becomes a part of our everyday lives, the Legislature has been deliberating how to protect consumers from deceptive AI tools while still promoting innovation over the last year. 

  

Utah historically takes a free market approach to innovation, allowing technology and business to thrive in our state. S.B. 149 Artificial Intelligence Amendments proposes creating an AI laboratory for regulators and businesses to find best practices for using and regulating AI. By creating a laboratory with appropriate safeguards and space for technological advancement, Utah will be better prepared for AI in future years.   

 

Protecting Children from Abuse 

In Utah, 1 in 7 children experience sexual abuse before age 18. Children ages 7 to 13 are most vulnerable to abuse, with 91% of cases involving perpetrators known and trusted by the child. We are working to better educate our communities on recognizing the signs of abuse and implement more preventative measures to ensure the end of sexual abuse of children. S.B. 205 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Amendments, known as the “Safe Child Project,” seeks to address the issue. 

 

This bill requests $1.5 million in ongoing funding for prevention education in Utah elementary classrooms. It creates a state contract with a primary prevention education provider responsible for state-wide outreach, tracking, reporting and education. S.B. 205 further ensures the prevention curriculum is age-appropriate and understandable for elementary school students while helping them recognize abusive behaviors and actions. 

 

Combating Property Fraud 

Constituents have brought forward concerns regarding rising incidents of property fraud, where thieves exploit loopholes to transfer deeds and take out mortgages, causing financial harm to the rightful owners. S.B. 165 Title Recording Notice Requirement Amendments mandates counties to establish a system for property owners to receive electronic alerts when a county recorder records a deed or mortgage on their property. This bill empowers property owners to be aware of any changes and contest them if they are fraudulent.  

 

Addressing Rising Property Taxes 

When tax notices were mailed out last year, several constituents contacted me and other senators, highlighting the drastic rise in property taxes. For one owner, property taxes went up 1500%. 


S.B. 182 Property Tax Assessment Amendments is the culmination of efforts between the Utah Association of Counties, the Utah State Tax Commission and our state’s county assessors to address this issue. The bill assists property owners who experience a tax increase of 150% or more by providing them a five-year grace period to pay the taxes. It also requires counties to adopt a statewide property tax system and implement corrective action for county assessors who do not comply with the requirements. Learn more about what the bill does here. 

 

Celebrating 80 Years of “The Nutcracker” 

Utah is the birthplace of America's original rendition of "The Nutcracker," a timeless ballet masterpiece. Hailing from Brigham City, Willam Christensen, affectionately known as Mr. C, founded Ballet West in 1963. As Utah's premier ballet company, Ballet West has graced audiences annually with America's inaugural "The Nutcracker" choreography ever since. Over 300 children participate in the production of this iconic ballet each year, captivating the hearts of more than 35,000 spectators who gather to experience the magic in person. 

  

As 2024 commemorates the 80th anniversary of Utah's cherished rendition of "The Nutcracker," it stands as a testament to its enduring legacy and cultural significance. Mr. C’s visionary creation has ignited a beloved tradition cherished by Utahns and audiences worldwide. To honor this tradition, we passed S.C.R. 5 Concurrent Resolution Honoring Ballet West, which recognizes its unparalleled contributions to the artistic realm, community cohesion and cherished holiday traditions. 

 

UVU Day on the Hill 

 Utah Valley University (UVU) Day on the Hill brought staff, faculty and students together to share the best parts of UVU with Capitol Hill. These bright and kind individuals represent Utah and UVU well. As Utah’s largest institution of higher education with a record of over 44,000 students enrolled last semester, UVU does an excellent job training and preparing the next generation of Utahns to enter the workforce. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that UVU provides, and it was a privilege to host them at the Capitol. Go Wolverines! 

  

Springville Art Contest   

 We hosted young artists participating in the Senate Art Contest, held in collaboration with the Springville Art Contest. This annual event showcases the exceptional talents of high school students statewide. The winners, selected by a panel of judges, receive scholarship money and are recognized on the Senate floor. This year, we commended ten students out of over 1,000 submissions with awards for their beautiful, original art pieces. This incredible program encourages young artists to showcase their skills and awards their outstanding creativity. 

 

Olympic Marathon Runners 

Future Olympians and proud Utahns Conner Mantz and Clayton Young qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by taking 1st and 2nd place in the U.S. Olympic Trial run earlier this month. Their remarkable finish and astounding display of sportsmanship have inspired many athletes and Americans. The Senate proudly welcomed and congratulated them on their recent Olympic-qualifying performances. I was moved by their journey to the Olympics and wish them luck as they prepare to compete in Paris this summer. You can watch them crossing the finish line here and see the recognition on the Senate floor here. 

 

Western Legislative Academy Breakfast  

I had the opportunity to meet with current and former Western Legislative Academy (WLA) participants in Utah at a breakfast hosted by CSG West this week. The WLA provides legislators with training to improve their legislative effectiveness and leadership skills. Many Utah officials, including Lt. Governor Diedre Henderson, have participated in this program. Organizations like WLA help create a productive legislative environment where legislators advocate for their districts effectively. I enjoyed talking with my colleagues about our experience with WLA and how it has helped us in our civic service.   

 

Chinese New Year 

We welcomed the Chinese New Year on Saturday, February 10th. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the lunar new year and is rich in cultural traditions and customs. Families gather to enjoy sumptuous feasts, exchange gifts and partake in colorful festivities that symbolize good fortune, prosperity and happiness for the year ahead. Each year is associated with one of the twelve zodiac animals, and 2024 heralds the Year of the Dragon, representing strength, courage and good luck. Let's celebrate this joyous occasion and wish everyone a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! 

 

Water Week 

This week, the Legislature celebrated Water Week, where we focused on legislation aimed at water conservation, agricultural water optimization and water security. Below are some water bill highlights.  

 

Planning for Utah’s Water Security 

S.B. 211 Generational Water Infrastructure Amendments addresses Utah’s long-term need for adequate and reliable water by creating the Water District Water Development Council and a Water Project Executive Agent to plan for and develop generational water infrastructure projects that look 50-75 years into the future. This bill enhances coordination for water projects throughout Utah in a significant step toward sustainable water resource management for generations to come.  

 

Together, these entities will work with lawmakers to spearhead proactive measures to ensure a resilient and sustainable water future for all Utahns – integrating foresight, collaboration and strategic resource allocation into a comprehensive statewide water approach.  

 

Water is the lifeline of Utah’s economy, agriculture and communities. The state’s growing population and economy rely on a steady and sustainable water supply. Just as early settlers had the foresight to ingeniously manage water resources to establish thriving communities in an arid climate, today, we are working with the same mindset to ensure Utah has long-term plans for sustainable water access for future generations.  

 

Water Efficient Landscaping   

S.B. 118 creates a grant program to offset the cost difference between traditional and xeriscape landscaping in new home construction. It is a step toward promoting water conservation and sustainable development. This aims to address water scarcity concerns and reduce environmental impact by encouraging the adoption of drought-resistant plants and efficient irrigation systems.  

 

Xeriscaping not only conserves water but also minimizes maintenance requirements and supports biodiversity, offering long-term cost savings for homeowners and developers. Through this program, individuals are empowered to make environmentally conscious choices while contributing to the resilience of ecosystems and communities in the face of water challenges. 

 

Incentivizing Agricultural Water Optimization  

S.B. 18 recognizes the critical role of agriculture in our state, understanding it as the backbone of our economy and livelihoods. It acknowledges the necessity of ensuring farmers have access to the water they require for successful cultivation while simultaneously encouraging them to use it in the most efficient manner possible. By prioritizing both water availability and efficiency in agricultural practices, the bill aims to sustainably support our agricultural industry, safeguarding its vitality for future generations. Utah must improve its water distribution while also supporting the vital contributions of the state’s agricultural industry. This bill allows the agricultural community to save, monetize and sell their excess water while maintaining their water rights.   

 

I encourage each of you to reach out with your questions and thoughts. You can contact me directly or contact my intern­­­ Elijah at 385-441-0602. 


Best, 

Ron Winterton 

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