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2024 Session - Week 7

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,   

 

What an exciting session it has been! In total, we passed 591 bills, covering a variety of topics. I have spent countless hours in meetings where we discussed different policies, and I learned about ways we can improve the lives of Utahns. I am proud of what we have accomplished and am excited to see the positive impact these laws will have in the coming months and years. It is truly an honor to work with my incredible fellow legislators.   

 

During the past seven weeks, we have been visited by many impressive and inspirational groups. I appreciate everyone who took the time to visit and learn about the legislative process. I also loved hearing via phone and email from all those who reached out to me and shared their thoughts on legislation. Our district is full of exceptional individuals who I am lucky to represent.  

 

A special thanks goes out to my intern Elijah. I am thankful for his hard work and dedication to learning. I am also grateful for my wonderful family and friends and their constant support; I would not have made it through the session without them.



EAC Budget Recommendations   

Last Friday, the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) met to approve budget recommendations and will now be considered by the full Legislature this week. The total state budget will be over $28 billion and will continue to be refined over the next week. The Legislature will approve the final budget before the session adjourns on March 1.  

This year’s budget recommendations bolster Utah’s long-standing legacy of fiscal stewardship in appropriations. Our recommendations include strategic investments across vital sectors, including education, social services, infrastructure, energy and water, while providing Utahns with an income tax cut for the fourth consecutive year. These targeted investments serve as the bedrock for future economic expansion, catalyzing innovation and bolstering competitiveness on a global scale. 

  

Read the full budget recommendations here.

 

Utah Boasts the Cheapest Electricity in the Nation 

Because Utah held the second-lowest energy prices in 2023, it wasn’t “shocking” to learn that according to a study conducted by Texas Electricity Ratings, Utah is predicted to have the cheapest electricity costs in the U.S. The Beehive State is paying almost $2,500 less than the state with the highest predicted costs, Hawaii.  

 

Energy powers every aspect of our lives – fueling our vehicles, keeping us warm during cold winters and cool during the hot summers and powering our cities and businesses. During this session, we passed several energy bills that will help us develop a more robust and sustainable energy sector to ensure Utah’s future generations can afford to keep the lights on. 

 

Read more about our energy policies here. 

 

Legislation 

Utah Hits a Home Run 

Utah is on deck to welcome America's favorite pastime, Major League Baseball, to our vibrant sports landscape. Following the passage of a resolution supporting bringing MLB to our state, we've made significant strides toward providing a home for the franchise. With much work and deliberation, we passed H.B. 562 Utah Fairpark Area Investment and Restoration District. This bill creates the Utah Fairpark Area Investment and Restoration District (U-FAIR) to determine land use in the westside of Salt Lake City, recruit businesses, issue bonds and receive and spend property taxes. This legislation sets in motion a process to revitalize the Fairpark area, the westside of Salt Lake City and the Jordan River.  

 

Additionally, the bill lays the groundwork for financing a stadium for the baseball franchise through a collaborative funding model. Private investment, state sales tax revenue within the district and rental car taxes, primarily paid by out-of-state users, will contribute to the stadium's construction. While private parties will provide substantial funding, the state will retain sole ownership of the stadium and its land. The stadium tenant will be responsible for all operational and maintenance costs and lease payments to the state. 

 

Utah Takes Its Shot with Hockey 

As stated in our resolution supporting the establishment of a National Hockey League franchise in Utah, our state boasts ideal conditions for hosting a professional hockey team. Renowned as a winter sports haven with the 'greatest snow on earth,' Utah eagerly anticipates the arrival of the NHL. 

 

S.B. 272 Capital City Reinvestment Zone Amendments is pivotal in preparing Utah for this venture. This bill empowers Salt Lake County to generate funds earmarked for the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City. Elevating Salt Lake as a center for culture, commerce and athletics promises to enhance public engagement and stimulate economic vitality. As we gear up to welcome a National Hockey League franchise to Utah, cultivating a vibrant environment for professional sports is vital. 

 

Supporting Utah Educators 

Utah has some of the best educators in the nation. Whenever possible, the Legislature wants to show our appreciation for the hard work of our educators. The Legislature passed  S.B. 173 Market Informed Compensation for Teachers, which creates several avenues to incentivize current and prospective teachers to make and keep their careers in Utah.  

 

S.B. 173 creates the Excellence in Education and Leadership (EXCELS) program. This optional program establishes metrics for elite teachers to receive a salary of up to $100,000. Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) will create a set of standards based on statutory guidance to measure whether a teacher meets the elite standard based on performance in areas such as student growth, parent feedback surveys and professional evaluations. By significantly increasing the earning potential for teachers, we hope wonderful educators will continue teaching and future educators will be encouraged to choose a career in education.   

 

Increasing Supply for First-Time Homebuyers 

Homeownership and affordability are vital to keeping the American Dream alive. As a Legislature, we are working to equip cities with multiple tools that will allow them to tailor their approach to affordable housing to their needs. S.B. 268 First Home Investment Act will enable cities to develop a first home investment zone that would foster the development of more cost-effective housing solutions by promoting mixed-use development and optimizing land-use planning within urban areas. We aspire to make affordable housing more achievable for Utahns looking to establish themselves in our communities.  

  

Learn more about the bill  here. 

 

Energy Security  

S.B. 161 Energy Security Amendments allows a project entity issued a transition permit for a new electrical generation facility to apply to the Division of Air Quality for an "alternative permit." If an alternative permit is issued, it would allow some existing generating units at a facility to continue operating. 

 

S.B. 161 creates an authority in the Office of Energy Development to evaluate electrical generation facilities intended for decommissioning, requiring the authority to submit an alternative air permit application, determine the fair market value of the project entity and consider offers to purchase the decommissioned assets. 

 

This bill also provides an opportunity for a dual path of energy facilities to exist, utilizing Utah resources, creating jobs and supplying energy to our state. S.B. 161 is a step in the right direction for Utah to achieve energy independence. 



 

Revising Utah Retirement System 

S.B. 34 Utah State Retirement Systems Revisions is our annual retirement systems clean-up bill, which focuses on technical adjustments without introducing significant changes. It includes clarifying the fund's name, delineating record retention duties, requiring employers to report employee eligibility, modification of penalties for failing to maintain records and stipulating that employers bear the audit costs. Additionally, the bill addresses the benefits for surviving spouses when a spouse passes away after 15 years of work but before retirement. These changes will improve the functionality and overall effectiveness of the state retirement system, better allowing Utahns to save for the future. 

 

Read more about the bill here. 

 

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 rightful owners.  S.B. 165 Title Recording Notice Requirement Amendments require 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. 

 

Adjusting the Appointment Process for the Public Service Commission 

One of the most significant responsibilities of the Senate is advising and confirming appointments made by the governor to fill boards and commissions. I am grateful for the many individuals in our state who are willing to contribute their time, energy and expertise to the community. S.B. 99 Public Service Commission Amendments adjust the appointment process for the Public Service Commission by changing the process of appointing a commission pro tempore if a conflict of interest or disability occurs. With this bill, the governor can select a new commission pro tempore within 60 days of a vacancy. 

 

Commemorating the Legacy of the Golden Spike 

Utah holds a unique place in American history as the "Crossroads of the West," boasting a rich legacy of pioneering spirit and its pivotal role in creating the transcontinental railroad. On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad converged at Promontory Summit, Utah, marking the completion of this transformative infrastructure. To commemorate this historic milestone, a golden spike was ceremoniously driven into the final joint of the rail, symbolizing the unification of the nation from East to West. 

 

In recognition of this significant event, we passed S.C.R. 6 Concurrent Resolution Creating the Golden Spike State Monument. This monument, situated along I-15 in Brigham City, will feature a towering 43-foot replica of the golden spike. It will serve as a tribute to the perseverance and dedication of the thousands of laborers, including many immigrants, who worked tirelessly to construct the railroad. This monument will stand as a testament to their enduring contributions to American commerce and progress. 

 


Recognizing National Board Certified Teachers  

As part of our final floor recognitions, we welcomed the 2023 National Board Certified Teachers to the Senate. The National Board Certification program was designed to train and acknowledge accomplished teachers, promoting ongoing improvement in schools nationwide. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious professional certification in K-12 education. Once a teacher becomes board-certified, they must submit a portfolio every five years to maintain their certification. 

 

These teachers underwent a rigorous, peer-reviewed, performance-based process and demonstrated their ability to improve student learning and achievement. The quality of teaching is the most critical factor determining a student's success in school. Recognizing the accomplishments of these teachers was well-deserved, and it assures the Legislature that our students will continue to be in good hands. You can watch their recognition ceremony here, and learn more about board certification here.  



Honoring the Legacy of Garrick Hall 

It was a privilege to honor the legacy of Garrick Hall and members of the Juab Future Farmers of America (FFA) on the Senate floor this past week. Garrick was a pillar of strength in the FFA community and throughout Juab County. Year after year, he played a pivotal role in organizing the FFA trip to the Hill, ensuring that his students had the opportunity to engage with legislators and explore the Capitol. Tragically, Garrick passed away unexpectedly shortly after his visit to the Capitol in 2023. 

 

The impact of Garrick's dedication to the FFA program and his students across Juab County is immeasurable. On the Senate Floor, his wife, Holly, and two sons, Caden and Trevor, stood in his memory, embodying his spirit of service and commitment. We express our gratitude for Garrick's profound contributions to students across the state and recognize the FFA program for its invaluable role in shaping the character and values of our youth. 



Intern Appreciation 

Every year, university students from across the state join us at the Capitol to learn about the legislative process by interning with a lawmaker. I was lucky to have an incredible intern this session. Elijah played a significant role and had an opportunity to help me with the legislative process by assisting with research, coordinating meetings with constituents, answering phone calls, attending committee meetings and handling any other task necessary to ensure the legislative process runs smoothly throughout the session. I’m grateful for his hard work and dedication to learning. 

 

As we head into interim and begin preparing for the 2025 General Session, please don’t hesitate to contact me at rwinterton@le.utah.gov. We are grateful to have received insights on numerous issues we will study over the interim. I will continue to update you with monthly newsletters.


Thank you for all you do. I wish each of you the best and will continue to work hard at the Capitol on your behalf.  

Best, 

Ron Winterton 

 

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