Dear Friends and Family,
I hope you have had a wonderful Summer. As we head into another school year, I want to express my gratitude to the parents and teachers who dedicate time and effort to educate Utah’s next generation. You work hard to give students a high-quality education and equip them with needed tools that are crucial to Utah’s ongoing success. This past legislative session, we appropriated historic funding to education, and I look forward to seeing how the additional funds help our students thrive.
Public Input Needed on New Utah State Flag
In 1922, a seamstress made an embroidered copy of the Utah flag. However, the proportions of the shield were such that she could not fit the date "1847" inside the shield, as required by Utah code. For 88 years, Utah's state flag reflected this mistake. In 2010, the Legislature passed a resolution to align Utah’s flag with its original description.
The Legislature is again examining the design of Utah's flag. With deep appreciation for the rich history and symbols used in Utah's current flag, the Legislature has decided to redesign Utah's state flag. To create a flag that reflects Utah's current residents, the Utah State Flag Task Force is seeking public input on the design of the new flag.
The Task Force received more than 7,000 flag ideas and designs from Utahns. From September 1 until the end of the month, multiple flag design finalists will be posted on the flag redesign website for public feedback. I would like for you to be involved in redesigning Utah's flag by submitting feedback. Visit the flag redesign website during the month of September and voice your opinion. Expanding Transportation with the Uintah Basin Railway
On July 14, the U.S. Forest Service signed the Record of Decision authorizing the Uintah Basin Railway. The Uintah Basin Railway will connect Eastern Utah to the national rail system bolstering rural economies. This is significant for both Duchesne and Uintah counties due to the vast market disadvantage they currently face with the two-lane highway for transportation. The Uintah Basin Railway is a great victory, providing a safer, cleaner, and more efficient transportation system to transport agricultural commodities, natural resources and manufactured goods to markets that are currently unreachable. This is tremendous news for Utah and is supported by state leaders and local and Tribal governments. The Uintah Basin Railway will improve the current transportation system and provide economic expansion for Eastern Utah.
I was honored to return to the Senate floor and confirm Justice Jill Pohlman to the Utah Supreme Court and Judge Rick Westmoreland to the Second District Juvenile Court. Both these individuals are examples of strength and integrity. Judge Jill Pohlman has served diligently on the Utah Court of Appeals for several years. She is thoughtful and provides well-reasoned opinions. Justice Pohlman is involved in many judicial committees and will bring extensive knowledge and expertise to her new role. Judge Rick Westmoreland has an impressive background in patient care and criminal justice. He previously served as a specialty court chief in the Davis County Attorney’s office. He embraces the mission of the juvenile court and will be an excellent addition. I have been amazed by their accomplishments and know they will serve our state well. Watch their confirmation here.
Honoring K9 Arros
Last week, we had the opportunity to remember K9 Arros, a dual-purpose K9 trained in patrol and explosive detection, who recently passed away due to medical complications. Arros honorably served in the U.S. Army and later with the Utah Highway Patrol, stationed at the Utah State Capitol. Arros’ efforts were invaluable in maintaining our safety at the Capitol, and I feel very grateful to have had the chance to interact with him.
Members of the Utah Highway Patrol, Arros’ handler, and other K9s currently serving at the Capitol, joined us on the Senate Floor as we took a moment to express our great appreciation for Arros and all those who serve our state so diligently. He will be greatly missed. Learn more here.
Highlights from August Legislative Meetings
Each month, we hold legislative interim meetings to discuss potential legislation and review study items. During August interim, we discussed a variety of issues, including water conservation efforts, the opioid settlement the state will receive, adoption assistance and more.
Water conservation continues to be a focus as we face one of the worst droughts in state history. During interim, the Legislative Water Development Commission met to discuss agricultural water optimization, water innovation and other water conservation efforts. Listen to the commission meeting here.
In July 2021, manufacturers and distributors of opioid pharmaceuticals announced a settlement agreement, resulting in significant financial gain for the state of Utah. During interim, we reviewed areas where the settlement funds could be distributed. Currently, funds for prevention, criminal justice, treatment and recovery, and harm reduction are being discussed.
The Utah Bureau of Forensic Services (UBFS) provided an update on sexual assault kit submissions and processing. UBFS reported that Utah is the 8th state in the nation to eliminate its sexual assault kit backlog and reduced median DNA analysis turnaround time from 400 days to 30 days. Listen to the committee meeting here and view additional information here.
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services reviewed adoption assistance programs with the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Currently, adoptive families are provided specialized adoption subsidies and assistance for respite, child care, tutoring and medical costs. Read more here.
To review other items we discussed, you can visit le.utah.gov. On the legislative website, you can watch past committee meetings and read the materials and presentations that were shared.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26