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July 2023 - Newsletter

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Friends and Neighbors,

I look forward to celebrating with you this month as we commemorate the 127th anniversary of our pioneer ancestors entering Utah. Whether we are descendants of those who came across the plains or not, we can learn from their example of sacrifice, faith, hard work and determination to press forward against all odds. These traits allowed the pioneers to build a thriving metropolis in the middle of a desert wasteland and these traits will help us continue to make Utah the best state in the nation. Our state's pioneering spirit continues to set us apart as we build thriving industries and a place where all Utahns can reach their greatest potential.


I hope you and your loved ones enjoy your Pioneer Day celebrations as we take time to celebrate those who founded our great state and may we each do our part to ensure the continuation of this great legacy for many years to come. In addition to Pioneer Day, below are other highlights from this month. Thank you for staying involved and informed!


One Year of 988

This month commemorates one year of 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Similar to calling 911 during an emergency, the three-digit hotline creates a simplified, universal number that anyone in the country can utilize during a mental health crisis. After dialing 988, individuals speak with trained counselors who listen, offer support and connect callers with helpful resources. The idea for a three-digit suicide prevention number originated in the Utah Legislature before being championed by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Stewart in Congress.


Many Utahns were involved in making the three-digit lifeline possible, including state lawmakers, Utah’s federal delegation, the Attorney General’s Office, the University of Utah, stakeholders and constituents. Because of Utah’s initiative, individuals across the country now have access to mental health resources.

Bills Now in Effect

During the 2023 General Session, we made generational investments in education, water and accomplished a historic tax cut for the third consecutive year. Many of these related bills were signed and went into effect earlier this spring. Additional bills had a specified effective date of July 1, 2023. I wanted to highlight some of these important bills below. I once more express gratitude for the diligent efforts of my colleagues in collaboratively crafting impactful legislation that will soon be integrated into the fabric of Utah's legal framework. Click here to view the full list of passed bills and their effective dates.


Update on New Capitol Complex Building

Over a century of hard work has gone into building the Capitol Hill Complex, and tens of thousands of individuals visit every year. To help increase learning about our state's rich, long history for Utahns and visitors, construction is currently underway for a new building on the north side of the Capitol complex. This new building has been a part of the Capitol complex plan for years, and we are excited to add it to our beautiful Capitol grounds. The building will house a Museum of Utah, archives storage, conference rooms and offices. The museum will display state historical artifacts, some of which have never before been available to the public, allowing Utahns and state visitors to interact with our past.

In addition to a world-class museum, the new North Capitol building will also include additional parking. During the session especially, visitors to the Capitol often struggle to find parking around the complex. We want to increase Capitol accessibility for visitors and constituents who want to be involved in the political process. The addition will make the Capitol Hill complex an even greater destination for Utahns and visitors. Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2026.


Water

H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways creates a statewide public-private partnership program called the Utah Water Ways, which will educate Utahns, coordinate efforts to optimize water use and focus policy discussions about Utah’s water supply.


H.B. 491 Amendments Related to the Great Salt Lake sets the framework for the new Great Salt Lake Commissioner, who is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic plan for the Great Salt Lake. The commissioner is also responsible for coordinating with other state agencies and stakeholders on Great Salt Lake issues. Brian Steed was confirmed as the new Great Salt Lake commissioner in the Senate’s June Advice and Consent proceedings. The bill also establishes a Great Salt Lake Account to support Great Salt Lake restoration and management efforts.


S.B. 112 Aquatic Invasive Species Amendments addresses the problematic spread of quagga mussels by placing 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 to more of our water systems.


S.B. 277 Water Conservation and Augmentation Amendments establishes a water conservation fund to support water conservation projects and programs. The fund requires water users to develop and implement water conservation plans. These plans identify ways to reduce water use and improve water efficiency. Additionally, the bill provides incentives for water conservation, such as rebates for water-efficient appliances and fixtures.


Education

S.B. 45 Statewide Online Education Program Amendments expands the Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP) to include grade 6 in certain circumstances, allowing sixth-grade students who cannot attend school due to medical or other reasons eligibility to participate in the program.

The bill also allows for additional middle school credits per school year, giving students in grades 7-8 more chances to earn up to 12 credits per year through the program, up from the previous limit of nine credits.


S.B. 146 Higher Education Governance Amendments adjust the Utah Board of Higher Education size to better focus on a statewide vision and clearer governing authority. The bill also creates a new Higher Education and Corrections Council responsible for coordinating higher education programs with correctional facilities and similar programs.


S.B. 183 Educator Salary Amendments is a companion bill to H.B. 215 that appropriates funding and ties the teacher salary supplement and educator salary adjustment raises to increase yearly with the WPU value instead of remaining stagnant. Additionally, it makes all teachers eligible for these benefits until they have received three unsatisfactory ratings instead of one.


H.B. 140 Standard Response Protocol to Active Threats in Schools addresses administrative rules related to required emergency drills in public schools. The bill codifies portions of existing administrative rules made by the State Board of Education (USBE) regarding required emergency preparedness plans, emergency response plans, training and drills. It also implements monthly and developmentally appropriate training or drills regarding an active threat within the school.


Law Enforcement

H.B. 278 First Responder Mental Health Services Grant Program creates a grant program to fund mental health services for first responders in Utah. The bill appropriates $5 million to the program, which the Department of Public Safety will administer.


The grant program is open to first responder agencies in Utah, including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services and corrections. Agencies would be eligible to receive grants for a variety of mental health services, including counseling, crisis intervention and training. First responders are often exposed to traumatic events. The program intends to help first responders struggling with the mental health effects of their work by providing access to resources to help cope with stress and trauma.


Utah Fights Back Against EPA Rule That Endangers Energy Supply and Increases Costs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the Ozone Transfer Rule. This past month, many of the state's elected leaders have taken a united stance against it, including Governor Spencer Cox, President Stuart Adams, Speaker Brad Wilson, and the members of Utah's congressional delegation.


The concern is that the EPA rule could force the premature closure of power plants in the state. This action threatens Utah's energy grid's reliability, affordability and dispatchability, which has been vital in helping drive the state's prosperity for years. The balanced and commonsense energy policy implemented by Utah has not only fueled the economy but has also created some of the cheapest energy and one of the most reliable grids in the country.

Recognizing the potential harm to Utahns, we are steadfast in defending Utah's reasonable and responsible approach to energy production. We must emphasize the need for an energy policy that embraces efficiency while maintaining a realistic perspective. Last session, the Legislature appropriated funds to the Attorney General's Office, and they filed a lawsuit challenging this rule, which has the potential to impact the state's energy supply and increase costs significantly.


By challenging this rule, we are aiming to protect the affordability and reliability of Utah's energy sources, ensuring that the lights stay on for all residents.


Utah's fight against the EPA's Ozone Transfer Rule reflects the state's determination to safeguard its energy supply and mitigate potential cost increases while discouraging federal meddling in Utah's energy management. By advocating for a responsible energy policy rooted in reality, we are taking a proactive approach to ensure the continued well-being and quality of life for Utahns.

Kind regards, Senator Ron Winterton Utah Senate District 20

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