Friends and Neighbors,
As the holiday season approaches with the promise of warmth, festivities and shared moments, it's an opportune time for us to reflect on the profound significance of gratitude. In our bustling lives, let's pause to appreciate the individuals who contribute to the richness of our experiences, whether in small gestures or grand acts of kindness.
Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Senate President Adams and other policymakers as they visited the Uintah Basin. Discussions centered around the impact of production on infrastructure, mitigating these effects, exploring innovative solutions and ensuring the long-term resilience of our communities. These conversations contribute to our ongoing efforts to create a sustainable and thriving future for all. We are grateful for our state’s leaders and their efforts to assist the Basin.
Let this season be a celebration of gratitude, prosperity and the enduring strength of our community. I wish you all a Thanksgiving filled with warmth, reflection and time spent with loved ones.
November’s interim are the final meetings before the 2024 General Session, and it provides a pivotal platform for refining legislation and adding details to bills that will be considered next year. This legislative work is a testament to our commitment to foster positive change and address the needs of our community. A summary of our work can be found below.
Election Day Reminder
This year, the General Election is scheduled for November 21. While it deviates from the usual early November tradition, this adjustment allows for the necessary time to select Congressman Chris Stewart's successor following his retirement. Please refer to your county's official website for detailed insights into the candidates appearing on this year's ballot.
We are privileged to reside in a nation that upholds the principles of democracy and grants its citizens the invaluable right to influence their government. We must embrace our civic responsibility as we elect our representatives and offer our perspectives.
School Report Cards
The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) recently unveiled the latest School Report Card, a tool designed to shed light on the strengths of each school while pinpointing areas for potential growth. This comprehensive resource – encompassing state, district, charter and individual school report cards for the 2022-2023 academic year – is now accessible here.
The Utah School Report Card empowers parents by offering a detailed insight into key school performance indicators, including achievement and growth metrics. This tool provides parents an excellent opportunity to grasp a school’s accomplishments and the areas they’re working to improve. I encourage all parents of students to review this report card and see ways that they can help better the schools in their area.
Championing education is vitally important to Utahns because the excellence of our students impacts us for generations to come. These tools benefit us all by encouraging constant improvement. If you wish to access more information about Utah’s schools, please visit schools.utah.gov/.
The Intermountain Power Plant (IPP) was created in 1970 as a way for various cities in Utah to combine their power production and sell the excess to California. As power policy changes, the nature of the relationship between the Utah cities and California has also changed. The Legislature has been considering some alterations that would make this partnership more economical and advantageous for the state. Lawmakers discussed such alterations in the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee interim meetings, where IPP provided a report with their recommendations. Similarly, legislators considered a bill that would transfer control of IPP from the cities to the state. This transfer would allow for a more impartial, reliable and fluid relationship between Utah cities, California and Utah’s energy production industry. You can learn more and watch the committee hearing here.
Draft Legislation Combining Carson Smith Scholarship and Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program
Several constituents throughout the years have reached out to me for information on special needs scholarship opportunities provided through state funding. Two of these opportunities often inquired about are the Carson Smith Scholarship (CSS) and the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship programs, overseen by the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). I’m happy to inform you that the Education Interim Committee recommended a bill combining these two programs, ensuring consistent funding, better management and efficiency through the application and awarding process of these particular scholarships.
After years of evaluation and administration of these and similar programs, state education leaders have advised this combination as an appropriate measure to provide flexibility to special needs students, prevent work duplication for parents and administrators and ensure consistent funding for students with disabilities who apply for these scholarships. The state has developed a better understanding of how to administer choice scholarship programs efficiently. Additionally, this draft bill would help lead to more applicants and awardees receiving funding. The bill will still need to go through the legislative process in the 2024 General Session. You can watch the Education Interim Committee’s discussion of the bill here.
Historic Election of Martha Hughes Cannon
This month, we celebrate the historic election of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon to the Utah Senate. Martha was a pioneer in the field of medicine and politics. Dr. Cannon received her medical degree at the age of 23, during a time when very few women even went to college. She went on to start a nurses' training school in Utah and was the first woman to register to vote in Utah. After gaining statehood in 1896, Utah held an election for three state Senate seats. Martha was one of five candidates who ran for the open senate seats. Her husband was also a candidate. On November 3, 1896, Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon was elected to the state Senate. She was the first woman in the United States to be elected as a state senator. After her election, Dr. Cannon passed many influential pieces of legislation, including bills that provided education for children with disabilities and created the Utah Health Department. You can learn more about the rich history of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon here.
Utah’s First Lady of the Arts
This month, we recognized the incredible legacy of Alice Merrill Horne, which includes the establishment of the first state-sponsored art agency in the United States. Alice was the third female state representative elected to the Utah State Legislature and is remembered as “Utah’s First Lady of the Arts” due to her dedication to bettering the world around her through art. Several of Alice’s descendants have continued her legacy, opening an art gallery in downtown Salt Lake City focused on bringing the joy of art into homes and businesses across the state. After more than 20 years of operation, Horne Fine Art closed at the end of October. I join the Senate in thanking the Horne family for helping inspire others to see art with the same admiration as Alice and for their passion that has continued to shape our community for over a century. You can read more of Alice’s history here.
Advice and Consent
This month, the Senate convened for Advice and Consent to confirm appointments made by the governor. We confirmed several appointments, including a new judge Ryan Peters, as a Fourth District Juvenile Court Judge. His qualifications and commitment to public service are clear, and I believe he will serve Utahns well. I appreciate all our nominees’ readiness to serve the state in their new roles.
Senate Art Contest Information
I am always impressed by the creativity and skill of artists in our state. Starting in December, Utah's young artists will have the opportunity to participate in this year's Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show, run by the Springville Museum of Art. Qualifying students get to display their incredible work in the museum. The Senate has the privilege of selecting distinguished winners who receive scholarships. Winners are invited to spend a day at the Capitol during the legislative session, where the Senate recognizes them during floor time.
The contest is a fantastic platform to showcase Utah student's artistic talents. I am looking forward to seeing what they create. Learn more about the art contest and apply here.
Behavioral Health Licensing Amendments
There are approximately 200,000 adults in Utah who need expert care and treatment. Currently, all healthcare professionals must meet the same educational and experience requirements to receive licensing, even though varying levels of skill are required for certain positions. This leads to a shortage of caretakers in the mental and behavioral health industry. The Business and Labor Interim Committee discussed legislation to revamp behavioral health licensing. The proposed bill would create more licensing options and encourage more people to enter the field. As more professionals are able to receive a license, it will help reduce the strain on current healthcare workers and help ensure patients receive the care they need.
Senate District 20