As we watch the leaves change color, I encourage you to embrace the beautiful weather and get outside. You and your loved ones can go on a hike, take a scenic drive, bring a picnic dinner to your local park, and many other activities.
I love our state’s great outdoors, and believe it is important that we care for it. The Utah Public Lands office released their “State of Utah Initiatives” which gives insight into the efforts being made to keep Utah beautiful and safe. You can read more here.
This month, I returned to the capitol to discuss important issues and prepare for the upcoming General Session. Below you will find summaries of our meetings as well as other important events and campaigns that occurred during October. I appreciate each of you and the opportunity to serve our district.
WSU Noorda Engineering, Applied Sciences & Technology Building Grand Opening
At the beginning of October, we celebrated the grand opening of Weber State University’s new state-of-art Noorda Engineering, Applied Science & Technology Building. With funding secured from the Legislature and private donors, the building will be a hub for students to cultivate knowledge, develop skills and foster relationships that sets them up for career success.
I am delighted to see Weber State continuing to develop the next generation of engineers, scientists, programmers and professionals thanks to their dedicated students and faculty. It is a privilege to assist our many universities’ efforts to prepare students to enter the workforce and strengthen our industries and communities.
Great Salt Lake Update
A summit evaluating the Great Salt Lake took place this month, one of the many conversations being held regarding the levels and health of the lake. Legislators gathered with agency representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Wildlife Resources, as well as scholars from the University of Utah and Utah State University, to identify what efforts have been effective so far, and to collaborate on solutions to the challenges facing the Great Salt Lake. We will continue to monitor the lake’s levels and progress while working with state environmental agencies to implement helpful actions during the upcoming legislative general session.
High Valley Transit Groundbreaking
This month, I was able to attend the High Valley Transit Groundbreaking, where Summit County officially broke ground on land that will become their new headquarters. The new project will help meet storage, maintenance and administration needs. It is the first step in expanding High Valley Transit’s services, ultimately improving transportation for everyone across the Wasatch Back.
The High Valley Transit program helps encourage sustainability and aims to reduce the number of cars on the road, especially during peak ski days or during the Sundance Film Festival. I was honored to participate in the event and am excited to see how it benefits our district. Read the article here.
Preparing for Emergencies
As we head into the season of winter storms, icy roads and avalanches, we need to be prepared and take precautions. Winter storms and avalanches are just a few of Utah’s multiple hazards that we need to be prepared for. Be Ready Utah shares information about each possible hazard, the 12 areas to be prepared for and links to helpful tips and resources. At any moment, disaster can strike and we all need to be prepared. Speak to your friends and family about what to do if they are found in an emergency. Reach out to your local agencies to find ways to volunteer or help those in your community prepare for a disaster. Be Ready Utah Link
New School of Medicine Building
With the recent groundbreaking of the New Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine building at the University of Utah, Utah’s medical school continues to make positive impacts on the healthcare community. Their faculty and facilities deliver superior outcomes, leading the industry in innovative research and results. I look forward to seeing the great developments and advancements that will form within the walls of this new building.
I enjoyed attending the One Utah Summit in Cedar City this month. The discussion focused on leadership, innovation, the strengths of rural Utah, and how we can better utilize resources. Our state's future is bright because the public and private sectors come together to hear challenges and strive to find solutions. Learn more here.
Unique to Utah – This Month 106 Years Ago
In October 1916, the Utah State Capitol was completed. After four years of construction with a budget of $2.5 million, 40,000 visitors came to celebrate the completion of the Capitol building. With 52 granite columns surrounding the building and a 285-foot dome, the building was an architectural wonder. The building was designed to reflect the important government work that would be performed in its chambers. For example, each branch of government has a location in the Capitol to symbolize how all three branches work together to create the best government policies. Skylights are in every significant room, reflecting the transparency that exists in the government process. While the Capitol has undergone renovations since its initial construction, it still stands as a symbol of the innovation and work-ethic of the original builders. Learn more.
Register to Vote for the General Election
On November 8, Utah will hold its general election. I encourage you to register to vote in this election. By exercising your right to vote, you can help elect candidates who represent your viewpoints. As you educate yourself in preparation for voting, please keep in mind that you must register to vote by October 28, to receive a mail-in ballot. The last day to request a mail-in ballot is on November 1, before 5 p.m. Lastly, all ballots must be postmarked by USPS by November 7. I am grateful to live in a nation where every citizen has the right to vote and I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.
United Nations Conference Hosted at UVU
In early October, Utah Valley University hosted the United Nations in the 1st International Academic Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations and their global partners are working to implement 17 sustainable development goals by 2030, such as ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. Attendees explored ways to implement the 2030 agenda in order to reach their development goals. Additionally, during the conference, attendees and volunteers assembled 2,000 newborn kits for refugee and immigrant mothers. As the global community of academic institutions, civil society organizations, private sector entities, and local and national governments continue to work toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we hope to continue contributing toward improved quality of life throughout the world. Learn more.
Highlights from October Legislative Meetings
Each month, we hold legislative interim meetings to discuss potential legislation and review study items. During October interim, we discussed a variety of issues.
Ban on Transgender Surgeries for Minors
Protecting Utah’s children is always a priority. In the recent Health and Human Services Committee meeting, a bill was introduced that would ban transgender surgery for minors. The bill is intended to delay surgery until individuals are adults and able to consent and accept all risks and long-term impacts. Watch here.
Sensitive Materials in Schools
During the 2022 General Session, we passed H.B. 374 Sensitive Materials in Schools, prohibiting inappropriate or pornographic materials in public schools. In our recent Education Interim Committee meeting, we heard a presentation from the Utah State Board of Education about its success. They reported that 88.5% of Local Education Agencies have submitted library policies, and a total of 50 inappropriate books were removed from 87 collective schools. I appreciate all of the effort that went into this process. Video Link.
Performance Audit of Healthcare in Prisons
During Tuesday’s Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, legislators had the opportunity to hear from both the Office of the Legislative Auditor General (OLAG) and the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) about medical care in state prisons. As part of their audit, OLAG found although many inmates were receiving appropriate care, there were several areas of improvement needed. This included better and more timely access to prescriptions, additional trained medical staff to provide care, and poor healthcare data management.
Given the critical nature of these issues, UDC presented how they were swiftly addressing areas of need and plans for future improvement. The audit by OLAG outlined 16 recommendations and UDC verified that 14 of the recommendations had been implemented, with the remaining two in progress. You can view the presentations from OLAG here and UDC here and stream the committee meeting here.
Senator Ron Winterton
Utah Senate District 26