Goodbye, week 2. Hello, week 3. This week has been a bit slow because bills are still being drafted. Nonetheless, I am staying busy and productive meeting with my constituents, attending committee, and working on my legislation. Below are some highlights from the week:
Alongside President Weight from Uintah Basin Technical College and Student of the Year. Congratulations!
Jack Tidrow the President of Professional Firefighters of Utah.
The students of JR Elementary from Heber.
Below is some legislation to watch for in the upcoming weeks:
This week we reviewed and passed nine base budget bills representing different appropriations subcommittees. These bills are based on each subcommittee’s budget from the previous year. Passing these bills during the second week of the session eliminates the possibility of a government shutdown. During the last week of the session, we will pass the “bill of bills,” which includes a complete budget for the year, including new funding for programs and other line items.
Here is a list of each of the base budget bills passed this week:
H.B. 1 Public Education Base Budget Amendments
H.B. 5 Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Base Budget
H.B. 6 Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget
H.B. 7 Social Services Base Budget Amendments
S.B. 1 Higher Education Base Budget
S.B. 4 Business, Economic Development and Labor Base Budget
S.B. 5 Retirement and Independent Entities Base Budget
S.B. 6 Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget
S.B. 7 National Guard, Veterans’ Affairs and Legislature Base Budget
Housing affordability is an issue affecting more Utahns every year. S.B. 39 Affordable Housing Amendments, seeks over $30 million to help more Utahns afford housing. The Commission on Housing Affordability has earmarked this fund for affordable housing projects and a rental assistance program. The bill passed out of committee and will go to the Senate floor for consideration. Listen to the bill’s committee presentation here.
In the News: KSL
Energy Storage Grant
New energy storage technology shows promise in our ongoing efforts to improve Utah’s air quality. S.B. 78 Energy Storage Innovation, Research, and Grant Program Act, will establish a grant program to advance solar and wind powered energy systems and store the excess energy generated. This one-time appropriation of $5 million will fund an initial market in Utah. It will help increase demand and drive down price and will require no ongoing state investments. Energy storage will afford Utahns added security by providing power during natural disasters or power outages.
The bill passed in the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee and will soon be debated on the Senate floor. You can listen to the committee presentation here.
In the News: Deseret News
Red Flag Bill Dropped
For the last three years, we have seen red flag gun bills introduced in the Utah House of Representatives only to stall out early on in the process. Red flag gun laws allow family members and law enforcement officials to petition the courts to remove firearms from a person in crisis who has been determined to be a danger to them self or others. This week the sponsor of this legislation for this year announced they would likely not run the bill due to lack of support.
In the News: Deseret News
Statewide Rail Plan
As the population of our state continues to grow, wise infrastructure planning becomes increasingly important. S.B. 92 Statewide Comprehensive Rail Plan, requires the Utah Department of Transportation to conduct a study and create comprehensive plans for expanded use of fixed rail for freight, commuting and long-distance travel. The study will include enhanced freight service along the Wasatch front, specifically with the Utah Inland Port in mind.
Upgrading FrontRunner by “doubletracking” will allow trains to run faster and more frequently. The goal is to help rail travel compete with freeway travel in terms of convenience and speed. The viability of high-speed rail will also be considered in the long-term, connecting our metropolitan areas with each other and those of additional Western states.
This bill passed in the Senate committee with a favorable recommendation.
You can listen to the committee presentation here.