Week three is done, and the legislature has passed 50 total bills. We’ve seen some great bills that are the culmination of years of work and negotiation. The great thing about the Utah Legislature is that almost everyone up here tries hard to be open, respectful, and collaborative. Even though we have many differences, we all still share some common goals. We all want Utah to have a booming economy, a first-rate education for our kids, clean air, affordable and accessible healthcare, recreational opportunities, and safe communities.
I appreciate all of you who have taken the time and effort to share your viewpoints so far. Please, keep it up and stay involved.
Honoring Officer Nathan Lyday
The Utah Legislature paid tribute and honored the exemplary life of Officer Nathan Lyday from the Ogden City Police Department. On May 28, 2020, Officer Nathan Lyday made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his life for the protection of others. That day will remain a date of significance and honor for the city of Ogden and the state of Utah. May we remember and thank our law enforcement officers for protecting our communities. Listen to the floor time presentation here. Read the full citation here.
Law Enforcement Weapons Amendments
Equipping our law enforcement officers with the latest resources to address incidents is critical to protecting the public. S.B. 68 Law Enforcement Weapons Amendments, would create a fund that will allow law enforcement agencies to purchase technology that assists in investigating officer involved critical incidents where shots were fired. This tamper-proof technology will allow firearms to record the number of shots fired and when they were fired. This simple modification will improve the effectiveness of police investigations where firearms were used. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.
Utah currently has an “open carry” law that allows citizens who are legally able to possess a firearm to openly carry them in public. Once that individual puts on a coat over the weapon, it is considered a concealed, which currently requires a permit. H.B.60 Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments, would allow anyone over 21 that is legally able to possess a firearm to carry a concealed weapon in public without a permit. This does not change our gun ownership laws. This simply allows law-abiding citizens to conceal their firearms on their person in public areas.
The bill also establishes the Suicide Prevention and Education Fund where expenses from the state’s concealed weapons account will go towards suicide prevention efforts and firearm safety. This does not discontinue the permit process, as those who choose to conceal carry while visiting other states will still need a permit. H.B. 60 passed in the Senate and will return to the House for concurrence. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.
Law Enforcement Qualifications
Many of the brave men and women in our nation’s military are not citizens of the United States. Though they are legal residents, citizenship is not required for them to serve. However, in Utah, those who protect our local communities in law enforcement are required to be U.S. citizens. S.B. 102 Peace Officer Training Qualifications Amendments, changes Utah law to allow lawful permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years to serve as police officers. This change will help create police departments that more closely resemble the diverse communities they serve. S.B. 102 passed in the Senate will now be considered in the House. Listen to the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.
Although Utah works hard to have accurate and secure elections, ballots occasionally are mailed to deceased voters. H.B. 12 Deceased Voter Amendments, creates a more uniform process to rectify this issue. When a Utahn passes away, the bill requires that the death certificate be sent from the state registrar to the Lieutenant Governor’s office within five business days of the certificate’s registration. The certificate will then be sent to the County Clerk’s office where the deceased name will be removed from the voter rolls. Before each election cycle, the Lieutenant Governor’s office will also cross-check each name against United States Social Security Administration data. H.B. 12 passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the governor.
To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
Utah State Flag
Some people believe Utah’s current flag falls short when it comes to representing the state in a simple and purposeful way. S.B. 48 State Flag Task Force, creates a State Flag Taskforce to assess whether a new state flag should be created. Though some may think that such an undertaking is not important, a state flag can be compared to the logo and branding of a state. Most people quickly recognize the bear seen on the California state flag or the star of Arizona. An iconic state flag can be a rallying point and marketing tool for the state of Utah. S.B. 48 passed on the Senate and is headed to the House. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
Driver License Changes
This week, we considered legislation that would make changes to the driver’s license requirements for new drivers. H.B. 18 Driver Education Amendments, would extend the term of a learner permit from one year to 18 months. This change does not prevent youth from getting their license upon turning 16. In addition, this bill would remove the required six observation hours for driver education observation for 15-17-year-olds. This bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate. To listen to the bill presentation on the Senate floor, click here.
Many of us learned about the Holocaust during our K-12 years; however, it seems this important, historic lesson is slowly diminishing in our children’s education. S.C.R. 1 Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education, highlights the importance of Holocaust and genocide education for students and encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to provide Holocaust and genocide content for schools. This bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate and will now be considered by the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Recognizing COVID-19 Efforts
The last year has been hard on everyone as we’ve learned to live life during a pandemic. Many have been sick or lost loved ones. Thousands lost jobs and some lost businesses. Students, teachers and families had to adapt to a new style of teaching. During this challenging time, many individuals in our state and local health departments worked tirelessly to produce, publish and promote accurate information to help us navigate this pandemic. This week, the Senate passed H.C.R. 6 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing COVID-19 Efforts, to recognize and express our appreciation for these individuals. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.
Financial Relief for Businesses Harmed by COVID-19
Over the last year, we made significant efforts to provide economic support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. S.B. 25 Corporate Tax Amendments, provides more targeted relief to businesses by allowing them to carry back a Utah net loss realized during 2020 for up to three years. The idea is if a business was profitable in the three years leading up to 2020, but then suffered a loss in 2020, the loss is very likely to have been caused by the economic hardship brought about by the pandemic. This bill passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. You can watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.