Utah House Democratic Statement Addressing Intolerance 

Media Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, March 11, 2019

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Utah House Democratic Statement Addressing Intolerance 

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democrats have the following statement condemning intolerance:

 
Utah House Democrats affirm that we condemn ALL forms of speech and practices that perpetuate prejudice, injustice, and hate, including conversion therapy.  We are inspired by our constituents who immediately spoke out against such harmful intolerance. 
 

We believe the vast majority of Utahns are fundamentally open-minded and accepting of their neighbors, no matter one’s race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, abilities, or faith. As policymakers, we bear a great responsibility to follow inclusive standards and the highest principles. We listen to the experiences of those impacted and use the best available information to ensure safety and protection for children and other marginalized communities from harmful practices.

 

While we are encouraged by the long-overdue progress of hate crimes legislation this session, we all have more work to do, given some of the terrible events that occurred this past year. We urge all Utahns to join us in condemning hateful expressions of intolerance and celebrating our diverse and vibrant community.

 

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Utah House Democratic Statement on Ongoing State Budget Negotiations

Media Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, March 11, 2019

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Utah House Democratic Statement on Ongoing State Budget Negotiations

 

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah House Democratic Leadership has the following statement regarding state budget negotiations:

Utahns are feeling whiplash from calls early in the session for big tax cuts to now hearing fears that our fiscal situation is dire because tax reform efforts stalled.  While our economy is doing well, we need to be frank and collaborative about the necessity of stabilizing our tax system. Utah House Democrats acknowledge that tax reform is pressing.  As currently constructed, sales taxes are insufficient to fund the many state programs and agencies Utahns depend on.  At the same time, the education fund generated through income tax revenue is healthy and must be protected. We do not support cutting income taxes in a way that would harm funding for education.  Instead, any budget proposal should include at least a 4 percent increase to the WPU and full funding of school growth. A strong Utah depends on an educated workforce. 

As we finalize the state’s budget in the shadow of future revenue concerns, our constituents should not be forced to worry about how it would affect their quality of life. Medicaid expansion, housing affordability, suicide prevention, and air quality programs affect all residents of the state and are vital to Utah’s prosperity. Taxpayers should not be harmed in the name of tax reform.  


We look forward to working openly with our constituents and colleagues to make this process a success.  

 

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Utah House Democratic Statement on Delaying Tax Reform Efforts

Media Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

  

Utah House Democratic Statement on Delaying Tax Reform Efforts

 

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democratic Leadership issued the following statement on delaying state tax reform this session:

House Democrats have made clear our position that the process for moving forward with state tax reform should be inclusive, transparent, and open to diverse viewpoints as it always should have been. We agree with those in the majority caucus that we should make greater efforts to listen, gather information from all who want to be heard on this issue, and develop the best policies for reforming our tax system.

We are glad the people of Utah made their voices heard to slow down the process of developing tax reform legislation which will affect every resident and every company that does business in the state. We were given insufficient time to assess all of the unintended consequences of broadening the sales tax base to include services while lowering the rate.

We agree that as we shift from a goods-based economy to a service-based economy, tax reform is necessary to balance our state finances. But it cannot be done on the backs of small local businesses and cannot come at the expense of education.  


We appreciate the efforts put in so far, and we look forward to working with our majority colleagues, individuals and businesses to stabilize our tax system to benefit all Utahns.

 

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House Democratic Statement on Medicaid Expansion Legislation

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2019  

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov
 

House Democratic Statement on Medicaid Expansion Legislation

  

SALT LAKE CITY – Today the Utah House Democratic Caucus issued the following statement: 

“We stand with Utah voters and believe that any Medicaid expansion passed by the legislature must fully cover all individuals up to 138% of the federal poverty level, begin April 1, 2019, and have no enrollment caps or additional eligibility requirements.  We are open to all funding mechanisms, including the sales tax increase approved by voters and additional options provided in the Affordable Care Act. 

 
SB96, in its current form, is a brazen effort to repeal Prop 3 and replace it with a lousy alternative that would rollback Medicaid expansion if a Federal waiver isn’t secured by next July.  There is no guarantee Utah could secure the waiver by that time.  Our state has waited for a similar waiver since August 2017.  The purpose of these waivers is to improve Medicaid assistance for people, not to diminish it.  Saying we cannot afford a full Medicaid expansion while pushing for a tax cut is a blatant misplacement of priorities.”
 

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Utah Democrats Saddened by the Loss of Civil Rights Icon Robert “Archie” Archuleta

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2019

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

Jon Hennington
Utah Senate Democratic Caucus
801-214-4611 | jhennington@le.utah.gov

 

Utah Democrats Saddened by the Loss of Civil Rights Icon Robert “Archie” Archuleta

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah House and Senate Democrats are saddened by the passing of longtime civil rights leader and educator Robert “Archie” Archuleta, who was 88.  Archuleta was a kindhearted and passionate advocate for many in our community whose voices have been marginalized.  He was an outspoken leader for hardworking Utahns, and he helped many to understand and appreciate Chicana/o history. As a dedicated community servant, Archie embraced many roles as an educator, mentor, and champion for civil liberties and peace.  We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.  We will miss him dearly.  

“Archie was the voice for the Utah Latino community,” said Rep. Angela Romero. “We are who we are today because of him. We hope to honor his legacy by continuing to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities.”  

“Utah’s Latino community has lost a titan, a champion and advocate for so many issues and causes,” said Richard Jaramillo, current president of Utah Coalition of La Raza. “Archie helped shape the Latino community, the nature of local activism, and made so many personal connections across the state that his impact has been truly profound.”

Biography

Robert “Archie” Archuleta was a graduate of Idaho State College and a post graduate of the University of Utah. He taught school in the Salt Lake School District in 1953 in the old McGillis School on 1300 East. He eventually was the Principal of an alternative school for young people who were pushed out of Salt Lake School. He planted the seeds for what is now the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. He retired from the Salt Lake City School District. Later, he was hired by Mayor Rocky Anderson as the minority affairs director. He retired from this position in 2004. He is survived by his wife Lois and their five children—Jason Roberto, Florencia Lucienne, Keith Emiliano, Micaela Lisette, Letitia P.—and six grandchildren.

Archie was an activist and advocate in minority, poverty, peace, economic, civil rights, civil liberties and cultural issues. He served as a member of several boards and committees. But, it was the Utah Coalition of La Raza where he put most of his energy. Archie was the President of Utah Coalition of La Raza for 9 years as he mentored and grew the next generation of community advocates. He worked tirelessly to hold higher education institutions, criminal justice institutions and k-12 education institutions accountable for meeting the needs of Latino/a and all “minority” students.   He was a member of many ethnic, political, advocacy, educational, peace, civil rights, civil liberties, poverty and labor groups and boards. He was President of the Board of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, member of the board and ex-Chair of the Salt Lake County Democratic Caucus as well as a member of the following boards: Centro Civico Mexicano, Center for Documentary Arts, Concerned Citizens Committee, Alliance for Unity, Utah Aging Commission and the Enriching Utah Coalition. 

Archie received numerous awards, including the Quixote Lifetime Achievement Award from the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Cualli Ohtli Award from the Mexican Consulate, the Cesar Chavez Education award from UCLR, the Charles E. Bennett Humanitarian and Civil Rights Award from the Utah Education Association, and The Chicano Scholarship Fund honored him for civic and humanitarian achievement at the University of Utah.  He is an icon of social justice in Utah.  

Please contact Rep. Angela Romero with questions or inquiries for his family.
angelaromero@le.utah.gov

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Utah House Democrat Speaks Against Proposed Abortion Bill

Media Statement
 

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2019 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov
 

Utah House Democrat Speaks Against Proposed Abortion Bill

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Rep. Angela Romero (D-District 26) spoke out against a proposed bill by Rep. Cheryl Acton (R-District 43) that would restrict a woman’s right to have an abortion in Utah from 20 weeks of pregnancy down to 15 weeks.

“This is a Federal issue, and the state should leave it alone,” said Rep. Romero.  “Bills like this that have been tried by other states are always struck down.  It’s a waste of time. It’ll never stand up in court.”

Last year a judge struck down a similar 15-week abortion bill passed by Mississippi, which also negated a similar law passed by Louisiana.  In 2014 federal judges struck down attempts for six- and 12-week bans in North Dakota and Arkansas and ruled them unconstitutional.

“This shouldn’t happen.  This is part of a nationwide, calculated effort to impede women from having a choice for an abortion,” Romero added. “Utah has already done enough to hinder women who seek their constitutionally-protected right to govern their body.  We shouldn’t be pushing women further into the shadows. A much better issue for the legislature to focus on should be comprehensive sex education and improving access to healthcare programs.”   

Nationally, abortions have dropped to their lowest rate in a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In 2015, the most recent year that data is available, the rate was about 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 14 to 44. The number of women in Utah who seek an abortion each year is well below the national average, at 4.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2014, according to Guttmacher Institute.  

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Rep. Sandra Hollins Opens Bill File to Remove Exception from Utah’s Constitution that Allows for Slavery

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release:
January 4, 2018 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Rep. Sandra Hollins Opens Bill File to Remove Exception from Utah’s Constitution that Allows for Slavery

SALT LAKE CITY – Generally, Americans believe slavery in the U.S. was completely abolished more than 150 years ago. The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1865 following the Civil War, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, but with an exception for punishment for a crime.  Also, the language in Utah’s 1896 constitution, similar to many other states, still seems to permit slavery as a form of punishment for a crime.

Article I, Section 21: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State." 

Rep. Sandra Hollins (D-District 23), says it is finally time to change this outdated and troubling language.  She has opened a bill file that, if passed by more than 2/3 of the Legislature’s House and Senate, would let Utahns vote to remove the exception the law currently gives for punishment for crime. 

“Regardless of how we feel about the criminal justice system, it should be clear that it shouldn’t be slavery,” said Rep. Hollins. “Our constitution serves as a basis for all of our laws and policies. We need to be clearer about what prison is for, and what prison is not.  The notion of ‘slavery or involuntary servitude’ should not be imposed on people merely because they are convicted of a crime.  By passing this measure we will assert that slavery is not a Utah value.”

This year Colorado voters approved a similar ballot initiative to amend their state’s constitution to remove the language “except as punishment for a crime” from the section that bans slavery or involuntary servitude.  Colorado’s newly adopted language reads: "There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude."

Half the U.S. states do not mention slavery or involuntary servitude at all in their constitutions.  Twenty-five states have language explicitly forbidding slavery or involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. 

Rep. Hollins’ bill is still in the process of being drafted.


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Rep.-elect Stoddard Opens Bill File to Increase Capacity for Civil Liability in Wake of Murder of Lauren McCluskey

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:  
December 20, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(385) 228-5483 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

 Representative-Elect Andrew Stoddard
Utah House District 44
info@voteandrewstoddard.com | 801-884-9943

Rep.-elect Stoddard Opens Bill File to Increase Capacity for Civil Liability 
In Wake of Murder of Lauren McCluskey

SALT LAKE CITY --  Representative-Elect Andrew Stoddard (D- District 44) has opened a bill file to increase the capacity for civil liability for firearm owners who knowingly lend a weapon to an individual who uses that weapon to commit a violent crime. This proposed legislation has been dubbed “Lauren’s Law,” in memory of Lauren McCluskey, the 21 year-old University of Utah student athlete who was murdered on October 22, 2018 by Melvin Shawn Rowland. 

Rowland was a convicted criminal and registered sex offender who had a brief relationship with Lauren before he shot her to death outside her on-campus dorm, and who later took his own life. Rowland’s criminal history prevented him from legally purchasing his own firearm, but law enforcement authorities say Rowland was able to kill McCluskey using a firearm that was lent to him by a friend under the guise of using it for target shooting. “Lauren’s Law” is not focused on criminal liability in cases like these, but explores the capacity for civil liability and would act as a deterrent to casual gun-sharing culture.

“Owning a gun comes with a tremendous responsibility, and I think most gun owners recognize that,” said Rep.-elect Stoddard. “It’s good that we are now having this important conversation among many different stakeholders. I want us to reach a solution through the legislative process that will both affirm this great responsibility gun owners have, and pass a law that will work to protect people like Lauren in the future.”  

Rep.-elect Stoddard added: “As a longtime victim advocate, I do not seek to prosecute victims. Individuals who have their firearms stolen are victims of a crime, as are individuals defending themselves against violence who use a firearm in self-defense. Ensuring that pursuit of civil liability does not overstep to unfairly punish crime victims is a key concern of mine as this process continues.” 

Representative-Elect Stoddard  is welcoming comments about the proposed legislation, which can be directed to him at andrew@voteandrewstoddard.com.

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Rep. Arent to Revive Straight-Ticket Voting Bill

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release:
November 21, 2018 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Rep. Arent to Revive Straight-Ticket Voting Bill

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Representative Patrice Arent, D – District 36, announced that she opened a bill file to eliminate straight-ticket voting (STV) in Utah. 

 “After an election that saw an unprecedented interest for a midterm, now is the time to move past this outdated voting practice,” said Rep. Arent. “Forty-two other states do not allow straight-ticket voting.  It’s time that Utah joined them.”  

Rep. Arent ran similar legislation in 2013 and again in 2016.  

Straight-ticket voting allows voters to choose a political party’s entire slate of candidates with just a single ballot mark.  Utah is one of just eight states that still allows STV, along with Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.  Texas passed legislation to eliminate it, which will take effect in 2020. Over the past two decades the number of states that allow for STV has decreased, according to The National Conference of State Legislators.

 “Straight-ticket voting denies good candidates in both parties the opportunity to receive fair consideration by voters,” added Rep. Arent. “If we want voters to be educated and hold their elected officials responsible, we ought to encourage them to learn about the candidates they are voting for and not just paint all candidates with a single partisan brush on election day.” 

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Utah House Democratic Leadership Team for 2019/20

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release:
November 20, 2018 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

 

Utah House Democratic Leadership Team for 2019/20
 

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democratic Caucus elected its new leadership team for the upcoming legislative session Tuesday evening. 

  • Rep. Brian King, D – District 28, was selected to continue serving as Minority Leader.

  • Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D – District 37, was selected to serve as Minority Whip.

  • Rep. Angela Romero, D – District 26, was selected to continue serving as Minority Assistant Whip.

  • Rep. Karen Kwan D – District 34, was selected to serve as Minority Caucus Manager.

“I am grateful and honored that our caucus continues to have confidence in my leadership,” said Rep. Brian King. “We have a very cohesive team, and we will continue speaking up for hardworking Utahns.  I look forward to working closely with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues on tackling the challenges facing Utah and ensuring that all Utahns have opportunities to succeed and thrive.”

Minority Leader, Representative Brian King was first elected to the Utah State House in 2008. He has practiced law in Salt Lake City for over 30 years. His district covers the east side of Salt Lake City along with parts of Summit County and Parley’s Canyon. Following the 2014 election he was first elected to serve as the House Minority Leader. 

The Minority Whip-Elect, Representative Carol Spackman Moss was first elected to the State House in 2000.  Before serving in the legislature she taught English and student government at Olympus High School for 30 years. Her district covers neighborhoods in Holladay and Murray. She previously served as the Assistant Minority Whip in the Utah House from 2004 to 2010.

The Minority Assistant Whip, Representative Angela Romero was first elected to represent Salt Lake City in 2012.  Her district covers much of Salt Lake City’s westside. She is the Community Programs Manager for Salt Lake City’s Youth and Family Division. In 2016 she was selected by her colleagues to serve as House Democratic Assistant Whip.  She is also currently the First Vice President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

The Minority Caucus Manager-Elect, Representative Karen Kwan is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Salt Lake Community College. She was first elected to the Utah House in 2016. Her district represents neighborhoods in Taylorsville, Murray and West Valley City. 

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Utah House Democrats’ Statement on the Passing of Congressman Jim Hansen

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov


Utah House Democrats’ Statement on the Passing of Congressman Jim Hansen

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democrats issued the following statement on the passing of Congressman Jim Hansen:

“We are sad to hear of the passing of former Congressman Jim Hansen, Utah’s longest-serving U.S. congressman. While Democrats did not always agree with the congressman’s positions, he was fair and respectful. He recognized the importance of working across the aisle. He knew that achieving good legislation requires consensus and good relationships. Congressman Hansen admirably took on the challenging and sometimes thankless roles as chairman of the House Ethics and Natural Resources Committees. He also was a staunch supporter of the Hill Air Force Base community which has continued to benefit generations of Utahns.  We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss.”   

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Utah House Democrats Congratulate Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson 

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov


Utah House Democrats Congratulate Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson
 

SALT LAKE CITY – This evening the Utah House Democrats released the following statement following the Republican Caucus’s announcement of their new leadership team:

“Congratulations to Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson and the new members of the Republican Caucus leadership team. The House Democratic Caucus looks forward to working with Speaker-Elect Wilson, as we know he values inclusivity and listening to all perspectives.  Speaker-Elect Wilson has shown himself to be fair, astute, and respectful of collaboration.  He understands that many Democratic priorities align with the Republican Caucus’s own concerns, such as quality education for our children, public safety, high-quality jobs and protecting the well-being of all Utahns.  Going forward, we are eager to work in partnership with Speaker-Elect Wilson and all of our Republican colleagues for the people of Utah.” 

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Utah House Democrats Gain Seats, Encouraged by Election Results

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
November 7, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov
 

Utah House Democrats Gain Seats, Encouraged by Election Results


SALT LAKE CITY – 
Today House Democrats released the following statement following the most current results of the 2018 General Election. 

“The Utah House Democratic Caucus is energized by the election results showing we have grown our numbers and strengthened Utahns’ Democratic voice in the House. On Tuesday all incumbent House Democratic members who sought reelection retained their seats by comfortable margins. In addition, the most current vote counts shows Suzanne Harrison (District 32), Andrew Stoddard (District 44), Jen Dailey-Provost (District 24), Stephanie Pitcher (District 40), and LaWanna "Lou" Shurtliff (District 10) as all having likely won seats in the House.

Other races, including Democrat challenger Deana Froerer’s race for House District 8, were still too close to call.

By electing more Democrats, Utahns voted for civility, collaboration and more balance on Capitol Hill. Utahns voted for protecting access to affordable, quality healthcare for hardworking families. They voted for cleaner air and a healthier environment. They voted for high-quality jobs, a competitive workforce, and fairer pay.  And they voted for a more transparent government that works for everyone.

We are thrilled that so many Utahns of all ages and backgrounds came out in record numbers to vote. Although vote counts are not final, a majority of Utahns appeared to have approved legalizing medical cannabis, creating safeguards against partisan gerrymandering and, crucially, expanding Medicaid to 150,000 Utahns in need. For far too long the Legislature has been tone deaf on these critical issues. Yesterday voters’ expressed their preference for compassion.

 As our national politics have grown alarmingly more divisive, we are energized that so many local Democrats ran for a record number of races. This past year of debates, dialogue and door-to-door conversations has served to unite Utahns and strengthen our democracy.  House Democrats look forward to working closely with our Republican colleagues to keep Utah thriving and accountable to all of its citizens.”

The House Democrats plan to hold its leadership elections on November 20, 2018, following the certification of the final election results.

 

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Utah Representatives Romero, Wheatley, and Kwan Denounce the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule Change For Its Negative Effect on Immigrants 

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
October 12, 2018

Contact:         
Nick Frederick, Staff Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1503 | nfrederick@le.utah.gov 

Utah Representatives Romero, Wheatley, and Kwan Denounce the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule Change For Its Negative Effect on Immigrants 

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Representatives Angela Romero (D-District 26), Mark Wheatley (D-District 35), and Karen Kwan (D-34) denounced the new public charge rule change proposed by the Trump Administration on October 10, 2018, which would change criteria for people seeking legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States by focusing on factors that affect their likelihood to use public assistance programs.  

“This rule change will have a terrible impact on our immigrant community,” said Rep. Romero.  “It punishes people for matters beyond their control, such as lack of access to a quality education or a preexisting health condition. That is just not right.”

“We should be finding ways to help people who want to be in the United States become the most productive members of our communities as possible,” added Rep. Wheatley. “Not turn them away and dismiss their potential. This rule is a bad move that stinks of anti-immigrant sentiment.”

“Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 94% of noncitizens without LPR status fall into a category included in this new rule,” said Rep Kwan. “Folks will be disenrolling from programs that they desperately need to give themselves a better chance to stay in this country. That is heartbreaking and unconscionable.” 

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House Democratic Leadership Responds to Medical Marijuana Compromise Press Conference by Reaffirming Their Commitment to Vote in Favor of Proposition 2

For Immediate Release: 
October 4, 2018

Contact:         
Nick Frederick, Staff Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1503 | nfrederick@le.utah.gov 

House Democratic Leadership Responds to Medical Marijuana Compromise Press Conference by Reaffirming Their Commitment to Vote in Favor of Proposition 2

SALT LAKE CITY – Today leadership of the Utah House of Representatives Democratic Caucus responded to the compromise medical marijuana bill by reaffirming their intent to vote for Proposition 2 on the ballot this November.

“It is good that there has been some movement on the issue among stakeholders, majority leadership in both chambers, and the Governor’s office,” said Rep. Brian King.  “But there is no final deal on medical marijuana because the process has not been inclusive. The public has been shut out of all conversations and is left with no choice but to voice their opinion through the ballot. Nothing I heard today changes my intention to vote in favor of Proposition 2."

“This is another attempt to undermine the voice of the people,” added Rep. Angela Romero. “We should let the people vote and then fully deliberate any marijuana bills in the 2019 Legislative Session with a full committee process and input from the public. I support medical marijuana in Utah and I support Proposition 2.”

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Utah Teachers Needed for Developing Curriculum about Opioids and Opioid Addiction

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Julie Kiefer, Manager, Science Communications
University of Utah Health
(801) 587-1293   julie.kiefer@hsc.utah.edu 

Utah Teachers Needed for Developing Curriculum about Opioids and Opioid Addiction

SALT LAKE CITY – Grade 8 –12 science and health teachers from across the state are invited to participate in a workshop to help develop curriculum materials that address opioids and opioid addiction.

During the 2018 General Session, the legislature appropriated $150,000 of one-time funding for the development of a curriculum to teach secondary school students about opioids and opioid addiction. The Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah (UU) will use these funds to update their existing materials on addiction, as well as develop new opioid-specific materials. The opioid-specific curriculum will join the other free-to-use, evidence-based teaching materials on the GSLC’sLearn.Genetics.utah.edu website, which is used in nearly all Utah high schools.

“We’re finally investing in prevention of drug abuse through knowledge rather than just managing the symptoms,” said Representative Joel Briscoe (D-District 25), who helped shepherd the appropriation through the legislature last session. “Utah has spent millions of dollars on law enforcement and treatment to combat the Opioid Crisis. I’m excited that we’re now being proactive to help young people understand and avoid the risks of drug addiction.”

Fliers about the curriculum workshop have been sent to teachers statewide, including targeted invitations to teachers or district science coordinators in counties with the top six overdose death rates. Nationally, Utah has ranked high compared to other states for drug overdose deaths but recently overdose deaths have been decreasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Engaging teachers is such an important part of our curriculum development process,” said Amy J. Hawkins, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the GSLC. “They know the standards, they know their students, and they'll be sensitive to issues we might not be aware of. We want teachers to bring us their ideas and perspectives from their various communities. Once we understand what educators need, we can bring their ideas to life online through engaging visuals and interactive content.”

During the workshop, participants will learn from UU researchers and other professionals about the latest science behind pain, opioids, and addiction. They will then develop ideas for classroom materials that address these topics while also meeting state health and science standards. Participants will receive a $500 stipend, meals, mileage compensation, and lodging. The curriculum development workshop will occur during the scheduled UEA week, October 18 – 20, 2018, in Salt Lake City.

More information, including an application for teachers, is available athttps://www.research.net/r/addictionsci 

# # #

House Democrat Opens Medical Marijuana Bill File

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: 
September 10, 2018 

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

House Democrat Opens Medical Marijuana Bill File

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Representative Brian King (D-District 28) announced he opened a bill file titled "Medical Marijuana Modifications" for the 2019 General Session to serve as a method for the legislature to address the issue in the next session.   

“It may be that we need to make modifications to problematic aspects of Proposition 2, if it passes,” said Rep. King.  “Or we may need to put in place meaningful medical cannabis legislation if Proposition 2 fails. Many of those opposing Prop 2 have said they favor medical marijuana but not the specifics of the proposition. Regardless of the outcome, medical cannabis will continue to be an important public policy for Utahns.  I look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to develop the best policy outcome possible for Utah patients."

# # #

House Democrat Calls for Accountability for Continued Native American Voter Suppression 

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: 
September 6, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

House Democrat Calls for Accountability for Continued Native American Voter Suppression

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Representative Mark Wheatley (D-District 35) called for Utah elections officials and the State Attorney General to help San Juan County take urgent action to fix voter location inconsistencies before the November General Election.  Rep. Wheatley also asked elections officials to hold San Juan County Clerk officials accountable for actions that may continue to undermine Native American participation in elections. 

During Wednesday’s Native American Legislative Liaison Committee legislators learned that much more progress is needed to ensure that Navajo citizens’ voting rights will be protected and respected. 

According to a report prepared by the Navajo Nation Human rights Commission (NNHRC) and the Rural Utah Project (RUP) many Navajo voters are not accurately identified as living at the residential coordinates as assigned by the county.  The groups reported that in some assessed precincts about 80 to 95 percent of voters are not placed in their correct residential coordinates, and about 25 percent on average of Navajo voters are not placed in the correct precincts. 

“This effectively amounts to continued voter suppression,” said Rep. Mark Wheatley.  “It’s the responsibility of San Juan County to make sure everyone is counted. I want to make sure we are holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Last year a federal district court judge ordered San Juan County to draw new district boundaries after determining illegal racial gerrymandering had taken place.  Then, earlier this year San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson admitted to falsifying a government document regarding a claim that Navajo candidate Willie Grayeyes was ineligible to run for a county commission seat because he did not live in Utah.  A federal judge has since ordered San Juan County to place Mr. Grayeyes back on the ballot.

“It seems evident that Mr. Grayeyes’ rights have been violated,” added Rep. Wheatley. “It’s understandable that the Navajo community has lost confidence and trust with the San Juan County Clerk/Auditor’s office. At the same time, San Juan County officials claim they lack sufficient resources to accurately place many of its Native American residents.  As a state we need to be assisting San Juan County and Native American groups with resources to reconcile this situation.  For far too long our Native American brothers and sisters have had their voices suppressed.”  

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House Democrats say All Inland Port Board Meetings Should be Open

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
August 30, 2018

 Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

House Democrats say All Inland Port Board Meetings Should be Open

SALT LAKE CITY – Today the Utah House Democrats strongly urged the Inland Port Board to reconsider its decision to not hold its subcommittee meetings in public.

“After all of the backroom meetings that have occurred with the Inland Port project up to now, it is disappointing that the Inland Port Board is choosing to keep its doors closed,” said Representative Brian King (D-28).  “The argument that the law doesn’t apply in this case doesn’t hold water.”

“The issues that Inland Port Board members are discussing directly affect my constituents on the west side of Salt Lake City and, frankly, everyone in Utah,” added Representative Angela Romero (D-26). “The public has a right to know what’s going on.” 

“I have been asking for more transparency at every point of the Inland Port process since my district falls within the port boundaries,” said Representative Sandra Hollins (D-23). “Continuing to not prioritize transparency continues the distrust and bad feelings that have been present for the entirety of this process.  I strongly urge the board to reconsider in an effort to build faith and goodwill with the communities most directly affected by this massive project.”

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Democrats Call for Accountability by Religious Institutions over Allegations of Past Sexual Assault

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
August 29, 2018

Contact:         
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

Democrats Call for Accountability by Religious Institutions
over Allegations of Past Sexual Assault

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Representative Brian King (D-28) and Representative Angela Romero (D-26) issued the following statements addressing recent sexual abuse allegations involving religious institutions in Utah.

“It’s troubling to hear about alleged incidents of sexual assault involving local religious institutions that may have occurred more than 30 years ago coming out now,” said Representative Brian King.  “No matter how long ago an incident may have occurred, any church that knows about sexual abuse allegations should address those allegations in a responsible, prompt and transparent manner.  Clergy too often are insulated from accountability to protect the institution rather than the victims.  I would hope our religious institutions in good conscience use their resources and authority to seek the truth, and not to cast doubt on whether any past crime occurred.”

“When allegations of sexual assault surface, we need to start by believing the alleged victim,” said Representative Angela Romero.  “All too often, these cases linger for years and sometimes decades because the trauma to the victims is too much to bear.  Addressing these crimes matters because so many people who are traumatized by sexual abuse stay in the shadows. Victims often turn to substance abuse or engage in risky behaviors to numb their pain.  Providing support and resources to survivors is critical for preventing lifelong trauma.”

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