House Committee Passes Bill to Formalize Early Childhood Committees, Address Study Recommendations  

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2018

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

House Committee Passes Bill to Formalize Early Childhood Committees, Address Study Recommendations  

Salt Lake City - Today the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee voted to pass H.B. 319, “Early Care and Learning Coordination Amendments,” with a vote of 6 to 2.  The bill formalizes a Governor's Early Childhood Commission in the Department of Workforce Services, and an Early Childhood Utah Advisory Council in the Department of Health. The groups would work to address recommendations given by the Early Childhood Services Report from 2017.  

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck said, “This legislation will help Utah’s working families who are seeking assistance and information know what options are available for them. We know that the first years are critical for a child’s wellbeing and development. While Utah values the parent’s role as their child’s first and most important teacher, many struggling, low-income Utah families have no access to early educational programs and services to help their kids thrive from early age and beyond. ”

The bill would formalize and provide accountability from the myriad stakeholders who are already working to improve and coordinate quality programs and services for young Utah children and their parents. The Commission and the Council would coordinate efforts and resources to assess the quality and availability of early childhood education programs, along with health and development programs for young kids. They would also assess available early education programs for low-income children and make recommendations to state officials. The commission and the council would both be composed of early childhood caregivers, experts, educators, and public officials. If the legislation is successful, both entities would need to be reauthorized after five years.

Utah has a growing population and the highest number of young children per capita. Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 13 percent of Utah children ages 0-5 live below the federal poverty line and have limited access to quality early childhood education opportunities. A growing body of research shows a child’s first five years of life are critically important for lifelong learning, and laying a foundation for school and life success.

According to the 2017 Early Childhood Services Report, commissioned by legislation passed in the 2017 General Session (S.B.100 Milner/Edwards), produced by the Department of Workforce Services, and the University of Utah Education Policy Center:

High-quality early childhood services and resources can result in academic and intellectual gains, improving both the cognitive and social development of children. These early investments also benefit state economies and budgets, as the state realizes a greater return on investment for addressing needs early in life, realizing a more productive population and spending less on addressing interventions for adults with long-entrenched issues.”

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

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House Votes to Replace Philo Farnsworth Statue in U.S. Capitol with Martha Hughes Cannon

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2018

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

House Votes to Replace Philo Farnsworth Statue in U.S. Capitol with Martha Hughes Cannon

Salt Lake City - Today House Democrats showed united support in favor of the resolution S.C.R.1 - “Concurrent Resolution Recommending Replacement of Statue of Philo Farnsworth in United States Capitol.”  The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution to replace the Farnsworth statue with a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon.  Dr. Cannon was an immigrant, a polygamist, a physician, a women's rights advocate and suffragist, and the first female Utah State Senator elected in the United States.  

Rep. Patrice Arent said, “Martha Hughes Cannon is the perfect Utahn to represent our state in the nation’s Capitol. She has been one of my role models for many years. As a current legislator, I want to send a clear signal to women in Utah and across the country that our accomplishments are just as important as those of men.”

Rep. Angela Romero added, “When young women from all across the country go to the capitol, they will see an intelligent, strong, and influential Utah woman standing proudly in a hall dominated by men. Having a fellow woman recognized as an important contribution to the history of this nation is a powerful and inspirational message for all young women that tells them not to be scared in the face of difficulty and to press forward with their battles and their dreams.”

Rep. Joel Briscoe stated, “Utahns should pride themselves in the persistence and dedication that Martha Hughes Cannon had in public service, science, and her home life. Young women should know that we stand behind them and the remarkable accomplishments that they make in the face of impossible odds.”

Rep. Spackman Moss said, “Women of intellect and academic achievement have not been celebrated and memorialized to the extent of men in this state and in the country.”

Rep. Elizabeth Weight stated, “Yes, we are recognizing Martha, but we are also celebrating her leadership in 150 years of women’s right to vote in Utah. We are remembering all the women who have fought for rights for themselves and for those without a voice.  This is a celebration and recognition of the valuable roles that women in politics, science, and all spheres of life have had in our society.”

Rep. Mark Wheatley said, “We are not demoting Philo, but rather, we are giving due recognition of Martha Hughes Cannon, her work in public office, and her fight for equality. She was a strong woman who was not afraid of fighting an uphill battle for those left out of the political process.”

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House Democrats Vote Against Self Defense Bill

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2018

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

House Democrats Vote Against Self Defense Bill

Salt Lake City - The House of Representatives voted 58 to 11 in favor of H.B. 129, “Self-defense Amendments.” The bill would make the failure to retreat to a safe space irrelevant in court cases when an individual exercises self-defense.  

Earlier during the committee hearing, Democrats spoke against the bill:

“I am outraged,” Rep. Hollins said. “This bill opens a flood gate for the unnecessary escalation of dangerous situations. Violence should always be the last action available. As a nation, we have already seen the impact that discrimination and ‘stand your ground’ laws create in marginalized communities. We need to be working to deter violent situations, not to encourage individuals to attack others when they were clearly not justified,” Hollins added.

Rep. Elizabeth Weight said, “A perceived threat is not always a threat. In this country there is a culture of fear, and this bill empowers people to act on that fear.”

Rep. Angela Romero said, “I do not see how this bill meaningfully addresses the problems posed by situations of self-defense. It completely throws out discussion as to whether an individual acted reasonably in defending themselves and attacking another person. This committee has decided that facts do not belong in the courtroom.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.  

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House Committee Unanimously Passes "Utah Yield" Bicycle Bill

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 13, 2018

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

House Committee Unanimously Passes "Utah Yield" Bicycle Bill

Salt Lake City -  Today the House Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass H.B. 58, “Traffic Control Signs for Bicycles” which would revise traffic control regulations related to bicycles. The bill would let bicyclists treat stop signs as yield signs and red traffic signals as stop signs. Under current law bicyclists can pass under a red light after waiting for 90 seconds. H.B. 58 would eliminate the waiting time.  Rep. Carol Spackman Moss has coined this the “Utah Yield.”

Rep. Moss says this bill is needed because our traffic signals are designed only to accommodate cars. “All too often when bicyclists stop at a red light, they have to wait and wait because they’re not heavy enough to trigger the road sensors. Many people commute by bike to work, and they’ll just have to go through the light, and some have been cited for doing that. We want to encourage a bicycle-friendly road system that makes bicycling safer, faster, and easier will help to encourage more ridership.”

Studies from other states with “Stop as Yield” regulations have not shown any increased risk for car-bicycle accidents. One study from Idaho measured a 14 percent decrease in motor vehicle-bicycle crashes. And a 2013 comparative study of cities with and without this law found a decrease in crash severity in those cities with a “Stop As Yield Law.”                                                               

“This bill does not give people on bicycles any special rights.  It just changes our road rules to reflect and accommodate how bicyclists and vehicle drivers actually behave on the road now,” says Rep. Moss.   

H.B. 58 also works to encourage more people to use bicycling which will be increasingly necessary as our population grows. The bill helps to address Utah’s poor air quality. Roughly half of Utah’s poor air quality is attributed to motor vehicle emissions.

This bill also aims to help law enforcement focus on more pressing traffic hazards.  In 2016, the most recent data available, the Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office, found the most common vehicle accidents involve teenage drivers (45 percent), unrestrained occupant crashes (almost 9 percent), and speed related crashes (almost 6 percent).   

“Bicyclists are not creating significant risks for traffic hazards,” says Rep. Moss. “Courts will no longer have these minor infractions taking up time within the judicial system with this legislation.”

Similar laws have been in place in Idaho since 1982. In 2017, Delaware became the second state to adopt this regulation.

The bill now goes to the House for further consideration.

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House Democrats Support Medicinal Marijuana Initiative over Republican Alternative

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 13, 2018

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

House Democrats Support Medicinal Marijuana Initiative over Republican Alternative

Salt Lake City - Today the House of Representatives voted 38 to 32 to pass H.B. 197, “Cannabis Cultivation Amendments.” The bill would allow the state Department of Agriculture and Food to cultivate and process cannabis in the state for academic or medical research purposes beginning in 2019.  The bill is a companion bill of H.B. 195 “Medical Cannabis Policy,” that passed last week, which would allow a few terminally-ill patients the “right-to-try” medical cannabis under recommendation from their physician.  Most House Democrats voted against the H.B. 197, and instead support the pending statewide medical marijuana ballot initiative over these Republican alternative measures.  

Rep. Brian King said, “Don’t be fooled, this is an attack on the ballot initiative that has support from over 76% of Utahns. These bills have weak regulatory oversight, restrictive provisions on physician and patient options, and complete government takeover of the market. The legislature is insistent on playing the role of the nanny-state and telling Utahns what is ‘best’ for them, rather than listening to the will of the people.”

Rep. Angela Romero stated, “The legalization of medicinal marijuana is inevitable. However, we need to be sure that the regulatory framework we create is controlled, beneficial for patients, and conducive to a fair and competitive market. This bill does the opposite by creating a state monopoly on medicinal cannabis and restricting access to all terminally-ill patients.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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House Lawmakers Vote Down 911 Bill

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2018

Contact:       

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

House Lawmakers Vote Down 911 Bill

Salt Lake City – Today the Utah House voted 20 to 51 against passing 1st Sub. H. B. 125 – “Duty to Assist in an Emergency” that would require people to call 911 in the event of a crime or another emergency.  It would only compel people who are able to call 911 or provide assistance to act. Failure to call 911 could result in a class B misdemeanor.

Rep. Merrill Nelson said, "I think our laws presume we are a good, moral people. Our criminal law should not reach so far as to impose criminal penalties for not being a good person. We do it inherently. Our laws should not stretch to not being a good person when not calling when needed.”  

Rep. Lowry Snow said, "My concern is this opens up the discussion now to also imposition of civil liability.  My preference would be this is given more discussion and more vetting. This would be the first time we now impose upon our citizenry an obligation with criminal prosecution if they fail to act. It’s a significant shift in jurisprudence in our state.”  

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Brian King responded, “This bill is extraordinarily topical. Everyday we’re hearing that after years and even decades, people are being revealed as abusers. We need to ferret these individuals out sooner, not later.  The sexual abuse case of Larry Nassar in Michigan showed that someone had to have known for decades this was going on, and that they could have stepped up earlier to stop it, but they didn’t.”

Rep. King added, “Is this a radical departure from traditional laws? It is true our law doesn’t currently obligate us to do this. But for 30 years we’ve required people to report if they witness children or the elderly being abused. When someone is in an accident or a victim of a crime, they are no less vulnerable than a child or elder being abused. This is a modest extension of the law.”

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Democrats Oppose Bill to Create Oversight Committee

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2018

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

Democrats Oppose Bill to Create Oversight Committee

Salt Lake City - Today the House Government Operations Committee voted 6 to 3 in favor of passing H.B. 175 - “Oversight Committee Creation.”  Both Democrats on the committee, Rep. Patrice Arent and Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck voted against the bill. The bill would establish an investigative committee to uncover fraud, abuse, and misconduct, among other things, in all aspects of state and local government that do not directly deal with the courts or the legislature.  The bill was brought back to the committee for consideration after failing once.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, voting against the measure, said, “While we agree that funds need to be used properly in all aspects of government, the vague nature of this bill creates more problems than it is trying to solve. We do not know what the standards of this committee would be in deciding what is considered fraud, abuse, etc. We should be targeting known issues rather than casting an investigative net over the state in the hopes of finding a problem.”

The bill now goes to the House for consideration. 

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House Committee Unanimously Approves Two Domestic Violence Bills

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2018

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

House Committee Unanimously Approves Two Domestic Violence Bills


Salt Lake City – This afternoon the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee approved H.B. 165, ‘Pretrial Release Amendments,’ by a unanimous vote of 10 to 0.  The Committee also passed S.B. 27, ‘Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Amendments,’ by a unanimous vote of 10 to 0.

S.B.27 (Sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler/Rep. Angela Romero, House Floor sponsor) and H.B.165 (Sponsored by Rep. Romero/Sen. Weiler the Senate Floor sponsor) are results of a joint effort between legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement, advocates, and survivors of domestic violence. S.B.27 increases the ability for law enforcement to protect victims of stalking and violence, and their family members.  H.B.165 provides clear guidelines for prosecutors and law enforcement regarding the pretrial process.  It also offers additional protections to survivors of domestic violence to limit the interaction of the aggressor with the victim and his or her family.

Rep. Angela Romero, the House sponsor of both bills, said regarding H.B. 165, “Survivors of domestic abuse need to be protected and feel supported during the pretrial process. Currently, many survivors are in danger from their aggressors and are intimidated or abused during pretrial from testifying and/or pursuing litigation.” She further added, “We also need to take issues such as stalking and dating violence seriously. These bills provide much needed protection, and while they represent an important first step, there is still much to be done regarding sexual abuse and harassment.”

Rep. Hollins, serving on the Committee, added, “These bills demonstrate that we stand behind victims of domestic abuse and stalking and give them the full support of the law. We want to do everything in our power to protect survivors and their families from harm, and to ensure our criminal justice system is prepared to deal with these cases.”

S.B.27 and H.B.165 now go to the full House for consideration.

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Democrats Support Bill to Help Low-Income Families with Family Planning through Medicaid Expansion

Media Statement

 For Immediate Release: January 30, 2018

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

Democrats Support Bill to Help Low-Income Families with Family Planning through Medicaid Expansion

Salt Lake City - Today the House passed HB12, Family Planning Services Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Ray Ward. This bill would create a program to allow the use of Medicaid funds for family planning services for low-income Utah women. The legislation would allow the state to significantly reduce the costs of expensive and long-acting birth control devices, such as IUDs (intrauterine devices), for low-income women and families.  

“We support this bill because it could help as many as 11,000 low-income families in Utah to have more control over when they choose to have children,” says Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck. “Birth control is so expensive, and many low-income Utah women simply cannot afford it.”

Rep. Sandra Hollins stated, “This legislation would save Utah taxpayers a lot of money in the long-term by preventing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. If we can help low-income families avoid unwanted pregnancies through educational programs and other resources, we are reducing the financial toll placed on them. We can also reduce the stress on our state’s social services which we all pay for.” 

Rep. Brian King said, “There is no excuse anymore for us to not do everything we can to assist our most vulnerable families with managing the serious responsibilities that come with parenthood. Taking this action would allow many struggling families to finish school, or keep working until they are ready to start or expand a family.  This is common sense, and something all of us should support.”  

Other states that have passed similar legislation have shown they can save a significant amount of money.  Utah remains one of seven states that have not expanded Medicaid to cover family planning services.

HB12 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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House Democrats Support Freedom of Choice by Voting Against HB205

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2018

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

House Democrats Support Freedom of Choice by Voting Against HB205

Salt Lake City
– This afternoon House Democrats voted against passing HB205 from the House Judiciary Standing Committee. The bill, Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act, would restrict medical doctors in Utah from performing abortions when a woman seeks the procedure due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

House Minority Leader Brian King stated, “I am disheartened by the degree to which so many of our legislative colleagues seem to believe that government should be free to intrude on the most personal and private medical decisions women can make. It is inappropriate for the government to impose on women the moral and ideological values of a group of legislators who think they know better than the people directly involved. This bill is inconsistent with a legislative agenda that values personal choice and freedom for individuals in the state.” 

Representative Mark Wheatley said, “Our friends and family with Down syndrome are indeed inspiring and integral to our community. We also do not wish to enable a culture of discrimination.  Of course, we want nothing but the best for our children with Down syndrome.  However, this bill fails to adequately address these concerns of discrimination. We should never force anyone to become a parent against their will. These decisions should be made through conversations between patients and medical professionals. I believe that it is not up to state legislators to make those decisions.”

HB205 is especially problematic as research has shown that unintended pregnancy, unintended births, abortion, and teen pregnancies all occur more frequently among low socioeconomic status and minority women. As legislators, we should be focused on funding essential programs that provide family planning services to these women. These services help to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place and have been shown to reduce abortion rates.

Legislative general council has indicated that HB205 is extremely legally problematic and very likely unconstitutional. A similar version of this bill in Indiana was overturned by a Federal judge, and other states that have passed similar bills are, or will face legal challenges. Creating such legislation would be fiscally irresponsible as the state would likely face waves of lawsuits in opposition. 

House Democrats are committed to fighting this unconstitutional bill and similar legislation.

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Statement from Utah House Democrats on the Passing of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: January 3, 2018

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

Statement from Utah House Democrats on the Passing of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson

Salt Lake City – Today Utah House Democrats express grief for the passing of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson last night.  President Monson was celebrated and respected for his deep compassion and service for the marginalized, the bereft, and the unrecognized. He was known for saying, “‘Love thy neighbor’ is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection.”  His humility and empathetic approach for all people were values that all of us can celebrate. From an early age, Thomas Monson rose up through the Church and our community because of his fundamental intuition for compassion. 

“President Monson’s gift for taking keen interest in each individual, and for remembering the circumstances of their lives will be missed.  He was remarkable.  He knew details about everyone. And he cared for everyone,” said Minority Leader Brian King. “He became a bishop when he was just 22.  He was remarkably intelligent.  He used to visit people regularly at hospitals. He had an amazing memory, and a remarkable sense of empathy for all people.  He was a very loving, compassionate person.”

Rep. Sandra Hollins said, “His leadership played an important role in helping those in poverty, and his attentiveness to disaster-relief for the suffering. President Monson was extraordinarily sympathetic.  He always made sure that he attended to the needs of people.”

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Democrats Urge Utah's Congressional Delegation to Take Action to Protect Americans in the DACA Program

December 22 , 2017

UTAH LEGISLATORS ISSUE OPEN LETTER TO UTAH’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DECISION TO END DACA

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Democratic Legislators released the following open letter to Utah’s Congressional Delegation calling for immediate action to protect Americans in the DACA program:

An Open Letter to Utah’s Congressional Delegation

Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Mike Lee
Representa tive Rob Bishop
Representative Mia Love
Representative Chris Stewart
Representative John Curtis

This weekend, you and millions of other families will gather to celebrate the Christmas holiday. This is a time for families to reflect on life’s joys and opportunities and to enjoy the comfort of those whom we love and cherish the most.

Unfortunately, the families of hundreds of thousands of Americans who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) will spend this Christmas living in fear as time runs out for this program. Nearly four months ago, President Trump took the irresponsible and cruel action to end the DACA program. In doing so, he left the lives of these young people in the hands of you and your fellow members of Congress. Unfortunately, with a little over two months remaining before recipients begin losing their protected status , Congress has taken no action to address this coming catastrophe.

Once again, we call upon you, as elected federal representatives of this state, to take immediate action to protect DACA enrollees. These young men and women -- known as Dreamers -- were brought to this country as children. Many of them know no other home but this country. They grew up here, they’ve gone to school here, many have served our nation in the military, and they deserve a chance to build lives in this great nation; to do what so many immigrants have done throughout our history: to make America even greater.

On September 1 of this year, Senator Hatch, the senior member of your delegation said that “ We… need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here.” On December 20, of this year, he called President Trump “one heck of a leader,” and said that “… we are going to make this the greatest presidency we have seen, not only in generations but maybe ever.” The President responded in kind by calling you a “special friend of mine.” Given the remarkably warm and devoted relationship you have built with the President, we implore you, Senator Hatch, to take this opportunity to use that influence to protect those individuals you spoke so highly of just a few months ago.

Ending DACA will send back in to the shadows close to one million exemplary individuals who trusted the government, played by the rules, pay their taxes and contribute to our society. The President’s cruel and irresponsible actions have ensured that this will be a frightening and insecure Christmas in the homes of Dreamers who are Americans in every way but a piece of paper.

Yet again, we add our voices to those of business leaders and elected officials from across the nation and across party lines to call upon you to show the leadership to pass either the bipartisan DREAM Act, the BRIDGE Act, or similar legislation that provides these young people raised in this country the permanent protection and stability that they deserve. We strongly implore you to sign on as co - sponsors and assure that this legislation passes with all due haste.

Respectfully ,

Senator Gene Davis
Senate Minority Leader

Senator Jim Dabakis

Senator Luz Escamilla

Senator Jani Iwamoto

Senator Karen Mayne

Representative Brian S. King
House Minority Leader

Representative Patrice M. Arent

Representative Joel K. Briscoe

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck

Representative Karen Kwan

Representative Lynn Hemmingway

Representative Sandra Hollins

Representative Carol Spackman Moss

Representative Marie H. Poulson

Representative Angela Romero

Representative Elizabeth Weight

Representative Mark A . Wheatley

House Democratic Caucus Leaders Respond to Gov. Herbert’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: December 13, 2017

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

House Democratic Caucus Leaders Respond to Gov. Herbert’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Salt Lake City – Today with the release of Gov. Herbert’s proposed 2018 budget, Utah House Democrats find several aspects of the budget they can support. 

Specifically, giving more than 70 percent of the $382 million of new on-going money towards education for our children is certainly what Utahns want.  Using these additional funds to give local schools more flexibility to invest in teachers and for supporting at-risk children are also good ideas that Democrats can support.  Utahns urgently want more funding for K-12 public school education with appropriate accountability, and the Governor’s budget is a good start.

House Democrats also support the Governor’s goal to improve air quality by aiming to reduce harmful emissions by 25 percent by 2026. The governor’s plan for increased funding for air quality research, and more flexibility in using Transportation Investment Funds (TIF) for all modes of transportation – not just for highways – will make improvements to our air quality.  

It is also important that we continue to fund Operation Rio Grande, and that we responsibly support populations without homes through mental health and substance abuse treatment. House Democrats also support working to create more jobs for rural Utahns, giving more funds to rural Utah schools, and improving and possibly expanding our state park system.   We also look forward to learning more about the governor’s specific ideas on reforming Utah’s tax code.  

“This is a good place to start for a budget bid,” said Rep. Joel Briscoe. “We think he’s got some good policy ideas here.  Helping at-risk kids, increased education funding, and a continued focus on improving air quality are all things Utahns want to see happen.”

“We look forward to working with the governor and other representatives who also want to move our state forward with policies that keep our state economically strong, while helping working families and our children,” said House Democratic Minority Leader Brian King.

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Democrats Protest President Trump’s Decision to Shatter Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: December 4, 2017

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

Jon Hennington, Minority Executive Assistant
Utah Senate Minority Caucus
(801) 538-1406 | jhennington@le.utah.gov

Salt Lake City – Today Utah House and Senate Democrats issued the following statement:

The thoughtless actions taken by President Trump are unprecedented and illegal.  They are a gift to those who wish to exploit Utah’s natural treasures, and an insult to the Native American tribes who have worked so hard to ensure that their sacred lands are protected from those who would pillage their artifacts and ruin their beauty.  Their voices have never truly been heard by this administration or by our state delegation.  The overwhelming majority of Native Americans have repeatedly shown their support for the Bears Ears Monument from the beginning.  This decision will also hurt tourism and economic vitality for the many Utahns who built their small businesses around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  

This type of policymaking, undertaken merely to undermine the actions taken by the previous administration, is no way to govern.  These actions are extremely divisive.  Rather than bringing people together to work towards a collaborative land management plan for these national monuments, President Trump has chosen to unilaterally shatter these majestic areas in reckless ways that remove protection from the most beautiful, culturally significant, and scientifically important lands in our state. This action is shameful, petty, and demonstrates an utter failure of leadership.

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House Democrats Urge Utah’s Senators to Oppose the Tax Reform Bill

Media Statement

 For Immediate Release: November 29, 2017

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

 House Democrats Urge Utah’s Senators to Oppose the Tax Reform Bill

Salt Lake City - Today the Utah House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Senators Hatch and Lee urging them not to support the current tax reform bill now being considered by the U.S. Senate:

“We oppose this tax reform bill for two key reasons.

First, this bill will raise taxes on Utah working families earning less than $75,000 according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis. To permanently cut taxes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations while only temporarily giving a tax break to the great majority of Utah’s working families, including individuals below the poverty line, is contrary to longstanding Utah values and undermines future economic vitality for our constituents.

Second, this tax reform bill will increase to an even greater extent an already catastrophic national budget deficit.  Adding $1.4 trillion more to the debt over the next decade is deeply irresponsible public policymaking, and it runs counter to the values of Utah voters and Utah legislators. We believe in fiscal responsibility and balancing budgets, not in profligate spending.  

It is clear that this bill is engineered to benefit only the wealthiest of Americans and corporations while hurting working families.  It also cuts healthcare tax credit support for low-income working Americans that will lead to higher health insurance premiums. To argue that this tax reform bill is anything other than a reckless giveaway to the rich is misleading and disgraceful. 

While there are other aspects of the bill that are also against the public interest, these two reasons alone justify the Utah House Democrats asking that you vote against this tax reform bill.”  

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Clean Air Festival in SLC Saturday 11/18/17

UTAH SENATE DEMOCRATS

320 STATE CAPITOL • SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH 84114

(801) 538-1406 • FAX (801) 326-1476

 

News Advisory

November 17, 2017

Contact:         Sen. Luz Escamilla/801-550-6434

                        Angela Romero/801-535-7907

angela.romero@slcgov.com          

 

Clean Air Festival in SLC Saturday

 

Senator Luz Escamilla (D – Salt Lake) and Salt Lake City YouthCity Government, are encouraging the public to attend the Breathe Clean Festival on Saturday at Salt Lake City’s Glendale Public Library. The event is designed to inform the public about short and long-term solutions to improve our environment and individual, family and public health.

                                                                                                

            “The Breathe Clean Festival is the first of an ongoing series of events aimed at educating and empowering our West Side communities and Salt Lake City on reducing health risks and emissions,” says event organizer Dr. Daniel Mendoza, Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the University of Utah Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

 

            Included in the day’s activities are speakers, information booths, workshops, free flu shots, a kids’ activity area, prizes and giveaways and food trucks.

 

            “This event is a great opportunity for Salt Lake City residents, especially those living on the West Side, to get the information necessary to protect their own health and that of their families,” says Sen. Escamilla.

 

            The Breath Clean Festival is sponsored by Salt Lake City YouthCity Government, The City Library, and ten public health partners.

 

Event:           Breathe Clean Festival

Date:             Saturday, November 18, 2017

Time:            10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location:    Glendale Public Library

                        1375 South Concord Street, SLC

Resources: Health Clinics, Blood Pressure Testing

For Kids:     Face Painting, Balloon Animals, Art Projects & more fun activities

For All:        Food Truck, coffee, snacks

 

Full details at:

https://slcgreenblog.com/2017/11/08/breathe-clean-festival-on-november-18/

UTAH LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS JOHN CANNON AS DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH OFFICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UTAH LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS JOHN CANNON AS DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH OFFICE Veteran legislative staffer, community leader, and public affairs director to return to OLRGC

SALT LAKE CITY - Today, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Utah House Minority Leader Brian King announced that the hiring subcommittee of the Utah Legislature unanimously recommends that John Q. Cannon assume leadership of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (OLRGC).

John Cannon served the Utah State Legislature for over two decades, first as an analyst, then rising to the leadership position of Managing Policy Analyst for OLRGC. Cannon was recognized for his vast knowledge of the legislative process, leadership ability, willingness to innovate, and for encouraging greater citizen participation in government. Cannon left OLRGC in 2012 to work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he currently serves as the Director of Community and Government Affairs.

House Minority Leader, and co-chair of the hiring committee Brian King said, "I look forward to John's leadership at OLRGC. He brings to the job excellent experience from prior service in that office as well as government relations work in the private sector.  His integrity and commitment to quality will allow the office to move forward on the foundation built by Mike Christensen."

Senate co-chair, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, "John is an innovator and a diplomat, with expert knowledge of legislative processes here in Utah and around the nation. He has the experience and leadership ability to get the work done. The choice was not easy.  We had a very strong group of applicants, but he rose to the top. If you were to craft an ideal skill set for this position, John Cannon has it."

As director, Cannon will succeed Michael Christensen, who has led the award-winning Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel since 2000.

In 2012, John Cannon received a staff achievement award from the National Conference of State Legislators, which stated in part, "John possesses a unique array of superior technical skills combined with a first-rate political acumen and an unassuming and down-to-earth demeanor, great sense of humor, and compassion for others."

John Cannon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.

The six-member Legislative Research Subcommittee is equally balanced between both political parties and both legislative chambers. Their recommendation will now go to the Legislative Management Committee for approval, then ratification by the full Utah State Legislature.

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CONTACTS:

Greg Hartley

House Chief of Staff

801-231-2756

 

Lisa S. Jones

House Minority Caucus Staff Director

801-792-2330

 

Jon Hennington

Senate Minority Assistant

801-214-4611

 

Ric Cantrell

Senate Chief of Staff

801-647-8944

Utah Representative To Screen “From the Ashes” With National Geographic TODAY

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: June 21, 2017

Contact:       Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                    Utah House Democratic Caucus

                    801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov

Utah Representative To Screen “From the Ashes” With National Geographic

Salt Lake City - Representative  Joel Briscoe, in conjunction with the Utah Sierra Club, will screen National Geographic’s “From the Ashes: A Requiem for Coal” tonight at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City. “From the Ashes” premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and explores the struggles of communities whose primary economy is the coal industry, and what their future could be. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Mishka Banuri, Piper Christian, Rep. Briscoe and others.

Who: Representative Joel Briscoe

Utah Sierra Club

What: Screening of “From the Ashes: A Requiem for Coal” and panel discussion

Where: Tower Theater, 876 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

When: TODAY, June 21, 2017 - Doors open at 6:30 and the film will begin promptly at 7:00 pm.

More information can be found here.

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Democratic Leader Supports Special Session on Elections Guidelines

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2017

Contact:      Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                    Utah House Democratic Caucus

                    801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov

Democratic Leader Supports Special Session on Elections Guidelines

Salt Lake City – House Democratic Leader Brian King released a statement today declaring his support for a special session to detail the laws guiding special elections in Utah.

He said, “We are talking about the fundamentals of our government - checks and balances. Defining how elections are run is a legislative power. We may have a lot in common with how the Governor would like a special election to run, but it is not his prerogative. The legislature is responsible for those decisions.

There is a need to provide clarity in our current law. There is an imminent special election. Why should Utah lose a seat at the table when critical decisions are being made about our lands and our water? There is urgency here and the legislature should address it. I support a special session.”

 

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