Press Release Archives

Press Release Archives


House Democratic Leader Not Surprised By Recent Integrity Grade for Utah.

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: November 9, 2015

Contact:       Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                    Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democratic Leader Not Surprised By Recent Integrity Grade for Utah

Salt Lake City – In light of the low grade Utah has recently received by the Center for Public Integrity, House Democratic Leader Brian King issued the following statement:

“We welcome this effort to shed light on problems with Utah’s political process. The Medicaid expansion discussions that have been carried out over the last few months with no input from Democrats have shown the negative influence that secrecy and large amounts of out-of-state money can have on Utah’s democratic process. The Gang of Six Republicans worked for seven months behind closed doors and came up with a proposal to expand Medicaid that gathered seven House Republicans supporting it out of 63 members. Seven votes in seven months. Our legislative system is clearly broken. We need greater accountability, limits, and transparency to our political processes. We also need to have all Utahns at the table when decisions that are critical importance to their welfare are being made. We need limits on the contributions that can be made to candidates. We also need a commitment from our leaders to receive input from all legislators, regardless of party, to avoid complete one party control in this state. These things are essential to ensuring that all Utahns have access to, and a voice in, making government work.”
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Utah received a “D” grade by the Center for Public Integrity. You can read more about the grade and what it means for Utah here.


House Democrat Encouraged by Dialogue on Physician-Assisted Dying

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2015

Contact:       Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                         Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democrat Encouraged by Dialogue on Physician-Assisted Dying

Salt Lake City – House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck is encourage by dialogues surrounding physician-assisted dying from the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. The University is featuring presentations by Dr. Linda Ganzini, a leading researcher on Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Dr. Ganzini will present to students, faculty, physicians and invited guests regarding the motivations, impacts and ethical ramifications of physician assisted dying.

Representative Chavez-Houck, who presented similar legislation during the 2015 legislative session, commented on the visit saying, “Utah’s Death with Dignity Act needs to be based on factual evidence. We know that the majority of Utahns support this kind of end-of-life option as a part of a continuum of care. Dr. Ganzini’s detailed research on Oregon’s current law and practice will help us to build a program that addresses some very valid concerns while caring for terminally ill loved ones.”

Dr. Ganzini will be presenting on Thursday, October 29th at HSEB Alumni Hall on the University of Utah Campus from noon to 1pm. She will address why patients request assisted death, and will be available immediately after for questions and comments from the media.

Who: Dr. Linda Ganzini, Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University

What: Physician Assisted Dying and Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act

When: Thursday, October 29, lecture noon to 1 pm, availability immediately after

Where: University of Utah Campus, HSEB Alumni Hall

26 South 2000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
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House Democratic Leader Calls Closed Caucus Meetings on Utah Access Plus "Political Incompetence"

Posted by Utah House Democrats on Oct 13, 2015

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2015

Contact: Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov

House Democratic Leader Calls Closed Caucus Meetings on Utah Access Plus Political Incompetence

Salt Lake City – House Democratic Leader Brian King used the words “political incompetence” to refer to a Republican closed-caucus meeting today covering the future of Utah Access Plus, the most recent Medicaid expansion plan being proposed to the legislature. The plan attempts to expand Medicaid to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line, but does so by taxing providers that include rural doctors and students just out of college. Utah Access Plus also pulls children off of traditional Medicaid and forces them onto plans where parents are required to pay higher premiums and copays.

Representative King said, “It is political incompetence. Republican leadership has cobbled together an expansion plan that has aggravated divisions among their own ranks. The Republican House caucus is now forced to have closed door meetings that determine the future of the health of our state. Republican Representatives have literally closed the door on the opinions, on the needs, of the people of Utah.

Democrats represent nearly half a million people in the state, and we do it well. Without Democratic votes, transportation funding and property taxes would have failed last session. Democrats have been influential in passing bills like the Count My Vote compromise and our state’s guest worker program. We listen to our constituents, and we have heard what they want – expansion of Medicaid. What is happening behind those doors is undemocratic, and does not remotely symbolize the values of Utah.”

To address the concerns of the future of Medicaid expansion in Utah, Representative King and Representative Joel Briscoe, along with Jennifer Dailey from the Academy of Family Physicians and Rylee Curtis from Utah Health Policy Project, will be holding a townhall meeting at the Salt Lake City Public Library Thursday, October 15, from 7-9 pm.

Who: House Democratic Leader Brian King
House Assistant Whip Joel Briscoe
Jennifer Dailey, Utah Academy of Family Physicians
RyLee Curtis, Utah Health Policy Project
What: Townhall Meeting on Medicaid Expansion
When: Thursday, October 15, 7-9 pm
Where: Salt Lake City Public Library
Nancy Tessman Auditorium
210 E 400 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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House Democrats Point to Leadership Failures in Medicaid Expansion Debate

Posted by Utah House Democrats on Sep 29, 2015

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2015

Contact:     Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov

House Democrats Point to Leadership Failures in Medicaid Expansion Debate

Salt Lake City – In anticipation of the closed-door caucus meetings of Utah House and Senate Republicans today, House Democratic Leader Brian King released the following statement:

“The closed door caucuses scheduled for today are remarkable. Not only is the opinion of the majority of Utahns being completely ignored by Republican leadership in both caucuses, but the Representatives of nearly half a million people in our state are being intentionally kept in the dark about a law that will affect everyone. Most Utahns supported the Healthy Utah plan already agreed to by the Governor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year. So what are we waiting for?

We now know that this new bill is nowhere near finalized, that critical details are still being hammered out behind closed doors, and that hyper-conservative special interest groups are doing anything they can to keep Medicaid expansion from occurring. The specifics of any proposal are not being presented in the clear light of day. Why is that? During general session, Republican leadership was more interested in listening to Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin as he discouraged the Utah House from expanding Medicaid. These extreme obstructionist voices from outside Utah do not reflect the interests or desires of Utahns as a whole.

In Utah, people care about people. Medicaid expansion can be implemented in a way that represents good public policy and takes care of those most in need. Democrats have four guidelines that will help us determine whether or not this plan is the plan that Utahns deserve.

1. For a Medicaid expansion plan to be worthy of Democratic support we require that everyone up to 138% of the federal poverty level receive coverage. Period.

2. There can be no discriminatory treatment in the coverage provided to people who are part of Medicaid expansion. What are acceptable minimum benefits for one group of individuals covered by Medicaid expansion must be acceptable for every member of the group.

3. Funding for the state share of Medicaid expansion must be fair, rational, and not create a disproportionate burden for those providers willing to give medical treatment to those who need it most.

4. Ignoring our federal partners and insisting on passing a piece of legislation that has not been guaranteed to succeed is a political ploy, and one we won’t stand for. Federal authorities need to be as involved in this process as thoroughly they had been for the Healthy Utah negotiations. This is a partnership with the federal government, as Republican leadership keeps reminding us. Yet they seem to forget that as a partnership, there needs to be conversation, negotiation, and agreement. Passing a plan before we know whether the federal government will sign off on it is putting the cart before the horse.

Utahns want Healthy Utah. The Gang of Six’s proposal, ill-formed and unready for prime time, is no Healthy Utah. Democrats in the Utah House and Senate understand the benefit that expanding Medicaid can provide to our communities. We are willing to fight for what is best for Utahns rather than settle for watered down or half cocked substitutes. That is what we were elected to do and we’ll do what is necessary to carry out that charge.”

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Utahns Unite to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Posted by Utah House Democrats on Aug 30, 2015

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: August 30, 2015

Contact: Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
801-835-7087 | houseminmedia@le.utah.gov

Utahns Unite to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Salt Lake City – Utahns led by the local chapter of Fed Up will rally on the south steps of the Utah Capitol on August 31st at 4 p.m. to call for more legislative and community action to end the epidemic of overdose deaths that is sweeping the state and the nation.

Who: Sandra Kresser, Utah Fed Up Committee Chair
Representative Carol Spackman Moss
Dr. Jennifer Plumb, Pediatrician
Erin Finkbiner, Max & Jan Lovett
Darlene Schultz & Sonya Hohmeister
Mary Jo McMillen, Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness
Dennis Cecchini
Robbie Bills, Balance House Recovery Residence

What:             Utahns Unite to Prevent Overdose Deaths
Where:          Utah State Capitol, South Steps, 350 N State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84114
When:            Monday, August 31st, 4-6 p.m.

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Utah House Democrats Express Condolences to Colleague

Posted by Utah House Democrats on Aug 28, 2015

Media Release

For Immediate Release: August 28 , 2015

Contact: Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
Utah House Democratic Caucus
 801-835-7087 | houseminmedia@le.utah.gov

Utah House Democrats Express Condolences to Colleague

Salt Lake City – The Utah House Democratic Caucus expresses their deepest condolences to former Representative and current Senator Gene Davis on the passing of his wife, Penny.

House Democratic Leader Brian King said, “Losing someone you love is always hard. Losing your spouse, your best friend, and your biggest champion is something we all wish to never have to go through. Senator Davis was sometimes the most visible spouse, but Penny held the strength of character to keep their family strong and healthy, even through numerous hard and fast 45 day stretches at the Legislature. We all find our inspiration from our lives and our homes. Penny was an inspiration to Senator Davis and to all of us. We hope that their family finds the greatest of peace in this hard time.”

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Media Hears West Side Voices at Riverside Park

Posted by Utah House Democrats on Aug 17, 2015

Today at Riverside Park in Salt Lake City, members of the media listened to the real opinions of Salt Lake City resident on whether or not the state prison should be moved into their area. These west side residents included elected officials like Representatives Sandra Hollins and Angela Romero, who said they welcome the opportunity to give their constituents a voice at the legislature. Below are photos from today’s event.

Residents brought their children to this important event where people from the west side declared their opposition to hosting yet another state project that the rest of the state has refused.


Salt Lake City West Side Leaders Will Stand Against Prison Move

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: August  16, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                            Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Salt Lake City West Side Leaders Will Stand Against Prison Move

Salt Lake City – Representative Sandra Hollins will lead a press conference surrounded by leaders of Salt Lake City’s west side community to stand against the move of the state prison on Monday, August 17th at 10:30 am. The site recommended to the Governor and Legislature sits squarely within Representative Hollins’ district and will negatively impact the area. She will be joined by Representative Angela Romero and Senator Luz Escamilla to speak to the greater damage that has not been considered by the Prison Relocation Commission.

Who:                          Representative Sandra Hollins

                                    Representative Angela Romero

                                    Senator Luz Escamilla

What:                         West Side Leaders Protesting the Prison Move

Where:                      Riverside Park, 739 N 1400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84104

When:                       Monday, August 17, 10:30 am
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Prison Relocation Decision Disappoints and Frustrates SLC Rep.

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: August 11, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                       Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Prison Relocation Decision Disappoints and Frustrates Salt Lake City Representative

Salt Lake City – Representative Sandra Hollins was disappointed and frustrated by the decision of the Prison Relocation Committee today to recommend the state prison in Draper be moved to her district in the west side of Salt Lake City.

She said, “It is one thing to have a decisively deliberate body. This issue has been in discussions for years now. Placing the prison in Salt Lake City has not. the committee has only considered Salt Lake City as a destination for the new prison since late last year, and it will inevitably cost the state more money than other sites due to the instability of the ground they plan on building on.

I have said for a while that this entire process has excluded those of us who represent the people of these districts, and the people themselves. Are we really doing our jobs as representatives when we ignore the complaints and needs of those in our communities? The west side has not been silent. I have not been silent. I will not be silent. This is a bad decision that will only further side track neighborhoods that are on their way to cultural and economic success.”
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House Democratic Leader Focused on Inmates and Families During Prison Rebuild

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: August 11, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

                       Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democratic Leader Focused on Inmates and Families During Prison Rebuild

Salt Lake City –  House Democratic Leader Brian King released the following statement after the decision to recommend Salt Lake City as the site for the new state prison. This recommendation will be voted on by the full legislature, potentially this month.

He said, “This has to be about the people of Utah, all of them, whether they are incarcerated or not. If we want Utah to continue to be an economic success, we cannot continue to ignore the needs of prisoners – be it beds to sleep on, doctors to see, or education that will support them once they are released. This needs to happen now, not later. Rebuilding the prison is a part of that goal. Reducing recidivism is another. We need to take a long hard look at how we are treating who many consider to be the ‘least of us’, and take stock of what that says about us as a community.”

“If we are to continue this discussion in a meaningful manner, more people need to be involved. Consideration has to be given to inmates, families, and those who work so hard at the current prison. I welcome the special session as a way for the whole legislature to weigh in on this decision. The people of Utah deserve to be heard. The people in prison deserve their humanity. It is our job to give that to them.”

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Rep. Patrice Arent Calls for Closure of campaign Finance Loophole

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: July 21, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Representative Patrice Arent Calls For Closure of Campaign Finance Loopholes

Salt Lake City – Representative Patrice Arent, House Democratic Caucus Manager, is calling for the closure of a campaign finance loophole that allows some candidates for public office to use election funds for personal use, such as the purchase of personal vehicles.

She stated, “Democrats have been working on campaign finance issues since before 2000. This is an important issue to ensure the public trust, so that money donated is spent exactly how you would expect it to be used. The state regulates the majority of campaign finance laws, all the way down to municipal elections. Somehow this personal use exemption for county officials was overlooked.  Today I opened a bill file to close that loophole.”

The bill file is currently listed under the title “Limitations on the use of Campaign Funds at the County Level”.

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Reps. Patrice Arent and Angela Romero named in "Enlightened 50" by Community Foundation of Utah

Representatives Patrice Arent and Angela Romero were honored last night by the Community Foundation of Utah with the “Enlightened 50” or E-50 award. E-50 awards go to individuals who are “making a measurable – but often unsung – difference in the lives of Utahns through innovation, collaboration and commitment to the common good.” You can see the whole list of honorees here.


End the Stalling and Pass Healthy Utah so that More Utahns Can Live

Today, House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck published an Op-Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune calling on local and federal elected officials in Utah to stop wasting time and save Utahns lives today. As the notorious “gang of six” renegotiate the already heavily negotiated Healthy Utah plan, Representative Chavez-Houck asks the question “If a fiscally conservative legislature knows this is the most fiscally sound plan, why do they continue to throw up roadblocks?” She also questions the basis that led to other unwise decisions during the ACA debate, including why Utah did not expand the already existing state run Avenue H program to individuals searching for health insurance. You can read her opinion on these issues here, or download the pdf below.

Op-ed_ End the stalling and pass Healthy Utah so that more Utahns may live _ The Salt Lake Tribune

Last March, 55% of Utahns said they favored Healthy Utah over what the House proposed, and that number has only grown. With so much support for this plan to give Utahns affordable healthcare, we have to wonder who these continued tactics help, and who they hurt. Find out more on the benefits and drawbacks of both proposed plans here.


Democrats Applaud Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrats Applaud Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Leader Brian King released the following statement after learning of the Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of same-sex marriage bans.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a great thing. It is the culmination of the work of many U.S. federal district and circuit court judges over many years. These judges have struggled to reconcile the difficult legal and Constitutional issues same sex marriage presents to our country.

We know this has been a divisive issue. And we recognize that each individual has the right to their own moral and religious beliefs regarding same sex marriage. But we welcome this ruling because it makes clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not acceptable under the Constitution and that families of all types are entitled to protection under the law. All people are created equal in this country and they deserve equal rights. As such, today’s ruling is a tremendous legal victory for not just the LGBTQ community but for all of us. The finality this ruling brings to this legal issue will help us move forward as a more united society.”

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House Democrats Celebrate ACA Success, Urge Action on Medicaid Expansion

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democrats Celebrate ACA Success, Urge Action on Medicaid Expansion

Salt Lake City– House Democrats celebrated the announcement of Supreme Court ruling on King v. Burwell today by calling for passage of the last critical element of the Affordable Care Act: full Medicaid expansion in Utah.

House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck said, “It is time for Utah to act. There are no more “red herrings” to fish out. The decision has been made. The Affordable Care Act has provided accessible health coverage to so many Utahns, and now it is time to insure many more. Medicaid Expansion has been successful in neighboring states like Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Let’s replicate that success. At the very least, let’s pass Healthy Utah and support those 128,000 of our friends and neighbors. Let’s make sure our families are healthy and supported. Let’s follow through on our promise by making Utah more fiscally sound, more apt to grow, with a healthy and happy population.”

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Constitutional Defense Council Rejects Funding Requests, Unintentionally Raises $5000 for Convicted Commissioner Phil Lyman

Although the Constitutional Defense Council did not approve a request to fund up to $100,000 in legal fees for a defense against the conviction of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, the Council meeting served as an impromptu fundraiser for the cause.

The Utah Association of Counties officially withdrew their request for the funds before a vote was taken, but not before declaring that individuals within the organization were committed to providing personal funds for the defense. Then individual commissioners began laying down cash on the table where members of the public testify.

The pile began to grow while Commissioners, Sheriffs, and other citizens donated, with a pledge of $10,000 from Governor Gary Herbert. The final count was $5528.00.

House Democratic Leader Brian King vented his frustration with the issue, asking the representative who had brought the funding request to the Council (Rep. Mike Noel) if he was a lawyer, understood the likelihood of overturning this conviction, or how this funding effort could end up damaging the very cause he was trying to support. Representative King went on to speak about the enormous amount of opinions from the public he and other members of the Council had received. The public outcry was a relatively common theme: State funds should not go to over turn a criminal conviction – especially if the conviction is one of an elected official. 

Comments posted all over the House Democratic Caucus Facebook Event and Page, as well as comments on the House Democratic blog all led to the same conclusion – the request was not only infuriating to the public, but would cause the state some serious legal troubles.

Get involved and make sure the Council and other committees hear your voice. Write your Representative, Senator, and Governor


Council to Hear Controversial Funding Request for Convicted County Commissioner

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Council to Hear Controversial Funding Request for Convicted County Commissioner

Salt Lake City– The Constitutional Defense Council will hear a request for funds to assist in the legal fees of convicted San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman on Wednesday, June 24th. Commissioner Lyman was convicted of illegally driving in Recapture Canyon to protest BLM road closures, causing damage of $400,000.00 to the area.

Representative Mike Noel originally brought the issue to the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands in the form a of a resolution supporting a recommendation to the Constitutional Defense Council to pay up to $100,000 of legal fees for the convicted commissioner.  The resolution passed along party lines, with both Democrats on the Commission defiantly opposing the measure. Although the Commission has no legal way to pay for the fees, the Constitutional Defense Council allocates mineral right funds to defend the state against issues dealing with federal versus state land rights.

House Democratic Assistant Whip Joel Briscoe displayed his displeasure about the resolution, saying “The CDC money should not be a slush fund for people’s political and legal battles.”

Representative Mike Noel is expected to propose the funding at the June 24th meeting.

Who: Constitutional Defense Council

What: Potential funds for legal fees of convicted county commissioner

Where: Utah Senate Building, Olmstead Room

When: June 24, 2015  9:00 a.m.

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House Democrats Deeply Saddened at Passing of Former Colleague Roz Mcgee

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democrats Deeply Saddened at Passing of Former Colleague Roz Mcgee

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Caucus Leader Brian King expressed his deepest condolences on the loss of Rosalind McGee, former Representative and his direct predecessor of District 28.

He said, “This is a great loss for the state of Utah. Roz was a champion for children through her continued service. She has always been someone I looked up to, someone I respected greatly. In the world of politics, elected officials come and go. Few are able to make the impression that Roz made on her community, and on me. When I was elected to succeed her, I knew I had big shoes to fill.”

One of her more notable achievements was helping to establish Voices for Utah Children. She served 13 years as its first director and was a forceful and effective advocate for children’s issues in Utah. She will be greatly missed by current and former members of the caucus.

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House Democratic Leader Brian King remarks on allegations against Rep. Justin Miller

June 15, 2015

Thank you for coming this morning. Representative Briscoe, the Assistant Whip for the House Democratic Caucus, and I, the leader of the caucus, are here with other members of the caucus. We excuse Representative Chavez-Houck, the whip of the caucus, who is out of town on a long planned family trip. Representative Brad King is also unable to attend. We also excuse Representative Arent, who is the vice chair of the House Ethics Committee, along with Representatives Wheatley, Poulson, and Romero who also serve on the House Ethics Committee in light of their possible need to act in that capacity in connection with allegations against Representative Miller. 

Members of the House, and specifically members of the House Democratic Caucus,  feel strongly about the need for elected representatives to act in a way that warrants the public trust. We believe in, and have often talked about, the need to be ethical, to act in a way that is transparent in our dealings with our constituents, and to be accountable when we err in our judgment in matters that can call into question our integrity as public officials. It is essential that we conduct ourselves in a way that allows us to be effective in acting as representatives for our constituents and for all the people of Utah. 

Since allegations of Representative Miller misappropriating funds from the campaign account of the Salt Lake County Mayor were reported in the media last month, there has been much comment and speculation about those allegations. We, along with many of you, have read about the allegations and we are very troubled by them. More complete and accurate information about these allegations has been slow in coming.

Since the allegations have come to light, we have spent many hours over the past month determining what is the best possible way forward. We have spoken to our legal counsel and gathered information about what options would quickly and effectively address our concerns in this matter.  According to the best information we have available, no basis currently exists for an investigation by the ethics committee, although other investigative options may be available.

There is no timetable in place for the completion of the criminal investigations. The information that has been made available in the media undermines the confidence our constituents should have in their legislature. The ongoing investigations significantly impair the ability of Representative Miller to effectively represent the constituents of House District 40.

With these concerns in mind I have asked Representative Miller to resign his seat as a Representative in the Utah State House.

We thank you for your time today, and for your continued involvement in the progress of our great state.


House Dems. to Address Allegations Against Rep. Justin Miller

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

House Democrats To Address Allegations Against Representative Justin Miller

Salt Lake City– Utah House Democratic Caucus will address allegations against caucus member Representative Justin Miller in a press conference Monday morning, June 15th, at 10:45 a.m. House Democratic Leader Brian King will speak on behalf of the caucus, and recommend further action on the issue.

Who: Representative Brian King, House Democratic Leader

Select Members of the House Democratic Caucus

What: House Democratic Caucus to address allegations and recommend further action.

When: Monday, June 15, 2015, 10:45 a.m.

Where: Presentation Room, Utah State Capitol (East Entrance)

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Prison Relocation Commission Sets Date for Public Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 4, 2015

CONTACTS:

Senator Jerry Stevenson

Senate Chair of the Prison Relocation Commission

801-678-3147

Representative Brad Wilson

House Chair of the Prison Relocation Commission

801-425-1028

PRISON RELOCATION COMMISSION SETS DATE FOR PUBLIC HEARING

Hearing on Four Potential Sites for New State Correctional Facility to Take Place June 16th at 6 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY – A formal public hearing on four potential sites for a new Utah State Correctional Facility will be held Tuesday, June, 16, 2015, at 6 p.m. in Room 30 of the House Building on Capitol Hill.

The hearing follows three informational meetings held in late May and early June in each of the three communities where potential sites are located – Salt Lake City, Grantsville, and the Eagle Mountain/Fairfield area.

“The hearing will provide another opportunity for the public to weigh in on critical decisions that will significantly improve our corrections and criminal justice system,” says Rep. Brad Wilson, co-chair of the PRC with Sen. Jerry Stevenson. “We want to ensure that we fully understand the questions and concerns that citizens in host communities and elsewhere clearly have.”

While a large crowd is expected, PRC members are committed to hearing everyone who wishes to speak. Citizens will be asked to sign up at the event to speak and will have a time limit to share their comments. Written comments will also be accepted.

Overflow seating will be provided in Rooms 20 and 25 of the House Building. As with all PRC meetings, proceedings will be broadcast online via the Legislature’s website, le.utah.gov, for people to listen remotely.

Informational displays and handouts will be available in the lobby outside the meeting rooms.

In the coming months, the PRC will make a final site recommendation to the Governor and Legislature, which is expected to vote on the recommendation in a special session later this year. Members of the commission are: Sen. Jerry W. Stevenson, co-chair; Rep. Brad R. Wilson, co-chair; Sen. Karen Mayne; Sen. Evan J. Vickers; Rep. Francis D. Gibson; Rep. Eric K. Hutchings; Rep. Mark A. Wheatley; Rollin Cook, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Corrections; and Ron Gordon, Executive Director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

The four finalist sites being considered by the PRC as the new location for the Utah State Correctional Facility are:

     * I-80 / 7200 West in Salt Lake County – This site is located west of the Salt Lake City International Airport.

     * Lake Mountains West in Utah County – This site is located at the southernmost part of Eagle Mountain City.

     * Cedar Valley South in Utah County – This site is located southwest of Eagle Mountain City at the southern end of the town of Fairfield along SR 73.

     * SR 138 Industrial Site in Tooele County – This site is located near the Walmart Distribution Center on the west side of SR 138 in Grantsville.

For more information about the Prison Relocation Commission, please visit the commission websites at le.utah.gov/prc.

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Utah Group Hosts Event on Success of Medicaid Expansion in Neighboring Colorado

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Utah Group Hosts Event on Success of Medicaid Expansion in Neighboring Colorado

Salt Lake City– Democratic Senator Gene Davis will moderate a discussion on the success of Medicaid expansion in neighboring Colorado, called “Doing the Math: How Smart States Are Saving Lives and Money by Closing Coverage Gaps.” The event will be this Thursday, May 21st at Westminster College and include panelists from Colorado’s legislature. 

Senator Davis has long been a proponent of Medicaid expansion. Along with Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, both officials are active members in Reforming States Group, a bipartisan group that shares information and evidence to solve health policy questions faced by states across the nation. Both sit on the Governor’s Health Reform Task Force, and have seen the benefits and drawbacks of all options provided to Utah.

She said, ”We can see the answer, and it is Medicaid expansion. Every ‘compromise’ the legislature comes to compromises someone’s life. That is not the business I am in. I am here to pass good policy, to make Utah better. Medicaid expansion does just that.”

Representative Chavez-Houck will be welcoming the panelists and crowd, while Senator Davis moderates the conversation, including a question and answer session. Details are as follows:

What: Medicaid Expansion Success Discussion

“Doing the Math – How Smart States Are Saving Lives and Money by Closing Coverage Gaps”

Who: Senator Gene Davis, Senate Democratic Caucus Leader

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, House Democratic Caucus Whip

Colorado Senator Irene Aguilar, M.D

Colorado Representative Lois Landgraff

John Bartholomew, Finance Office Director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance

Hosted by the Utah Academy of Family Physicians

Made possible by Milbank Memorial Fund and Reforming States Group

When: Thursday, May 21st, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Westminster College – Gore Business School Auditorium

1840 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, UT

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West Side Dems. Oppose Prison Relocation to Their Community

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Communications Director

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

West Side Democratic Legislators Oppose Prison Relocation To Their Community

Salt Lake City– Democratic Representatives Sandra Hollins and Angela Romero, joined by Senator Luz Escamilla, will be attending a question and answer session on the potential relocation of the prison to an area in her district. The event will take place Wednesday, May 20th, at the Promontory Building in the Utah State Fairpark.

Representative Hollins released the following statement to address the concerns of her constituents: “Our community would rather a conversation regarding economic development as opposed to hosting a prison. As citizens of this state we are doing our part in the rehabilitation process of individuals – currently hosting 5 halfway houses on the west side.  I am here to protect my district’s interests, and to say no to this prison in Rose Park.”

Senator Escamilla said, “We welcome the opportunity to have our constituents be heard and participate of this critical conversation.  This community has a history of being completely disregarded on issues with a direct impact in their lives.”

What: Prison Relocation Open House, Question and Answer Session

Who: Representative Sandra Hollins, HD 23

When: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Where: Promontory Building, Utah State Fairpark

155 N 1000 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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Democrat Looks to New Leadership on Environmental Quality Issues

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release: April 23, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Looks To New Leadership On Environmental Quality Issues

Salt Lake City– In the wake of the announcement that Amanda Smith, the current head of the Department of Environmental Quality, will be stepping down, Democratic Representative Patrice Arent issued the following statement:

“We have enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Amanda and appreciate her many years of dedicated service to the state, and the time she spent providing information on complex environmental  issues. We look forward to the new director’s willingness to join forces with legislators and advocates to create and implement plans that genuinely improve our environment. We hope that the next department director will have a firm understanding of the importance of improving air quality, preserving water quality and managing hazardous waste in our state, and will continue to strive with us to solve these vital issues.”

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Inaugural "Start By Believe" Day TODAY

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: April 1, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Inaugural “Start By Believing” Day TODAY

Salt Lake City– The inaugural “Start By Believing” Day in Utah will be today, Wednesday April 1st. Legislation sponsored by Representative Angela Romero designated the state as an active participant in the public awareness campaign aimed at improving responses by family, friends, and the community as a whole to victims of sexual assault.

Representative Romero said, “Utah has a sexual assault rate higher than the national average, and a report rate lower than the national average. This is a problem. Sexual assault effects more than just the victim, it affects the entire community. If we start by believing when a friend or family comes to us with this news, we can improve the chances of ending sexual assault in our state and providing a healing hand to those around us struggling with the fallout from this difficult crime. Every victim of every crime should be treated with the same dignity and respect, not questioned.”

Start By Believing Day will take place on the first Wednesday of every April in Utah. You can find more information on the nationwide movement at http://startbybelieving.org/ .

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Democrats Call for End to Healthy Utah Debate

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrats Call For End To Healthy Utah Debate

Salt Lake City– Poll results released yesterday by Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy show Utahns overwhelmingly support Healthy Utah (82%) over Utah Cares (18%). House Democratic Leader Brian King called for an end to the legislative debate attempting to create a compromise between the two plans.

Representative King said, “The numbers are clear as day – Utahns want Healthy Utah. This ongoing discussion being had privately by Republican elected officials makes me wonder who they are trying to represent. The job of the legislature is to represent the people of Utah, creating good public policy that lifts Utahns, that helps them be successful. On the issue of Medicaid expansion, we are wasting tax payer dollars, wasting time, all while individuals who really need the added help are sick and dying.

“My caucus has heard the people. We’ve listened as story after story has been told of how access to healthcare builds families, individuals, and our state economy. The blatant refusal to execute the will of the people on this issue shows how out of touch some elected officials are. No more compromise. We need a special session, and we need to pass Healthy Utah.”

The results of the BYU poll show only 12% opposition to the Governor’s plan, with overwhelming 71% support for it. Utah Cares, the alternative plan proposed by Representative Dunnigan, only garnered 24% support, with 43% of the state opposed and 33% neither supporting nor opposing. The total results can be found at http://utahvoterpoll.org/documents/2015%20March%20UVP%20Topline.pdf .

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Democrats Stand Their Ground on Healthy Utah

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrats Stand Their Ground on Healthy Utah

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck spoke on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus about the recent announcement of a potential special legislative session to address a Healthy Utah compromise between House and Senate GOP leadership.

Representative Chavez-Houck said, “It is really disappointing to me that this potential compromise was not prioritized by our colleagues across the aisle. To wait and research for three years, then kick the can down the road another four months in hopes of some new revelatory information is cruel to the people who need this help now. There are people in our state who cannot wait until July for this help. There are families working themselves to the bone, having to decide between needed doctors visits or groceries. No one deserves that instability. No one deserves to live with that fear.

We will continue to work with our colleagues to do what is right for Utah. We hope that this time in special session will be solely dedicated to the best interests of the people of our state.”

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Democratic Leader Concerned About Religious Liberties Exemptions

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:  March 10, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

                         Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democratic Leader Concerned About Religious Liberties Exemptions

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Leader Brian King voiced serious concerns with SB 297, Protections for Religious Expression and Belief About Marriage, Family, Or Sexuality. The bill was heard and passed out of House Judiciary Committee today with many Representatives equally hesitant to cast a favorable vote.

Representative King stated, “Religious expression is critically important to the people of this state, no matter what community they belong to. Utahns should retain the right to believe or not believe whatever they choose. But when people are acting in the capacity of a public official, such as county clerks, in all but the most extreme situations, their obligation to discharge their duties in their public official capacity trumps any personal religious objection they may have.  This language of this bill gives me pause because I believe it can be read as giving the right to one or more individuals in a county clerk’s office to allow their personal religious beliefs trump their obligation to faithfully and conscientiously carry out their duties as public officials. Indeed, that reading of the bill is one of the selling points for this legislation by some of those supporting this bill. That reading of the bill language sends a message of exclusion to individuals or groups that are entitled to equal protection under the law.

Notwithstanding this, I represent the people of Utah. My hesitancy to fully embrace this bill is overtaken by my understanding of the effort that went into the compromise provided in this and other legislation, and by the overwhelming support of people across the state.”

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Democratic Rep. Applauds Codified Equality

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democratic Representative Applauds Codified Equality

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Representative Sandra Hollins applauded the passing of SB 296, Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments. In her remarks, she reflected on the suffering that can be alleviated when isolation ends and equality becomes the norm.

Representative Hollins said, “I’ve heard people say this is not a civil rights issue. Civil rights is a fight for equality, political and social freedom. It is about individuals coming together to change the future for better. This is something I feel, and something my district feels. The pain that people are forced to live through when discrimination is legal is real and traumatizing. Families are turned out of their own homes, fired from their jobs, all because of who they love. I love my family, and I love Utah. I am grateful to stand in support of all the individuals who know what it is like to not be treated fairly, and who, today, have a little bit more hope in their home state.”

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Democratic Rep. Embraces Civil Rights Actions in SB 296

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democratic Representative Embraces Civil Rights Actions in SB 296

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Representative Sandra Hollins supports the civil rights actions in SB 296, the anti-discrimination and religious liberties bill that has been heavily negotiated this year and years past.

She said, “I am disturbed that in 2015 we have individuals in our community who are standing before us asking to be treated equal in housing and employment.   As a person of color and a woman, I know what it means to be discriminated against.

Suffering is universal – discrimination is not. My ancestry, like the LGBT community, has been terrorized by discriminatory acts that are cruel and appalling. The base definition of civil rights is political and social freedom and equality. Nowhere in that definition does it say based on the color of your skin. Civil rights leaders came together because of shared experiences, shared fears, and the hope that someone like them might never have to experience those same despicable acts. I am proud to stand with my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, as well as everyone who has fought so hard for state-wide non-discrimination. It is time to unite against fear, in its many forms, and say you have a place here, next to me.”

SB 296 passed House Judiciary and will be heard on the House floor later this week.

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Democrat Presents Death With Dignity Act to House Committee Today

Media Advisory 

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Presents Death With Dignity Act To House Committee Today

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck will present HB 391, Utah Death With Dignity Act, in House Health and Human Services today at 4:10 pm. Representative Chavez-Houck has been working with Utahns from different parts of the state who have experienced the trauma of losing a loved one or facing a terminal illness, and considering their end of life care.

She said, “Everyone deserves options in their health care. Everyone deserves the liberties we have promised them, especially when facing the end of their lives. Our goal is to provide a continuum of care that includes treatments, hospice, and, if deemed appropriate, a peaceful end. Reducing suffering, dying with dignity, retaining choice – this is our goal.”

What:              Death With Dignity Act Committee Hearing

Who:               Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck

Where:            House Room 20, Health and Human Services Committee

When:             TODAY, March 5, 4:10 pm, 1st on the agenda 

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Democrat Says Tax Increases Should Focus on Local Control

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 3, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Says Tax Increases Should Focus On Local Control

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Assistant Whip Joel Briscoe will present a bill in House Revenue and Taxation today, explaining the importance of giving voters in cities and counties the power to increase bus and mass transit service through the ballot. His bill, HB 369, increases sales and use taxes with voter approval, and dedicates more funds to transit than other bills.

Representative Briscoe said, “Mass transit is a high priority for my constituents. Better bus service will assist in economic development and stability, as well as clean up our air.”

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Campaign Contribution Limit Fails House Floor

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: March 3, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Campaign Contribution Limits Fails House Floor

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Leader Brian King outlined the virtues of HB 60, his campaign contributions bill on the House floor today. The bill, which failed last year 35-38, has divided the house and committees for the past two years, with many members of the Legislature supporting limiting the amount an individual can give to a candidate for office.

Representative King said, “We are trying to avoid undue influence on candidates at the front end of the process, not just deal with scandal on the back end. Utahns are tired of the endless conflicts of interest we see, and want campaign contribution limits. This may not eradicate the problems with money in politics, but it sure is a step in the right direction. Doing nothing is no longer acceptable.”

The bill failed in the House by a vote of 31-39.


Bipartisan Committee to Hear Healthy Utah Impact

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Bipartisan Committee to Hear Healthy Utah Impact

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Leader Brian King will chair a public committee hearing with Senator Brian Shiozawa and other members of Republican and Democratic Caucuses on the merit and impact Healthy Utah 2.0 will have on Utahns across the state. The committee will convene Tuesday, March 3, at 6:30 pm in Senate Building Room 215.

Representative King stated, “We have spent three years in negotiations to come up with the Healthy Utah plan, and we are not backing down. This is not about politics, or government branch against government branch. This is about the people we lose every single year from kicking this can down the road. These people deserve our attention, they deserve our support, and we are here to hear from them. When Utah speaks, we listen. This hearing is about shutting our own mouths and listening to the voices of the people who put us here, who voted for us in good conscience that we would do the right thing. It is their turn to talk.”

What:              Public Hearing on Healthy Utah

Who:               House Democratic Leader Brian King, Chair

Senator Brian Shiozawa, co-chair

Invited Legislators and Speakers

Where:           Senate Building, Room 215

When:             Tuesday, March 3rd, 6:30 p.m.

This hearing is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend.

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Democrat Proposes End of Life Liberty Bill

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Proposes End of Life Liberty Bill

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck is proposing an end of life liberty bill, titled Utah Death with Dignity Act. The bill, primarily modeled after a ballot measure enacted by Oregon nearly 20 years ago, would allow terminally ill patients to self administer lethal doses of medication prescribed by a physician.

Representative Chavez-Houck said, “This is about giving people the right to spend their last moments surrounded by family as they peacefully exit this life and go into the next. Our goal is to provide a continuum of care that includes all options at the end of life. No one wants to end their own life – they want to end their suffering. Including this as an option refocuses the discussion on what is truly best for the patient, whether that is pain management, hospice, or end of life measures.”

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Democrat Believes in Local Control of School Licensing

Media Statement 

For Immediate Release: February 18, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Believes in Local Control of School Licensing

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Assistant Whip Joel Briscoe spoke out against HB 197 Educator Licensing Amendments. The bill prohibits school districts or governing boards from requiring certain education and experience of individuals attempting to gain an administrative or supervisory license.

Representative Briscoe said, “Why are we taking even more power away from our local schools? In most job listings there are certain educational requirements, or a combination of education and experience to be considered. This bill now goes into these local districts and tells them what they do and do not need.

Banning the requirement of a previous teaching license, or any experience in a teaching capacity, is ridiculous. Our administrators should know what being in our classes is like. They should know the daily struggles of students and teachers, whether it is excessive testing, unnecessary crowding, or the many other difficulties we face.”

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Democrat Presents Death With Dignity Act to House Committee Today

Media Advisory 

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2015

Contact:          Elizabeth Roberts, Media Coordinator

Utah House Democratic Caucus

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

Democrat Presents Death With Dignity Act To House Committee Today

Salt Lake City– House Democratic Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck will present HB 391, Utah Death With Dignity Act, in House Health and Human Services today at 4:10 pm. Representative Chavez-Houck has been working with Utahns from different parts of the state who have experienced the trauma of losing a loved one or facing a terminal illness, and considering their end of life care.

She said, “Everyone deserves options in their health care. Everyone deserves the liberties we have promised them, especially when facing the end of their lives. Our goal is to provide a continuum of care that includes treatments, hospice, and, if deemed appropriate, a peaceful end. Reducing suffering, dying with dignity, retaining choice – this is our goal.”

What:              Death With Dignity Act Committee Hearing

Who:               Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck

Where:            House Room 20, Health and Human Services Committee

When:             TODAY, March 5, 4:10 pm, 1st on the agenda 

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