#utleg

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 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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