Utah

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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Submission of Rape Kits Must Continue to Increase

Media Statement
 
For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2016
 
Contact:      Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
                    Utah House Democratic Caucus
                    801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov
 
House Democrat Urges Continued Work on Submission of Rape Kits
 
Salt Lake City
- House Democratic Representative Angela Romero urged continued work on submission of rape kits in Utah following a release of a BYU study finding that those submissions were dramatically lower than most other states.

She said, “This finding is an issue that many people involved in the Sexual Assault Kit Processing Work Group have been working on for several years. The group has created ways for local and state agencies to properly and professionally offer support to victims of sexual assault, including lowering the backlog of rape kits in Utah. The low submission numbers are a symptom of a problem across our state - that victims are not currently protected by a system that was created to do so.
 
We’ve seen a dramatic increase in attention to this issue, including the state’s Start By Believing day and appropriations allocated to testing unprocessed rape kits. This needs to be a top priority to everyone in our state, for health and public safety. I will work closely with my colleagues to make sure this happens. I appreciate the attention the report has brought to an issue we have struggled to solve for so long. It is our duty as elected officials to ensure that ALL rape kits are tested in a timely manner. I am committed to creating policy that will enact this change.”
 
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Join us to celebrate Start By Believing Day

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: April 5, 2016

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

New Campaign Calls for Better Response to Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault

Salt Lake City - Wednesday, April 6th, at 10 am, Representative Angela Romero will lead a press conference to highlight “Start By Believing Day”, a state holiday that recognizes sexual assault as a violent crime with devastating safety and health implications for every person in Utah. This year, Representative Romero was able to secure $600,000.00 in funding for these issues.

Who:    Representative Angela Romero
    Julie Valentine, BYU Assistant Teaching Professor
    Alana Kindness, UCASA Executive Director
What:    Start By Believing Day, Appropriations for Sexual Assault  Issues
Where:    Utah State Capitol Building, South Steps, 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
When:    Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. 

Additional Information

The Start By Believing campaign aims to raise awareness of the role that individuals can have in improving outcomes for sexual assault survivors, based on research showing that (1) When loved ones react negatively to a victim’s disclosure of sexual assault, it has a damaging effect on victims – over and above the traumatic impact of the sexual assault, (2) By improving our reactions, victims benefit both directly – and also indirectly, by increasing the likelihood that they will reach out for other sources of support, and (3) Improving our response can even help the criminal justice system to hold sexual assault perpetrators accountable for their crimes.


Speakers at the press event will include Julie Valentine, Assistant Teaching Professor at Brigham Young University College of Nursing, whose 2014 study revealed consistently low prosecution rates for rape cases in Salt Lake County. She has since worked with West Valley City Police Department to develop and evaluate new protocols for sexual assault investigations. Alana Kindness, Executive Director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, will highlight the steps that survivors, advocates, educators and law enforcement have taken in communities throughout Utah to ensure that victims of rape and sexual assault receive the services needed to support healing and restore safety. 
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Democrats Protest Potential Full Partisan Staff in Committee Changes

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2016

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

Democrats Protest Potential Full Partisan Staff In Committee Changes

Salt Lake City - House Democratic Caucus Manager Representative Patrice Arent adamantly opposed H.B. 220 - Legislative Organization Amendments, when it was heard today on the House floor. The bill proposes changing the makeup of the Legislative Management Committee and Audit Subcommittee which are responsible for the hiring of non-partisan staff directors, legislative scheduling, as well as prioritizing and hearing audit reports.

Representative Arent said, “I have the unique perspective of being a member of that non-partisan legislative staff as well as serving on the Legislative Management Committee. These committees are bipartisan because they need to be above the political gridlock we see in Washington. If the directors of our staff offices are hired by one party, it changes the nature of our staff. Then staff and the work they produce will be beholden to party politics.

Our staff serves us well, and impartially. If the committees that manage the legislature move from bipartisan to partisan, we will always wonder whether future management decisions are made for the benefit of the whole legislature, or just for one party.”

H.B. 220 passed the House Floor by a vote of 41 to 33 and will now go to the Senate.

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Paid Family Leave for Utah Employees Will Get Closer Look in Interim

Media Statement
 
For Immediate Release: February 18, 2016
 
Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
                        Utah House Democratic Caucus
                        801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov
 
Paid Family Leave Bill Sent For Further Study

Salt Lake City - House Bill 188 - Paid Family Leave was sent to interim for further study. The move will allow questions about how the state can continue to pay salaries for employees taking family leave to be answered. The sponsor, Representative Angela Romero, plans to work on the bill in interim and bring it back for the 2017 legislative session.

She said, “This is a step in the right direction. If we really are putting families first in Utah, the state as an employer should be working hard to provide proven methods of support and employee retention. There are many unique and creative ways to pay for family leave. We can parse those out and decide as a state which is best for Utah, and Utah families. I look forward to continuing my work on this.”

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Removal of Hygiene Tax Fails in Committee

Media Statement
 
For Immediate Release:
February 10, 2016
 
Contact:          Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
                        Utah House Democratic Caucus
                        801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov
 
Democrat Proposes Removal of Sales Tax on Hygiene Products Fails In Committee

Salt Lake City - House Democratic Representative Sue Duckworth presented H.B. 202 - Hygiene Tax Act before the Utah House Revenue and Taxation Committee Today. The bill would remove sales tax from necessary items like diapers, incontinence items, and feminine hygiene products. Representative Duckworth spoke about the impact that these taxes can have for the purchasing power of families or individuals on a fixed income.

She said “These are not luxuries, these are necessities. Men, women and children all use these products at some point in their lives. $50 a year may not mean much to some of the legislators hearing the bill, but it means groceries for a young family - or the difference of paying bills on time to someone on a fixed income. If you have ever been a parent or cared for one, you know how quickly these expenses can add up. I am simply trying to give people who are doing everything they can for their loved ones a little bit more power for their dollar.”

The bill failed on a vote of three to eight in House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

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2016 Session Opens With Conflicting Goals

2016 Session Opens With Conflicting Goals

House Democratic Leader Brian King speaks out after Speaker Hughes' opening statements, calling them "disappointing".