Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Week five of our legislative session is finished and we have passed 144 bills. Every year, the legislature passes bills, and the content of those bills will be justifiably debated over the next year. Every session, we have the privilege of taking part in some things that are undeniably good. On Thursday the 18th, we had the special honor of recognizing Utah’s fallen soldiers. This was a truly sobering experience as the families of these fallen soldiers joined us in the Senate gallery. Many women and men from Utah have laid down their lives in the service of our great nation. We are humbled by their sacrifice and share our heartfelt sympathies and appreciation to their families. You can watch the recognition here.
Throughout the last year, the Legislature and Utahns watched as the Emergency Management Act went into effect with the onset of COVID-19. What was originally intended to address a crisis for a short period, such as 30, 60 or 90-days, was enacted for nearly a year. S.B. 195 Emergency Response Amendments, creates checks on executive powers during long-term emergencies without hindering rapid emergency response.
This bill is a direct result of the concerns we heard from Utahns across the state and does not disrupt the executive branch’s, Utah Department of Health’s or local health agencies’ ability to respond to day-to-day emergencies, such as natural disasters. S.B. 195 creates checks and balances between the different branches of government as well as between state and local governments, including health departments during long-term emergencies. It also increases transparency and allows for public input.
The Senate and House of Representatives and the Governor's office have all been involved in the process and are supportive of the updates. The pandemic showed that adjustments, including increased public input, were needed in order to adequately face our next extended emergency.
COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available for those 65+
This week, Gov. Cox announced that Utahns 65 and older now qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine. By vaccinating those 65 and older, we will drastically reduce our state’s COVID-19 fatalities. Learn more about Utah’s vaccine distribution plan here.
Canine Caused Injury
There is not a clear procedure or law clarifying liability when a wandering dog is injured or killed when it encounters another dog in an enclosed or fenced area on private property. H.B. 213 Canine Injury Amendments, clarifies liability that the dog owner that attacks is not liable for any injury or death of a wandering dog on enclosed property. This bill passed in the Senate with an amendment that clarified the immunity only applies in situations where the attacking dog is inside an enclosed or fenced area. The bill will now return to the House for concurrence to the changes made while in the Senate. You can watch the floor presentation here.
Pharmacy Benefit Amendments
Utah has several health clinics that federally qualify for 340B drugs, a program that provides discounted medication. These small clinics across the state support diverse populations, low-income families and underserved areas. S.B. 140 Pharmacy Benefit Amendments, clarifies that clinics that qualify for 340B medications may bill the insurance company for the full price of 340B medication and capture the additional profit to improve their healthcare systems. S.B. 140 passed in the Senate with unanimous support. You can watch the floor presentation here.
Mental Health Day for Students
This week, the Senate heard H.B. 81 Mental Health Days for Students, which adds mental health as a valid excuse for a school absence. Other states that implemented this attendance policy have seen a decrease in youth suicide rates. H.B. 81 passed in the Senate and was sent to the governor for consideration.
Honoring the Life of William E. Christoffersen
William E. Christofferson, a Cache Valley Native and local hero, was honored in the Legislature this week. William Christofferson served in World War II and dedicated his life to helping veterans. He advocated for veterans across Utah and helped create the first veterans nursing home in Salt Lake City. Read the full resolution here.
To all our Veterans who put their lives on the line of defense, we thank you wholeheartedly.
Utah Film Economic Incentives
Did you know Footloose, The Sandlot and The Lone Ranger were filmed right here in Utah? Such films have led to other production opportunities to showcase Utah’s desert beauty and high alpine mountains. The film industry has generated more than 7,600 jobs and $147 million in salaries in our state in 2019. We are considering S.B. 167 Utah Film Economic Incentives, which would provide tax credit certificates for productions, films and series when they film in Utah. This bill would strengthen rural communities by investing in local jobs, stimulating the economy and increasing Utah’s profile as a filming destination. S.B. 167 passed in the Senate on its second reading. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.
Sex Offender Revisions
S.B. 165 Offender Registry Revisions, permits an individual who has served their full sentence on the Sex Offender Registry to apply for removal. This bill aims to prevent instances where individuals are kept on the registry past their original sentencing time due to reporting errors. S.B. 165 passed in the Senate on its second reading. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.
Confinement of Egg-laying Hens
S.B. 147 Confinement of Egg-laying Hens, prohibits farm owners from confining egg-laying hens in enclosures that are not considered cage-free housings and sets January 1, 2025, as the self-imposed date to achieve cage-free hen environments in Utah. It also designates the Department of Agriculture and Food as the enforcer of the provisions in the bill. Large-scale egg producers worked together with animal advocacy organizations on this legislation. S.B. 147 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.
Citizen Advisory Boards
S.B. 157 Citizen Advisory Boards, directs the Department of Public Safety to implement resources to assist cities and counties that would like to have citizen advisory boards. The department would provide counsel and support for these agencies, but would not require cities or counties to adopt these advisory boards. S.B. 157 passed in the Senate and will now be considered in the House. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.
Designated Vehicle Routes Amendments
Several years ago, a law was passed that made some off-road vehicles street legal. One resort community, Moab, felt the impact as tourists in off-road vehicles created loud noises and disturbed residential communities. S.B. 168 Designated Vehicle Routes Amendments, aims to alleviate these issues without affecting tourism or the local economies by allowing resort communities to pass ordinances that restrict the use of a street-legal all-terrain vehicle on certain city-owned roads between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. To listen to the bill presentation, click here.
I Look Forward to Hearing From You!
I'll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,
Senator Dan McCay
Utah Senate District 11