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2022 Session - Week 7

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2022 Legislative Session has now adjourned Sine Die, which literally means adjourning without a day. The Legislature addressed many tough issues this session with a spirit of cooperation and collegiality. As a citizen legislature, we are tasked with coming together in a short amount of time to complete the state’s work and then go back to our regular lives and live under the laws that we have created. There are no professional legislators here. We all have regular jobs and responsibilities. I believe that this makes us more accountable to the people who have elected us.


It has been a productive 45 days. There were many bills left when the clock struck midnight, but that is the beauty of a 45-day session. If the legislation is important, it will come back next year. Good legislation usually takes time, research, contemplation, and reasoned debate. Remember, your voice is needed. Most changes to state law start with a citizen contacting their legislator. Hopefully, these newsletters have been useful to you. I’m always open to suggestions about ways to improve.


As always, click on the links to hear audio, see video, and find committee information. Reach out if you have questions.


Election Security

Utah’s elections are the most secure and well-run in the nation. Our state has taken extraordinary measures and implemented procedures to ensure our election process is fair and safe. We do not shy away from taking opportunities to review elections or other processes to enhance security and efficiency. Utah is a national leader in elections, and part of the process is inspecting the system. A bill I floor sponsored, H.B. 313 Election Security Amendments, includes a number of provisions that further secure the integrity of our elections. This bill:

  • Ensures individuals are not voting in multiple states in the same elections.

  • Requires voters to show a valid identification when registering.

  • Provides 24-hour video surveillance for ballot drop boxes.

  • Ensures ballots are only printed within the state.

  • Includes registration audits.

Utah is the gold standard for elections because we are proactive and always looking for ways to improve our election process. H.B. 313 continues to enhance our state elections process. It passed in both the Senate and House and will go to the governor for his consideration. Watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.


Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments

Prior to this legislative session, Utah established the Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program, which offers additional compensation for teachers who work in high-need schools. This has been a very successful program, and H.B. 315 Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments seeks to expand it. This bill extends the incentives to multiple groups of teachers, including special education and kindergarten teachers. H.B. 315 also clarifies that a teacher who has multiple assignments, including one in a high poverty school, will also receive additional compensation for their efforts. You can listen to the presentation in the Senate Education Committee here.


Joint Resolution Recognizing the Employment First Initiative

H.J.R. 15 Joint Resolution Recognizing the Employment First Initiative encourages collaboration between Utah state agencies, businesses and organizations that provide employment services to individuals with a disability. People should have a choice in their employment, including those who have a disability, which is emphasized in this resolution. Employment serves as a means to preserve dignity, self-esteem and pride for these individuals. Additionally, individuals with disabilities reap tangible and intangible benefits and demonstrate increased self-sufficiency through their employment. You can listen to the discussion on the Senate floor here.

Utah Lake Authority

Utah Lake is an important part of Utah’s ecosystem and provides outdoor recreation opportunities to Utahns. Currently, the Utah Lake Commission seeks to clean and preserve the lake.


H.B. 232 Utah Lake Authority creates the Utah Lake Authority and defines its purposes, powers, duties, policies and objectives. It establishes a board that will govern this authority and specifies the qualifications for appointment and the board’s responsibility. The Utah Lake Authority is required to adopt and implement a management plan for Utah Lake. In contrast with the Utah Lake Commission, the Utah Lake Authority will have more funding to devote to their efforts, which is intended to yield better results. There will be measures taken to remove phragmites and reduce toxic algae blooms, amongst other preservation efforts. This is an important piece of legislation that will start the major process of cleaning and preserving Utah Lake for current and future generations. You can listen to the Senate discussion here.

Wetland Amendments

Wetlands can be found around the state, with over 30% surrounding the Great Salt Lake. Wetlands are a vital part of our ecosystem and provide a habitat for many shorebirds and waterfowl. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a loss of wetlands around Utah. H.B. 118 Wetland Amendments seeks to preserve the wetlands in several ways:

  • Requiring land use authorities to provide a copy of a land use permit that affects wetlands to the Utah Geological Survey

  • Directing the Department of Natural Resources to publish land permits that affect wetlands on their website and study and make recommendations regarding the viability of an in-lieu fee program for wetland mitigation

The efforts outlined in the bill will help the state and experts get better insight into the issue and identify ways we can improve wetland preservation efforts. You can listen to the Senate discussion here.

Budget Highlights

The Legislature passed the final budget and funded education and social services at record levels while significantly investing in water and infrastructures. We also implemented a $193 million tax cut for Utahns, the second tax cut in two years.

Budget highlights include:

  • $193 million in tax cuts.

  • $383 million for education, a 9% increase.

  • $124.6 million for the state’s basic school formula, bringing the total increase in the value of the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) to 6%.

  • $9.6 million ongoing and $9.4 million one-time spending for early literacy outcomes improvements to increase 3rd-grade reading scores across the state.

  • $15 million to fund housing preservation.

  • $55 million to help address homelessness.

  • $1 billion for transportation infrastructure.

  • $38 million for improved access to outdoor recreation and state parks.

We were able to fund important issues and programs while still strategically planning for the future because of sound fiscal policy.

Ukraine

Monday night, the Utah State Capitol glowed in blue and yellow as an estimated 2,000 Utahns showed up in support of Ukraine. I joined my colleagues in the Senate and House and the Governor and Lt. Governor and Utahns as we stood in solidarity with Ukraine. Earlier that day, The entire Legislature voted unanimously to pass H.C.R. 21 Concurrent Resolution Concerning the Conflict in Ukraine, which denounces Russia for its unprovoked invasion and urges the federal government to take action to restore peace in Europe. Watch the rally here. Watch the presentation of H.C.R. 21 on the Senate floor here.


Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement

The Great Salt Lake is shrinking rapidly, and the consequences of losing this part of our heritage will be devastating to our ecology, economy and quality of life. Preserving the Great Salt Lake has been a priority this session, and we passed two pieces of legislation to support this important goal.


H.B. 410 Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement establishes the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Program and provides for the creation of a water trust overseen by the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. This bill also provides for the creation of an Advisory Council that will consult on the mission of the trust and appropriates $40 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. This bill works to:

  • Retain or enhance water flows to the Great Salt Lake and the Great Salt Lake Wetland.

  • Improve water quality and quantity within the Great Salt Lake’s watershed.

  • Conserve and restore upstream habitats for the Great Salt Lake.

  • Integrate efficient water planning and water management plans.

H.B. 410 passed in both the Senate and House and will now go to the governor for consideration. Watch the bill presentation on the Senate floor here.

We also passed H.B. 429 Great Salt Lake Amendments this week. This legislation requires the Utah Division of Water Resources to develop and implement a long-term integrated water assessment of the Great Salt Lake Watershed by November 2026. The assessment will include an evaluation of five other watersheds that feed into the Great Salt Lake, including:

  • The Bear River Watershed

  • The Jordan River Watershed

  • The Utah Lake Watershed

  • The Weber River Watershed

  • The West Desert Watershed

In conjunction with the knowledge gained in the implementation of H.B. 410, this assessment will provide an evaluation of best-management practices that meet water quality and agricultural needs while considering population growth and a growing economy. The goal of both bills is to enhance, preserve and protect one of Utah’s greatest natural resources. Watch the presentation of the bill on the Senate floor here.


Juneteenth

Last year, the federal government officially recognized Juneteenth as the holiday commemorating the end of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, enforcement of the proclamation relied on the advancement of Union troops. As the most remote state in the confederacy, Texas was the last confederate state with institutional slavery. Freedom for those slaves finally came with General Order Number Three, announced June 19, 1865, by Union Army General Gordon Granger. The holiday has been celebrated on June 19 in various parts of the country since 1865.

H.B. 238 State Holiday Modifications provides for the observation of Juneteenth National Freedom Day each year as a holiday throughout the state. Like many state holidays, if Juneteenth falls anywhere from Monday to Friday, it will be observed on Monday. If it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be observed on the following Monday. H.B. 238 passed in the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor. Listen to the bill presentation in the Senate here.

Behavioral Health Curriculum

The Legislature has prioritized connecting youth to crisis intervention services. S.B. 171 Behavioral Health Curriculum Program creates a K-12 behavioral health curriculum that will be available at no cost to students. S.B. 171 also provides one-time funding for the Huntsman Mental Health Institute and State Office of Education to develop, publish, update and distribute the curriculum to individuals and organizations throughout the state. S.B. 171 passed in both the Senate and House and will now go to the governor for his consideration. Watch the bill’s presentation on the Senate floor here.

Birth Certificate Amendments

Within hours of giving birth, many Utah mothers are required to complete a lengthy survey before they can leave the hospital or receive a birth certificate. These surveys contain personal medical questions and do not allow an option for consent or the ability to remove data. This paperwork can be burdensome for parents who are recovering from birth and want to spend quality time with their new baby. H.B. 341 Birth Certificate Amendments alleviates this burden on parents by:

  • Limiting the number of questions asked on the survey to 27.

  • Requiring the survey to clearly show which questions are optional.

  • Requiring the survey to include a disclaimer that explains the uses of the data and the length of time they will hold on to the data.

  • Allowing a parent the option to remove their data from the system.

This bill also creates a process for the Health and Human Services Interim Committee to investigate ways to eliminate or significantly reduce birth certificate fees. H.B. 341 passed in both the Senate and the House and was sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Utah Rural Jobs Act Amendments

Based on the recommendations from a recent legislative audit, H.B. 25 Utah Rural Jobs Act Amendments provides tax credits for interested parties to invest in eligible small businesses in rural Utah. Rural small businesses are an important part of our local economies and communities. This bill will help small businesses thrive. H.B. 25 passed in both the Senate and the House and was sent to the governor for his consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Missing Child Identification Program

Nationwide, about 400,000 children go missing each year. S.B. 220 Missing Child Identification Program creates an initiative to provide a fingerprint and DNA collection kit to a parent or legal guardian of a child entering kindergarten. Families can store these kits in their homes and, if their child goes missing, choose to give the kit to the law enforcement agency looking for their child. This bill does not create a database of the information or require parents to disclose any information. S.B. 220 passed in both the Senate and the House and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

First Responder Mental Health Services

First responders often put themselves in harm's way for the health and safety of our community. This can sometimes result in significant trauma for first responders. H.B. 23 First Responder Mental Health Services Amendments supports these heroes by requiring all first responder agencies to provide mental health resources for employees, spouses, children and retirees. The bill also sets up a process to administer grants to these agencies to help them carry out the resources. First responders are there when we need them most, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to support them. H.B. 23 passed in both the Senate and the House and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Bridal Veil Falls State Monument

Bridal Veil Falls is a significant landmark of the state and an iconic representation of the beauty of Provo Canyon. Currently, Utah County owns the property surrounding Bridal Veil Falls. H.C.R. 13 Concurrent Resolution Creating the Bridal Veil Falls State Monument will make Bridal Veil Falls a state monument. We also appropriated funds to support trails in the surrounding areas, which will promote safe enjoyment of the property. H.C.R. 13 will help preserve the beauty of Provo Canyon for generations to come. The bill passed in both the Senate and the House and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Energy Efficiency Amendments

S.B. 188 Energy Efficiency Amendments provides low-income households assistance in paying their energy bill and replacing low-performing furnaces and heaters. These low-performing and high-polluting appliances have a negative impact on our airshed and tend to cause more expensive energy and utility bills. This program does not raise taxes or utility bills; it merely takes advantage of a pre-existing fund. S.B. 188 also allows the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to use federal funds to establish grant programs to improve our airshed and energy efficiency. S.B. 188 passed in both the Senate and the House and is now with the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Diabetes Prevention Program

H.B. 80 Diabetes Prevention Program helps patients on Medicaid enroll in the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This program focuses on healthy eating and physical activity, helping prevent type 2 diabetes. Currently, the state is responsible for a significant portion of medical costs for Medicaid patients. This program will alleviate medical expenses and help people in our communities change their lifestyles to improve their health. H.B. 80 passed in both the Senate and the House and is now with the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Utah Lake

In 2018, the Legislature passed H.B. 272 Utah Lake Amendments, which established criteria for projects aimed to remediate Utah Lake. H.B. 240 Utah Lake Amendments expands on this work by adding the following criteria for the projects:

  1. The project must substantially accommodate existing use on land in or around the lake.

  2. The project must be legally and fiscally sound.

Projects that meet the criteria proposed must be recommended to the Legislature and governor for final approval. H.B. 240 passed in both the Senate and the House and is now with the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor here.

Honoring the Life and Achievements of Helen Foster Snow

This week we honored the legacy of Helen Foster Snow, a Cedar City native, by passing S.C.R. 9 Concurrent Resolution Honoring the Life and Achievements of Helen Foster Snow. Helen was born in Cedar City in 1907. Years later, she moved to Asia to pursue writing. Under the pen name Nym Wales, Helen, at risk of her life, reported on major events in Asia in the 1930s, including the Chinese Civil War, the Korean Independence movement, and the Second Sino-Japanese War.


Helen’s work as a journalist and industrial organizer had a worldwide impact. Her insights on Chinese politics and factions were delivered to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and her ideas were endorsed by notables such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India. Additionally, she was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981 and 1982 for her work promoting peace and progress in the world. In 2009, the United States-China Cultural Exchange Committee placed a bronze statue of Helen Foster Snow in the Main Street Park, Cedar City. Helen continues to be recognized in China through museum exhibits, books, news articles, video documentaries, dramatized TV series, and a memorial garden.

Helen Foster Snow was an exceptional Utahn whose pioneer heritage positively impacted the world stage. It was my privilege to honor a woman who had such a strong reputation of empathy, cooperation, integrity and industry. S.C.R. 9 passed in both the Senate and the House and is now with the governor for consideration. Listen to the bill discussion on the Senate floor 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.


You’re also welcome to join me at the Capitol and if you’d like to meet with me in person outside of interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at jgould@le.utah.gov. He’ll help us get in touch.


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



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