Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we approach the 20th anniversary of September 11th, I hope that each of us takes the time to appreciate family, loved ones and our great country. In big ways or small, we have all been affected by that day, but I am humbled and proud to be a part of a country that faces disaster with such powerful resilience. We are truly blessed to be Utahns and Americans. I’m proud of Utah’s ability to weather troubling times and as much as we may disagree over some issues, we come together and get things done. We have many important issues to resolve in the next few months, including the resurgence of Covid-19 and redistricting. As always, I look for your input and perspective. Thanks for being engaged in the process and caring about our community.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau is essential for redistricting and was delayed due to COVID-19. On August 12, the data was released, and the Legislative Redistricting Committee recently received the state’s first analysis of Utah’s population shifts over the last decade.
While Utah is the fastest-growing state in the nation, increasing by 18.4 percent since 2010, the analysis shows not all areas of the state grew evenly. To meet constitutional requirements, officeholders must be elected from districts that have an approximately equal population, which means districts will need to be redrawn to account for our state’s growth.
For example, Utah County and Washington County grew faster than the state average, resulting in their share of the state’s population increasing over the last ten years. These areas will need to gain representation to achieve a constitutional balance. Meanwhile, Salt Lake County and Weber County decreased as a percentage of the state population and these areas will need to increase in geographical size. Read more about the state's growth here.
Starting in September, the Legislative Redistricting Committee will begin an extensive statewide tour to discuss the data with Utahns and receive feedback on how districts should be redrawn. In addition, the committee will provide an online tool where citizens can draw and submit their own redistricting maps. For more information, visit redistricting.utah.gov.
Masks in schools has been a contested issue over the last year, and after listening to countless parents, in May 2021 the Legislature passed H.B. 1007 Face Covering Requirements to give students and families the opportunity to choose whether or not to wear masks in schools in the fall.
Our state also has a process in place to allow local governments, health departments and school districts with input from the public to make modifications in emergency situations. This allows communities to determine the best path forward for their specific areas.
COVID-19 is an evolving virus. As we continue to learn more, situations and outcomes may change and we will respond accordingly.
Back to School
I appreciate the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) providing recommendations for the 2021 school year. UDOH emphasized the importance of getting the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are available for all Utahns 12 and older. Learn more here.
Additionally, Governor Cox announced the state will provide KN95 masks to any child who wants one and will be distributing over 1 million masks to schools across the state. Surgical-style masks in kid’s sizes are available, and KN95 masks in multiple sizes will soon be available.
While COVID-19 has not disappeared, students’ greatest chance at success is having in-person learning options with as few disruptions as possible.
I also want to express my appreciation for teachers and school staff. They have made the best out of difficult circumstances, and I’m impressed by their resourcefulness, resilience and passion, as they navigated unprecedented challenges. Together, we will get through this and have a safe, productive and fun school year!
I enjoyed watching the Tokyo Summer Olympics and was proud of the Utah athletes who represented Team U.S.A. These athletes exemplified sportsmanship, resilience and strength, especially during such a unique Olympics. Watching the games made me even more excited at the prospect that Utah will again host another Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games! Utah has been preparing for the Olympic bid for 2030 or 2034. As the host of the 2002 games, Utah is ready and willing to host another Olympics. For more updates on our bid, visit the Utah Sports Commission’s website here.
One of the most important responsibilities of the Senate is to confirm appointments made by the governor. On Wednesday, we held Advice and Consent to confirm the judicial appointments of Ryan Tenney and Sean M. Petersen.
Ryan Tenney was appointed to be a judge on the Utah Court of Appeals. He has been serving as an assistant appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Kate Appleby on January 1. Sean Petersen was appointed as a judge on the Fourth District Court. He has been serving as court commissioner of the Fourth District Court since 2018 and has also served as a personal injury and criminal defense attorney. He will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Derold J. McDade on July 16. Watch the confirmations here.
Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This federal legislation gives Utah funds to repair and rebuild roads and bridges, improve transportation, expand accessibility to high-speed internet, and prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks and extreme weather events. Sen. Mitt Romney has more information about the legislation here.
September interim is around the corner. Interim meetings provide the public with opportunities to engage in the legislative process. The Legislature will hold interim meetings through November and meet again in January 2022 for the general session.
To access the interim meeting schedule, visit le.utah.gov and click "Calendar" at the bottom of the legislative page. Once you access the interim schedule, you can listen to past meetings or live meetings when the event box is green. Instructions for virtual public comment can be found here.
During wildfire season, it’s important to understand that safety is a shared responsibility between Utahns, local, state and federal governments.
Actions we can take to lower risks and prevent wildfires include:
Securing trailer chains to make sure they don’t drag and spark a fire.
Avoiding parking a hot car or RV on dry grass.
Ensuring tractors and off-road vehicles have spark arrestors.
Keeping trailers and RVs well maintained, including tire pressure.
It’s estimated that paying more attention to the above actions could prevent 24 percent of Utah’s human-caused wildfires.
Additional fire safety guidelines include:
Making sure all campfires are out before leaving. (Feel it with the back of your hand to see if it’s cool.)
Never leaving a fire unattended.
Obeying local fire restrictions, including the use of approved fire pits.
Never start a fire on a windy day and having water or a fire extinguisher close at hand.
Controlling and properly extinguishing fires could prevent 28 percent of Utah’s human-caused wildfires. Learn more 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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