Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Though the state is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, our hospital numbers are staying relatively low, which is something to celebrate. All of the experts predicted case numbers would go up with school back in session. Now it is up to Utahns to meet the challenge presented to us. All of us need to do what is best for our families, neighbors and friends.
This last week, the Legislature met for our interim committees, where we discuss policy issues and potential legislation. It was a productive week of meetings, and we want you to be informed and engaged in the process. Here is a link to our legislative website. Click on the calendar and go to the committee meetings listed on September 15 and 16. During committee meetings, many interesting and informative presentations were given. I have summarized a few below.
Last year, a national news article outlined how federal investigators could potentially use facial recognition technology in the Utah Driver License database to share data for needs outside of the state. The article concerned many Utahns, including legislators, citing privacy violations, especially for minors in the database. Since last year, the Department of Public Safety has worked with legislators, the ACLU, Libertas Institute and others to ensure that the use of facial recognition technology does not violate any Utah citizen's rights. To listen to the Department of Public Safety's presentation in the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, click here.
Utah legislators are considering amendments to the Utah Citizen Participation in Government Act. The Judiciary Interim Committee heard a presentation concerning Anti-SLAPP laws, which guard against strategic lawsuits against public participation. Anti-SLAPP laws typically have two main features. One, they provide a procedural fast lane for courts to dismiss abusive lawsuits that target free speech. Second, the laws typically make the plaintiff pay the defendant's legal fees to ensure the defendant isn't penalized by the lawsuit. Over 30 states nationwide provide some type of Anti-SLAPP protection. To listen to the committee presentation, click here.
During the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee meeting, there was a presentation about Utah's Industrial Hemp Program. The program is responsible for licensing hemp growers and processors, registering hemp products and permitting retail establishments that will sell hemp products. The program is also responsible for consumer safety and product honesty. To listen to their presentation, click here.
State COVID-19 Data (as of September 21)
Total Cases: 56,675
Total People Tested: 707,807
Total Hospitalizations: 3,288
Total Deaths: 431
Estimated Recovered: 48,021
Utah County Dept Health
Total Cases: 14,746
Total Tested: 149,983
Estimated Recovered: 10,585
Highlights from Intermountain Healthcare’s weekly COVID-19 update:
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients are at a comfortable level.
There have been increased COVID-19 outbreaks among students ages 15-24, but there have not been significant spikes in elementary and jr. high schools, indicating that if students follow protocols, they can stay relatively safe.
All Utahns are encouraged to get the flu shot by the end of October. The flu shot prevents severe disease and will save hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
Intermountain Healthcare will be moving to saliva-based COVID-19 testing starting at the end of September.
Watch the full update here.
Traditional unemployment insurance new claims decreased by 12% from the previous week to 2,298 claims. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new claims decreased by 7% from the previous week to 709 claims. Pandemic Extended Unemployment Claims increased by 2.3% from the previous week to 1,186 claims. Read the report here.
Last week, more than $24 million was sent to eligible claimants for the Lost Wages Assistance. The Utah Department of Workforce Services is preparing for the final three weeks of payments to be sent within the next two weeks.
The next Virtual Job Fair will be held on September 24. More information here.
National Voter Registration Day
Tuesday, September 22, is National Voter Registration Day. Please encourage your friends and family members to register to vote. Click here to register to vote, update voter information or update ballot mailing address.
Recovery Awareness Month
September is Recovery Awareness Month. Click here to learn about the different online events hosted throughout the month to celebrate recovery.
Sexual Assault Kit Backlog
After years of work, Utah has eliminated the sexual assault kit backlog. Since the creation of the State and National Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS), 11,193 sexual assault kits have been tested, 5,025 DNA profiles have been entered into the national database and 1,979 suspects have been identified through search of the database. The turnaround time to process sexual assault kits is now 90 days instead of years. Eliminating Utah's sexual assault backlog is a great accomplishment for our state. However, our work is not complete. We are committed to continuing to stand up for sexual assault victims by implementing policies and funding systems, like CODIS.
In the News
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. 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 email@example.com. 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