Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to the 2017 Legislative Session! The session was opened by former Senate President Al Mansell who swore in our current Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. President Niederhauser’s inspiring opening remarks called for a rebalance of power between the State and Federal Governments and celebrating Utah’s participation and leadership in women’s suffrage.
Overall, we have had a productive and busy week. While the media has focused on issues like medical marijuana and alcohol this week, there have been many other issues and bills discussed by the legislature. Thank you for your interest in our legislative process.
Passing a balanced budget is the most important responsibility we have as legislators. If we accomplish nothing else, we will at least pass a balanced budget. The base budget for FY 2018 is about $15.2 billion, which is around $100 million more than the FY 2017 budget. Typically, the largest chunk of our budget (around 30%) goes to public education followed closely by social services. You can learn more about our budget here.
I wanted to discuss some of the bills that have been heard this week. The first bill is one that I am sponsoring: SB 114 Election Law Amendments
The 2014 election reforms known as SB 54 added a second path to the primary ballot through signature gathering. However, these reforms introduced the new issue of plurality in the primary process. “Plurality” occurs when no candidates receive a majority of the vote. SB114 address this issue by bumping the filing period up in the year and instituting a runoff election in the instance of a plurality vote. The bill already has significant support among Senators and is on the agenda for committee discussion on Monday.
Here are some of the bills I am interested in following:
SCR 04 Concurrent Resolution Honoring Colonel Gail Seymour Halvorsen
Sponsored by Senator Henderson
Senator Deidre Henderson is working on a bill to express appreciation for a local hero. Her resolution—SCR4–honors Gail Halvorsen, also known as the Candy Bomber, who brightened the lives of the children of post-WWII Berlin by dropping parachutes containing candy and gum from his C-54. Joined by James Stewart of the Civilian Air Patrol (Retired Colonel), she presented her resolution before the Government Operation Committee this week. You can listen to them recount the touching story of the Candy Bomber’s life of service here. You can watch a video on Colonel Halvorsen here. This bill passed unanimously out of committee.
Again thank you for your engaged citizenship. Connect with the Utah Senate for updates wherever you live on social media by visiting www.senatecloud.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and all sorts of other sites. Feel free to visit our new website for updates, articles, and information: www.senatesite.
You can connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cu
It is an honor to serve you.