Merry Christmas! 2021 Year End Review
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours! Christmas is my favorite time of year, a time to create memories, serve others, and carry-on traditions with the ones we hold dear. 2021 has been a year full of challenges, success, frustration, and hope for many, and it is worth pausing to reflect on the progress we’ve made, the freedoms and blessings we enjoy, and determine what we can do better in the coming year.
It is truly a privilege and honor to serve in the Utah Legislature and I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent you, to work with you and for you, on issues important to our district and state.
Wishing joy to your world and peace to your heart this Christmas. May we take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas, hold our loved ones just a little bit closer and reach out to those in need of a friend.
With 2021 coming to a close, I wanted to report back on important legislation and issues I’ve been working on. I have prioritized advocating on behalf of our district and its unique needs, increasing transparency and accountability in our state government and being a voice for commonsense solutions.
Council of State Governments Leadership Award & Americans for Prosperity Champion Award
I was honored to be awarded the Council of State Governments’ 20 Under 40 Leadership Award at their National Conference in Sante Fe, NM. This award is given to just twenty elected officials from across the country who exemplify strong leadership skills and a true commitment to serving the citizens of their state. In addition, I was grateful to receive the Champion Of Prosperity award from Americans for Prosperity this week for sponsoring and promoting free-market, liberty-oriented legislation. Thank you for the privilege of being able to represent our community and district.
2021 General Session
& Special Sessions
During the session, some of the critical bills I ran and passed were:
HB 161/ SB 11: Military Retirement Tax Amendments: PASSED
Utah was one of three states that still fully taxed military retirement income. Working with our veterans, service members, businesses, and defense community, I was able to build support for legislation to remove the burdensome tax on individuals who retired from the military; now, individuals who retired from the military no longer have to pay income tax on their military retirement income. The same applies to their survivors and their benefits. For military retirees, this exemption will be available starting in 2022 when you file your taxes for 2021.
HB 43: Emergency Procurement Declaration Amendments: PASSED
This bill was incredibly important in putting guardrails and caps in place on no-bid contracts that were and are entered into during an emergency. During the pandemic, it became clear that during an emergency the normal process for selecting vendors and making purchases was thrown out the window, lacking transparency and a competitive process. This bill placed caps on the length of an emergency contract, clarified what in fact counts as a natural disaster, and most importantly, required that an emergency contract be publicly available shortly after it is entered into, with an explanation of the emergency, as well as the highest-ranking government official that approved the emergency procurement.
HB 301: Domestic Violence Training Amendments: PASSED & FUNDED
In June of 2020, a horrific tragedy occurred in our district, a father killed his two little boys, and himself. Following this horrendous case of domestic violence, I hosted a domestic violence roundtable discussion with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, Allies with Families, and the three Police Chiefs from the cities I represent. From there, we put together a working group to see what we could do improve the resources and tools available to law enforcement and as a result, victims in our state. This bill created a domestic violence training curriculum in POST training, and an optional in-depth, follow-up online hybrid course specifically on domestic violence and lethality assessment training for police officers; and directed the Department of Public Safety to aggregate domestic violence data to inform the policy making process.
I’m currently working on legislation to follow-up on issues related to domestic violence, specifically streamlining lethality assessments and addressing inequities with protective orders.
HR 8: Resolution to Protect Utah’s Institutions of Higher Education from Chinese Communist Party Influence: PASSED
This resolution urged universities in our state who have Confucius Institutes, funded by the Chinese Communist Party, to close their centers and transition to a self-sustainable language and cultural learning center, free from manipulation and interference from China’s government.
This session I’ll be running important pieces of legislation to pushback on China’s efforts to influence and flex their soft power on state policy. One of the bills I’m working on will close a loophole in state code that allows individuals to lobby on behalf of foreign governments, without having to actually register as lobbyists.
Other important issues we tackled as a legislature:
The 2021 legislative session was a banner year for our area, and we made serious progress in funding much needed transportation projects. Working in lock step with fellow house members, senators, mayors, county and city council members and community advocates, we were able to secure funding for major projects in the Southwest corner of the valley. Chief among these is the completion of the Bangerter interchanges on 134th and 98th South, these in addition to the ongoing 126th project will be a game changer in Bangerter highway’s ability to function like a freeway, without cumbersome stoplights.
While many legislatures across the country were cutting education budgets, we funded public education enrollment growth and inflation. We also restored a 6% increase in per-student funding, set aside $121 million for public school teacher bonuses, and set aside $127 million to ensure that we keep our promises to education in the future. In addition, we increased higher education funding by 9% and overall, increased education funding by $500 million, a 10% increase.
Emergency Powers & Mandates
This year, the legislature took important steps to put checks in place on restrictive public health orders and emergency declarations by empowering municipal, county, and state legislative bodies to terminate such orders and restore the legislature’s role as an equal branch of government in governing during an emergency. In addition, we strengthened protections on individuals’ religious liberties and put a notification process in place to require communication between the executive and legislative bodies.
In addition to addressing emergency powers during the general session, we tackled vaccine mandates in a special session and empowered employees with the ability to be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate based on medical reasons, or religious or personal beliefs. In addition, the new law prohibits “adverse action” against an employee who claims an exemption and also prohibits an employer from “keeping or maintaining a record or copy of an employee’s proof of vaccination.”
During the 2021 General Session, we passed legislation that provided $100 million in tax relief to Utah citizens. We focused on three different tax policies, to aid families, veterans and elderly citizens. These bills did the following:
eliminated income tax on some social security income
restored part of the dependent tax exemption
eliminated income tax on military retirement income
As a member of the 2021 Legislative Redistricting Committee it was truly a privilege to be able to go around the state, visiting with residents of local communities to gather their feedback and thoughts on the map making process and what boundary lines they would like to see. Overall, we hosted twenty-three committee meetings, with over half of those meetings being held all over Utah. Given the explosive growth our area has seen, we will be receiving a new seat in the Utah House of Representatives. The new seat will share Herriman, Riverton and South Jordan, and my district will cover Herriman and Riverton. For more information on redistricting you can read my full report here.
2022 Legislative Town Halls
The 2022 General Legislative Session is coming up quickly with our first day of the session starting on January 18th. I will be hosting two town halls prior to the start of the session to discuss legislation I’m working on and important issues we’ll be addressing during the session. Details for the town halls are below:
January 11th, 7:00pm, Riverton City Hall
January 15th, 10:00am, Herriman City Hall
I’ll be hosting town halls and constituent tours throughout the session, be sure to follow me on Facebook for updated information on events.
I hope you all have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you again for the opportunity to represent our community, it is truly an honor to work with you and for you.
Representative Candice B. Pierucci