Happy Summer! I hope you and your family are enjoying the sunshine and finding fun ways to beat the heat. Another month has come and gone, and I wanted to report back.
Class of 2021
Congratulations to the Class of 2021! I had the chance to attend Mountain Ridge High School’s graduation this past week; what a year to be a senior. Look forward to seeing what these awesome grads do! Our state’s future is bright.
Interim & Special Session
We met together as a legislature on Tuesday, May 18th for interim to discuss important issues impacting our state. On May 19th we were called into a special session by Governor Cox. We discussed several bills, the full list can be reviewed here, a couple of my votes worth highlighting:
No School Mask Mandates in Schools in the Fall
While in session, we passed HB 1007 Face Covering Requirements. This bill prohibits public K-12 schools and higher education institutions from requiring facial coverings beginning in fall of 2021. This bill doesn’t infringe on an individual’s ability or right to wear a mask, nor does it prohibit a local education agency (LEA) from encouraging individuals to wear a face covering. It’s important that our kids can anticipate going back to a normal year of school, and that includes not being required to wear a mask.
Out-of-Control Federal Spending
Of the several bills we discussed, the main reason for our special session was to vote to accept the federal stimulus money, and then subsequently vote on spending items. I voted in favor of the COVID-19 grant program to address issues directly related to the pandemic and government's response; however, I voted no on the bill to accept federal funds and the $1.4 billion spending bill for the following reasons:
Increasing the debt when we don’t need the funds: Utah has the strongest economy in the country, the lowest unemployment rate, and more job openings than individuals seeking jobs. Nationally, we’re seeing inflation jump as a direct consequence of the federal government spending trillions of dollars further into debt. While many states are using the federal funds to backfill their budgets, we have responsibly managed our budget in Utah during the pandemic and do not need federal assistance—we are solvent and even with a pandemic we were still able to put historical levels of funding towards education and mental health. As a state, we have the opportunity to signal to the federal government that we are not okay with the out-of-control spending and determine at what point we as a state will exercise self-restraint, even when the federal government has refused to do so.
Process matters: I really do believe that the committee appropriations process that requires vetting, reporting requirements, and transparency best serves the state, our constituents, and the outcome of our programs and projects. We have three years to spend these federal funds. I would have preferred to hold the money until the 2022 general session, where they would have gone through the normal funding request and appropriations process. I am glad that a majority of the funds will be spent and allocated during the general session. I am not comfortable directing taxpayer dollars to programs and projects that have not gone through the same robust vetting process that has enabled our state to be one of the most fiscally responsible in the country.
This past Monday was an important and sacred day for Americans, as we remembered those who truly gave all in service to their country. Since the beginning of our country, over 1.1 million Americans have died for the cause of freedom. I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in Herriman City’s Memorial Day program, you can listen to my full speech here.
Herriman & Riverton Town Days
Mark your calendars for Herriman Towne Days June 21-26th. I’ll have a booth June 24-26th by the carnival area at Butterfield Park, be sure to come by and say hello. For more information you can visit here. Riverton Town Days will be July 2-3 at the Riverton City Park, for more information click here. I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent you, to work with you and for you, on issues important to our district and state. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com with legislative concerns you might have.