Legislative Session Begins Next Week
Dear Constituents, Neighbors, and Friends,
I hope you and your family had an enjoyable holiday and are doing well. The 2021 General Legislative Session will begin Tuesday, January 19th. I want to hear from you! Please take my constituent survey here.
Last Saturday, I joined Senator Fillmore and my colleagues for a South Jordan town hall to discuss issues important to you. I will be hosting an in-person legislative town hall on Saturday, January 23rd at 10 am at Herriman City Hall.
With the new year, I am looking forward to serving as the Vice Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee and serving on Social Services Appropriations and Government Operations Committee. I am grateful to have been recently appointed by the Speaker of the House to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. During the session, we will continue to address COVID-relief related legislation, reform emergency powers, increase education funding, tackle transportation needs, and work on other issues important to the state.
I appreciated the opportunity to join Glen Mills with ABC 4 on the Inside Utah Politics show to give a preview of the upcoming session. You can watch the segment here.
2021 GENERAL SESSION OVERVIEW & LEGISLATION
In mid-December, the Utah State Legislature Executive Appropriations Committee recommended that the full legislature appropriate $121 million of new revenue to a one-time COVID-19 educator assistance stipend for teachers and school staff, as well as recommended an appropriation of $140.5 million to fund a 6% increase to the weighted pupil unit, as well as $495 million to fund growth and inflation in the public education base budget.
Going into the legislative session, we have set aside $80 million for tax relief. I am running legislation to exempt military retirement pay from income tax and am co-sponsoring legislation to exempt social security income from being taxed. In addition, we are looking at restoring the child-dependent tax exemption and doing a one-time cut to the income tax rate.
I am currently working on twelve different pieces of legislation for the session, here is a brief summary of some of the bills I’m working on:
HB 63: Impact Fees Amendments: It will ensure that the cost of an impact fee study that a municipality conducts can be included in the overall impact fee amount. This bill has the support of the Utah League of Cities and Towns and the Land Use Task Force.
HB 43: Emergency Procurement Declaration Modifications: This bill addresses no-bid contracts during a state of emergency, and puts in place time limits, checks, and additional reporting processes in place to increase transparency, accountability, and encourages the competitive bid process.
HB 161: Military Retirement Income Tax Exemption: Utah is just one of a handful of states that still taxes our military’s retirement income. This would exempt military retirement pay from state income tax.
Concurrent Resolution to End Confucius Institutes in Utah: This resolution strongly encourages universities with Confucius Institutes (U of U and SUU) to close their Confucius Institutes and discourage other universities from opening them. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Confucius Institute programs are run by the Chinese government through the Ministry of Education’s Office of Chinese Language Council and establishes the terms of the contract, generally mandates that Chinese law applies to the contract, limits public disclosure of the contract, and that the Chinese director and teachers of the Confucius Institutes must “conscientiously safeguard [China’s] national interest.” The American Association of University Professors has decried the threat Communist China poses to academic freedom and the Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division has warned of Communist China's efforts to conduct espionage through Confucius Institutes. In addition, the National Association of Scholars has stated that Confucius Institutes “avoid Chinese political history and human rights abuses, portray Taiwan and Tibet as undisputed territories of China, and educate a generation of American students to know nothing more of China than the regime’s official history.”
Domestic Violence Training and Prevention: Unfortunately, our community has experienced tragic incidents of domestic violence this past year. I have been working with the courts, victims' advocates, prosecutors, and law enforcement to work on legislation to improve resources for our victims, assess lethal situations, provide additional tools for responding officers, and connect individuals with community resources.
For a complete list of the bills I’m working on, you can check my page here.
This last week, Governor Cox announced that teachers and staff members in Utah's K-12 schools will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning the week of January 11. Utah adults 70 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning the week of January 18. Senior adults (70+) or their caretakers can contact their local health department late next week to make an appointment.
Health care providers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, public and tribal health frontline workers, K-12 teachers and school staff, and adults older than 70 by the end of February. Approximately 412,000 Utah residents from these population groups are expected to be vaccinated.
For more information on the vaccine rollout, check out the state page here.
Many of you have reached out with concerns related to whether the vaccine will be mandated by the government. It will not. One of my colleagues is running legislation to codify that the state will not be mandating the vaccine for individuals and that state government will be respectful of an individual’s right to make that decision for themselves.
I’m looking forward to another productive and impactful session. It is truly a pleasure and honor to serve and work with you to make our community and state a better place to live. Although we're limited in our ability to have in-person participation and meetings, I still want to hear from you. Please feel free to email, text, or call me throughout the session. You can email me at email@example.com with any questions or concerns, or text/call me at 385-414-1488.
Candice B. Pierucci
State Representative for House District 52