I hope you and your family are doing well. Yesterday marked the close of the third week of the legislative session. I wanted to follow-up with you on legislation I’ve been working on and issues we've been addressing this week.
Constituent Family Night
It was a pleasure to host many of you at the Capitol for a great discussion on the legislative process and a tour of our state capitol building. Ronald Reagan felt that “family is always at the center of the public policy process.” It was a lot of fun meeting families from across our district and learning more about issues they were passionate about. Thank you to everyone who came!
Transparency and Lobbying Disclosure Amendments Floor Presentation
This week I presented HB 90: Transparency and Lobbying Disclosure Amendments on the House Floor. The bill passed unanimously with 71 of my colleagues voting in favor of it. This bill does two important things: 1) It requires individuals who lobby on behalf of a foreign government to register with the state as a lobbyist and 2) it requires legislators to disclose travel expenses covered by and gifts given to them from foreign governments.
You can read the full bill here.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Business and Labor Committee and is waiting to be put on the committee agenda. Be sure to reach out to the Senators on the committee to let them know you support HB 90 and want to see increased transparency and accountability in the disclosure process. You can find the committee contact information here.
HB 331: Hope Scholarship Bill
The past couple of years have highlighted that a one-size fit all approach to education does not work for every child. There has been a lot of innovation in the education sector which has opened new options and opportunities for children. The National Council of State Governments has reported that “one major development growing from the pandemic experience is that legislatures in at least 37 states are considering bills that would expand or introduce school choice programs” and there are many who have already implemented them. Additionally, a Dan Jones poll demonstrated that 69% of Utahns would like state dollars to follow a child's education path, which mirrors national trends. Regardless of income or zipcode, every kid should have the option of choices to best serve their educational needs. Parents, regardless of income, should have the ability to make decisions with their tax dollars to best serve the needs of their children.
For these reasons, I have introduced HB 331: The Hope Scholarship Bill. This bill would allow parents to apply for a scholarship that would empower them to customize their child's education and ultimately better serve the educational needs of their child. There is a cap on the amount that will be appropriated for this program and a limited number of individuals who can apply based on funding. I think an incredibly important component of this policy is that it prioritizes low-income and middle class families that may not be able to otherwise afford or consider other education opportunities for their kids. The scholarship amount a child can qualify for is directly tied to the income level of their family.
The Hope Scholarship Fund will not threaten public education funding. Due to the passage of Amendment G, we have guaranteed funding and growth for public education. Unlike previous school choice-type efforts, this bill will not pull from the public education budget. The public education budget is guaranteed along with growth by state law.
With this in mind, I believe we can modestly fund this scholarship program which will provide education choices to many kids and families that may need opportunities outside of public education, while still making a commitment to improving and investing in our public education system.
Co-Sponsor of HB 162: Period Products in School
I am proud to co-sponsor HB 162. HB 162 directs local school boards and charter school governing boards to provide period products in school restrooms within all school facilities. School aged girls should not be anxious about where they are going to find their next period product. This bill, done in collaboration with a public-private partnership to fund it, ensures that the 1 in 5 teens who struggle to afford period products and the 4 in 5 students who miss class or know someone who misses class due to their menstruation will no longer have to worry and may be put at ease. I had several young women from my district mail letters explaining that they had missed school because of a lack of period products, this bill addresses that concern. We supply toilet paper, it makes sense that we would have period products available.
Arts and Culture
This week, the Utah Cultural Alliance held a press conference with the Legislature to recognize the economic impact of the arts in our state. I was extremely grateful to receive the Cultural Champion Award from the Utah Arts and Culture Alliance on Thursday.
In 2020, Utah’s cultural industry generated $17.8 billion in total sales and supported an estimated 108,560 jobs. The Legislature is committed to investing in the arts and culture where Utahns can gather statewide to make memories and experience the magic of the industry.
Utah Legislative Website
For a full list of bills I’m running, you can review them here.
Additionally, you can find committee meetings, bills, weekly schedules and passed bills on the state legislative website at www.le.utah.gov
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
Bills Passed This Week
(As of Friday Morning)