Week 5 Legislative Update: Expungement, Arts, Stalking & Confucius Institutes
I hope this newsletter finds you and your family healthy and doing well. Here is this week’s update:
I appreciated the chance to work with Senator Fillmore and be the House Sponsor of SB 88; I presented this bill on the house floor this week and it passed 66-5. Currently, Salt Lake County gives special funding to botanical, cultural, recreational and zoological organizations or facilities in the county. Because our county has just one zoo and one symphony, the majority of Tier 1 funds go to Salt Lake City. That said, tier two funds which go towards cultural and artistic programs are also going heavily towards Salt Lake City. This bill will give other cities (like those in our area), more of these funds for a more equal distribution of county funds for cultural, heritage and arts projects. As citizens of the county, we should be reaping the benefits of the taxes we pay, rather than just Salt Lake City receiving the majority of the funding.
HB 21: Stalking Amendments
For the past year I have worked with the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice on HB 21. We had a working group made up of defense attorneys, prosecutors, the sentencing commission, advocates, and the courts. Even with the varying perspectives of stakeholders at the table, we were not able to get the needed data until just a couple weeks ago.
In 2019, just 64% of civil petitions filed for a stalking injunction were granted. In contrast, on the criminal side, of the stalking cases filed 52% resulted in a conviction. As I have received, reviewed, and listened to the many experiences shared by individuals, it is clear that there are distinct differences in victims' and the accused's experiences on the criminal & civil side of the law. HB 21 did not address these complexities adequately. Sometimes the best step forward is to clear the board & start over, which is why on Friday I killed my bill on the house floor by sending it back to the Rules Committee. I am grateful for the many brave individuals who reached out to share their stories with me.
This week I presented HB 329 in committee and on the House Floor where it passed unanimously. This bill is a creative solution to allow someone's civil record to be cleared through the delinking process. Currently, expungement is available on the criminal side of law but not the civil.
This resolution strongly urges Utah universities to shut down their Confucius Institutes, disclose their contracts, and discourages any other university from opening one. I appreciate the overwhelming support from fellow representatives on this important resolution. This is an issue of academic freedom and national security. This bill is currently sitting in the Senate Rules Committee. If you support this resolution, please reach out to your state Senator and let them know! Also, I have received a few questions about this resolution and want you to know that it does not apply to the Dual Immersion program.
House Priorities & Review
Updated Revenue Numbers
The Governor’s Office, Utah State Senate and House of Representatives released updated revenue numbers for state fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The revenue estimates show the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19.
According to our legislative press release, “The new consensus revenue estimates identify $112 million in additional ongoing money and $315 million in one-time money. This year, a historic $400 million increase will go toward education, and a significant portion of ongoing funds will be dedicated to increased enrollment in Medicaid expansion. The Legislature will also give a significant tax cut to Utah taxpayers.” I intend to continue to push and support the Social Security Tax Exemption, Military Retirement Income Tax Exemption, and Child Dependent Tax Exemption.
Education and Mental Health Council
HB 288 Education and Mental Health Council passed the House this week. This bill creates a council made up of educators, mental and behavioral health experts, and other advocates. The council will provide action-oriented guidance to state leaders on how to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of kids and families in our state.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
Utahns 70 years and older are successfully receiving COVID-19 vaccines. With these efforts underway and an increase in vaccine doses, those 65 and older will now be offered vaccines. Find out more here.
I do my best to be responsive to constituents during the session! Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or text me at 385-414-1488. Due to the volume of emails I receive during the session, be sure to include your address or zip code so I can prioritize responding to you as a constituent. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
State Representative for House District 52
Bills Passed this week