2018 Session Week 3

2018 Session Week 3

Juvenile Justice Services Audit Report

We continue to have discussions with the Executive Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice Services. I made a mistake in last weeks' newsletter stating that their budget was $1B. That was incorrect. There budget is only $100M. Thus the reduction percentage of $14 M was, in fact, a 14% reduction to her budget. Just yesterday we proposed to restore most of that money.

The major changes in this division will be the following:

  1. We will be asking them to track their costs based on cost per juvenile, rather than cost per bed (occupied or not), in both rural and urban locations, since costs can differ dramatically. The goal is to reduce the cost per juvenile.
  2. We will be asking them to track recidivism rates for 24 months rather than 360 days
  3. We will be asking them to create a Dashboard, available to everyone, showing the above information as well as total populations counts, length of stay and capacity percentages.
  4. We will ask them to create cost/benefit calculations for all new programs, including the costs of using private providers

My Bills

I've had one very bright side in regards to my legislation this week. Other than that, it has been a very frustrating week. I'm running more controversial bills that I've ever run before and I've hit some roadblocks.

Single-sign-on Business Portal Funding

This is my shining star bill. This bill, which funds the Single-sign-on business portal, passed the full House. It also passed out of the Senate Committee and is now ready for passage in the Senate. Senator Bramble, who is sponsoring this legislation for me, assures me that it will pass the Senate. This is my most important bill because it will make a significant positive impact on all businesses in the State of Utah. It will reduce costs to businesses and increase revenue to State and Local entities.

Early Childhood Task Force

This bill was my greatest frustration this week. The bill would have created a Task Force composed of members of the House, Senate, State School Board and Superintendent and some private company representatives. Its purpose would have been to make policy recommendations related to a comprehensive state strategy for early childhood to ensure that children are prepared to succeed academically.

This failed the House by 3 votes. There is a group of legislators that are vehemently opposed to doing anything for children younger than 6. They maintain that this is the parents responsibility and if they can't do it, then that's their problem, not ours. That's not my feeling. There are many low-income parents, especially single moms, that are doing everything they can just to put food on the table, a roof over their heads and clothes on their children's backs. They need our help to prepare their children for Kindergarten. We have many services available in the community, both public and private, but they are not coordinated in such a fashion that those that need them, get them. Quality services are not easy to find and often not affordable. .

I will not give up on this. I will find other ways to help coordinate and provide comprehensive services to those that need them.

Family School Partnership

This program allows schools to start home visiting. The school offers parents, with no obligation, the opportunity to have educators visit with the family in their home or other non-school location. The purpose of the visits is to first build relationships and secondly to address academic issues.

I did take this bill to the Utah State School Board of Education and the supported the concept. The only problem is, I still don't think I have the votes on the Education Committee to pass it out to the full House.

School Turnaround Program Modifications

This bill failed in committee but it succeeded in concept. Rep. Hutchings noticed that the existing language in statute states that "the" district cannot be a consultant. It says nothing about "another" district being a School Turnaround Expert. If there are districts (Granite, Salt Lake) that want to capture the thousands of dollars currently going to private parties, thus keeping the money in our schools, they can apply to be a turnaround expert.

Needy districts, such as San Juan, could contract with Granite as their consultant.

That was the purpose of my bill, so without it even passing we communicated the legislative intent that this could already happen. No one had realized that before.

Tobacco-Free Capitol Hill

I believe we need to make Capitol HIll completely tobacco-free, just as the University of Utah has done and just as the Utah Health Department has done. There are also a number of private organizations, such as IHC, that have done the same thing. Tobacco use is till the number 1 cause of death in Utah. The tobacco companies have been convicted of deceiving the public about the dangers of cigarette smoking. It is time we make a statement. This will be another challenge to get through the full House.

Other Actions

Winter Olympics

In 2002, Utah successfully hosted the Winter Olympics and has since maintained the facilities built for those games. This past week, the House and Senate passed SCR 9, Concurrent Resolution on Utah's Olympic Exploratory Committee and its Efforts to Explore Hosting of a Future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and the governor signed it February 6. In a press conference the next day, the committee expressed that Utah is “ready, willing, and able” to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games once again, in either 2026 or 2030.

Rural Day

Rural counties from all over Utah came to showcase the unique attributes and concerns of their respective areas on February 2. Individuals were able to discuss policies with legislators that directly affect their rural communities. We were glad to have them join us and enjoy the incredible diversity of the various areas of our state.

Stay Connected

For more info, you can continue to check out my web site. In particular, select Bill menu option to see how bills become law and how you can view and track bills that we are running. I will update this site frequently, including creating frequent posts on my activities during the session.You can also track the other bills I'm running on that page as well.

Also, you can follow me on my Facebook page.

The Utah House of Representatives also offers access to live and previous coverage of House Floor proceedings and committee hearings from the legislative website. You can view the current session, search the archive of past sessions, track bills, read proposed legislation and more at le.utah.gov.

If you come to the Capitol during the session, please send me a text (801)556-4600 or send in a green note (available outside the House doors) if I'm on the floor. I always want to visit with you, my constituents.

Legislative Town Hall

Senator Zehnder and I have scheduled a town hall for my district at the Ruth Vine Tyler library on February 24th from 1:00 - 2:30. All our constituents are invited to attend. We will be discussing the issues before the legislature for the last two weeks of the session.

2018 Caucus Night

Please put March 20th on you calendar as the night for this year's Republican Caucus. Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to attend. Our caucus will be held at Hillcrest High School. More details to follow.

Hope to see you on Capitol Hill

Thanks for reading.