By the Office of Representative Albrecht, District 70
We have now finished week five of the Utah Legislative Session and only have two weeks to go. Things are really starting to move fast now, and legislators are working hard to get everything done in time. We hope everyone enjoyed their Presidents Day. We are also grateful for the large amount of snowfall this week and are happy to see some much-needed moisture.
The four-day week certainly did not slow down the Legislature. Likewise, Representative Albrecht had a very productive week. Over the weekend, he had a radio interview with Rod Arquette of KUER. They spoke about Representative Albrecht’s Monument’s Resolution (HCR 12). He was able to explain the needs for this resolution and his desire that Utah have a seat at the table and be included in any potential discussions or decisions regarding Utah’s National Monuments (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante).
This is important because of the large potential impact on rural Utah. Representative Albrecht is proud of this legislation and grateful for the opportunity to sponsor it for leadership. Early this week, it was sent to the Senate, introduced and assigned to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, where it is expected to be heard this week.
Representative Albrecht has a reputation at the Capitol as a legislator who gets things done. Several of his bills were heard in committee or debated this week. Some of these bills include:
- House Bill 247 Transient Room Tax Amendments. This is one of Representative Albrecht’s priority bills. It deals with the ways in which funds collected by the Transient Room Tax are to be used. To be clear, this does not actually modify the tax itself, but rather the areas to which revenue can be assigned. Specifically, Representative Albrecht is concerned about rural Utah’s infrastructure, especially in heavy tourism towns. This bill allows some of the funds to be allocated to infrastructure in an effort to ensure that rural Utah stays vibrant, safe and functional. Last week, it was passed by the House with an unanimous vote. It was then sent to the Senate and assigned to the Senate Economic Development Committee, where it is expected to be heard this week.
- House Bill 356 Rural Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (REDTIF). This rural incentive bill has the primary goal of getting investment to rural Utah. It is directed at investment in projects within 3rd – 6th classes and small rural municipalities within the 2nd class counties. It provides tax incentives for businesses that want to expand off the Wasatch Front and encourages non-Utah businesses looking to relocate to consider rural Utah sites. This bill is on the House Third Reading Calendar.
- House Bill 388 State Energy Policy Amendments was introduced last week and was sent to the House Rules Committee for committee assignment.
The House has had some interesting and controversial bills this Session. These include:
- House Bill 60 Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments, which states that “an individual who is 21 years old or older, and may lawfully possess a firearm, may carry a concealed firearm in a public area without a permit.” Representative Albrecht cosponsored this bill.
- House Bill 322 Utahraptor State Park passed committee this week and would “authorize the Division of Parks and Recreation to use portions of the Dalton Wells (near Arches National park) area as a state park.” Representative Albrecht supported this bill.
- Likely the most controversial bill debated by the House last week was House Bill 302 Preserving Sports for Female Students. The bill was highly contested and debated at length on the House floor. It would place restrictions on transgender athletes competing in sports against female students. It passed the House and was sent to the Senate for consideration. However, the Governor has commented that he would likely not sign the bill in its current form should it pass the Senate. Representative Albrecht supported this bill.
The House of Representatives considers many bills each session. It is all very transparent, and we invite you to review current legislation being proposed at the Utah Legislature website le.utah.gov. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have. There are only two weeks left in the Session, and things will continue to move quickly. We hope you are all doing well, and that you and your families can remain safe in these unique and difficult times.
Thank you and stay safe. Contact me by email at email@example.com. You can also text or call me at (435) 979-6578. My intern is Chase Christensen, a senior at Utah State University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his telephone number is (385) 420-3096.
This Week’s Utah House of Representatives Newsletter – Week 5
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.
Speaker Brad Wilson said, “Years of smart and responsible fiscal planning have allowed Utah to weather recent economic hardships better than many other states and positioned us for continued economic expansion. Now, we are able to maximize the return on that investment. The Legislature has significantly increased funding for public education, is working toward tax relief for those who will benefit from it most, and is making strategic investments to enhance our economy and quality of life. The updated revenue figures are promising and make me optimistic that Utah will continue on a path of economic growth and prosperity for years to come.”
Read the full press release here.
Honoring Utah’s Gold Star Soldiers
Each year, the Legislature honors Utah’s fallen soldiers and their families. Last week, Rep. Wilcox presented a citation honoring the soldiers for their courage, bravery and selflessness, and led the House in a moment of silence. We are beyond grateful for the men and women who sacrifice their lives protecting our freedoms.
In an effort to boost economic growth, the House passed HB 348 Economic Development Amendments. HB 348 reimagines Utah’s economic development strategy to support local businesses, help Utah entrepreneurs, bring regional and national headquarters to Utah, and encourage job creation in rural parts of our state. To better understand how this bill is benefitting Utahns and Utah businesses, listen to last week’s podcast found here.
Education and Mental Health Council
HB 288 Education and Mental Health Council passed the House last 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.
HB 82 Single-Family Housing Modifications sponsored by Rep. Ward passed the House this week. This bill is an important step in addressing Utah’s housing affordability challenges as it helps increase housing availability and relieve pressure on prices by decreasing regulations. Watch this short video highlighting the struggles that many Utahns face as they try to find affordable housing in Utah. Find the video by clicking here.
Child’s Health Insurance
This week, the House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed HB 262. This bill seeks to expand the coverage of uninsured children throughout the state by creating an outreach program.
Balancing Emergency Powers
With the onset of COVID-19, Utahns watched the Emergency Management Act in effect for an extended period for the first time in our state’s history. It became clear the Emergency Management Act is not structured for long-term emergencies such as a pandemic. After listening to Utahns’ concerns, the Senate and the House of Representatives began working with the governor’s office to create checks on broad executive emergency powers.
S.B. 195 Emergency Response Amendments limits extensive executive emergency powers during long-term emergencies without hindering rapid response. It does not disrupt the executive branch’s or health department’s ability to respond to short-term emergencies, such as natural disasters.
In a joint statement released this week, Representative Val Peterson said, “The past year has been unlike any before and each branch of government did their best to address many unforeseen challenges. Moving forward, we must ensure that our actions maintain the appropriate separation of powers during both long-term and short-term emergencies.” You can find the full statement here.
Representative Burton represents District 66, comprising Spanish Fork, Salem and Woodland Hills. He received a B.S. in Sociology from the University of New York and Masters’ degrees from the United States Army War College in Strategic Studies and the University of Phoenix in Education. He recently retired after serving in the U.S. Army and National Guard for 37 years, including serving as the Adjutant General of the UT National Guard for the last seven years.
The motto that has guided Representative Burton’s life is integrity and accountability. His top priorities as a representative are government accountability, accessibility, access to mental health resources and the education of children. His family is number one to him. In his free time, he enjoys overcoming his fears, like jumping out of airplanes and taking the “polar plunge.”
Congressman John Curtis and Senator Mike Lee
Each session, we look forward to visiting with our congressional delegation. This week, Congressman John Curtis joined the House Majority Caucus and spoke of his role in Washington D.C. and how we can work in unison to better the lives of Utahns.
We also enjoyed a visit from Senator Mike Lee as he spoke to us about his policy priorities and the work that he is doing to help improve our state.
Letter to President Biden
In a joint letter signed by Governor Cox, Lieutenant Governor Henderson, Speaker Wilson, President Adams, Attorney General Reyes, Senators Lee and Romney, and Congressmen Curtis, Moore, Owens, and Stewart, state leaders urged President Biden to reconsider his actions taken against Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The full letter is attached below.
Honoring Allyson Gamble
The House of Representatives and Senate honored the late Allyson Gamble last week by passing SCR 5 Concurrent Resolution Honoring the Life of Allyson Gamble and SB 185 Capitol Meeting Room Designation. Allyson was a member of the Capitol Preservation Board for 19 years, 11 of those as the executive director and Senate Room 210 will be renamed in her honor.
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.
Bills Passed Last Week (as of Thursday at 5 p.m.)