Another big week on the Hill, and 9 days to go!

Action Utah members, we’re proud of you!

Week 5 of the state legislative session is coming to a close — only 9 legislative days to go!

Thanks to all of you who have been contacting legislators, writing letters to the editor and op-eds and even showing up to Capitol Hill, we had a big week at the State Capitol once again!

Below is a rundown of last week’s progress, as well as a list of open Calls to Action that could still use your help. Be sure to check our website, Facebook or Twitter for daily and urgent actions, as well as our Petitions, Petitions! page for quick actions, updated on a daily basis. Remember, every action counts!

State Legislative Session – Week 5 Recap

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
Great news! HCR 5 Concurrent Resolution on Clean Fuel School Buses passed in the Senate on Thursday and has been drafted up for the Gov to sign! This is great news for clean air and for the health of students riding our buses.

SOCIAL POLICY
HB 178 Good Landlords Amendments passed Senate committee Tuesday morning in hopes of advancing social justice by helping convicted felons who have served their time reunite with their families and get affordable housing. Also, a senate committee passed SCR 6 Concurrent Resolution on Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms for All People with unanimous vote on Wednesday and placed this resolution on the Senate consent calendar!

HEALTH POLICY
SB 159 Helmet Requirement Amendments, which saves lives by raising the required helmet age from 18 to 21, passed second and third readings in the Senate last week and will move on to the House. Please contact your Utah representative to help this bill get passed! HB 130 Cannabinoid Research legalizing research on the medical effects of cannabis passed in the House and Senate and awaits funding decisions funding decisions in the Senate. SB 135 Maternal and Child Health, proposing critical in-home care services, passed in the senate on Wednesday and was sent to the House.

GOVERNMENT/VOTER RIGHTS POLICY
Unfortunately, bad HB 11 State Boards and Commissions passed concurrence by the Utah House, approving the elimination of the bi-partisan requirement from 29 state boards. Gov. Herbert is expected to sign it into law imminently. However, HB 159 Amendments to Voter Registration passed the House on Thursday and was introduced in the Senate on Friday.

Check out these community events on our Calendar this week

  • Monday, Feb 27, all day – Jason Chaffetz Postcard Campaign Day. Flood Chaffetz’ Provo office with postcards from Utahns asking the Congressman to please do his job as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Don’t forget to ask him to vote YES on Rep. Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry on Tuesday!
  • Tuesday, Feb 28, 6:15p – Equality Utah’s Future of Transgender Equality Tele-Townhall. Community discussion with panelists Danielle Hawkes, Candice Metzler, Susan Reimers, and John Mejia, covering the implications of the latest revocation of transgender rights have for our students and where we go from here.
  • Wednesday, March 1, 6:55p MST – Chris Stewart Tele-Townhall. Please be aware that tele-townhalls are generally highly controlled, PR events that don’t foster the best levels of communication with constituents, particularly those with dissenting opinions.

Weekly Actions

National Issues

1. Keep pushing for an investigation of Trump’s conflicts of interest and ties to Russia. Federal legislators have been working hard to protect America’s best interests through legislation that would force investigations into concerning allegations about the Trump team. Here are three ways to help get an investigation underway.

  • Contact Jason Chaffetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, to vote in favor of Rep. Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry into the Trump team’s conflicts of interest and ties to the Russian government. Part of the resolution requests a release of info from the DOJ. This resolution could have gotten a vote by the entire House, but Paul Ryan assigned it to the Judiciary Committee in hopes that it will get buried. The vote is scheduled for TUESDAY, FEB 28 AT 10:00AM, so call TODAY! D.C. (202) 225-7751, Provo (801) 851-2500
  • Call the other GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee to remind them that voting against this Resolution of Inquiry brings along the risk of being blamed for being part of the “cover up”. Find the Majority members of the HJC here.
  • Contact your U.S. Representative to support HR 356 – 198 House Democrats and one House Republican are co-sponsoring HR 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act. The bill would establish an independent, 12-member commission to fully examine Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Tell your Congressperson that our nation’s electoral integrity is not a partisan issue. House representatives from both sides of the aisle must support an independent investigation of Russia’s electoral interference. Find your U.S. Representative’s contact info here.

2. Tell Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from a pending DOJ investigation into the Trump team. 50 members of Congress are encouraging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor for the Department of Justice’s pending investigation into contact between Donald Trump’s team and Russian intelligence operatives. Did Mike Flynn break the law when he talked to the Russian ambassador? Did the Trump campaign contact Russian intelligence services? What is the relationship between Trump’s team and the Russian government? What did Stephen Bannon and Donald Trump know, and when did they know it? The American people deserve answers to all of these questions.

  • Call the U.S. Department of Justice at (202) 353-1555 to ask Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any investigations into the Trump team.
  • Sign this MoveOn petition to Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump team’s ties to Russia, trending now on our Petitions, Petitions! page.

3. Protect the First Amendment and free press. In light of worrisome recent events, such as the legislation proposed in 18 states to restrict the rights of protestors, the White House denying entrance of major news outlets into Friday’s WH press conference, Trump’s condemnation of the FBI for ‘leaks‘ and also his ongoing attacks on the media, take a moment to stand up for free press and and the First Amendment.

  • Take Trump’s biased survey on media bias. Trump got upset about the results of his own survey on media bias after discovering the results didn’t come out how he had hoped. Then he pushed the survey to his own supporters in hopes of getting better results. If you haven’t already, take the survey here.
  • Donate to United to Protect Democracy – This group of former White House lawyers who crafted and held the Obama administration to firm rules of ethical conduct, have now formed a worse case scenario legal watchdog group to anticipate ethics violations to come and prepare for them in advance in order to thwart the slow but very real possibility of decline into authoritarianism. Whereas most groups are reactive, filing lawsuits after laws are broken, UPD is proactive, filing 50 Freedom of Information Act requests already and building a case for the need of congressional oversight of the Trump administration. Donate to their efforts by clicking here.
  • Subscribe to free press – The very best way to protect free press is to support it through subscriptions.

State Issues

1. Call on Governor Herbert to Protect Medicaid in Utah
Over the next few days, Governor Herbert and other state governors will likely strike a deal on how to change Medicaid, the health care program that helps kids, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income parents. Unfortunately, the new federal Congress is looking for ways to drastically cut Medicaid’s funding, which endangers the health care of 70 million people and the very viability of hospitals across the country. In Kansas, where several hospitals have already gone bankrupt from lack of health care funding, GOP legislators have actually voted to EXPAND Medicaid. Utah healthcare faces similar threats as Kansas, and any cut to Medicaid would threaten Utah’s commitment to help our most vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors.

  • Contact Gov. Herbert and tell him that any deal to cut and cap federal Medicaid funding is bad for Utahns, our hospitals and our state government. Be sure to mention that you are a constituent and give your name and address. Call his offices at (801) 538-1000 or email him here.

2. Impact state policy during the State Legislative Session! Take any of these open actions on bills being considered now in the State Legislature to impact social, health, environmental or government policy. Have a specific area of interest? Pick 1-2 actions on the issues that matter to you most!

ACTION NEEDED TODAY!

HB 19 Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Amendments – Believe it or not, this is actually a social justice bill! HB 19 requires the filing of criminal charges for all property seizures and thereby protects vulnerable communities from having their property seized without ever being charged with a crime. HB 19 has a committee hearing TODAY at 4:10p!

HB 93 Judicial Nominating Process Amendments – This bill would make it illegal to consider diversity of any kind for judicial appointments when all other qualifications are entirely equal. There is already a disproportionate representation of white, male judges in Utah. The CCJJ, ACLU, Utah Bar Association, and Dean of the of the U of U law school all oppose HB 93. Contact the members of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee and ask them to oppose HB 93 TODAY BEFORE 4:10p, when HB 93 will get a public hearing. Are you a lawyer? Contact us if you’re interested in testifying at the hearing this afternoon!

ACTION NEEDED THIS WEEK

HB 29 Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Incentives – Clean air legislation comes in baby steps, and this is an important step toward creating a transition to EVs in Utah and reducing air pollution from vehicles, which makes up an estimated 57% of our total air pollution. Help this bill get funded!

HB 178 Good Landlord Amendments – The Good Landlords program currently requires discrimination against convicted felons, punishing Utahns who have already served their time and are trying to re-enter society, rejoin their families and turn their lives around. Brian King’s amendments creates social justice by giving these people better access to affordable housing and a greater chance at success.

Air Quality Monitoring Equipment Upgrades – This is an appropriation, not a bill, which requests funding to upgrade outdated air quality monitoring equipment. The funding for this has been de-prioritized because legislators believe this was funded last year. However, what some legislators don’t seem to know is that only half of the requested funds were granted last year, and the other half are still needed to improve air quality monitoring.

SB 210 Equal Pay Amendments – Senator Anderegg has taken the wise first step of proposing a bill that would analyze the problem of unequal pay through quantifiable data. This easily attainable Utah-specific data is needed to propose future legislation to combat unequal pay. Help Anderegg’s GOP colleagues get behind this important first step. Please comment to your state senators about the importance of the data!

Call on Governor Herbert to protect Immigrants in Utah – Governor Herbert has extraordinary power to protect immigrants, including preventing ICE raids and preventing the use of National Guards to roundup millions of immigrants in the Southwest and Texas. But constituents need to call on him to use these powers. According to his office, Herbert favors the roundup of “criminal” immigrants. Constituent calls are needed!

Stand up for Transgender Students’ Civil Rights – On Wednesday U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew protections for transgender students. Call on Sessions and Senators Lee and Hatch to stand up for transgender students’ civil rights and reinstate Title IX protections. PLUS attend a tele-townhall Tuesday night to help you to better understand the issue.

Urge Congress to Protect Medicaid – Congressional Republicans last week proposed the gutting of Medicaid, putting healthcare for 70 million Americans at risk and threatening the viability of hospitals and essential programs like vaccination for tens of millions of children. Tell your Congressperson to stand up for Medicaid!

Thanks for making civic engagement part of your routine!

We realize the state legislative session has been a busy time, with tons of calls to action coming every week. We don’t expect that everyone can take every action, but we do hope you are able to make civic engagement a regular part of your routine. Whether you spend 5 minutes a week or 5 minutes a day taking actions, every Utahn can a difference!

Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah


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