Two weeks down, five to go!
It has been another exciting week #OnTheHill with some bills flying through the legislative process, exciting public hearings, narrow votes and landslide victories. Here are some highlights from last week! Scroll down to our Weekly Actions to find out how you can impact these and other bills!
WEEK #2 HIGHLIGHTS
Good public health bill HB 12: Family Planning Services Amendments by Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) passed through the House on January 30th after some interesting comments by legislators in the House standing committee and House floor (file them under things that make you go hmm). The bill went on to pass a Senate committee vote unanimously on Friday. The most critical step is for this bill to get funded!
Good voting policy bill, SB 112: Voter Registration Revisions by Sen. Diedre Henderson (R-Utah) passed in Senate committee with a unanimous vote to make voter registration at the DMV automatic. This is the sister bill to HB 67 by Rep. Handy in the House. Notable comments in favor of the measure from the committee members included:
- Sen. Daniel Hemmert (R-Utah) – “Involvement in public process in a representative democracy is one of the most fundamental rights we have as citizens and anything we can do to encourage people to participate in that process … and encouraging people to vote we should do as a legislature.”
- Sen. Curt Bramble, Chair (R-Utah/Wasatch) – “The suggestions that there ought to be a burden placed on citizens, there ought to be some act of courage, somehow patriotism or exercising constitutional right, that you ought to prove to some standard before you can cast a vote really is antithetical to the American system of governance.”
HB 106: Education Grant Program for Individuals in the Justice System by Rep. Val Potter (R-Logan) would create a pilot to allow education programs for individuals within the justice system so would a qualified convicted person can to avoid incarceration by completing practical trade skills education and earning certificates at a participating technical college. The bill was briefly “circled” (meaning it was held) on the House floor, then passed unanimously in a full House vote.
You’ve been taking action to advance two good suicide prevention bills, HB 41 and HB 139 by Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy). Both bills passed unanimously in the House and in the senate committee. Action Utah members were there to testify in committee with other advocates and professions for HB 139, helping it to advance. There’s still time to take action to help these good bills cross the finish line! Scroll down to find out how.
We’ve been tracking a good cost-saving health care bill HB 163: Prescription Drug Amendments by Rep. Norm Thurston (R-Provo), which would create a program to allow Utahns to purchase prescription drugs at much lower prices by importing them from Canada. This bill passed a house committee hearing and moves on for a vote by the full House. Stay tuned for actions you can take to help it save money for Utah families!
Bill of the Week: HB 237
The Paid Family Leave and Medical Tax Credit Act by Rep. Becky Edwards’ (R-N.Salt Lake) would promote family economic prosperity by creating a tax credit for businesses that offer paid family and medical leave to employees, supporting continued employment and income for workers when they need to take limited time off to attend to specific family or health-related responsibilities. This bill is supported by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Stay tuned for community advocacy opportunities to impact this bill!
Press Conference on Clean Air Legislation – Tues, Feb 6th, noon to 1:00p, Gold Room in the State Capitol Building. Join Action Utah in attending this event in support of legislators presenting bills to improve our air quality in Utah!
Action Utah’s Weekly Lobby Day – Tues, February 6th, 1:00p at the Olmsted Room in the Senate (East) Building on Capitol Campus. PLEASE NOTE THE TIME/LOCATION change! After the Clean Air Press Conference, come do a brief training on advocacy during the state legislative session, then join us at 2:00p to lobby legislators in person for support of good family economic prosperity bills, HB 57 (to reduce poverty by implementing a state Earned Income Tax) and HB 148 (to eliminate the state food tax), or any other issue that matters to you! No experience necessary! RSVP here.
Action Utah on KRCL’s RadioActive – Tues, February 6th. Tune in to 90.9 FM from 6:00-7:00p. Action Utah Executive Director, Andrea Himoff will discuss what’s happening on Capitol Hill during the State Legislative Session and how YOU can get involved.
Clean Air Rally! Sat, February 10th, 11:00a-12:00p, Utah County Historical Courthouse in Provo. Utah County residents and neighbors, learn what you can do to help fix our air quality, and how you can support bills coming through the state legislature right now to address this issue. Bring signs and friends and help send the message that we care about clean air! Hosted by Mormon Women for Ethical Government.
Latino Day on the Hill – Thurs. February 22nd, 4:00-5:00p at the Utah State Capitol. Join the Utah Republican Latino Coalition and guest speakers AG Sean Reyes and State Senator Luz Escamilla for a bipartisan event celebrating our unique Latino culture and diversity within the state of Utah.
Utahns from around the state can impact bills by emailing and texting your state legislators and following the action #OnTheHill by watching and listening to it from home via (le.utah.gov). Here’s what you can do to impact bills this week on the issues that matter to you the most. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for Daily and Urgent Actions that come up throughout the week!
1. Get someone new to take action this week. Many of you have been writing to your legislators every week — some of you on nearly every action we provide! You’re amazing! We can make an even bigger impact if legislators hear from more and varied people from your district and around the state.
- Forward this email to 5 new people who may not know about Action Utah or who haven’t been taking action yet during the State Legislative Session and ask them to take at least one action on this list to impact an issue they care about.
2. Take action to impact a bill. We are covering all kinds of issues to make sure there is something for everyone to impact this legislative session. Pick the issues you care about most from this list so you can make a difference on them this week. Each action only takes a couple of minutes.
Family Economic Prosperity ***AU PRIORITY OF THE WEEK***
- HB 57: Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-sufficiency Tax Credit supports progress toward financial stability and independence for working families, strengthens Utah’s economy by reducing poverty in a responsible and lasting way and creates better outcomes for families and children. Click here to ask your senator to vote YES on HB 57 today. You can also join us at the Capitol on Lobby Day, Tues 2/6, to learn how to lobby legislators in person!
- HB 148: Tax Revisions would eliminate the state sales tax on food to ease the burden on the state’s most vulnerable, including low-income families and fixed-income seniors. Click here to ask your state senator to support this moral imperative.
- HB 283: Workplace Protection Amendments would create more equitable and fair workplaces by extending anti-discrimination and anti-harassment labor laws to small workplaces. Do you work for a company with less than 15 employees and have a story to tell about overt or subtle discrimination or harassment? Utah Women’s Coalition is collecting your stories! Please take 3 minutes to complete this confidential survey in order to advance workplace protections in small workplaces.
- HB 67: Voter Registration Amendments would create automatic (opt-out) voter registration at the DMV to improve government efficiencies. Click here to help get this bill a favorable vote in House Government Operations Committee (1 min).
- SB 112: Voter Registration Revisions, sister bill to HB 67, moves from the Senate committee to a full Senate vote this week. Click here to ask your senator to vote YES on this good bill.
- HB 139: Telepsychiatric Consultation Services Amendments would allow doctors to help their patients get mental health care in a timely and effective way to improve mental health care, outcomes, and accuracy of prescriptions and even save lives. Click here to email your state representative and ask them to vote YES on HB 139!
- HB 41: Mental Health Crisis Line Amendments would create a single phone number for all state mental health crisis lines and put in place basic standards for these services to improve crisis response and care and save lives. Click here to email your state senator and ask for their support of this great bill today.
- HB 42: Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health Crisis Services help expand access to desperately needed mental health services in Utah. Click here to ask your senator to vote YES on HB 42.
- HB 87: Suicide Prevention Amendments would require medical professionals to undergo critical suicide prevention training to help save lives. Click here to ask legislators to support HB 87.
- HB 38: Fireworks Restrictions is a compromise bill that reduces air pollution and fire danger by cutting down the number of days Utahns can legally set off fireworks. Help this clean air pass in the Senate by clicking here.
- Attend the Clean Air Press Conference on Tuesday at noon in the Gold Room of the State Capitol building to hear legislators present their great clean air bills for 2018 and show your support.
- Attend the Clean Air Rally on Saturday with Mormon Women for Ethical Government on February 10th at 11:00a at the Utah County Courthouse in Provo to learn about good clean air legislation and show support for air quality solutions.
- HB 106: Education Grant Program for Individuals in the Justice System would expand a pilot program rigorous offering career and technical skills education as an alternative to jail time to allow struggling individuals an opportunity to improve their lives and reduce recidivism. Click here to help advance HB 106 in the Senate!
- HB 234: Compulsory Education Revisions would make a simple education policy change to allow mental health as well as physical health as an excuse for absenteeism. Click here to honor mental health as critical to education and support HB 234.
- HB 235: Family School Partnership would establish funding for a pilot home visiting program to improve student outcomes in Utah’s public schools. Click here to support this good bill!
- HB 264: Elementary School Counselor Program would provide grants for mental health support in Utah’s public elementary schools. Click here to help this bill get a favorable vote in the House.
- Clear up confusion about Medicaid Expansion. Confused about the Utah Decides Healthcare ballot initiative and how it is different/better than two legislative efforts to expand Medicaid in Utah? Check out our Medicaid Expansion Primer here.
You are making a difference!
Utahns are weighing in from across the state on the issues that matter to them most! Legislators from both parties encourage this type of participation in the legislative process and say it is critical to the democratic process. Even 1-2 emails to a legislator about a bill that are personalized and tell your story or reasons why you care about an issue can sway a vote. That means EVERY ACTION COUNTS! Keep up the good work, Utah!
Andrea & Katie
Action Utah Co-Founders
PS – Do you know someone who would appreciate knowing what’s going on and how to impact the issues? Please forward this email! New members can sign up to join us for free here!