This week the Utah State Legislature Interim Business and Labor had its second meeting of the year. The study items on the table were amusement park safety, housing discrimination, and dram shop laws.
The interim legislative session started up again on May 16. All the respective committees met to discuss what study items they wanted to focus on for the 2019 Legislative Session that starts up in January. For the next six months, the committees will be meeting once a month to focus on specific issues. The Business and Labor subcommittee focused on what seems to be an epidemic of payroll fraud and the emerging market of peer-to-peer vehicle leasing. What follows are my notes from the meeting:Read more
The seventh and last week of the 2018 Utah State Legislature came to a close on Thursday night when the gavel in both houses came down at midnight. Monday was the last day for committees to meet, and Tuesday through Thursday, the House and Senate met is full session trying to finish getting through all the bills on the calendar. The Inland Port Authority bill was a highly contentious issue between Salt Lake City and the State of Utah. While both entities want the port, Salt Lake City had claims of government overreach by the state expecting the city to pay for the infrastructure and the resulting difference on taxing increments paid to the state coffers. Another hot topic concerned the ability of cities to restrict the use of plastic bags that wreck the recycling equipment. The legislature tried, but failed, to pass a bill that would have banned cities from banning any kind of plastic sales. Coming through the Business and Labor Committee, Republican legislators tried to make sure that their candidates would have a place on the ballot if the Utah Republican Party strikes the membership of any candidate gathering signatures. Our Schools Now came to a compromise with the legislature to get more funding to schools, and somehow they including corporate tax cuts in the new plan. In addition, a bill passed requiring news media outlets to allow anyone who leaves their employ to immediately get another job in the field if they make less than $47,500 per year without having to sit out a year. Here are the nine bills that I saw in the Business and Labor Committee on Monday that I hadn't previously covered that you might be interested in:Read more
Week 6 of the 2018 Utah State Legislative is complete and we now have less than 100 hours until it is over. You can definitely tell that our legislators are busy by the sheer number of bills being heard. As usual it's a challenge to keep up. Also, there was a lot more debate going on in committee. Some of the decisions made me want to celebrate and others--well, it was all I could do to keep listening. There are some good healthcare bills in flight, and some of the dreaded alcohol restrictions are hopefully on the way to being removed. On the other hand, any and all equality bills, including an attempt to raise the minimum wage were killed on arrival in committee. Below I summarize 25 bills that came across my radar this week.Read more
Legislative Happenings: Prescriptions and Drugs, Reactions to Gun Violence, Suicide Prevention, and More
Week 5 of the Utah State Legislature is behind us, with just a week and four days to go until the last day of the session. With just 9 days left, the crush is on, meaning bills are getting crushed. SB86 Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements (sponsored by Senator D. Thatcher) remains trapped in the Senate Rules Committee by the Senator Neiderhauser who has been reported to say that the bill will not come to the floor. SB138 Gender Change Amendments (sponsored by Senator T. Weiler) was crushed on the floor of the Senate and did not make it to third reading. Even though the Transgender Inclusion Project and Sue Robbins, the Chair of the Utah Pride Center, took an active part in helping Senator Weiler draft an amendment to the bill to make it more likely to pass, it didn't stand much of a chance when both the Eagle Forum and Equality Utah publicly stood in opposition to the bill. Utah's only LGBT legislator, Senator Dabakis, reportedly also spoke against the bill. Equality Utah publicly opposed the bill because they felt the amendments did not go far enough, by not providing for provisional gender marker change for people under 18, and that the original birth certificate would be sealed. They stated that they did not want to see our trans youth left behind. I can agree with the fact that the original birth certificate needs to be sealed, but rejecting the bill because it lacked instruction for provisional gender marker changes is an example of "perfect being an enemy of the good." Trans kids under 18 eventually turn 18. Knowing that when they turn 18 they have a process by law to change the gender marker in their birth certificate gives them more hope than they now have if they live in a rural community, where judges refuse to grant gender marker changes at all until they see it in the Utah State Code--exactly what SB138 would provide. In addition, adding the provisional clause when the Eagle Forum was already targeting the bill would give them more ammunition to destroy the bill. Finally, there are reasons why Gender Confirming Surgery by WPATH standards is predominantly not performed on youth under 18, even with parental permission: there are reported cases of gay and lesbian people who go through a period of cross-dressing while exploring their own gender, an issue that is usually resolved by 18. However, now that we have determined to support provisional gender marker changes, we cannot back away from it; but need to add its necessity to our advocacy and education plans, finding a way to disrupt misinformation from organizations like the Eagle Forum.
With regard to this week's bills, since the legislature did not meet on President's Day, there are only 12 bills that crossed my path that impact our communities or businesses that I have not previously covered. They run the gamut of prescriptions and drugs to cellular infrastructure and suicide prevention. Senator Mike Lee made a special visit to the Women's State Legislative Council, and there was one concurrent resolution supporting our firefighters. Let's take a look at Week 5.Read more
Legislative Happenings: Food Trucks, Alcohol, Women's Rights, Apprenticeships and Everything In Between
Week 4 of the Utah State Legislative Session saw a ton of bills coming through Business and Labor. The flood gates were definitely opened on Monday and slowed back to a normal pace the rest of the week. Various interests were represented in these bills, including food trucks, licensing, radioactive waste, solar energy, women's rights, and, of course, alcohol. In the interest of space, I am going to cover bills that I noted have a direct impact on business or community, crossed my radar this week and which I haven't covered in a previous entry. That still leaves 27 bills for me to review. To make this a little more interesting and easier to track, I have organized the bills as they came across my radar chronologically. So let's buckle up and get down to this week's review.Read more
We are officially halfway through the 2018 Utah State Legislative Session. This week, I read through another six bills as they came up before committee meetings, which brings the total number of bills I am now tracking to 47. On Monday, the Senate and House Committees on Business and Labor have scheduled about 17 bills total between them, with one committee meeting at 8 in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. This week I attended the shortest committee meeting on Wednesday, which lasted 17 minutes, and the longest committee meeting on Thursday that lasted over three hours. I met and talked with the two conservative sponsors of SB86 (Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements) and SB138 (Gender Marker Change Amendments). Senator Dan Thatcher, who is sponsoring SB86, expressed his concern that Senators are telling him that they don't know how to vote since the LDS Church hasn't weighed in yet. According to Troy Williams of Equality Utah, Senate President Neiderhauser has also said that the bill won't be heard. Senator Todd Weiler, who is sponsoring SB138, is contemplating an amendment to his bill that would require hormone therapy like the law in Oregon. When he asked me what I thought of that amendment, I suggested that if he really had to amend the bill in that direction, he should expand it using the term "medically transitioned," defined as either "being on cross-sex hormone therapy or having had any surgery to align someone's body with their target sex." The last thing we want is a requirement for surgery to be able to change your gender marker. One of his trans constituents has asked him to return to the judges for their input.
This week, I want to focus on bills that may impact business, particularly small businesses. To that end, I selected ten bills to review that I have not yet covered. In this collection, there is one bill on worker's compensation, one on electric energy, one dealing with construction codes, five with occupational and professional licensing, one on the transportation network, and one on limited liability companies. Some of these descriptions are fairly brief, and others I'll be elucidate a bit more.Read more
As we are about to complete week 2 of the legislative session, it was a challenge keeping up with the legislative bills going through the Business and Labor Committee and a couple others of interest. In just two weeks, I have read through 41 bills--including SB138 (Gender Change Amendments) and SB86 (Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements), which I added to my watch list; eight legislative committee meetings, six hours in meetings with the Women's State Legislative Council, and a couple hours total in casual conversation with people I meet on the hill, including legislators, organization directors, and the ex-Fire Marshall of Midvale City. A couple of these bills ran over 3,000 lines in length, requiring several hours of reading.Read more
On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, Utah State House Speaker Greg Hughes and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox were invited to speak before the Women's State Legislative Council in the Gold Room a few hours before we heard Governor Gary Herbert's state of the state address before the combined session of both houses.
It seems like the Utah State Legislature is off to a quick start. Last year the legislature passed over 500 bills. This year, they are already setting a new record with 1,277 new bills according to Utah Governor Gary Herbert in his State of the State address last night. I want to welcome the readers of this column as I do my best to inform you of my experiences at the Utah State Capitol so you can be informed on things that are happening that may impact your life, for better or worse. Last year, I was appointed to co-chair the Business and Labor Committee for the Women’s State Legislative Council of Utah and added as member of the board of the Transgender Inclusion Project in order to take advantage of my political experience. Earlier this month, I stepped down from the board of the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to serve as their first appointed Legislative Liaison. In addition, I am continuing to serve as the Vice Chair of the Community Council of Midvale City. What this means for me is that I have a lot of reasons for keeping an eye out for bills coming through the Business and Labor Committees of the Utah State Senate and the Utah State House. I will also be sharing my impressions of other bills that cross my path.