Letter from Senator Hinkins

Friends and Neighbors, 

Week 3 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 50 bills have passed through the legislature while committee agendas and reading calendars continue to be filled with more bills. Public Lands continue to be one of the biggest issues facing the legislature this session. Senate Majority Whip – Stuart Adams, recently wrote a great article describing why he supports the resolution to rescind Bears Ears National Monument. [http://www.senatesite.com/2017/why-i-support-hcr11/]

Each year during the Utah Legislative session, the federal delegation is invited to speak to the Utah Senate and give a report on their activities in Washington D.C. This week, we were honored to hear from Congressman Chris, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop. Congressman Stewart spoke about the need for greater civility and graciousness in our discourse. Congressman Chaffetz reported on his recent conversation with President Trump and his efforts on various reforms including the postal service and the tax code. Congressman Bishop focused on federalism and the “Article One Project.”


This week, the Senate recognized the winners of the 2017 Annual Senate Art competition.  In all, three of the winners were in my district: Emilly Johnson from Springville High School, Easton Bowring from Monticello High School and the overall winner, Cadence Peterson from Mapleton High School. You can see her painting below.  We have such talented students here in this state.

I am sponsoring a bill (SB171) to designate Native American Rock Art as the official artwork of the state of Utah. In this state, we have the good fortune to be surrounded by countless numbers of paleographic depictions left by some of Utah’s earliest inhabitants (I’ve included an example below). These depictions are vivid reminders of the contributions by Native Americans to our culture and history.  

Week 3 Top Issues

The Budget

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, the budget is the most important item we work on during the legislative session. Every year we are tasked with passing a balanced budget before the 45-day session expires. This week we approved all of our base budgets for our eight appropriation subcommittees. Dividing appropriations into subcommittees like public education and social services helps us to give a deeper look at the many appropriations requests we receive each year. After the subcommittees consider the requests, they report back to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) how they recommend spending their budget. After the subcommittees and the EAC have discussed the budget, the subcommittees are ready to present their base budget bills to the legislature as a whole for consideration. You can watch the Senate pass the subcommittee base budget bills here. You can also learn more about the budget process here.

In the News: Utah Policy | Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune

UTA Governance Overhaul

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has been an agency of controversy for the last couple of years. There has been public concern over the executive salaries, travel expenses, perceived deals with developers who are connected to the board, and public meetings. Over the years UTA has taken various steps to fix many of these problems, but their biggest problem still remains — a lack of good constituent services. SB 174, sponsored by Senator Harper, would change the UTA board to an eight-member board with each member representing a different district of equal population. Each board member would need to be confirmed by the Senate. This bill also creates a citizen board advisory board in order to create a more constituent-oriented UTA with better communications from local users. This bill passed out of the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology with a favorable recommendation.
In the News: Salt Lake Tribune

20 Years later, it is time we look at Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument

Last week the Senate passed a resolution that calls on the President to overturn the Bears Ears Decision. This companion resolution, sponsored by Senator Okerlund calls on Congress to begin a discussion over the boundaries of the Escalante National Monument.  Almost twenty years after the monument designation there are numerous questions. Is a national monument the best land use policy for that area? How is this monument restricting economic opportunities? How is the monument impacting the revenue streams for local counties? Some areas need to be protected inside the Monument but some areas can also be opened up.  Listen to the floor debate here.

Pornographers May Soon Be Defending Themselves in Court

Though it hasn’t been debated officially on the hill yet, Senator Weiler’s new bill, SB185 Cause of Action for Minors Injured by Pornography, is one of the bills that people are paying attention to in Utah and across the country. His resolution in the 2016 legislative session, SCR9, Concurrent Resolution on the Public Health Crisis, had Senator Weiler in newspapers, on the radio, and on television programs around the world. This bill would give minors the option of suing pornographers in court if they are able to prove emotional or psychological damage. The bill was presented in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee onThursday the 9th.

In the News: Salt Lake Tribune | KSL

What is an Equity Pupil Unit and How will it help School Kids?

SB80 School Funding Amendments, also known as the Equity Pupil Unit, is sponsored by Senator Fillmore and described as the way that we will keep our promise to Utah school kids made 100 years ago. That promise was that, no matter the economic situation of your school district, you’ll have adequate funding for your education. He said that SB80 will take future growth in the state’s Education Fund and use it to grow education faster at the lower funded school districts and will grow a little bit slower at school districts with much higher funding.

Senator Fillmore said that this will not take money from some districts to give to others. Every school district will keep every penny of property tax that is levied in that district. Instead, the bill creates a formula allocation change in the future so that education funding will grow a little bit faster for school districts that have a harder time generating revenue on their own. Listen to the floor debate here.

In The News: Deseret News | Salt Lake Tribune

Is your Barber Licensed to give you a Massage?

Senator Weiler told the Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee that some Utah barbers were approached by regulators about their practice of providing brief neck massages following hair-cuts. The barbers were told that state law does not allow them to offer these massages as part of their service. Senator Weiler was approached by some of these barbers to discuss the matter. He said the changes made in his bill, SB172 Barber Licensing Restriction Changes, amount to twenty words added to code. These twenty words allow a barber to briefly massage the neck and shoulders by manual or mechanical means.

The committee heard from professional massage therapists as well as Mark Steinagel, the Director of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. The massage therapists stated their opposition to the bill. Their belief is that barbers do not have the breadth of training and education to safely off massages to their customers. Mr. Steinagel said that DOPL supports the bill under the existing parameters. The division’s belief is that the barbers are not offering the massages as any type of therapy and are not competing with licensed massage therapists in the state. Listen to the committee meeting here.

Senate Approves a bill to make Boards and Commissions Non-partisan

Many of the state boards and commissions here in Utah require that no more than a certain number (e.g. seven members) can belong to the same political party. Originally, these requirements were meant to ensure the boards benefitted from multiple opinions. In practice, however, the partisan requirements have created staffing problems. For instance, the Radiation Control Board could be staffed by doctors but how many doctors are there in the state who  have both the expertise to serve on the committee and do not all belong to the same political party?  Furthermore, what happens if the only qualified doctor–who also happens to have the necessary partisan affiliation–lives in St. George and must commute to SLC to serve on the Board?  This bill HB11) solves this problem by eliminating all references to partisan affiliation. Under this bill, neither the Governor nor the Senate are allowed to even consider partisan affiliation as a prerequisite to service on a board. The purpose is to make quality the determining factor, not partisanship.

Commissioners Report 2-21-17

February 21, 2017

Recently, I was able to attend Rural County Day on the Hill. Governor Herbert, Lt Governor Cox, Representative Albrecht, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development addressed us. There was also a bit of Q&A for each.

In the Governor’s recent State of the State address, he said he wants to add 25,000 jobs to rural Utah. The Governors Rural Partnership Board put together the map to the left (click for a pdf) of how one job in rural Utah compares to a job on the Wasatch Front. For 1 job in Emery County, it is estimated to about 50 jobs on the Wasatch Front. That is quite significant. I told the Governor that rural Utah needs the infrastructure that the Wasatch front takes for granted in order to be able to develop and diversify our economies. I told him we have rail, highway, power, but fiber optic broadband; what we are missing in parts or our county is natural gas. The public utility rules and statutes need to change for them to be able to expand and provide money to operate and maintain the infrastructure. We’ll see where it goes.

Another aspect of this Day on the Hill was a presentation of Health Equity that expanded their business to Carbon county. I have heard that they have approximately 40 people from Emery County working there.

Continue reading Commissioners Report 2-21-17

Commissioners Report 2-7-17

February 7, 2017

The State legislature is in full swing. Senator Hinkins sent out a letter that you can read here on some of the bills that he is watching. Some that I am watching are:

  • SB 139 – Oppose: Limits school district participation to a maximum of 50% in a CRA (Community Reinvestment Area)
  • SB 142 – Oppose: Eliminates school district participation in tax increment financing by removing tax revenue collected under the basic local levy
  • HB 207 – Watching: While I support the idea of federalism and following the 10th Amendment that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I am not sure what the $350,000 is going to do to help this. Yes on federalism, no to the fiscal note.

Continue reading Commissioners Report 2-7-17

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Friends and Neighbors, 

Week 2 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 11 bills have passed through the entire legislature but committee agendas and reading calendars are filling up with bills in a hurry.

We had some exciting events happen on the floor this week. We witnessed the proposal of Senator Henderson’s intern (she said yes). Senator Anderegg read an emotional citation honoring the Search and Rescue Dog Handlers that participated in the effort to find his missing niece – Annie Schmidt and bring closure to his family. ( https://goo.gl/5JL0ed ) Senator Henderson sponsored a resolution honoring a true American hero and Utahn, Gail Halvorsen.

My bill (SB171) , which designates Native American Rock Art as our official State Work of Art, has advanced through committee and will now be heard on the Senate Floor.

I’m also sponsoring a resolution (SCR03) asking the Department of Energy to adequately fund the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Project . In 2000, Congress passed the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act of 2001 which required the United States Department of Energy (DOE) “to establish a remedial action program and stabilize, dispose of, and control uranium mill tailings and other contaminated material at the Moab, Utah, uranium ore processing site and associated properties in the vicinity”. Last year, approximately $38 Million was appropriated but that appropriation is $7 Million dollars short of the $45 Million the project is estimated to require. This bill passed unanimously out of committee. Listen to the hearing here. This bill has passed the Senate and now awaits consideration in the House.
Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins

Emery County EMS Op-Ed

Less of an Op-Ed, more of a Fact-Editorial.

On September 1, 2015, there was an Editor’s Note in the Emery County Progress that gave a short history of EMS in the county, along with a list of concerns and a list of possible solutions. It also noted that there had been a severe decline in EMTs in the county, trainings were few to nonexistent, and that there were holes in the on-call schedule.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had a rule that stated paid-volunteers over a certain amount of hours were considered full-time employees and were required to be offered insurance or pay a penalty. With the variableness of hours of on-call time the Commission felt that it was not a good use of the taxpayer’s money to pay these penalties, and we had a deadline on when those penalties were to be implemented.

With these concerns in mind, the Commissioners focused on finding a solution. Continue reading Emery County EMS Op-Ed

Before you Dig


I recently attended a meeting regarding pipeline safety. When I think of pipeline safety I usually think of gas lines, but there are water lines, electric lines, telecommunications, sewer, reclaimed water, etc.

We also think that calling 811 is for large projects but it’s even for digging for fence posts, a mailbox or even a tree. The service is free, just call a couple of days before you do any digging. You can call or go online at bluestakes.org to set up a ticket. When you do the utilities will be alerted and they should be out within 48 hours to mark if there is their utility running along your property. If you do hit, damage, cut or punture a line call 911 as soon as possible. Stay safe.

Below is a color code for things that might come up that is in the ground.

Mining


In our county when we think of mining we think coal. It’s only right that we do. Coal lights, powers and heats our homes and businesses.

In this issue of Mining Focus I was reminded of all the other good things that come from mining. There were two articles, one that focused on Thanksgiving and the other on Christmas and I wanted to summarize and share some of the information that they had.

From the Thanksgiving article it said that we should be thankful to mining for providing:

  • Wiring in our home providing electricity.
  • Metal used to build appliances in kitchen
  • Metal ductwork in homes
  • Nails, drywall, cement driveways.

Continue reading Mining

Economic Development

Jordan Leonard, the Economic Development Director for the county, is doing a good job working grow and expand local businesses and working to bring in other businesses to diversify the economy in the county. Below is a press release that he just put out on what he has been working on.

Economic vitality for Emery County.

When we talk about economic development there a few things that we work on in our office. If we focus on the following areas, we will have a bright future for 2017 and beyond:

  • Support Entrepreneurs
  • Support Local Business First
  • Retain and Grow Local Business
  • Help Start New Businesses
  • Downtown Revitalization
  • Support Agriculture
  • Visitor Amenities
  • Rural and Geotourism

Continue reading Economic Development

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!

I am very grateful that you have given me the privilege to continue serving as a State Senator and I appreciate your support.

This month we came together once again at the Capitol for our final Interim meetings before the next General Session. Here are a few of the highlights:

Special Session

HB 4001 Solid Waste Amendments

In the last General Session, the Legislature passed a Solid Waste Amendments bill that clarified a couple definitions of terms. However, the EPA opposed the bill after it passed and so the governor vetoed the bill, but promised to bring it back in a Special Session, if a compromise could be reached. The bill that was brought back to the Senate for consideration excludes facilities that process scrap metal from the definition of “Solid Waste Management Facility”. The bill passed both chambers and will now return to the Governor for his signature. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins