Commissioners Report August 23, 2016

August 23, 2016

We had our meeting in Green River today. Before the Commission Meeting was Board of Equalization (BOE). BOE is a mechanism where a you can come and contest the value your property has been assessed. We had a couple come in today in Green River. There is BOE set up in the Castle Dale office from 9a-12p tomorrow.

Mike Olsen, County Attorney, stated in his report that he has been working on a draft agreement that he will present to the commission in our next meeting for the Robotics Club to use the old Weed and Mosquito building. I mention his report because Rob Murray has been working with Jordan Leonard and the School District to have a Robotics Club in our county. Rob was at Green River High School today talking with the Principal about the club and he mentioned it went really well. Continue reading Commissioners Report August 23, 2016

Senator Lee’s Visit to the Hunter Plant


Last week I had the privilege of visiting the Hunter Plant and the Sufco mine, two of the many sites in our state where hardworking Utahns know all too well the hardships created by regulatory overreach from Washington, D.C. The Hunter Plant is being forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with misguided regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while the Sufco mine continues to wait for the Bureau of Land Management to approve the Greens Hollow coal lease. These are not just places where people work long hours to support their families – they are the cornerstone of Utah’s economy. For my entire life I have benefited from coal-fired electricity. Whenever I flip on a light switch the lights turn on. That is because coal provides Utah with about three-fourths of its electricity. Coal is affordable, reliable, and cleaner than ever. Yet for decades, and increasingly under President Obama, federal regulators, like those at the EPA, have imposed one regulation after another on America’s coal country, in Utah and across the nation. The federal bureaucracy’s relentless and aggressive war on coal can mean one thing: the Obama Administration wants to dismantle Utah’s electricity sector and has no concern for the human consequences. We did not ask for this. Continue reading Senator Lee’s Visit to the Hunter Plant

Commissioners Report August 2, 2016

August 2, 2016

I will have a lot today since I missed last commission meeting’s Commissioners Report. So let’s get going, shall we?

County Economic Development Strategy

I was able to schedule time with the Mike Mower from the Governors Office, Governors Office Economic Development (GOED), and the Department of Energy. Jordan and I visited with them last Wednesday and I am hoping this will be a start of many meetings with them. Items that we discussed were alternative uses for coal, SITLA, natural gas projects, the fiber optic network we have in the county, support businesses for our growers and grazers, and possible aerospace projects.

Castle Valley Pageant

This is the last week for the Castle Valley Pageant, tonight through Saturday night. Make sure that you hit the lamb fry before the pageant in Castle Dale. The pageant wont be back for another two years so make sure you share it with friends and family.

<Click here for the map>

Summer Sidewalk Jamboree

Also this Friday and Saturday, August 5-6 there is a Summer Sidewalk Jamboree. Brought to you by the Emery County Business Chamber. It looks like it will be good fun.

<Click here for the poster>
<Click here for the Facebook Event>

Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

As DOI Sally Jewell was making her way to Bluff, UT for a public hearing on Bears Ears (read more about that here) she stopped and met with elected officials, public land council members and the public and then toured Emery County. We were able to explain to her what we have gone through in our Public Lands process. We met for about 45 minutes and then headed out to The Wedge, Buckhorn Wash and Swinging Bridge as she headed for Grand County. Continue reading Commissioners Report August 2, 2016

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Letter sent July 19, 2016

Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day! This past month has been an eventful one.

One of the significant but quiet events was the unveiling of Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz’ Public Lands Initiative (PLI) crafted over the last several years, with much thoughtful input from local and state officials. Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund spoke for all of us when he commented, “Land management decisions should always be local decisions.  People in my district like the Public Lands Initiative because of the inclusive process and balanced result.  We plan to use our land, as careful stewards, in a manner that will benefit our families now, and for all the generations that follow.”

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser added, “The sweep of world history shows that centralized government control has led to environmental disaster more often than it has ever led to preservation. Utah legislators support the Public Lands Initiative because it respects local expertise, local processes of self-government, and local citizens.  The rightful stewards of land are those who live close to it, and who will live with the results of their decisions for years to come.”  The Utah Legislature has passed two resolutions in favor of the PLI process. It’s a balanced bill that has come at the end of a remarkably inclusive process, so I hope you’ll give the congressmen your support on this piece of legislation.

We also met in a special session to consider nine bills. We passed eight of them, including steeper penalties for those who use drones to interfere with those fighting wildfires. You can see the complete list, below, or visit the Senate Site for more information. You can find the highlights from our interim committee meetings here.

For those of you who need a refresher on special sessions, the legislature can only pass laws when they are in session. According to the Constitution (Article VI, Section 2 and Article VI, Section 16), our session begins the 4th Monday of January and cannot exceed forty-five calendar days. However, sometimes – in between sessions – issues will require more immediate attention. If laws need to be considered during the interim, the Governor can convene a special session. We try to reserve special sessions for consensus items, minor technical fixes, and emergencies.

Special Session Highlights

Economic Development Revisions (SB 3002)
Sponsor, Senator Bramble, Floor Sponsor, Representative Val Peterson

Utah’s tech economy has enjoyed strong growth in recent years. This bill seeks to build on this success of our “Silicon Slopes” economy by creating a sales tax exemption for qualifying data centers. Specifically, it exempts sales tax for the purchase of machinery, equipment, or normal operating repair or replacement parts by a data center. In general, a sound tax policy exempts business inputs and taxes outputs. This bill passed both chambers.

House Vote: 60-7-8
Senate Vote: 24-1-4

Criminal Justice Reinvestment Amendments (HB 3004)
Sponsor, Representative Hutchings, Floor Sponsor, Senator Shiozawa

This bill will allow the judiciary to provide notifications for court dates. When people fail to appear for a court date, an arrest warrant is issued, which creates additional cost and stress for both the courts and citizens. We’re all familiar with doctor’s and dentist offices calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. Similar reminders will make a large difference for people who need to appear in court.

The bill also requires better risk assessments to fine-tune the supervision of those who may need more scrutiny and services and also expend fewer resources on those offenders that need less supervision. The bill also allows the Board of Pardons and Adult Probation and Parole to implement an earned-time program.  For those offenders who are able to meet certain criteria, they are rewarded for their hard work by receiving earned-time, which would potentially shorten their probation. This bill passed both chambers.

House Vote: 64-5-6
Senate Vote: 22-0-7

Grandparent Rights Amendments (HB 3005)
Sponsor Representative Christensen, Floor Sponsor Senator Adams

During the session this last winter, the legislature passed a bill to ensure grandparents rights. The governor vetoed this bill with the explanation that it was too broad and created some unintended consequences. This bill narrows the focus to specific instances where parents have terminated their parental rights and a relative adopts the child. In these instances, grandparents, by default, will have rights to visit the child. If the adoptive parent is opposed to the grandparents having rights, they can bring their case to the judge and have the grandparents right removed. This bill failed in the House.

House Vote: 27-40-8

Controlled Substance Database Modifications (SB 3001)
Sponsor Senator Weiler, Floor Sponsor Representative McCay

In the 2015 General Session,  SB 119, Prescription Database Revisions, modified the Controlled Substance Database Act regarding the use of information from the database. That bill required law enforcement to obtain a search warrant in order to access the database. An unintended consequence of that bill was that probation and parole officers lost access to the database. SB 3001, states that probation and parole officers do not need a search warrant to gain access to the database. This bill passed in both chambers.

Senate Vote: 23-2-4
House Vote: 61-0-14

Unmanned Aircraft Amendments (HB 3003)
Sponsor Representative Ipson, Floor Sponsor Senator Vickers

Fire season started early this year with the Saddle Fire in southern Utah near Pine Valley. The fire started off small, but over the course of the last month that the fire has been burning, firefighting efforts have halted on five occasions due to unauthorized recreational drones flying into the restricted area. These drones prevent planes from getting the necessary retardant to the fire. This bill enhances punishments for unmanned aircraft vehicles that fly over restricted areas and interfere with firefighting efforts. These enhancements include making it a class A misdemeanor for drones to interfere in instances of wildfires, authorizes a judge to order that restitution be paid for any wasted retardant, and authorizes neutralization of the drone in certain circumstances. This bill passed both chambers.

Senate Vote: 25-0-4
House Vote: 67-2-6

State Fair Park Amendments (HB 3002)
Sponsor Representative Hollins, Floor Sponsor Senator Escamilla

This bill appropriates about $10 million for the Utah State Fair Park construction. The Fair Park will act as the new home to the Days of ’47 Rodeo as well as many other events, such as the World Series of Barrel Racing. When completed, it will be a state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena with the capacity to seat 10,000. The LDS Church has offered to contribute $3 million to this project, as have Salt Lake City and County. This bill passed both chambers unanimously.

Senate Vote: 25-0-4
House Vote: 69-0-6

Judicial Nominating Commissions – Amendments (SB 3003)
Sponsor, Senator Knudson, Floor Sponsor, Representative McKell

This bill makes changes to the Judicial Selection act regarding judicial nominating commissions. When a vacancy on a state court exists, a judicial nominating commission reviews applications, interviews selected applicants, and according to statute, certifies to the governor a list of the five most qualified applicants. The governor appoints a judge from among that list of five applicants. Occasionally the judicial nominating commission will address multiple vacancies for the same court at the same time. Under current law, the governor sometimes appoints multiple judges from the same list of five applicants. In order to assure that the governor always has the ability to choose from among at least five applicants, this bill requires nominating commissions to add one additional applicant for each additional vacancy being addressed. A single judicial nominating commission is currently addressing three district court vacancies. Without this change, the governor would appoint three judges from a list of five applicants. This bill passed both chambers unanimously.

Senate Vote: 25-0-4
House Vote: 67-0-8

Tax Credit Review Amendments (HB 3001)
Sponsor, Representative Jeremy Peterson, Floor Sponsor, Senator Curt Bramble

This bill requires the Revenue and Taxation Committee to review certain tax credits every year including low-income housing tax credits and economic development tax credits. Tax credits have the effect of reducing the total amount due on income taxes–some tax credits result in refunds if the amount of the tax credit exceeds the total amount of tax due and others result in a $0 balance. This bill passed both chambers.

House Vote: 69-1-5
Senate Vote: 25-0-4

Continuing Care Retirement Community Amendments (SB 3004)
Sponsor, Senator Deidre Henderson, Floor Sponsor, Earl Tanner

This bill provides that when a new person/entity takes over a lease of a continuing care facility, they are still required to honor existing contracts related to the property including the refund of an entrance fee. It also allows courts to direct a trustee to purchase both the land on which a continuing care facility is built and any infrastructure improvements associated with it under certain circumstances such as liquidation of the continuing care facility.

House Vote: 59-8-8
Senate Vote: 25-0-4

What do you think?
Thanks for tuning in and getting involved! I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can be reached by email at You’re also welcome to join me at the capitol any time. Our next interim day is September 21st. I’d love to see you there.

I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation!

Until next time,

David Hinkins, Senate District 27

Bears Ears

On BearsEarsSaturday, I was able to attend a public hearing that was based around a possible Bears Ears National Monument designation or supporting the process of the Public Lands Initiative (PLI) and designating the Bears Ears as a National Conservation Area (NCA).

Before Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell made it to Buff, UT, she met with elected officials, public land managers and the public and toured Emery, Grand and San Juan Counties. Emery was first on Wednesday, where we were able to explain to her what we have gone through in our Public Lands process.

The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectfully, or to the people.” Even though, DOI Secretary Jewell was here listening to the people, I feel a designation by the President through the Antiquities Act would be overreach by the Executive Branch. Anything like this should start and end with the local people. Continue reading Bears Ears

DOI Secretary Sally Jewel to visit Emery County

DOI_sealU.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be in Emery County on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at the County Administration Building in the Swell Room. The Secretary is available from 1:00 – 1:45 pm on Wednesday. She will be meeting with the commissioners and some of the Public Lands Council to discus the PLI.

She will also be visiting with county officials and land managers in Grand and San Juan and holding a community meeting in Bluff from 1-4pm on Saturday, July 16, 2016.

Salt Lake Tribune Article

Commissioners Report July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016

HappyIndependenceDayIndependence Day

I hope all of you found a way to celebrate and enjoy our great country’s Independence Day! I hope that you had fun and that you were safe. Recently, I read an article entitled, Why You Must Refuse to Celebrate the 4th of July this Year. Excellent article, basically stating that we should call the day what it is, our celebration of independence from a king and taxation without representation.

May God Bless America! Continue reading Commissioners Report July 5, 2016

Commissioners Report June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016

Rodeo2016County Fair and Desertview Pro Rodeo

The Emery County Fair and the Desertview Pro Rodeo is complete for another year. A big thank you to the organizers and volunteers. I hope you had the time to attend and had fun! We have set up surveys to be able to receive feedback from those who attended. Please fill out the surveys, we want to here from you!

County Fair Survey Desertview Pro Rodeo Survey

For updates and notices on current and future events in Emery County like the Emery County Events Facebook Page.
Continue reading Commissioners Report June 21, 2016

Mike Lee Press Release

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mike_LeeSen. Lee Votes For Common Sense Crime Bills

WASHINGTON ­ Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) supported cloture on two common sense crime bills Monday authored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Lee also voted against cloture on two gun control measures sponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“So many of our past mass shootings could have been prevented by robust enforcement of our existing gun laws,” Lee said. “Chairman Grassley should be commended for putting together a common sense crime bill that aims to increase enforcement while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.” Continue reading Mike Lee Press Release

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you all had an enjoyable Father’s Day! I also hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day a few weeks ago. Every year, Memorial Day is a poignant reminder that the country we have today didn’t come by accident. It exists because of the sacrifice of our veterans and the hard work of everyday people. To all the veterans, thank you for your service and sacrifice. To all the families of veterans, thank you.

Part of the Senate’s Constitutional responsibilities are to approve appointments by the Governor (Article VII Section 10) to different boards, commissions, and judicial bodies. This past interim, we confirmed two judges to the Appeals Court, the judicial body directly below the Supreme Court, and 1 judge to the 3rd District Court (Read more here).

Here are some of the things we discussed during interim. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins