Week 6, the last full week of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books. Next Thursday at midnight will mark the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. At this point in the session, we’re working to finalize the budget and complete the process of turning ideas into bills and turning those bills into law. Next week’s legislative schedule includes at least one more packed day of committee meetings, and three full days of up to 13 hours of debate on the Senate floor.
Setting and balancing Utah’s budget is a very deliberative process. Weeks of study and consideration by appropriations subcommittees pass their final budget requests on to the Executive Appropriations Committee. One of the proposed changes that will be considered is a 4% increase in Education funding. (See the full list here.) The Executive Appropriations Committee which is made up of Senate and House leadership will set the final budget for the upcoming year. Click here to find out more about the budget process.
Utah has a Constitutional requirement that we pass a balanced budget by midnight on the last day of session. That requirement and our compliance with that mandate has been the driving force behind the State’s high financial stability rankings for years. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins Week 6→
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.” Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins→
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 hearinghere. This bill has passed the Senate and now awaits consideration in the House. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins→
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→
Last week we held our monthly Interim meetings at the Capitol. It seems like we just ended last session and yet we now only have one interim day left until the next General Session. My how the time flies!
Here are some of the highlights from the meetings I attended:
Fiscal Health Check-up
Our budget forecasters in our Legislative Fiscal Analyst Office are exceptionally good at what they do. This year they accurately projected the State of Utah’s 2016 revenue collections. This is a big deal because the projections are what help to inform the legislature as we plan for the budget each session, and the more accurate our projections, the sounder our budget. Utah ended Fiscal Year 2016 with $18.7 million unspent. Our General Rainy Day Reserves are up 1.7% from last year. We are in a good place financially. Listen to the Fiscal Health Check-Up here. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins→
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. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins→
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).