Lehi’s state legislators moved their bills through the House and Senate during the fourth week of the legislative session, with many receiving broad support.
Representative Jefferson Moss (HD 2) has been focusing on budget issues. His bill, which would require each standing legislative committee to review its entire budget over the course of five years, HJR 18, passed the House unanimously.
HB 297, Moss’ bill to create a “Long Term Planning Subcommittee of the Legislative Management Committee” passed the House committee unanimously.
“Legislators come and go,” Moss said. “We want to have a little bit more structure…and data and context around what we call “big gear” issues. I’m really big on systemic change. I like accountable, efficient government.”
Moss is the House floor sponsor for a bill currently in the Senate which sets up new funding structures for education. SB 149, sponsored by Senator Ann Millner, would distribute millions of education funds through a new formula. It would allow schools to spend money on a specified list of items from which they can choose based on their own “teacher and student success plan.” It would require a school to achieve a one-percent increase their total points on the school grading report in order to continue receiving funds.
Moss said he is co-sponsoring because it is written in a way that gives greater control over the use of funds to local schools.
Moss’ bill, HB 286, would require Utah high school students to recognize and compare the differences between economic systems, such as socialism, communism, and capitalism. It passed the House 62-10.
Representative Kay Christofferson (HD 56) finally saw movement on HB 236, Teacher Salary Supplements. It aims to provide additional salary awards to teachers in special education and STEM subjects, areas which are harder to fill.
He narrowed the scope this year from all special ed and STEM teachers to just those who have been in their positions for ten years. It is now in the House Education Committee.
Another of Christofferson’s focus bills, HB 349, State Building Amendments, aims to keep state agencies accountable for the funds they spend on building use- an item he said some agencies have not paid much attention to for many years. It passed the House committee unanimously.
HB 116, Victims of Communism Memorial Day, has made rapid progress through the legislature. It passed the House in week three and passed the Senate committee last Friday.
Protecting the right to self-defense is a major focus for Representative Cory Maloy (HD 6). HB 114, a “stand your ground” bill that clarifies an individual is not required to retreat when threatened, passed the House along party lines.
Maloy is also working on a bill to require those who pay for ads in ballot initiative campaigns to disclose their identity on the ads. He said HB 319 “closes a loophole.” It passed out of committee on a unanimous vote.
A third bill of Maloy’s, HB 228, ran into significant opposition. Among other provisions, the bill would standardize signage for vehicle towing across the state and require property owners to place the new signs in a location designated by law so they’re easy to see and recognize. The aim is to cut down on predatory towing.
He said he was surprised at the level of opposition at the committee hearing. “There are so many fingers in towing, and they are less concerned about what it does for the people of Utah than what it does in their little area.” He said he feels good, “about what we’re trying to do,” and is looking at what adjustments need to be made before bringing it back.
Senator Jacob Anderegg (SD 13), said there is a surplus of $1.1 billion but he doesn’t anticipate a tax cut. “It’s just not practical.” He said there may be some tax reform involving the income tax.
Anderegg’s bill which addresses “affordable housing,” SB 34, which passed the Senate during the third week of the session, moved out of the House committee on a unanimous vote last week.
Anderegg is also working a concurrent resolution to address how to handle banking for those who engage in legal cannabis production and distribution. SCR 7, Concurrent Resolution Urging Legal Medical Cannabis Banking, recognizes “the illegality of cannabis under federal law restricts the medical cannabis industry’s legal access to financial institutions’ banking services” and urges the U.S. President and Congress to “remove the barriers that prohibit” legal cannabis businesses from utilizing banking services. It passed the Senate committee unanimously.