The first week of the Session was extremely eventful. We started out with a swearing-in of all the existing legislators and special swearing in of the freshman class of new Reps.
They all look a little nervous...and rightfully so. I remember the feeling of swimming under water my first session.
NEW SESSION, NEW GIG
After the election in November, House Members received their committee assignments. For the past two years I served as the Vice-Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee. I was actually getting quite comfortable there and attempting to become a more finely honed tax policy specialist. Well, that plan changed this year when Speaker Hughes asked me to serve as the Chairman of Government Operations. I accepted the appointment and will be managing the committee agenda which hears a lot of election law bills. Look for a busy agenda as we mop up the mess from process problems discovered during this last year's election cycle.
The best part of the new job, of course, is the view from the office.
I posted about the giant protest on Monday and was quickly brutalized. You can read more about that experience and my thoughts here:
MR. PETERSON'S BILLS
Here is the status of the bills I am working on currently:
HB23 - Income Tax Credit Modifications (Solar Tax Credit Phase Out) - We finally had a gathering of stakeholders on Thursday morning to hammer out a final compromise on the bill. In the meeting, the industry immediately asked to not make any real changes for another year. That was a pretty funny thing to suggest given the history of this issue. We rejected that idea and settled on a different compromise that the industry can live with and the legislature can feel good about. That compromise will be presented to committee next week as a substitute bill.
HB24 - Student Prosperity Savings Plan - We thought the bill would be sent to the House Floor since it passed interim committee unanimously. However, the bill showed up with a $3 Million price tag. That turned out to be a tad bit optimistic since that would correlate with $60 Million in private donations to disadvantaged and intergenerational poverty youth. Fortunately, we found a model that more accurately reflects the taxpayer burden of the bill and the cost will be about $5,000 annually.
HB64 - Property Tax Relief Amendments - This bill went straight to the House Floor and passed unanimously this week. You can watch the brief bill presentation HERE.
HB73 - Child Placement Amendments - This bill came out of rules this week and was assigned to be heard at the Judiciary Standing Committee. It will likely be heard this coming week.
STATE OF THE STATE
We heard the Governor offer his priorities this year. His speech was great. Unfortunately, the view was not.
MR. PETERSON'S OTHER ISSUES
I do have a couple other bill files being worked on but they are not numbered yet.
National Popular Vote
I have been speaking with colleagues about the issue of the National Popular Vote. This issue will be a study item for us to explore in the future. Look for more from me on this fascinating topic. You can learn more in the meantime HERE.
Inmate Housing Reform
I have a bill file that is being written that will redesign Utah's halfway hosue system to more evenly distribute halfway house inmates across the state.
Renewable Energy Innovation Grants
I am working with the Governor's Office of Energy Development to create a $1 Million grant program for development and deployment of new renewable energy technologies.
I was grateful to have the President of the Ogden Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Kent Collins, offer the opening prayer for the House on Friday. I invited my two nephews, Bruce and Preston Thomas, to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Look for more to come next week!