Saturday, January 27, 2018

2018 General Session - Week 1

Session Opening

The 2018 General Session kicked off with the House being serenaded by alumni.

Former Reps Ryan Wilcox, Spencer Cox, Kerry Gibson, Jim Nielson, and a Rep who served well before my time offered up our National Anthem and God Bless America.  It was a great performance.  Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church offered in the opening prayer.   

Mr. Peterson's Bills

Presently I have about 10 bills in the hopper.  However, several of those bills have been in queue while issues are worked out between stakeholders.  So, if things go well, my total count may winnow down to 7.  We will find out in the coming week where some of the bills are headed.  Here is a summary of the bills I have drafted as of now:

HB20 - Political Activities and Elections - The most exciting part of this bill is the title.  Once you get into the meat you quickly realize this is a bill full of technical corrections, reference changes, and other uninteresting minutia.  The most titillating parts of this bill decriminalizes the act of misstating your registered voter status when signing an petition.  The second most interesting part brings financial disclosure deadlines for State School Board races in line with every other office.  This bill was inspired by recommendations that came to our Interim Committee from the Lt. Governor's office. 

HB80 - Child Placement Amendments - Third Time Is The Charm!  I have run this bill three times now.  It has passed unanimously in the House and Senate TWICE but failed to be prioritized for funding each time.  We will make it stick this year.  The bill requires the state to do arrest warrant checks prior to reuniting children in state custody with their parents.  The bill passed a House committee hearing this week and moves on to the House Floor.  

HB110 -  Lobbyist Licensing Amendments - This bill attempts to create workplace harassment training for Lobbyists who work at Capitol Hill.  Our staff have recommended a bill to help reduce liability for the State in the rare event that state employees are harassed by lobbyists.  However, the language we currently have in the bill appears to extend into activity off the Hill as well.  So, we are working to revamp the bill to reduce the scope and provide common sense training while also reducing liability for the State.  I am meeting with stakeholders soon to negotiate the language of our substitute.  

HB126 - Inmate Housing Amendments - This bill is a top priority for me.  The bill would realign Utah's halfway house distribution so that facilities would be based in communities across the Wasatch Front and Southern Utah.  Presently, Utah only has facilities in Salt Lake County and Ogden.  Inmates from around the state are being paroled to these large facilities and are far from family and support that can help them re-integrate into society.  So far I have 22 co-sponsors to the bill with the entire House Law Enforcement Standing Committee being co-sponsors as well.  The Department of Corrections opposes the bill.  Meanwhile, local law enforcement from counties across the Wasatch Front support it.  I am optimistic we will get the bill funded and passed.  It will cost approximately $14 Million to construct and staff the new centers.

HB193 - National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - This bill is also a top priority for me.  What more can I say about this bill?  Please read more about it HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.  There is a 95% chance that what you have heard about this bill on the radio or via email blast is incorrect.  

More drafts are on their way...

Scenes From The First Week

Ogden's Tourism troopers raided Capitol Hill in a promotional blitz.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns took us by bus to have lunch with city folk from our districts.  Here I am with Rep Mike Kennedy, Rep Scott Sandall, and Senator Dan Hemmert.  

Kim came down to the Capitol so we could enjoy dinner together and attend the State of the State address by Governor Herbert.  The only thing missing was popcorn. 

Early bird gets the worm...or awesome photo of the Capitol.

Meeting with other Northern Utah politicos to discuss issues affecting our region of the state.

Former colleague Dean Sanpei visited us.  He resigned in December after taking a job in Colorado.  We are actively searching for a top quality Colorado Rep to poach in retaliation.  

Quote of the Week

"We need to turn this ship around before we go over the cliff!"

- Utah House Rep (name withheld)

This is all for now.  Much more to come in Week 2!