No such thing as a safe tan? Utah Leads the Way

Senator Pat JonesHealth concerns related to the use of tanning beds is once again in the forefront.   Numerous studies indicate that using tanning beds by youth increases their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.  Melanoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer.  Approximately 69,000 cases were diagnosed last year alone.  Beyond melanoma, ultraviolet ray exposure is also linked to basal and squamous cell carcinomas which, according to the American Cancer Society, result in 2,000 deaths a year.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is considering stricter regulations for the use of tanning beds.  The FDA may require more precise warnings about the dangers.  As reported recently by the Deseret News editorial board, “the growing scientific consensus is there’s no such thing as a safe tan.”  The FDA will conduct a public hearing this coming March.

Cognizant of these risks, in 2007, Senator Patricia Jones sponsored and passed SB 52, Health Regulations for Public Indoor Tanning Beds.  Utah law now requires IN PERSON parental consent once a year for minors to use commercial tanning beds.  Parents are required to read warnings about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays from tanning beds and sign for the number of tanning sessions their children can receive.

The health risks and associated costs down the road are avoidable.  Hopefully, the protection provided by Utah law and the prospective FDA regulations will affect the choices of our youth.  They may wisely opt for shade during the day and a spray-on tan for the prom.

A Victory for Our Kids’ Health

by Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Caucus Manager

Senator Pat JonesUtah’s kids scored a big victory this past legislative session with the passage of SB52, Health Regulations for Public Indoor Tanning Beds (P. Jones).

The new law requires IN PERSON parental consent once a year for minors in order to use commercial tanning beds. At that time, the parents will be required to read warnings about the harmful effects of UV rays from tanning beds and to sign for the maximum number of tanning sessions their child can receive that year.

The new law also provides uniformity throughout the state, resulting in more fairness for businesses. Currently, some counties have lenient standards while others are more restrictive.

SB52 gives parents more control and knowledge about how often and where their kids tan. After reading the warnings, some parents may choose not to allow their minors to tan; others will at least be better informed of the dangers.

Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is rising rapidly. Utah is among the top 5 states per capita in deaths due to melanoma. In 1940, the risk of melanoma was 1 in 1,500. By 2010, the risk is expected to be 1 in 50.

Ultraviolet rays generated from tanning beds are 2 to 3 times more intense than laying out in the sun. UV rays in tanning beds penetrate the skin deeper, affecting the skin’s collagen, elastic fibers, and blood vessels, causing premature aging of the skin.

How did your senator and representative vote? Click here for the yeas and nays.

Sorry, Henry, the time ran out….

by Senator Gene Davis
Senate Minority Whip

GeneSenate Bill 190, Animal Cruelty Offenses (dubbed Henry’s Bill in honor of Henry, the dog placed in a hot oven by its owner’s estranged spouse), passed in the Senate and the House by decisive margins. However, in the House, the bill was amended and passed at a late hour on the last day of the Legislative session, too late for the bill to be returned to the Senate so senators could concur with the bill as amended.

Again next year, I plan to sponsor Henry’s Bill, and I’ll work very hard for its passage. Public outcry continues. Have you been reading the newspaper? Numerous letters from readers have been published expressing disappointment about Henry’s Bill. Email is still voluminous.

Next year, Henry, let’s do it.

A Permanent Home for Sports

DmitrichSenator Mike Dmitrich’s Senate Bill 167 (2nd substitute) passed the Legislature and is awaiting the signature of the governor. The legislation creates the Utah Sports Authority (USA), a seven-member board appointed to oversee promotion, development, and marketing of sports events and sports tourism in Utah. Three members of the board will be appointed by the governor, two by the Senate president (no legislators), and two by the Speaker of the House (no legislators). The Pete Suazo Utah Athletic Commission, presently under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce, will move under the USA umbrella.

The Utah Sports Authority will attract and oversee all types of sporting events, including cycling, wrestling, volleyball, fencing, cross country skiing, golf, tennis, gymnastics, and that’s just the beginning of the list.

SPORTS:  They’re great for participants, spectators, and Utah’s economy.

V~OUCH~ERS–Ouch!!

Utah now has one of the broadest school voucher programs in the country, allowing up to $3,000 of General Fund monies to be transferred to private schools for students who elect to leave their public schools and attend private schools.

The legislation passed in the House of Representatives by only ONE vote (38-37). The Senate vote was 19-10. For the record, EVERY Senate Democrat voted against the bill. To reiterate, the Senate Democratic Caucus opposes school vouchers. We believe their existence will undermine the public school system, particularly in our state where per-pupil spending is the lowest in the nation. We have grave concerns about the forthcoming impact of this new law. “I am not sure our state can afford three education systems,” said Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, referring to public schools, charter schools, and now private schools.

Public opinion polls in the state indicate opposition to vouchers. The will of the people is reflected in our NO votes.

GeneClick here for Senator Davis’ poignant speech 2/9/07 on the Senate floor during the HB148 debate.

Click here for the Senate Vote.

Henry’s Bill

by Senator Gene Davis
Senate Minority Whip

Each session I receive hundreds of email from constituents requesting my support on issues of concern to them. If these email are any indication of the importance of a bill, then SB 190 must be passed.

For the past two years, there have been strong efforts to pass an animal cruelty bill, but those efforts met with little success. Each year the bill has failed, the intensity and pressure to pass the bill has increased. In 2006 that pressure increased after the misdemeanor conviction of Mark Vincent. Henry, a dog abused by Vincent, has become the poster animal of the campaign supporting the animal cruelty bill. In 2007 support for an animal cruelty bill is stronger than ever. As research linking animal cruelty and domestic violence becomes more conclusive, the need for this bill grows.

This year the bill was started in the Senate to address the concerns that hindered the bill in years past. I have been working with individuals in the agricultural sector and others to resolve concerns and refine the bill. With the help of many dedicated people, and despite some setbacks, I feel confident Utah will join 41 states that have already taken steps to make animal cruelty a felony offense.

SB190 passed in the Senate last Friday with the support of the majority of rural legislators voting “aye.” It will now be considered in the House of Representatives.