Habitat for Humanity’s Check-off Box

If passed, Senator Karen Mayne’s Senate Bill 132 will create a tax check-off box that would help Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes contaminated with meth.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization designed to provide affordable housing for economically disadvantaged families.  S.B. 132 would provide Habitat for Humanity with another means of achieving this goal in Utah.  As Habitat for Humanity Salt Lake Valley Executive Director Stephen Tagliaferri explained in last Thursday’s Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee hearing, “Seventy-four percent of the families who come through our program are single mothers with children. Eight percent are families with at least one disabled person in the family, and one percent are widowed.”

S.B. 132 not only helps these economically disadvantaged individuals in finding homes, it also helps communities to rebuild contaminated meth homes. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that each pound of manufactured methamphetamine produces 5 to 6 pounds of toxic waste.  Sen. Mayne explained, “We feel that once people understand what we are doing, we are helping those communities with meth homes.  We are giving people that need housing a chance to have a home, and we are cleaning up the meth home from beginning to end.”

Rebuilding a Contaminated Meth Home
Habitat for Humanity volunteers rebuild a contaminated meth home.

Unlike most check-off bills, S.B. 132 aims to raise an astounding $30,000 in its first year.  As Sen. John Valentine stated in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee hearing, “I wish that others who came before us for check-offs would accept that same challenge which is that, ‘listen, we believe in this enough that we can, in the first year, make the $30,000 threshold.’  So I very strongly support the substitute bill.”

Although it will be a great challenge to raise $30,000 this year, Habitat for Humanity is up for the test.  Ed Blake of Habitat for Humanity told the Senators, “I would encourage you to approve our ability to go out there, find thirty thousand people or more to back this, and hopefully be on that check-off box for years to come.”

S.B. 132 passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee with a favorable recommendation.  Also, KCPW and ABC 4’s Chris Vanocur both featured stories on S.B. 132, which now goes to the full Senate for consideration.  If S.B. 132 advances to the House, Rep. Jen Seelig will be the floor sponsor.

Senator Mayne and Others
From left to right: Ed Blake, Sen. Karen Mayne,
Stephen Tagliaferri, and ABC 4’s Chris Vanocur

Wow, was he surprised!!!

Today the Senate passed SB66, Highway Designation Amendments, modifying the Transportation Code by designating a portion of Highway 6 from Interstate 15 to Interstate 70 the Mike Dmitrich Highway.  The designation will appear on future state highway maps.  The bill is sponsored by Senator Hinkins in the Senate and by Representative Morley in the House.  The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and now heads to the House.

Senator Mike Dmitrich retired from legislative service last year after serving 40 years as a Utah legislator.  He served 24 years in the House of Representatives and 16 years in the Senate.  He also served as Minority Leader for many years in both the House and the Senate.  In 2008, he decided it was time to move on.

The bill was a well-kept secret on Capitol Hill, and the highway designation came as a complete surprise to Mike!  He didn’t have a clue!

Congratulations, Mike.  And thanks to everyone for choosing this fitting tribute to a man who devoted 40 years of his life to representing the citizens of Utah.  This honor is well deserved.

Senator Bramble and Mike Dmitrich
Senator Bramble and former Senator Dmitrich looking over SB66


Senators Bramble and Davis and Mike Dmitrich
Senator Bramble, former Senator Dmitrich, and Senator Davis


Mike Dmitrich and Senator Dayton
Senator Dayton congratulating former Senator Dmitrich


 Mike Dmitrich speaking to the Senate
Former Senator Dmitrich thanking the Senators for this unexpected Highway Honor

Senator Jones and former Senator Mike Dmitrich
Current Minority Leader Jones and former Minority Leader Dmitrich



Is Nuclear Energy Renewable????

Senator Pat Jonesby Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

Nuclear ReactorThis question was posed this week on the Senate floor by Senator Lyle Hillyard to Senator Chris Buttars, who tried to amend SJR1 (Senator Patricia Jones) to include nuclear as a renewable source of energy.  SJR1 encourages cities and towns to work with the State Energy Program to develop model ordinances for cities and towns that choose to develop wind, geothermal or solar energy projects.  This non-binding resolution is intended to expedite the process of renewable energy project development and give municipalities guidance as needed.

Senator Buttars tried “the nuclear option” in his amendment, not realizing that nuclear energy is not considered by the U.S. Department of Energy to be a renewable energy source.  Thankfully, nearly all of the senators understood that fact, and the amendment failed (11 For and 14 Against).  SJR1 passed with 27 yeas, 1 nay, and 1 absent.

Click here to listen to floor debate on Senator Buttars’ amendment and the final vote. Select Day 9.

Young Democrats on Capitol Hill

by Macey Matthews
Communications Graduate
Westminster College

Session Employee

Young people had a big impact on the November election, and now they are preparing to do the same with this year’s legislative session.  On Wednesday, members of the Young Democrats of Utah came to the Capitol to meet with Democratic lawmakers.  They came with six bills that they plan on targeting, three they support and three they oppose.  Ethics, abortion, voting reforms, gay rights, and gangs are the issues the group will be focusing on. Group leaders will be encouraging members to write letters to committee chairs, lawmakers, and local publications. They also plan on conducting meetings with senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle.

Senator Ross Romero spoke to the group and thanked them for their involvement and leadership.  He also encouraged them to get their friends involved.

You can become part of the legislative process, too.  To find your local legislators and their contact information, just enter your address in the box on this website.  Then pick up the phone or a pen and lobby away!

Legislative Update from Sen. Robles

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
District One

As you all may know, last Friday the 30th, we passed the FY2009 budget.  It was a long and strenuous process, but I believe it was a good compromise between the Democrats and the Republicans.  The Democrats worked hard to get more funding for public education, health and human services, and the criminal justice system.  Now, the real battle begins for the budget on FY2010.

In other news, a House bill that I plan on co-sponsoring moved out of the House Business and Labor Committee this morning.  House Bill 265– Postmortem Procedures Amendments, sponsored by Representative Daw (R-Orem), is a bill that would give more rights to families to take care of their loved ones after they have passed on.  It’s a bill that will ensure that all public standards are respected.  I’m excited to co-sponsor the bill and hopeful it will pass on the Senate floor.

Sen. Robles’ Appropriations Subcommittee Report

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
Senate District One

Sitting in the Transportation, Environmental Quality, and National Guard Appropriations Subcommittee, I was disheartened by the action of the members to renew their efforts to cut the budget by an unrealistic 15%.  While I acknowledge their efforts to prioritize the specifics of the cuts, I feel the passing of a budget that includes a cut to the National Guard Tuition Assistance and Veterans Affairs Outreach should not be included. This is why I voted no.

The committee passed the 7.5% budget cut for FY2009 and the 15% cut for FY2010.  This will now go to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Friday, January 23, where my voice will be against the proposed 15% and for more reasonable solutions for Utah.