Governor signs Senator Morgan’s Resolution on Alzheimers’ Awareness

This past legislative session, Senator Karen Morgan sponsored SCR 1, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness Concurrent Resolution.  In a ceremony earlier this week, Governor Gary Herbert signed the resolution in the company of Senator Morgan, officers of the Alzheimer’s Association, and numerous caregivers.

SCR 1 Signature

Governor Herbert signs SCR1

SCR1Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease that destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life.  Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal.  Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death in America of persons aged 65 and older.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, the deterioration of intellectual faculties such as memory, concentration, and judgment, comprising 70% of all cases. (Click on thumbnails to enlarge.)

Utahns live longer than the rest of the nation, and the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age.  Over 40,000 people in Utah are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

SCR 1This concurrent resolution of the Legislature and the Governor urges Utahns to increase their awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease.  Below are the four areas of emphasis reiterated by the Legislature and Governor Herbert:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein, recognizes the citizens of Utah who are battling the disabling effects of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and their caregivers as courageous Utahns engaged in a major health care battle of the 21st century.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor encourage their families, neighbors, employers, congregations, and the community at large to readily communicate their support, lend a helping hand, and promote open discussion about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor urge Utah’s care provider industry to continue working hand-in-hand with families to support and care for those coping with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor recommend that all Utahns personally adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia by staying mentally fit, socially engaged, physically active, and adopting a brain-healthy diet.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor urge Utah’s brain health research and medical communities to continue their efforts through studies and clinical research to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.


Sign the Fair Boundaries Initiative

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

In conjunction with the United States Census conducted every 10 years, Utah draws new political boundaries to equalize the population size of the Legislature’s Senate and House districts.  In Utah, your elected state senators and representatives draw the new lines for the districts.  Most Utahns understand the inherent conflicts when legislators are drawing their own boundaries.

The Fair Boundaries Initiative petition is circulating throughout our state for the purpose of creating an independent commission to handle redistricting in Utah to allow communities who have common interests to be fairly represented by the Legislature.  If enough signatures are gathered, the proposed changes contained in the Fair Boundaries Initiative can be placed on the ballot next November for a vote of Utah’s citizens.  Here are the highlights of the changes proposed by the initiative:

Establishes an eleven-member independent commission
Allows no more than four members from the same political party, three unaffiliated, to serve on the commission
Sets anti-gerrymandering standards
Keeps more local communities intact
Defines an honorable, open and transparent process
Excludes individuals with obvious conflicts of interest from the commission
Opens the process to citizen applicants

Recently the Utah Legislature passed (with Senate Democrats opposing) and Governor Herbert signed Senate Bill 275.  This new law repeals the requirement that a voter submit a notarized statement to the county clerk to have the voter’s signature removed from a statewide initiative or referendum petition, making it much easier for a citizen to remove his/her name.  It also extends the time for removing a voter’s signature from an initiative.  This new law is viewed by many, including the KSL Editorial Board, as a maneuver to thwart the initiative process.

I urge you to sign the Fair Boundaries Initiative by the April 15 deadline.  For information about how to sign the petition, visit http://www.fairboundaries.org/

Higher Education, a Wise Investment

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

I had the pleasure of serving on the Higher Education Appropriation Committee this year, and in those meetings, I had the opportunity to hear about the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA).  UHEAA  is an agency of the State of Utah which administers Utah’s student financial aid programs.  In 2009, 120,000 students received a total of $496 million in student loans through UHEAA.  Utah borrowers for higher education as reported by UHEAA have the lowest default rate in the nation.  We should all be proud of that.

UHEAA administers the student loan guarantee program and secondary market, state need-based financial aid, the Utah Educational Savings Plan Trust, and the Utah Engineering and Computer Sciences Loan Forgiveness Program.  On the UHEAA website, there is also helpful information on how to prepare and pay for college.  There are also links to other helpful websites.  At http://higheredutah.org/ there is information and news about the latest developments in higher education. At http://utahfutures.org/, you can find more information about planning for college and preparing for a career.  The UHEAA also has information for single moms who want to continue their education http://www.uheaa.org/singlemom/index.html.  I would encourage you to review these websites to help you prepare for your future higher education opportunities.  There is no better investment than an investment in your education.

Recognizing the Work of UNICEF Red

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Minority Caucus Manager

This legislative session, I sponsored SJR7 “Joint Resolution on the United Nations Children Fund” in response to a request from a group of students from the University of Utah.  Unfortunately due to politics, the resolution was not assigned to a committee and was held in the Rules Committee through the entire session.

Because I felt it was important to bring the message from this group and to recognize the work of this group, I decided to present a Senate Citation recognizing UNICEF Red.  UNICEF Red is a University of Utah official campus student group, which was recognized for its partnership with the United Nations Children Fund in its effort to save and improve the lives of children all over the world.  The two University of Utah students I worked with drafting the resolution and citation and who accepted the citation on the Senate floor today are:  Sayra Moran, Chair of Advocacy, and Matt Beckstead, Communications Officer, of the UNICEF Red student group.

UNICEF Red is a student-led organization on the campus of the University of Utah that partners with the U. S. Fund for UNICEF to educate, advocate, and fundraise for UNICEF’s lifesaving work.  UNICEF works in more than 150 countries to save children’s lives through immunizations, nutrition, heath care, emergency humanitarian assistance, and programs that confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The timing is perfect as hundreds and thousands of children are suffering due to the two horrendous earthquakes that we have seen this year in Haiti and Chile.

Sayra Moran and Matt Beckstead
Sayra Moran and Matt Beckstead of UNICEF Red

Nonprofit Day on the Hill

Last Thursday, February 25, members of the Utah nonprofit community came together at the Capitol to promote a greater understanding of the role and impact these organizations have on the quality of life in Utah.  Sponsors of the second annual “Nonprofit Day on the Hill” are Utah Nonprofits Association, Utah Society for Environmental Education, Utah Afterschool Network, and Utah Cultural Alliance.

The mission of the Utah Nonprofits Association is to strengthen the Utah nonprofit community through its focus on mutual support, management development through training, and sector-wide advocacy.

The Utah Society for Environmental Education’s mission is to provide statewide leadership to expand the quality, scope and effectiveness of environmental education.  To achieve this goal, USEE serves as a resource for environmental educators, K-12 teachers, higher education and the Utah community at large.

The Utah Afterschool Network supports state-wide afterschool partnerships that will impact policy development at all levels.  The organization works to secure resources and funding for high-quality afterschool programs.

The mission of The Utah Cultural Alliance is to provide a dynamic cultural environment to serve and strengthen the cultural community through advocacy, member services, and networking.

Thirty-three member organizations spoke to legislators, including Senator McAdams and Senator Romero, about the numerous benefits provided to our communities through the collaborative efforts of nonprofit organizations.

McAdams with Nonprofits
Senator McAdams

 Senator Romero with Nonprofits
Senator Romero

Girl Scout Award for Senator Jones

Today was Girl Scout Cookie Day on the Hill.  Senator Gene Davis introduced the Girl Scouts visiting the Senate Chamber.  The group presented each senator with a box of Girl Scout Cookies.  If senators had a cookie preference, the girls quickly accommodated their requests.

Senator Pat JonesSenator Davis also announced that Senator Pat Jones will be honored by the Girl Scouts next month.  In recognition of Senator Jones’ outstanding service and leadership, she will be honored with the 2010 Girl Scouts of Utah Distinguished Alumnae Award.  The award will be presented to Senator Jones at the Girl Scouts’ International Women’s Day Celebration March 4, 2010, at the Jewish Community Center.

Senator Jones has made incredible contributions to her community through her professional and volunteer endeavors and exhibits the Girl Scout Promise and Law in her daily life.  She is honest and fair, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and makes the world a better place.

Senator Karen Morgan and Senator Karen Mayne are former Girl Scouts, too.  Senator Karen Morgan is a previous recipient of the Girl Scouts of Utah Distinguished Alumnae Award.

Several of our visiting Girl Scouts were from Cottonwood Heights (Senator Morgan’s senate district) and one was from Kearns (Senator Karen Mayne’s senate district).

Congratulations, Senator Jones.

Senators Morgan and Mayne with Girl Scouts
Senators Mayne and Morgan with Girl Scouts

Senator Davis with Girl Scouts
Senator Davis with Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts in Chamber

 

Many Achievements for Cottonwood Heights City

Senator Karen Morganby Senator Karen Morgan
Senate District 8

This morning, the Utah State Senate presented Cottonwood Heights City, which is in my Senate District, with a citation recognizing its many #1 achievements.

In August of last year, the Cottonwood Heights City Emergency Preparedness Team was awarded FEMA’s top award for “Collaborative Preparedness Planning” at the 2009 National Conference on Community Preparedness held in Washington, D.C.  It was selected for its exemplary model of developing and implementing a citywide emergency preparedness plan.  When completed, the system will be prepared to communicate with residents of every street and home in the City.

Cottonwood Heights has also received many other awards in just five years of being established as an official city.

They’ve received Best of State Awards by the Best of State Committee in 2006, 2008, and 2009.  In 2006 they received the Best of State in Community Development.  In 2008 they received the Best in State for the best-elected official, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. And in 2009 they received Best in State for the best-appointed Official, Treasurer Gary Harmer.

In 2007 Money Magazine rated them in the Top 100 cities of America.

In 2007, 2008, and 2009 Cottonwood Heights received the Distinguished Budget Award by the Government Finance Officers Association.

And the Cottonwood Heights Police Department received special recognition for their exceptional work against drunk driving. Before the Cottonwood Heights Police Department was established, only around 20 DUI arrests were made per year. Last year, the police made 256 DUI arrests.

Cottonwood Heights City Citation
Senator Karen Morgan awards Senate Citation to
Cottonwood Heights City Officials

 

 Dignitaries from Cottonwood Heights City
(left to right)
Robby Russo, Chief of Police
Gordon Thomas, Councilman on Emergency Preparedness
Senator Karen Morgan
Kelvyn Cullimore, Mayor
Lianne Stillman, City Manager

Welcome, Big Brothers Big Sisters

In the Gallery

Yesterday on the Senate Floor, Senator Ross Romero recognized members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah in the gallery.  Senator Romero commended them for their significant contribution to mentoring in our communities.  Senator Romero is an active supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah.  The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is “to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with measurable impact.”  Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children ages 6-18.

“Bigs” (the adults) and “Littles” (the kids) meet once a week in schools, libraries, and community centers to talk and participate in fun activities.  Research has shown these positive relationships to be helpful in many ways.  Participating “Littles” are more confident in their schoolwork performance and get along better with their families.  They are also less likely to begin using illegal drugs, less likely to begin using alcohol, and less likely to skip school.

Senator Romero answered questions while the group ate lunch in the Multi-purpose Room of the Capitol. One of the “Littles” asked Senator Romero why he decided to become a state senator.  He responded to the question by saying, “Well, I have always been involved in serving my community, so becoming a state senator seemed like a great opportunity to further serve my community.”

Answering Questions
Answering Questions

 The Group
Lunch Time