Thank You

After a long 45 days, another legislative session comes to a close.  This year’s end is bittersweet for me – as I move on to new adventures, I think back over the past 8 years with gratitude for the many wonderful experiences I have had while serving in the Utah Legislature.

I must first extend a heart felt thank you to my family for their support.  I also must thank the many individuals here at the legislature who spend countless hours researching legislation, writing bills, preparing the budget, and making sure everything goes smoothly.  I am especially grateful to Janeen Halverson, our Minority Executive Assistant, and Emily Hollingshead, our Caucus Communications Director, who go above and beyond  the call of duty to make sure that our caucus is well taken care of.

Every year we are given the opportunity to work with incredibly bright interns who put their heart and soul into the work we do.  I want to especially thank the Senate Democratic Interns:  Nicholas Dunn, Candace Gibson, Samantha West, Marissa Moon, Joey Pitt, Adam Sachs, and Hannah Hansen.  Their energy and commitment is contagious.

I am proud to have served with legendary Democrats like Karen Morgan, Pat Jones, Ben McAdams, Karen Mayne, Luz Robles, and Gene Davis.  Your commitment to your constituents, Democratic values, and all Utah families inspires me and makes me proud to be a Utah Democrat.

I’d also like to thank our Republican colleagues for the collaborative way that the Utah Senate works.  I respect and appreciate President Waddoups and his leadership team for always making sure that the process was fair and inclusive.  I’d also like to wish President Waddoups well as he moves into retirement.  He has served Utah for more than 25 years.   I am honored to have known him, and thank him for his dedication, commitment, and service to the people in his district.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you – the many people who become engaged in government.   Your desire to make Utah an even better place is why we serve.   Thank you for your emails, letters, and visits to the Capitol.  Your civic involvement is by far the most important part of the process.

And so, the session comes to a close.  As I complete my final term in the Utah Senate, I am proud to have been a part of this work.   I hope we will all continue to do our part.  By participating in caucus meetings, volunteering for a political campaign, contacting your legislators or by joining us for interim days on the hill, your voice will be heard.  Though I am leaving the Utah Senate, my years of service are not over.  No matter what happens in the months ahead, I will always find a way to be involved in the work.

Thank you, again, for your support.

Yours in service,

 

Senator Ross Romero
Democratic Leader in the Utah Senate

Both Houses of the Utah Legislature Honor the Great Todd Taylor

Utah House of Representatives observe a moment of silence in honor of the late Todd Taylor. Pic via Brian Grimmett (kuer)

Salt Lake City – Both houses of the Utah State Legislature honored the passing of Democratic Party sage Todd Taylor this afternoon. Watch the video below.

House Democratic Leader, Representative David Litvack took a moment to honor the memory of  Utah’s greatest Democrat, Todd Taylor.  Representative Litvack was immediately followed by Representative Patrice Arent (D), who asked the House for a moment of silence to honor Todd’s memory. The entire House body, as well as those in the gallery, rose in silence as a tribute to the man who gave us all so much.

The Utah State Senate also showed their respects, resolving into a Committee Of The Whole so that Utah State Democratic Party Chairman, Jim Dabakis, could speak of our recently departed friend.   Jim invited current and former party officers to join him on the floor while Senators and observers stood together for a moment of silence.

Watch the video of Jim’s speech below.

Senator Karen Morgan announces retirement from public service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, UtahSenate Democrats
Ph: 435-590-9961
emily.hollingshead@gmail.com

Senator Karen Morgan Will Not Seek Re-Election in November

Senator Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, announced this morning that she will not seek re-election to Utah Senate District 8 this November.

It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the citizens of my community in the Utah Legislature for the past 14 years.  I will deeply miss working with them, my colleagues, staff, advocates and many friends on Capitol Hill. I would like to thank everyone, especially my dear husband and family, for their unwavering support during my years of service,” said Senator Morgan in a statement.

Karen Morgan was first elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1998 where she served for ten years before being elected to the Utah Senate in 2008.

Reading Achievement, class size reduction and providing a top quality education for Utah’s students have been her highest priorities.   Through her legislation, she founded the University of  Utah Reading Clinic.  Senator Morgan has also worked to strengthen Utah’s economy through the creation of business incentives.  She has been a strong advocate for tourism and Utah’s ski and film industries. She has supported grants to enhance Utah’s Scenic Byways.  Senator Morgan has also passed significant pieces of legislation to improve the health care of Utah’s residents, including the creation of a task force to address the growing problem of Alzheimer’s disease and funding for cervical cancer screening.

In 2011, Senator Morgan created the “Utah Best Schools Coalition,” a group of legislators charged with creating a plan to put Utah schools on the path to becoming number one in the nation.  Through the coalition, several pieces of education reform legislation were sponsored and passed in the 2012 legislative session.

Senator Morgan will serve out the remainder of her term, which ends on December 31st of this year.

For more information or media requests, please contact Utah Senate Democrats Communications Director Emily Hollingshead @ 435-590-9961.

 

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Capitol Week In Review: Week 6

2012 General Legislative Session Week 6:  February 27 – March 3, 2012
Dear friends and neighbors, 

There is only one more week left in the session! We are honored to serve you and all the citizens of Utah. Negotiations on the budget is consuming much of the time and energy up on Capitol Hill, but we are still working hard on a variety of bills to help improve the state.

 

Highlights

  • Sen. Jones’ bill that would require a parent to be present when a teenager uses a tanning bed passed through both chambers and is on its way to the governor.
  • Sen. Mayne’s bill to require mediation between consumers and producers of sport utility trailers regarding defects passed out of both chambers.

 

Senate Bills On the Move:

S.J.R. 24 – Creates a joint rule requiring new legislators to go through training on Utah demographics and cultural diversity and sensitivity (Romero). 

Status: Voted down in committee.

 

S.B. 35 – Requires mediation between consumers and producers of sport utility trailers if there is an issue with defects (Mayne).

 

Status: Passed through both chambers.

 

S.B. 41 – Prohibits teenagers from using a tanning facility unless accompanied by the parent or guardian, in addition to other restrictions on tanning beds (Jones).

 

Status: Passed through both chambers.

 

S.B. 53 – Renumbers and modifies the Recreational Therapy Practice Act in relation to

licensure, scope of practice, and other matters (Davis).

Status: Passed through both chambers.

 

 

S.B. 47– Creates the Alzheimer’s State Plan Advisory Council within the Division of Aging and Adult Services and describes the duties of the division (Morgan).Status: Returned to the Senate Rules committee.

 

S.B. 48 – Expands the mission statement of public education, emphasizing citizen involvement in government and strong moral values (Jones).

 

Status: Passed through both chambers.

 

S.B. 81 – Provides funding to hire paraeducators at certain schools (Mayne.)

 

Status: Passed out of the Senate and has been introduced in the House.

 

S.B. 119 – Allows wine purchases to sample wine under strictly controlled circumstances (Romero).

 

Status: Passed out of the Senate committee and now awaits a second reading

S.B. 127 – Requires more training for those who prescribe pain medications. (Jones). 

Status: Returned to the House Rules committee.

 

S.B. 144 – Regulates non-attorney “immigration consultants.” (Robles)

 

Status: Passed through the Senate and is on to the House.

 

S.B. 173 – Requires owner of a property to disclose certain information to renter (McAdams).

 

Status: Passed out of House committee and awaits a second reading in the House.

 

S.B. 211 – Creates a state earned income tax credit and provides for transfers from the General Fund into the Education Fund in the amount of tax credit claimed (McAdams).

Status: Passed the second reading in the Senate and awaits final passage

 

 

Senate Democrats Discuss Important Issues With Governor Gary HerbertEach week, Democratic leaders meet with Gov. Gary Herbert to discuss policy and legislationIn our meeting with Gov. Herbert this week, we expressed opposition to efforts to take land back from the Federal government. This legal battle would be incredibly costly and Utah would likely lose. Proponents argue that more land under Utah control would yield greater tax revenue. We prefer to use that money to aid our schools right now, rather than rely on a lengthy legal battle with uncertain results.

 

We also showed concern over the cuts in the Department of Air Quality budget cuts. Maintaining our environment is of great importance, and we requested that the funding be put back in. Gov. Herbert said that education is the funding priority, and any extra funds should be directed to our schools.

 

H.B. 363 is another problematic bill we discussed with the governor. We are pleased that he values parental choice in areas of sex education. This is why we oppose a state mandate that would strip schools and parents of their ability to decide what is best for their students and children.

Senate Democrats In the News

 

Get Involved
Track Legislation with the award-winning website: http://le.utah.gov/
http://www.utahsenatedemocrats.org 
Thank you for your political involvement, and let us know how we can more effectively serve you. 

Sincerely,

 

Utah Senate Democrats

Democrats stand together and vote NO on Controversial Health Care Compact

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lee Davidson

The Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to a controversial health care compact bill that both sides say is strong medicine — but disagree whether it will cure or kill Medicare and Medicaid in Utah.

Senators voted 20-7 to advance SB208 by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to a final Senate vote.

The bill would have Utah join an interstate compact seeking to opt out of federal health care reform to let states control programs such as Medicaid and Medicare with federal block grants.

“I think we can manage our affairs better than the federal government,” Adams said. “I think there’s lots of money to be gained” through local innovation that he says is hindered by federal red tape.

But Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, said many questions are unanswered about whether block grants would keep pace with inflation, and what administrative costs would be locally. The Utah Health Policy Project estimated in committee that Utah could lose $132 million in Medicaid by 2014 if the bill passes.

Click here to read the whole story

Click here to see how your Senator voted.

House panel kills bill that would cap classroom sizes

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Robert Gehrke

A bid to shrink class sizes for kindergarten through third grade was derailed Wednesday after a House committee killed the measure, arguing it would hurt school districts.

“It’s a good program, but it’s an unfunded mandate,” said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, “and in the future they’ll be back here asking us for money or there will be a multitude of problems.”

SB31 sought to cap class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, phasing the caps in over four years. Kindergarten classes would be capped at 20 students, first and second grade at 22 each, and third grade at 24.

Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, said the current class size in the early grades is 27 per classroom, although many have more than 30 pupils.

“It’s very difficult for a child to receive the individual attention they need in such circumstances,” she said. “With that many children, it often becomes a situation of crowd control versus learning.”

For the whole story, click here.

House passes tanning bill – now to the governor for signature

The Utah House passes a bill on Wednesday that requires parent consent for minors who want to use tanning beds.

Parents will be asked to sign a consent form each time a minor uses a tanning device.  Facilities that provide tanning services also need to post warning signs on the risks of tanning.

To get the rest of the story, click here.

 

Know Your Breast Density!

Know your breast density
by Senator Karen Mayne, D–West Valley City 

Every 3 minutes a woman in theUnited Statesis diagnosed with breast cancer.  Every 13 minutes a woman in the U.S.dies from  breast cancer.  38% of breast cancers in the U.S. are diagnosed at a later stage where the cancer has spread beyond the breast.  Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer in the early stages.

Dense breast tissue is comprised of less fat and more connective tissue which appears white on a mammogram.  Cancer also appears white on a mammogram, thus tumors are often hidden behind the dense tissue.  As a woman ages, her breasts usually become more fatty.  Forty percent of women have dense breast tissue, and women with extremely dense breast tissue have a 6 times greater risk of developing cancer than women with fatty breasts.  The good news is that a radiologist can determine from a mammogram if a woman has dense breast tissue.  The disturbing news is that as few as one in 10 women learn about breast density from their physician.

This year, I was pleased to sponsor and pass Senate Bill 31, which recommends that women who have received a mammogram be notified as to whether or not they have dense breast tissue.   The new policy encourages radiologists and physicians to give women more information about our health.  Knowledge is power, and women are smart.  Given the knowledge about our bodies, we will know what to do to take care of ourselves, by seeking out medical professionals who can properly advise us on the next steps to take regarding own health concerns.  However, it is critical that we receive this important information.

The good news is that there are additional cancer screening tools available for women who have been diagnosed with dense breast tissue.  Screening by ultrasound, for example increases detection of cancers at earlier stages in women with this condition.

Breast cancer is a scary diagnosis, but early detection almost always saves lives.  I encourageUtah’s medical community to take the recommendations of Senate Bill 31 and give women all of the necessary information regarding their health.  I also encourage all ofUtah’s women to become more aware of their breast density, to ask questions of your health care provider, and to receive regular mammograms.  If you’re diagnosed with breast density, visit your doctor to discuss more screening options.  It’s a matter of life!

 

 

 

Bill establishing diversity training for new lawmakers goes to committee

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
435-590-9961
emily.holllingshead@gmail.com

Bill establishing diversity training for new lawmakers goes to committee

Salt Lake City – A bill that establishes diversity and sensitivity training for newly elected lawmakers will be heard in a committee meeting today.

S.J.R. 24 Joint Rules on Legislator Orientation would require that training for new senators and representatives include instruction on demographics of Utah. The training would include statistical data on age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic standing. It would also discuss respect and sensitivity for diverse groups in our state.

“As Utah continues to grow and become more diverse it is important to know who we represent as a state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero (D-Salt Lake City). “Understanding our community’s potential, found in its diversity, will help us grow and prosper.”

The Senate Democratic Leader added that “it is important as we discuss our state’s diversity that we are inclusive and tolerant in our words and actions as representatives of our State.”

The bill will be heard by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee.

Who:  Senator Ross Romero, presenting SJR 24
What:  Senate Government Operations & Political Subdivisions Committee
When: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Where: 415 State Capitol, Utah State Capitol Complex

For more information or interview requests, please contact Emily Hollingshead at 435-590-9961.

 

Senator Karen Morgan Responds to State School Board’s Withdrawal of Support for SB 31 – K-3 Class Size Caps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
435-590-9961
emily.holllingshead@gmail.com

Senator Morgan Issues Response to State School Board’s Withdrawal of Support for SB 31 – K-3 Class Size Caps
SALT LAKE CITY –  Senator Karen Morgan issued the following response today in upon hearing of the State School Board’s withdrawal of support for SB31 K-3 Class Size Caps:
“It is extremely unfortunate and disappointing that the State School Board and State Office of Education have backed off of their support for SB 31, a bill I am sponsoring this legislative session to cap class sizes in Kindergarten through Grade Three.  They state that the bill is “problematic.”  They claim it would be impossible to cap class sizes without additional funding from the legislature.  Their lack of understanding of the state public education budget is what’s problematic.
Additional funding in the amount of $3.2 million dollars will be provided for this bill through the WPU increase to the “above the line” budget items which the Education Appropriations Committee has prioritized.  The class size reduction line item is “above the line”; therefore, it will be increased from the current appropriation of $103,538,700 to $106,200,000.
Utah has the largest class sizes in the nation.  The average pupil-teacher ratio in K-3 classes is 1 to 27.  Many K-3 classes have more than 30 students enrolled.  This is unacceptable and must change.  It’s time for the State Board of Education to be accountable for lowering class sizes.  This is in the best interest of the children of Utah.  SB 31 requires schools to enact those caps, or they will not receive class size reduction dollars.  SB 31 insists on accountability for the dollars they receive.  This is the fiscally responsible thing to do.  I urge their reconsideration.”
For more information or interview requests, please contact Emily Hollingshead at 435-590-9961 or emily.hollingshead@gmail.com.
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