Bill could mean donations to elementary schools

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schenker

Utahns might soon be able to give money to elementary schools when they file their income tax returns, if a bill that gained initial Senate approval Tuesday becomes law.

SB59 would allow Utahns the option, when filing their income tax returns, of designating elementary schools to receive contributions in the amounts of their choosing. The school principal would then, in consultation with the school community council or charter school board, decide how to spend the money.

Bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said the change would allow people to put more money in their local schools, or any elementary school.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Tanning Bed Regulation Advances Through the Senate

A bill that would require minors using tanning beds to be accompanied by a parent moved a step closer to passage Tuesday despite threats from a Republican to change the measure when it has its final floor vote Wednesday.

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, proposed SB41 as a way to more tightly regulate tanning salons by requiring parents with minors to read about the health risks that come with a tanning session at a salon.

“If we do it for tattoos and we do it for body piercings, why shouldn’t we be doing this for tanning, which is much more dangerous than possible infections from body piercings and tattoos,” Jones said.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

House and Senate Democrats Discuss Public Lands Issues

Salt Lake City – House and Senate Democrats held a press conference today, responding to proposals by House Republicans on Utah public lands. Watch the video below!

Representative Joel Briscoe (D-25) pointed out today that the attempt by Republican Representatives Sumsion, Ivory, Herrod, Cox and Barrus to force the United States to relinquish title to lands they own within the state of Utah is “extremely concerning.”

“It has been pointed out by the legislature’s own attorneys and by constitutional scholars that this drive by Republicans to seize control of land owned by the United States may likely be unconstitutional, and the inevitable lawsuit is likely to fail, leaving Utah citizens out Millions in tax dollars which could have gone to vital help for citizens.” said Representative Joel Briscoe.

He continued, “Currently, Utah receives $1.7 Billion dollars a year in tourist revenue, ” but it is unlikely that much of that revenue would continue if Utah is allowed to drill on these lands, or sell them off to private corporations. “As Democrats, we place high value on the ability of our citizens to use their ATV’s, to go off-roading, horseback riding, hiking and camping. And we’re concerned about what would happen if the Utah Legislature had the power to sell off our open spaces to corporations who would fence them in.”

Senator Ben McAdams called the Republican proposals a “Bait and Switch.” Arguing that while Republicans are claiming that selling off public lands would fund education, it is highly unlikely that their bills would result in anything other than a decade-long lawsuit which would cost Utah millions in taxpayer money. “They said this morning [in the House Natural Resources Committee where the bills were heard] that these proposals could eliminate the Income Tax. Well if that’s their intention, then they aren’t even planning on putting any money into education anyway.”

Representative Brian King expressed concern that the Legislature is “wasting out time on this.” and that legislators are only “chasing mirages.” He says “the lawsuits [arising as a result of the legislation if the bills pass] would be expensive, not just time consuming, expensive. Chasing this dream of access to [United States-owned] lands instead of working out reasonable solutions for our neighborhood schools isn’t a good use of our time.”

House and Senate Democrats have already made sensible proposals this year in the Best Schools Initiative which would greatly increase the amount of funding for our neighborhood schools, without even raising taxes.

Week 4: Capitol Week In Review

2012 General Legislative Session Week 4:  February 13 – February 17, 2012
Dear friends and neighbors,


We are more than halfway through the session, but we still have lots of work to do. We’ve made a lot of progress this week, and appreciate your continued support.



  • Sen. Luz Robles’ bills which would allow active duty, deployed members of the military to claim an exemption on their property taxes passed through the Senate and are on their way to the House.  The bill requires an amendment to the Utah Constitution.  If it passes the House, it will then go to the voters of Utah to determine if we should make this important change in our constitution to support Utah’s military members.
  • A bill to expand unemployment benefits to cover military spouses under certain circumstances passed through both chambers.  Sen. Karen Mayne was the Senate sponsor, Rep. Lynn Hemingway was the sponsor in the House.


Senate Bills On the Move:

S.J.R. 1 – Recognizes the impact of Alzheimer’s on Utah citizens, encourages support for and implementation of the 5 year state plan to address the disease (Morgan).


Status: Passed through the Senate, passed the House committee and now awaits a second reading there.


S.C.R. 2 – Urges each adult citizen of the state of Utah to strongly consider preparing an advance health care directive that expresses their preferences (Jones).


Status: Passed through both chambers.  Awaiting Governor’s signature.


S.C.R. 4 – Urges women age 40 and older to receive breast cancer screening (that includes a mammogram) once a year (Mayne).


Status: Passed through both chambers. Awaiting Governor’s signature.


S.C.R. 5 – recognizes and supports parental engagement in the education of their children and efforts to increase parent engagement (Jones).


Status: Passed through the Senate and awaits a House committee hearing.


S.C.R. 6 – Resolution honoring the years of service of the Utah Salvation Army (Romero).


Status: Passed through the Senate and out of a House committee and awaits a second reading on the House floor.


S.J.R. 8 – Proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to allow for a property tax exemption for certain military personnel and spouse (Robles).


Status: Passed through the Senate and awaits a House committee hearing.




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: Awaits a second reading vote in the Senate.


S.B. 44 – Increases tuition benefits for veterans (Robles).


Status: Substituted in committee and placed on Senate second reading calendar.


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: Bill substituted and awaiting committee hearing.


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


Status: Passed through the Senate and now awaits a hearing in a House committee.


S.B. 54 – Would yield increased education funding by capping the dollar amount of personal income tax exemptions.


Status: Failed in committee.


S.B. 59 – Allows donations to an elementary school of choice through income tax contribution.


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


S.B. 90 – Creates incentive for individuals to report financial fraud (McAdams).

Status: Passed through both chambers.
Awaiting Governor’s signature.


S.B. 91 – Helps victims who lost their savings due to financial fraud to recover against perpetrators. (McAdams).


Status: Passed through both chambers. Awaiting Governor’s signature.


S.B. 116 – Allows active duty military personnel to claim a property tax exemption (Robles).


Status: Passed through the Senate and awaits a hearing at a House committee.


S.B. 119 – Would allow retail licensees to sample wine for the purpose of purchase, under certain circumstances.


Status: Failed to pass out of committee.


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


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


S.B. 139 – Reduces the age from 16 to 14 for children who wish to express their opinion during

a child custody proceeding regarding with which parent they would prefer to reside (Robles).


Status: Failed to pass the second reading in the Senate.


S.B. 146 – Removes language from the divorce statute favoring one spouse over the other and provides for equal footing in property matters (Robles).


Status: Sent back to the Rules Committee after a floor debate.


H.B. 263 – Expands unemployment benefits eligibility for military spouses under certain circumstances.


Status: Passed through both chambers.
Awaiting Governor’s signature.


Senate Democrats Discuss Important Issues With Governor Gary Herbert

Each week, Senate Democrats have the opportunity to meet with with Governor Herbert regarding legislation and policy that is being discussed during the legislative session.

In our meeting with Gov. Herbert this week, we voiced concerns overSJR22, a bill that would limit state spending to that of the previous year, plus any adjustments for inflation or population growth. This bill would essentially tie our hands as legislators – preventing us from being able to make up for funding lost during the recession. The governor said at times we need to increase funding faster than growth, and we completely agree. We are pleased Gov. Herbert is joining us in opposition to this bill.


There is another bill that concerns us: H.B. 245. This bill would essentially put the hookah industry out of business by defining hookah smoke in clubs as a violation of the clean indoor air act. We have heard strong opposition from industry leaders. The governor seemed opposed to the bill, and we are happy to have his support.


Finally, we expressed support for the funding of USTAR, which has seen its funding cut by 28% since 2007. This science and technology research center is a huge economic driver for Utah, and we told the governor we wish to support it as much as we can.

Senate Democrats In the News


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Utah Democrats: Standing Up for Our Military Personnel

The Utah Senate passed a measure today that will allow active duty personnel to receive property tax exemptions under certain conditions.  SJR8, sponsored by Senator Luz Robles, D–Salt Lake City, will amend the Utah Constitution to allow for a property tax exemption for certain military personnel .

The Senate also passed a companion bill, SB 116, which will define the property tax exemption for military members to include certain members of the armed forces who performed military service in a combat zone in the prior year.

The cost to Utah taxpayers amounts to approximately $1 per homeowner.

Because the proposals require a constitutional amendment, the bill must pass with 2/3 of the legislature in support. Senators voted in favor, on a 24-4 vote.  It now goes to the House for further consideration.  Upon final passage in the House, the question will appear on the November ballot.

Click here to watch the floor debate.

Utah Lawmakers Honor Girl Scouts

From the Salt Lake Tribune…
by Lee Davidson

Both houses of the Legislature unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday honoring the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts on March 12 — and received some free Girl Scout cookies in thanks.

“If those cookies are worth more than $10, you are going to have to report who you gave them to,” quipped Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who was presiding in the Senate. Ethics rules do not allow lawmakers to accept gifts worth more than $10.

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, chose not to preside as the Girls Scouts arrived, telling senators, “I learned last year that you don’t always get the treats if you sit up front.”

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said being a Girl Scout helped her when she decided to seek office.

“When I ran my first campaign 12 years ago, I had to knock on doors and ask for votes. I knew I could do it because I remembered my Girl Scout years selling cookies.”

She told the Girl Scouts in the chamber, “I hope you are developing skills to run for office some day.

“It’s pretty clear how amazing this organization is” in helping teach girls skills and ethics, said Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, Senate sponsor of the resolution. Her daughter was among the Girl Scouts handing out cookies to legislators.

Original Story appears here.



Senate Approves Miltary Property Tax Exemption

by Whittney Evans

(KCPW News) The Utah Senate approved a bill this morning to exempt military personnel from paying state property taxes. Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Democratic Senator Luz Robles, would apply to a service member who has been called to active duty. Robles said men and women serving probably weren’t expecting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to go on so long, and they’re suffering.

“There’s more suicide for men and women in our military services than they’ve ever seen before.” Robles says. “There’s more issues related to the economy and them trying to get back to our communities. And truly this is just a small way of saying thank you as a state.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.



Senator McAdams working for renter’s rights in Utah


For more information, contact:

Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
Ph: 435.590.9961

A bill that would add further protection to a renter and provide remedies for a tenant whose rental unit is not fit passed a Senate Business and Labor Committee this afternoon.  SB173, Utah Fit Premises Modifications, would modify the Utah Fit Premises Act, and would also require the owner to provide contact information to the renter including the name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for managing the rental unit.

The bill now goes to the Senate for for debate.


Should kids who are legal immigrants wait for health care?

Holladay • On their 10th attempt, Vitalina and Harold Lazarus finally won the immigration lottery to come to the United States from Ukraine.

They and their three children landed in Salt Lake City in March, and set about building the life they’d dreamed about for a decade.

Harold Lazarus got two jobs as a certified nursing assistant, and his wife took English classes so she can eventually put her economics degree to use.

The family gets by but would be in a world of hurt if the parents or children were to get sick.

“I always worry about breaking leg,” says Vitalina Lazarus, gesturing toward Davian, 3, and Daniel, 5. “They’re boys. They always jump.”

The couple also has Lina, 8, who on Friday was video-messaging with her father, a medical student who has returned to Ukraine for this semester’s classes.

The Lazaruses, say advocates, are just the kind of immigrant family for whom the Utah Legislature should string a safety net.

To read the rest of the story, click here.