Nondiscrimination bill gets a hearing but tabled by Senate committee

From the Deseret News
by Marjorie Cortez

SALT LAKE CITY — A legislative committee tabled a bill Friday that would prohibit discrimination in employment and housing statewide because of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or political views.

Meeting in a standing-room only committee room in the state Capitol, the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee, voted 4-2 to tableSB51.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, said he was “disappointed” in the committee’s action but said progress was made in the respect that this was the first year the bill had received a committee hearing. McAdams had introduced nondiscrimination legislation in four previous legislative sessions.

The hearing gave committee members an opportunity to learn more about discrimination and the law and gave McAdams the chance to better understand their concerns, he said.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Utah lawmakers give preliminary approval to underage tanning ban

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Kristen Stewart

Swayed by evidence of the harms of indoor tanning and moving testimony from melanoma survivors, a Senate committee on Thursday endorsed a ban on underage tanning.

Sponsoring Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, initially proposed prohibiting all minors from using commercial tanning beds, but retailored the ban to apply to those age 13 and under. Youths between the ages of 14 and 18 could tan, but only when accompanied by a parent.

The measure passed the Senate Health and Human Services Comittee 4-1, despite the reservations of regulation-averse Republicans.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


House and Senate Democrats Press Briefing



For more information, contact:

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

Eric Ethington
Communications Coordinator, Utah House Democrats
Ph:  801.647.8609

Utah House and Senate Democrats Press Briefing

Salt Lake City – House and Senate Democrats will hold their bi-weekly Press Briefing tomorrow afternoon at 12:15pm in the Old Supreme Court Chambers of the Utah State Capitol.

Democratic Leaders Senator Ross Romero and Representative David Litvack will be joined by Senator Luz Robles, Senator Karen Mayne, Representative Carol Spackman Moss and Representative Patrice Arent.  The legislators will lay out the Democrats’ agenda for the remainder of the week.

Who: House and Senate Democrats
What: Bi-weekly Press Briefing
Where: Old Supreme Court Chambers of the Utah State Capitol
When: Thursday, February 2, 2012, 12:15pm – 12:25pm



Senator Mayne Wants to Crack Down on Graffiti

From the Deseret news:

SALT LAKE CITY — A white vinyl fence in Sen. Karen Mayne’s neighborhood is a frequent target of graffiti artists.

“I’m just tired of this. I’m tired of the naughty words. I’m tired of the swastikas,” Mayne said Monday during floor debate in the Utah Senate.

Mayne has introduced a bill, SB107, that would prohibit the possession of “any instrument, tool or device that is commonly used to make graffiti with the intent to deface the property of another.” Violators could be charged with a class C misdemeanor.

Click here to read the rest of the story:


Senator Karen Mayne: Bill would ban local governments from meeting during caucuses

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Pamela Manson

Two state legislators say they plan to introduce a bill that would ban local government groups — from city and county councils to school boards — from meeting when major political parties are holding their neighborhood caucuses.

The goal is to reduce scheduling conflicts and increase attendance at the caucus meetings, where attendees vote for county and state delegates. The delegates then attend state and county conventions, where they choose their party’s candidates for every office that is up for election in November.

The sponsors of the measure, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, and Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said the legislation would be the first to amend the state Open and Public Meetings Act to specify when public bodies would not be allowed to meet.

The candidates chosen by the caucus-convention process win the November election in Utah “in virtually all cases,” according to a statement from Powell and Mayne.

“Whether you are Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated or anything else, I believe it is your patriotic duty in this state to at least be at your neighborhood caucus for one night every two years,” Mayne said.

Powell told The Salt Lake Tribune that caucuses are for everyone, not just party activists. He said “unaffiliated” is the most popular choice when voters register and that those Utahns are not attending the meetings.

“They can and should still participate in the neighborhood caucus,” Powell said. “I believe Utah’s caucus day is the real election day.”

The bill, titled Utah’s Real-Election-Day Education for Neighborhood Caucuses Act, also would require the lieutenant governor to publicize the date and time of the neighborhood caucuses. This year, the Democrats are holding their caucus meetings on March 13 and the Republicans on March 15.

Other parties will announce their caucus dates individually.

In West Valley City, Mayor Mike Winder has proposed that the City Council pass a resolution saying West Valley will not hold council, committee or other meetings on the nights that political parties hold their caucuses.

The resolution also would call on other governments, religious organizations, businesses and community groups to adjust their schedules to avoid conflicting with the caucuses.

The proposed West Valley resolution is scheduled for a vote at the council regular meeting on Tuesday. The proposed bill is slated to be introduced at the opening of next week’s legislative session.



Senator Karen Mayne’s bill to target graffiti suspects

From KSL…

by Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY — Today is the first day of the 2012 legislative session. One of the bills being proposed this year would give officers and prosecutors more options to go after people suspected of tagging graffiti.

“It’s just something that we don’t want in our community, we don’t want in our neighborhoods and we don’t want in our state,” said Sen. Karen Mayne, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 107.

Mayne says police officers don’t have any truly meaningful ways to go after people they suspect of tagging. Under SB 107, graffiti would be at least a class B misdemeanor. The charges could be more serious depending on how much damage is done.

The measure also would make it a class B misdemeanor to possess items used to make graffiti, if officers and prosecutors thought the suspect intended to use them that way.

“When you’re out at 2:00 in the morning with a spray can, a ladder and brushes, you’re not painting my neighbor’s garage,” Mayne observed.

Mayne says paints used by taggers are more damaging to walls and fences than in years past.

“They’re costing people so much money to fix their fences, and now [with] this corrosive stuff that [taggers] can put on fences, they will have to replace the fence,” Mayne said.

She says the proposal has received a lot of support from law enforcement agencies all over the state.





Continuing the Legacy of #1

America’s Back to School Program was founded in 1999 as part of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  “Just in” results indicate Utah is #1 in the country again with 90% of legislators visiting schools in their districts during the 2010-2011 school year.  Congratulations to our 104 legislators and to Shelley Day in the Office of Legislative Research and General Council who oversees the program for the Utah Legislature.

Slated to “kick off” the third week of every September and run through the school year, America’s Legislators Back to School Program gives elected officials in all 50 states the opportunity to teach young people–the nation’s future voters and leaders–what it’s like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the very fabric of representative democracy. The program is emphasized as a bipartisan event. Legislators of both political parties are urged to participate in this national event and help bring civics to life for young people.

For complete national results, click here.

Nine Liquor Stores to Remain Open-Senator Romero’s Response

Senator Ross RomeroSenator Ross Romero just learned of Governor Gary Herbert’s decision to authorize the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to reassign $1.4 million in agency funds to keep nine of ten state liquor stores open that were originally slated for closure.  He commends Governor Herbert and DABC for their efforts in finding a preferred solution to DABC’s budget shortfall.

Senator Romero is aware of the public’s concern about closing state liquor stores.  He shares the expressed concerns of over consumption and prevention of under-age drinking, but that is not what the closing of stores was addressing. 

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, along with other state agencies, was ordered to cut their budget by 7.5%, or $2.2 million.  In order to meet those cuts, the DABC was going to close 10 stores that make a profit for the state of nearly $20 million annually. 

During the past few months, Senator Romero has questioned the wisdom in closing 10 stores that make $20 million in profit annually in order to save just over $2 million this year.  In addition to the unfortunate monetary loss, about 100 Utahns would have lost their jobs, workers who may have turned to state assistance to make ends meet. 

Senator Romero has been exploring other sensible solutions to avoid the store closures, and he is pleased to now learn that nine stores will remain open for business.

Par Excellence Award for Senator Robles

Senator Luz RoblesYesterday, Senator Luz Robles received the 2011 Par Excellence Award from the University of Utah Alumni Association.  Senator Robles has a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and a master’s degree in public administration from the University.  Only three years after completing her education, she was elected to the Utah State Senate, District One.  She is currently vice president and Hispanic/Latino market manager at Zions Bank.  Click here to read all about Senator Robles’ Par Excellence Award.


Congratulations, Cougars

This week marked the end of a spectacular season for BYU basketball.  Although some members of our caucus graduated from a different school and cheer for a different team, we would all like to congratulate the BYU basketball team on making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 30 years. Kudos to the team for their best performance in three decades, and thanks for showcasing the state of Utah in such an admirable fashion.