Utah Solar Tour 2010

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Senator Ross RomeroEnergy is the topic of the day, and clean, renewable energy is being promoted at the local, state, and national levels.  Many Americans want new sources of energy that positively affect our atmosphere, our independence, and our pocketbooks.  During the past few years, numerous Utah legislators have sponsored and debated bills designed to shift the focus from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

I would like to invite you and your family, friends, and neighbors to attend this year’s Utah Solar Tour.  Sponsored by the Utah Solar Energy Association (the local nonprofit chapter of the American Solar Energy Society), the 2010 Utah Solar Tour is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  This is a FREE public event.

During this event, you will learn about the latest solar technologies and applications.  Professionals will teach you how to install solar equipment at your home or business and what financial incentives are available for doing so.

You will be able to visit homes and businesses using renewable energy from Payson to Logan.  Map out your tour of sites near you for Saturday, September 25, by visiting http://utsolar.org/index.php/solar_tour/overview/.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn everything you ever wanted to know about renewable solar energy.  Join the Utah Solar Energy Association for a solar-powered weekend.

Another Successful Utah-based Nonprofit: High Road for Human Rights

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Senator Ross RomeroRecently, I had the chance to visit with former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and discuss with him his organization High Road for Human Rights.

High Road for Human Rights organizes, supports, and mobilizes an extensive network of people to prevent and eliminate human rights abuses by (1) elevating awareness about human rights abuses and available solutions, and (2) taking unified actions to achieve changes that will enhance the protection of human rights.

Rocky elaborated on his organization’s five areas of focus, which include:

1.    Genocide
2.    Slavery
3.    Climate Crisis
4.    Death Penalty
5.    Torture & Rule of Law

I was surprised a few days later to read an article published in the Deseret News Sunday, August 15, 2010, entitled “A Story of Modern Slavery in Utah.”  The article written by Lee Davidson relates the story of several Thai workers who were recruited by a Los Angeles-based company for farm work in the United States.  These workers were placed at two locations in Utah.  In the article, they relate their harrowing stories of poor living and working conditions, misrepresented and violated compensation agreements, and prison-like confinement.

If you think such human rights atrocities occur elsewhere, you are wrong.  I commend Rocky for his humanitarian work and believe we should all be active participants in these important human rights discussions.  Perhaps you will consider supporting High Road for Human Rights, an organization centered here in Salt Lake City addressing local, national, and international acts of inhumanity.

#1 Again – NCSL Back to School Program

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.

Once again, UTAH is #1 in the country with 91% of legislators visiting schools in their districts during the 2009-2010 school year.  For complete results, click here.  Utah also ranked #1 in 2008-09, 2005-06 and 2002-03.  Utah ranked #2 in 2007-08, 2006-07 and 2003-04; and #3 in 2004-05.

Top Three Legislatures
Utah – 91%
Hawaii – 67%
Virginia – 66%

Top Three House
Utah – 92%
Hawaii – 67%
Virginia – 60%

Top Five Senate
Massachusetts – 100%
Utah – 90%
Virginia – 80%

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.

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).

Thanks for the Invitation, Camp Kostopulos

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

On Saturday, June 5, I attended an open house at Camp Kostopulos in Emigration Canyon.  Camp Kostopulos is sponsored by the Kostopulos Dream Foundation, an agency dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities.  Camp Kostopulos is a week-long residential summer camp where kids, teens, and adults with disabilities are able to socialize and enjoy numerous recreational activities.  It’s fun for the participants and, at the same time,  provides a reprieve for their full-time care givers.

At the camp, participants engage in various recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, camping, singing, arts and crafts, horseback riding, ropes course, etc.  They make new friends and renew their friendships from previous summers.  Participants stay on site for a full week in the capable hands of full-time staff members who provide 24-hour supervision.  I have included some photos I took of this wonderful facility in my Senate District.

I would like to thank Cheryl Smith, Development Director of the Kostopulos Dream Foundation, who escorted my family and me at the Camp Kostopulos open house.

In addition to summer camp, the Kostopulos Dream Foundation also offers year-round recreational programs for kids, teens, and adults.  For further information about Kostopulos, visit their website at www.campk.org and as always, donations are appreciated.

Finally, on July 10, 2010, the Kostopulos Dream Foundation is hosting the Wasatch Wheelchair Rally, a fundraising event which will showcase runners and walkers pushing empty wheelchairs in a race around Liberty Park.  For more information, visit www.campk.org/wasatch-wheelchair-rally.

Camp Sign

Ropes Course
Ropes Course

Barn & Horses
Horseback Riding

 Senator Romero & Cheryl Smith
Senator Romero with his son and Cheryl Smith



Senator Davis greets Saudia Arabian Visitors

A group of seven international visitors from Saudi Arabia visited Utah under the auspices of the U. S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, to examine “Religious and Public Education.”  Participants were:

 Mr. Khalid Ateatallah ALAMRI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Madinah

 Mr. Fahd Alean ALDLWE
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Al-Ula

 Mr. Fahad Abdulrahman ALHAMAD
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Hail

 Mr. Mohammed Nughaymish ALHARBI
 Islamic Education Teacher, Al-Mahd Directorate of Education, Ministry of Education

 Mr. Hussain Salman ALMALKI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Jizan

 Mr. Abdullah Ali ALSAWEED
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Qassim

 Mr. Abdulaziz Rashid ALTUWAIRISH
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Dammam

 Mr. Hassan Abdullah SAWADI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Abha

 The international visitors met with Senator Gene Davis on Monday, May 24, to discuss religion in Utah and its intersection with public education in infuencing education policy.  Senator Davis also took the group on a brief tour of our newly renovated Capitol.  They visited the House and Senate Chambers, the Rotunda, and peered through the windows at the base isolators in the basement of the Capitol.

Senator Davis and Saudi Arabian Visitors
Senator Davis and the Group from Saudi Arabia

Senator Davis & Fahad Alhamad
Senator Davis and Mr Fahad Alhamad

Senator Davis Greets International Visitors

Last year, Senator Gene Davis received the Citizen Diplomat Award from the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy for his efforts in promoting the State of Utah’s global engagement in U.S. public diplomacy and citizen diplomacy through the International Visitor Leadership Program.  This year, Senator Davis is continuing his involvement with the program, and he met with three groups of international visitors last week at the Utah State Capitol.

A Multiregional Delegation representing 14 nations (Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malawi, Mexico, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Sudan, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela) traveled to Utah under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, to examine “State and Local Government in the United States.”  The International Visitors met with Senator Davis on Monday, March 15, to discuss the roles and responsibilities of state government, training for local government leaders, and informing citizens about state policy making.  (see photo of the group below)

Multiregional Delegation

A 6-person delegation from South Korea traveled to Utah as guests of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, to examine “Executive and Legislative Branch Cooperation and Competition.”  The Delegates met with Senator Davis on Tuesday, March 16, to receive an overview of the role and function of the two chambers of the State Legislature, and learn about the interplay between the legislature and the executive branches.  They also learned about the Utah minority Democratic Party, the party platform, and their key issues in Utah.  (see photo of the group below)

Visitors from South Korea

An 11-person international delegation from North Africa and the Near East traveled to Utah under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, to examine “Interfaith Dialogue.”  The delegates met with Senator Davis Tuesday, March 16, to discuss how state laws protect religious rights.  (see photo of the group below)


Visitors from North Africa and the Near East

No such thing as a safe tan? Utah Leads the Way

Senator Pat JonesHealth concerns related to the use of tanning beds is once again in the forefront.   Numerous studies indicate that using tanning beds by youth increases their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.  Melanoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer.  Approximately 69,000 cases were diagnosed last year alone.  Beyond melanoma, ultraviolet ray exposure is also linked to basal and squamous cell carcinomas which, according to the American Cancer Society, result in 2,000 deaths a year.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is considering stricter regulations for the use of tanning beds.  The FDA may require more precise warnings about the dangers.  As reported recently by the Deseret News editorial board, “the growing scientific consensus is there’s no such thing as a safe tan.”  The FDA will conduct a public hearing this coming March.

Cognizant of these risks, in 2007, Senator Patricia Jones sponsored and passed SB 52, Health Regulations for Public Indoor Tanning Beds.  Utah law now requires IN PERSON parental consent once a year for minors to use commercial tanning beds.  Parents are required to read warnings about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays from tanning beds and sign for the number of tanning sessions their children can receive.

The health risks and associated costs down the road are avoidable.  Hopefully, the protection provided by Utah law and the prospective FDA regulations will affect the choices of our youth.  They may wisely opt for shade during the day and a spray-on tan for the prom.