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

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

 

Fighting for Salt Lake County’s Schools

Senator Gene Davisby Senator Gene Davis
Senate District 3

The Deseret News featured Senate Bill 87, sponsored by Senator Gene Davis of Salt Lake County, in an article Tuesday, January 26, 2010.

SB 87 calls for the end of taking local school taxes and giving them to another district in Salt Lake County.  Senator Davis’ Senate District currently represents 4 out of the 5 school districts in Salt Lake County.  The equalization bill that was passed a few years ago has taken much needed money away from schools who need it the most.  While Jordan School District has continued growth and expenses, the other districts here in Salt Lake County need the money in order to keep schools safe and up-to-date.  Salt Lake City School District alone lost $6.6 million to the new Jordan School District.

The debate on equalization of school funding is not over.  We need a statewide solution to improve the overall value of education in our state.  Senator Davis is building consensus on how to achieve this end.

Senator Gene Davis Receives 2009 Citizen Diplomat Award

Last Thursday, August 20, the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy (UCCD) presented Senator Gene Davis and Martha Ball
with the 2009 Citizen Diplomat Award.

Senator Davis & Martha Ball

Excerpts from the UCCD press release: 

The Citizen Diplomat Award is presented annually to individuals who have made a significant contribution to citizen diplomacy in the state of Utah.  The awards were presented at the 2009 Salute to Utah’s Citizen Diplomats held at the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, Westminster College.

Senator Gene Davis, Senate District 3, has been instrumental in promoting the State of Utah’s global engagement in U.S. public diplomacy and citizen diplomacy through the International Visitor Leadership Program.  Citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right – even the responsibility – to help shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.”  Senator Davis’ leadership is essential to ensure Utah has the same degree of global engagement found in other western states.

 Martha Ball, is the founder and former director of the Utah 3 Rs Project (Rights, Responsibilities, Respect).  Mrs. Ball has served as a Trustee for the Utah Council of Citizen Diplomacy, and as a Utah Citizen Diplomat, has welcomed over 50 international visitors from 30 countries into her home.

The Salute for Utah’s Citizen Diplomats is an event like no other – honoring remarkable Utah leaders who promote global understanding and respect between the people of Utah and other nations.

Include Mental Health and Addictive Disorders

Senator Gene Davisby Senator Gene Davis
Senate District 3

As Congress and the State of Utah continue to look at health care reform, I believe we cannot overlook mental health and addictive disorders in any of our health care reform recommendations.  Mental illness is exactly that–an illness–and it can be treated. 

In a collaborative effort with Sybil Richard, Deputy Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, I wrote an essay on mental health and addictive disorders.  Please click here to read the essay (then click on “Mental Health and Addictive Disorders” in Table of Contents).

I would appreciate your comments.  Click below to share your opinion. 

Sen. Davis Greets Visitors from Africa

Senator Gene DavisSenator Gene Davis met with a group of visitors from Africa last Monday at the Capitol.  Among the African countries represented were Chad, Mali, Kenya, Senegal, Niger, Madagascar, Sudan, Namibia, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.  The group, sponsored by the United States Department of State and locally by the Utah Council on Citizen Diplomacy, participated in a regional project for Africa  entitled “Religious Freedom and Interfaith Dialogue.”

The question/answer format included discussion about what it means to have a minority party, the role of the minority party, state representation versus federal representation, and religious freedom.  Senator Davis mentioned to the group that we begin our legislative sessions each day with a prayer given by either a member of the body or an invited ecclesiastical leader.  Some in the group were puzzled by the conglomerate of multi-denominational prayers.  Senator Davis simply replied to the group that the senators’ open hearts allow them to be be guided by every prayer offered.   Senator Davis said, “Respect for a person’s religion demonstrates respect for the individual.”

Several interpreters accompanied the group to translate for Senator Davis and many of the participants.  Languages spoken in the group were English and French.

Offices of the Utah Council on Citizen Diplomacy are located at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.  Westminster’s president, Michael Bassis says:

“Considering all that the organization (Utah Council on Citizen Diplomacy) does to promote global respect and understanding between the people of Utah and other nations, we are honored to offer them office space on our campus and access to our wonderful facilities. But the enormous value they bring to our campus is what drives our enthusiasm for this partnership. This value comes through our joint sponsorship of public lectures on topics of transnational importance and, perhaps most importantly, it comes from the opportunities UCCD creates for our students, faculty and staff to interact with delegations of emerging leaders from countries across the globe that visit Salt Lake each year through UCCD’s International Visitor Leadership Program.”

 

Discusssion

Interpreters

Group Photo

Senator Davis

Helmets to Hardhats Program Day

THEY DEFENDED AMERICA; NOW LET THEM HELP YOU BUILD IT

Helmets to HardhatsThis afternoon, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., signed a declaration recognizing Helmets to Hardhats and declared March 30, 2009, as Helmets to Hardhats Program Day.  Helmets to Hardhats is a nonprofit organization hosted by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans’ Employment (CMRAVE), which connects veterans to promising careers in the construction industry.  Utah is the 27th state to recognize the vital role of Helmets to Hardhats.

Among those accompanying Governor Huntsman today for the signing were Senator Gene Davis; Senator Karen Mayne; Terry Schow, Executive Director, Utah Department of Veterans Affairs; General Jeff Burton, Utah National Guard; Major General Peter Cook, U.S. Army Reserves; Steve Hadley, Veterans Outreach Program, Department of Workforce Services; Darrell Roberts, Executive Director, Helmets to Hardhats; Dale Cox, Operating Engineers Local No. 3; Rob Mason, Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons; Jim Judd, president, AFL-CIO; Darlene Goldman, Salt Lake Community College; Dale Brockbank, U.S. Department of Labor; Mark Biloz, Regional Director, Veterans Administration; and numerous others representing the construction industry and armed services.

Helmets to Hardhats provides training and support to veterans returning from military service to facilitate a smooth transition to civilian life.  Veterans log in to http://helmetstohardhats.org, establish an account, and begin their search for a productive career.  The Helmets to Hardhats staff of construction industry and military professionals help guide veterans through their career search, connecting them with apprenticeship programs and providing career advice.  Many Utah veterans have received this training.  Click here for Ami Joi O’Donoghue’s great article in the Deseret News relating Darrell Robert’s personal military experiences.

Information is also available on the site about the Wounded Warrior program, which supports disabled Veterans by providing the tools, information and community that will help Veterans gain careers in the Building and Construction Industry.

Here are some impressive Helmets to Hardhats statistics for 2008:

Unique Visitors – 320,259 unique visitors to the H2H website, an increase of 13% over 2007.

Registered Veterans – 21,694 veterans as candidates, an increase of 14% over 2007.

Veterans Hired – 1,714 veteran hires through H2H, a 10% increase over 2007; 79 of whom are Wounded Warriors.

Job Searches – 510,527 candidate career searches, a 24% increase over 2007.

Job Applications – 5,713 candidates applied for career positions, a 27% increase.

Utah Career Postings – 28

Registered Utah Veterans – 127 veterans, 13 of whom are Wounded Warriors

Utah Hires – 9

Darrell Roberts, Helmets to Hardhats
Darrell Roberts, Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats, flanked by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Major General Peter Cook, U.S. Army Reserves

 Gov. Huntsman Reads the Declaration
Governor Huntsman Reads the Declaration

 Signing the Declaration
Governor Huntsman Signs the Declaration
with Senators Davis and Mayne (on the right)

  The Participants
The Participants

 Goldman, Roberts, and Sen. Mayne
Darlene Goldman, Darrell Roberts and Senator Mayne

 Dale Cox, Sen. Davis and Darrell Roberts
Dale Cox, Senator Davis and Darrell Roberts

 

Perfect Timing

by Senator Gene Davis
Senate District 3

Senator Gene DavisHalf way through Utah’s 2009 general legislative session, the United States Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), providing a much-needed influx of cash into Utah’s 2009 and 2010 state budgets.  Commonly known as President Obama’s economic stimulus package, it significantly softened the impact of Utah’s declining state revenue.  Both Senate Democrats and House Democrats favored accepting and using the federal stimulus money and urged their colleagues to support the assistance from the Obama White House.  Budgets of virtually every department in state government were bolstered by stimulus money.   Click here for details from the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.

This year and through 2011, Utah will receive $1.7 billion from ARRA, which will be distributed to targeted departments for specific purposes.  For example:

Federal money reduced the cuts in public education for 2010 from 17% to only 5.2%; higher education from 17.5% to 9%.

The Department of Workforce Services received $19 million for child care funding, $78 million in food stamp funding, and $9 million for temporary assistance for needy families.

The Department of Transportation received $149 million and will use the funds for about 30 highway projects throughout the state.

The Department of Health received $68 million in 2009 and $94 million in 2010 for a temporary increase in the match rate for Medicaid services.

The Department of Human Services received funds for various agencies in the department.

The Department of Economic Development and Revenue received $39 million for weatherization of homes for adding insulation, sealing leaks, and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment; a Community Service Block Grant of $5 million; Homeless Prevention monies of $5.6 million; and $33 million for USTAR to recruit science and technology researchers.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 (second substitute) to create the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund using ARRA funds to provide a $6,000 grant for any person who purchases a newly constructed, never-occupied residence in Utah.

From the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, Utah will receive $16.2 million for a variety of efforts such as hiring and support for law enforcement officers; drug and gang task forces; crime prevention, courts, corrections, treatment; and justice information sharing initiatives.

AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON…..

Monies from the stimulus package will preserve jobs and create many new jobs in Utah as the federal government focuses on building and re-building infrastructure.  There are numerous transportation, water, and sewer projects, all of which require manpower.

Accountability is paramount.  President Obama expects the state to be a responsible steward of the federal stimulus funds.  Visit www.recovery.utah.gov for information about Utah’s stimulus money.

A Quick Wrapup

by Senator Mike Dmitrich, Minority Leader
and Senator Gene Davis, Minority Whip

Yesterday marked the end of a two-day special session called by Governor Huntsman to make budget adjustments to remedy a $354 million revenue shortfall.  The Utah Constitution requires a balanced budget, so it seemed prudent to make adjustments early before the situation got out of hand.   In Utah, we base the budget on projections.  Sometimes they’re off.  Chalk it up to unforeseen economic events.  We worked with the Senate Republicans to accomplish the task of balancing the budget.

All agencies reduced their budgets by 4% with the following exceptions:

Human Services 3%
Health 3%
Corrections 3%
Public Education Held Harmless

For now:

Education is untouched (the governor’s prerequisite for calling the special session).
The $100M fund for education set aside during the 2008 general session remains intact.
The $434M Rainy Day Fund remains intact.
Bonding for transportation projects was unnecessary.

Like all Utahns, we are disappointed about the economic downturn and resultant budget modifications.  We are concerned that economic conditions may worsen before they improve, which would further adversely affect services provided by state government.

We question the wisdom of cutting Medicaid because every $1 reduction in state funds results in a $3 loss of federal funds.  The loss of federal dollars only adds to the downturn as those dollars are put right back into the economy as wages that boost the economy.

We are pleased that education was held harmless in the special session.  In the event that reductions in the education budget become necessary in the upcoming session, we strongly recommend reducing or eliminating the newest eduation programs, particularly those which are in the process of being implemented or which have not yet been implemented.

Thanks for Keeping Us Safe

by
Senator Ross Romero
Senator Gene Davis
Senator Fred Fife

Last Saturday, March 29, Senators Romero, Fife, and Davis enrolled in Fire Ops 101, a genuine firefighter’s training experience for elected officials sponsored by the Salt Lake City Fire Department and the International Association of Firefighters. Fire Ops 101 was an example of the training that firefighters go through to prepare themselves for their strenuous and demanding profession.

Each senator donned a firefighting uniform, complete with gear, helmet, and boots and participated in hands on emergency situations. They climbed ladders carrying hoses and put out real fires in buildings, extinguished real car fires, extricated trapped victims in cars, and entered smoke-filled rooms wearing breathing equipment.

Fire Ops 101 Senator Romero
Senator Romero using cutting tools.

 

 

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fire-ops-1012.jpg

fire-ops-1013.jpg

fire-ops-1014.jpg

“It’s truly admirable to understand what firefighters have to do and the pressures they’re under and the effort they take to make sure we’re safe,” said Senator Ross Romero.

Senator Fred Fife said, “The stress from constant readiness on the job to meet the dangers of every call is a burden every firefighter must bear. That was demonstrated in the exercises. We learned that the work of firefighters requires teamwork and comradery. They displayed that for us. I learned much from Fire Ops 101, and it was a great experience for me.”

You can read reports and watch video of Fire Ops 101 at ksl.com, abc4.com, kutv.com, and The Salt Lake Tribune.

We express our sincere appreciation to our city’s firefighters for their commitment and bravery in performing the duties of their jobs.