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.

Thanks, Senator McCoy

Senator Pat Jonesby Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader


Our caucus member Senator Scott McCoy has resigned his senate seat effective this coming Friday, December 4, 2009.Senator Scott McCoy


Speaking on behalf of the Utah Senate Democrat Caucus, we thank Senator McCoy for his impeccable service in the Utah State Senate.  He has been a significant contributor to our caucus and a valuable source of insight and wisdom.  Among legislators, he has stated his views with candor and statesmanlike conduct.  Good public policy has been the objective of Senator McCoy’s service, and he has willingly built consensus to achieve this aim.  The constituents of Senate District 2 are fortunate to have been represented by this intelligent, fair-minded, articulate and influential individual.


Senator McCoy will be greatly missed in our caucus and the Legislature.  We wish him the best in his professional and personal endeavors.       

Project New West’s August Summit

Senator Pat Jonesby Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

Americans have always known that actions speak louder than words, and that lesson couldn’t be more true than right here in Utah.  Just look at our history.  When the pioneers began settling Utah in the 19th century, their survival depended on being able to work together, focus on a common goal, and get the essential things done.  While the challenges modern Utahns face are very different from those our forefathers faced, we still confront problems by looking for positive results instead of pleasant rhetoric.

That approach continues to pay dividends.  Recently, Utah was awarded over $14 million by the Department of Energy to begin work on new energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, with another $21 million on the way.  Utah received this grant money because of the ingenuity and practicality of our plan, developed with input from around the state, to tackle renewable energy issues.  The money will increase Utah’s budget for renewable energy products over 100-fold, helping us maintain the pristine beauty of our environment, cut our energy costs, and create jobs here in Utah.  Just a few weeks ago, Utah installed its largest photovoltaic solar panel farm in the state at Hill Air Force Base.

But we’re not resting on our laurels.  Governor Huntsman deserves praise for his cooperation with Interior Secretary Salazar in mapping out areas of the state where new wind and solar projects can begin.  Their efforts are laying the foundation for more jobs, more energy, and a cleaner environment.  These types of commonsense projects, taken up without regard to partisan affiliation, are exactly what our state, our region, and our nation need right now.

The efforts by Governor Huntsman and Secretary Salazar are just a start, however.  We’ll need more mainstream, commonsense solutions if we want to address energy and the myriad of other challenges we currently face.  That’s why in August, leaders from around the Rocky Mountain West will be gathering for an important conference in Denver.  The 2009 Western Conference, hosted by Project New West, will bring together regional leaders to discuss issues ranging from immigration to energy, from the environment to new jobs, from education to infrastructure.

Everyone knows we’re in the middle of tough times.  Our economy is struggling, our health care system is failing, and our environment is under threat.  If we want to solve these problems, we’ve got to do what we as Utahns and Westerners have always done: band together and take on the big challenges, without waiting around for someone to do it for us.  We can’t afford to sit around and wait for Washington to tell us what to do.  That’s why this conference is so important.  It’s an opportunity to find real answers, outside of the Washington spin-zone.

I’ll be there, and I’ll be bringing along Utah’s proud tradition of giving practical, no-nonsense answers to tough questions.  I’ll be focused on doing what works, no matter who comes up with an idea.  And I’ll be looking for strategies we can actually put into action, not just talk about.  I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me as we work to strengthen our state and our region and maybe even to bring our Western solutions to the whole country.

Governor Huntsman’s Ambassadorship

Senator Pat Jonesby Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

On behalf of the Utah Senate Democrats, we congratulate Governor Huntsman on his pending responsibility as our country’s ambassador to China.  We concur unequivocally with President Obama’s brilliant choice–Governor Huntsman is the perfect individual for the job.

When political labels are set aside and the needs of people prevail, it is evident where Governor Huntsman’s priorities lie.  In his tenure as Utah’s governor, he has advocated for many of the same issues Democrats advocate for every day, and generally we feel aligned with his views.

Like Utah’s Democrats, Governor Huntsman has advocated for issues representative of mainstream Utah.  He pledged his support for public education and teachers–and followed through.  He has supported higher education as a means of empowering Utah’s citizens and thereby boosting economic development.  He has adamantly opposed the disposal of nuclear waste in Utah.  He has actively participated in the Western Climate Initiative which, among its objectives, is the development of renewable energy sources.  He has advocated for the most vulnerable of our population and devised methods of addressing their immediate and long-term needs.  He supports increasing the cigarette tax, as we do.

We send our best wishes to Governor Huntsman and his family as he embarks upon this new endeavor.  He is a model public servant and will use his diplomatic skills to achieve success as our country’s ambassador to China.

We also send our best wishes to Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, who will become Utah’s governor upon Governor Huntsman’s departure.

Looking ahead to 2010, you will see a number of Democrat candidates who are capable and qualified to fill the governor and lieutenant governor positions and can do so with Governor Huntsman’s same aplomb and policies that reflect mainstream Utah.

What Makes an Effective Legislator?

by Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

Senator Pat JonesWhat makes an effective legislator?  According to the Deseret News (“GOP Powered Utah’s 2009 Session” 3/23/09), success is measured by the number of bills passed during the legislative session.  But is that the best yardstick?

Judging the effectiveness of a lawmaker by the number of bills he or she passes is like measuring the competence of a parent by the number of children they bring into the world.  Besides, I have never had anyone call and beg for more laws.  To the contrary, I receive many calls pleading with me to help derail harmful legislation.

This is not sour grapes.  I served six years in the Utah House and just completed my third year in the Utah Senate.  During my tenure, I have passed numerous bills dealing with critical issues related to health, senior citizens, public education, financial literacy, and renewable energy.  So have my Democratic colleagues.

Utah’s Democrats play a critical role in our legislature, often without fanfare or credit.  Utah’s Democrats contribute new ideas.  Case in point: the much-heralded liquor reform legislation was possible in part by Sen. Scott McCoy’s idea to eliminate “liquor stickers,” saving the state $1 million a year.  Sen. McCoy graciously offered his idea to the Republican sponsors of the legislation in order to assist the passage of the reform package.

The merit of legislative bills varies widely.  A legislator may sponsor and get credit for a bill that simply changes the word, “a” to “an.”  Or, the lawmaker may sponsor a bill to sunset outdated provisions in Utah law.  Simple.  Many of the simple bills are handed off to newly-elected Republicans, knowing the legislation will sail through.  Regardless of political party, lumping simple bills with bills that are thoroughly vetted over a series of months is misleading.

Utah’s Democrats on Capitol Hill are the voice of reason for mainstream Utahns.  The fiscally-responsible 2009 Democratic budget called for an increase in the tobacco tax, strongly supported by the public, but rejected by the majority.  Utah Democrats have pushed for genuine ethics reform over the years.  Utah Democrats have rallied for senior citizens, for environmental issues, advocated for people with disabilities and others who are vulnerable, carried the flag for public and higher education year after year….and have offered up substantial and important pieces of legislation.  Now that is a more accurate yardstick.

Remarkable Kids

Today Utah’s senators enjoyed an outstanding performance from Kindred Spirits, introduced to the body by Senator Patricia Jones.  Kindred Spirits is a nonprofit organization partially funded by the Utah Arts Council, Salt Lake City Arts, and Zoo Arts & Parks.  Several of the kids have also benefited from services of the Utah State Health Department.  Alice Pero is the director (and a talented artist, by the way), and she was accompanying her son Julius Steubing and her sister Renee Perreault.

Sal Jansaan with Salt Lake Community Action Program has been teaching this group about Polynesian art, and they performed two Polynesian dances today at the Senate.  Members of today’s group were:

Adam Persels and Araya Persels with their mother Tina
Celina Woolsiffer with her mother Natalie Jensen
Annabelle Hollberg with her mother Susan Hollberg

Also assisting was Sal’s husband, Evan Jansaan, and Gina Pola-Money from Utah’s Family to Family Health Information Center.

Kindred Spirits Performing Their Dance


Kindred Spirits

Senate/House Democrat 2010 Budget Proposal

At noon today, the Senate and House Democrats in the Utah State Senate held a press conference to outline their 2010 budget proposal.  Priorities are:

1.  Protect vital services in priority areas–Public Education, Higher Education, Health and Human Services, and Public Safety.

2.  Make equitable cuts where necessary and possible.

3.  Find new revenue sources.

4.  Utilize federal stimulus dollars.

Senate Minority Leader Patricia Jones and House Minority Leader David Litvack led the discussion outlining their proposal.  Their comments and the entire budget proposal are available on the House Democrats’ website.  Click here to read their remarks and view the budget proposal.

Press Conference 3-5-09
Senate Minority Leader Jones and House Minority Leader Litvack (center)
surrounded by Democrat Senators and Representatives

Is Nuclear Energy Renewable????

Senator Pat Jonesby Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

Nuclear ReactorThis question was posed this week on the Senate floor by Senator Lyle Hillyard to Senator Chris Buttars, who tried to amend SJR1 (Senator Patricia Jones) to include nuclear as a renewable source of energy.  SJR1 encourages cities and towns to work with the State Energy Program to develop model ordinances for cities and towns that choose to develop wind, geothermal or solar energy projects.  This non-binding resolution is intended to expedite the process of renewable energy project development and give municipalities guidance as needed.

Senator Buttars tried “the nuclear option” in his amendment, not realizing that nuclear energy is not considered by the U.S. Department of Energy to be a renewable energy source.  Thankfully, nearly all of the senators understood that fact, and the amendment failed (11 For and 14 Against).  SJR1 passed with 27 yeas, 1 nay, and 1 absent.

Click here to listen to floor debate on Senator Buttars’ amendment and the final vote. Select Day 9.