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.

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.


Lawmakers scrap effort to ban anti-gay discrimination

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Rosemary Winters

Despite strong support in public polls and endorsements from prominent business leaders, lawmakers on Friday snuffed out a statewide effort to ban discrimination against gay and transgender Utahns.

In a 4-2 vote, a Senate committee shelved SB51 after a 90-minute public hearing with a standing-room-only crowd.

Sen. Ben McAdams, the bill’s sponsor and a Salt Lake City Democrat, said he was disappointed the bill failed but called the hearing a “valuable discussion” and a “huge milestone.” This is the fifth year that Democrats have run such a bill but the first year to get a Senate hearing.

This year, the Salt Lake Chamber and executives from, 1-800-Contacts and eBay have endorsed the measure, saying it would enhance Utah’s reputation as a welcoming place to do business. Nearly three-fourths of Utahns support such a law, according to a recent poll by Dan Jones & Associates.

Already, 14 Utah cities and counties have ordinances that ban housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. McAdams said adding those categories to Utah’s existing anti-discrimination laws, which protect individuals from bias based on race, religion, disability and other characteristics, would make the law consistent statewide.

Click here to ready the rest of the story.


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.


Payday lenders escape new restriction

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lee Davidson

Payday lenders — one of the largest campaign donors to legislators — escaped a move Wednesday to limit where they can sue delinquent borrowers.

Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, introduced SB110 because he said payday lenders often file suits in courts that are distant from where borrowers live — such as filing in Provo against St. George residents — in a deliberate attempt “to deny justice to borrowers. … It’s an abusive practice that needs to be reined in.”

But the Senate Business and Labor Committee voted 4-3 to kill it after payday lenders testified they are trying to hold down costs for borrowers by filing in courts near corporate headquarters. Otherwise, it could “potentially increase costs to all borrowers across the board,” testified Wendy Gibson, a Check City regional manager representing the Utah Consumer Lending Alliance of payday lenders.

Read the whole story by clicking here.


Non-discrimination bill headed to a Senate Committee

From the Daily Herald
by Billy Hesterman

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that calls for a statewide nondiscrimination law will be debated by lawmakers for the first — and maybe only — time on Friday.

Senate Bill 51, sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, attempts to make it illegal to discriminate against a person in housing or employment because of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. McAdams ran similar legislation in 2011, but the bill was held up by the Senate Rules Committee.

McAdams called it progress that his bill will at least get the chance to be voted on by a committee this year.

“I’m encouraged that it is being sent to committee,” McAdams said.

However, the committee it has been sent to doesn’t appear to be one that will give the bill a favorable recommendation. Members of the Senate Government Operations Committee are some of the more conservative members in the Senate, which suggests the bill will face some tough scrutiny. If they approve it, it will be debated by the full Senate.

McAdams said he thinks it’s good that the committee will get to hear from the public on the issue and feels it will be a great step to have an open conversation about the topic. He noted that 75 percent of Utahns support the idea.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Education Funding for Public Education – Senator Ben McAdams

On Friday, Senator Ben McAdams unveiled his bill to increase Utah’s public education funding without raising taxes for Utah families.

Here’s an article in the Deseret News which talks about his plan.

Money, technology to be top education issues this legislative session



Taylor Maryon Leads the Pledge

Today’s Senate floor time began with Taylor Maryon leading the Senate body in the pledge of allegiance.  Taylor is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and currently serves as Senator Ben McAdams’ intern.

Taylor enlisted in the United States Coast Guard seven weeks before September 11, 2001.  During his two enlistments, he performed counter narcotics operations in Central & South America, piloted Search and Rescue lifeboats on Lake Superior, and led a domestic antiterrorism team in the Port of Houston.  Taylor achieved the rank of Boatswain’s Mate First Class (E-6).  Recently, Taylor was appointed Chairman of the Salt Lake County Veterans caucus.

Taylor Maryon, intern for Senator Ben McAdams

Thanks, Taylor, for your service to our country and to the Utah State Senate.