Gang Legislation

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Minority Caucus Manager

One of the major issues facing not only my district but also the entire state is an increase in gang activity.  Gangs are not localized only in Salt Lake City or Ogden, but have spread all through the state and are hurting our children and our communities.  One only needs to read the newspaper or watch the news to see the effects of these gangs.

I have participated on the committees that Mayor Becker and Governor Huntsman have put together to address this issue.  I have introduced a resolution that addresses a comprehensive approach to gang-related activities.  The resolution acknowledges that we need to address prevention, intervention and suppression in solving this complicated issue.  Due to the funding shortfall, I believe this is a good start.

This legislative session had several bills that focus only on suppression, and as much as we need those, we need to focus on the other two aspects of the issue.  My bill, S.B.74–At-Risk Student Provisions, addresses early prevention through identification by educators.  Teachers spend eight hours a day with these students and often times could be the best identifiers of potential gang activity.  This bill requires a local school board or governing board of a charter school to enact certain gang prevention and intervention policies.  This will include keeping teachers up-to-date with information to help identify gang activity, give them tools to deal with gang activity, and help the schools to suspend extra-curricular activities while the student is in a known gang.  This last part of the bill has proven extremely successful on the west side of Salt Lake City already with the S.A.L.T. Program, run by Kaisa Kinikini.  I believe this will also be successful in our state, coupled with my second bill dealing with gang reduction, S.J.R. 21.

S.J.R. 21—Joint Resolution on Combating and Reducing Gang Activity—urges state and local governments to take a comprehensive, collaborative, and communitywide approach to combat and reduce gang activity.  I strongly believe just one or two groups will not solve the gang problem; it is going to take a collaborative effort on the part of all involved parties to make a difference.  This resolution allows for this type of collaborative effort, focusing particularly on the most effective practices.  By focusing on the practices that work, we can become more and more effective at reducing gang activity in our communities.

I encourage all of you reading this to contact your legislators and tell them you support these bills, because you are tired of the gang activity in this state.  Together we can call the right attention to the problems and fix this in a comprehensive manner.

As a side note, I would also like to share with you the bill tracking service on the Legislature’s webpage (http://www.le.utah.gov/asp/billtrack/track.asp). This service will allow you to track as many bills as you would like, and will even send you e-mails when the bill is on the move.  It is a valuable resource you can use to become more involved, and we all know how important that is.

Utah Hispanic/Latino Day

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
District One

On Wednesday, February 19, Governor Huntsman signed a proclamation declaring it Utah Hispanic/Latino Day.  I was fortunate to be a part of this wonderful and commemorative day.

There were many distinguished guests at the Capitol that day.  Supportive lawmakers such as Senate President Waddoups, local activists, and the Utah Hispanic Latino Legislative Task Force all met to celebrate this commemoration of the largest ethnic minority group in the state of Utah.  Another announcement of equal importance was announced, that of the newly created Hispanic Caucus, which I, along with Senator Ross Romero, Representative Mark Wheatley, and Representative Rebbecca Chavez-Houck, will comprise.

Earlier, both the Senate and the House unanimously passed resolutions honoring the accomplishments of Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante and Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez.  In the late 18th century, the two missionaries/explorers drew some of the first maps of Utah.  HJR 10 was sponsored by Senator Ross Romero and Representative Mark Wheatley.  The resolution was presented to Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

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Bishop John C. Wester, Members of the Catholic Diocese and Others

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From Left:  Rep. Lorie Fowlke, Sen. Luz Robles, Rep. Mark Wheatley,
Sen. Ross Romero, Rep. David Litvack and Rep. Wayne Harper

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Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck

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Senator Robles meets with Constituents

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Minority Caucus Manager
District One

Last Tuesday night I held my first of many Town Hall meetings to come.  These meetings are set up as a hands-on community forum for understanding the issues facing the 2009 State Legislature.  In a continuing effort to keep citizens of Senate District One informed first about their government, I extended invitations to all of the elected official in the district to give a more complete analysis of the issues.  House Minority Leader David Litvack (House District 26), Representative Jennifer Seelig (House District 23), Chief of Staff for Mayor Becker, Ben McAdams, and I all came together to talk on all topics ranging from the budget, health care reform, education and the implementation of SB 81. I want to thank these leaders for attending and taking time from their very busy schedules.  The Salt Lake City Councilmen Christensen and Turner were excused due to a city council meeting at the same time.

We had a great turnout despite the weather, and the questions were tough.  The people have a hunger for information, and we are here to give it to them.

Judi Hilman, Executive Director of Utah Health Policy Project, was also on hand to teach our constituents more effective ways to talk to their legislators, and she discussed issues related to Health Care System Reform.  Several of the key points she brought up were dead on!  I want to share a few with you.

When you are contacting your legislators, keep it short and sweet if you are writing a letter, and remember a lot of times, facts and figures go in one ear and out the other.  Use a short story to make your point stick.  If you are going to address the leadership, you technically have the right to say you are a constituent of theirs (your legislator voted for them, and you voted for your legislator). This is important because legislators always take issues from their constituents more attentively than others.

The final point that I would like to share with you is a statement made by Ben McAdams last night.  He said, “Five phone calls is a revolution.” I can’t tell you how true that is! If, as legislators, we receive multiple phone calls, letters, or messages on a particular issue, it is serious.  So if there is an important issue to the community, make sure to have your neighbors call or write a letter.  This will get way more attention than with only a single individual.

The Utah Health Policy Project has put together a great resource for advocacy.  It is called the “UHPP Advocacy Tool Kit” and can be found on their website.  There is a great spread sheet there with all of the legislators, what committees they are on, and a lot of tips on how to have an effective meeting with your legislators.  This is an amazing wealth of resources that I encourage all of you to try out.  This is your government and your Capitol.  Never be afraid to contact any of your legislators.  We are here for you!

I know that a lot of people could not make it to this Town Hall meeting.  I hope that by having more in the future all around my district, I will have the chance to hear the concerns of all of my constituents.  If you would like to be added directly to our e-mail
list, please send an e-mail to my staff at Andrew.Gilbert13@gmail.com.  I look forward to continuing to serve my district and all of the State of Utah.

Elected Officials
From left:  Rep. David Litvack, Senator Luz Robles, Ben McAdams
and Rep. Jen Seelig

Attentive Listeners

 

 Questions Asked

 

At the Microphone

 

Talking with Constituents

 

Legislative Update from Sen. Robles

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
District One

As you all may know, last Friday the 30th, we passed the FY2009 budget.  It was a long and strenuous process, but I believe it was a good compromise between the Democrats and the Republicans.  The Democrats worked hard to get more funding for public education, health and human services, and the criminal justice system.  Now, the real battle begins for the budget on FY2010.

In other news, a House bill that I plan on co-sponsoring moved out of the House Business and Labor Committee this morning.  House Bill 265– Postmortem Procedures Amendments, sponsored by Representative Daw (R-Orem), is a bill that would give more rights to families to take care of their loved ones after they have passed on.  It’s a bill that will ensure that all public standards are respected.  I’m excited to co-sponsor the bill and hopeful it will pass on the Senate floor.

Sen. Robles’ Appropriations Subcommittee Report

Senator Luz Roblesby Senator Luz Robles
Senate Minority Caucus Manager
Senate District One

Sitting in the Transportation, Environmental Quality, and National Guard Appropriations Subcommittee, I was disheartened by the action of the members to renew their efforts to cut the budget by an unrealistic 15%.  While I acknowledge their efforts to prioritize the specifics of the cuts, I feel the passing of a budget that includes a cut to the National Guard Tuition Assistance and Veterans Affairs Outreach should not be included. This is why I voted no.

The committee passed the 7.5% budget cut for FY2009 and the 15% cut for FY2010.  This will now go to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Friday, January 23, where my voice will be against the proposed 15% and for more reasonable solutions for Utah.