When the Gavel Strikes Midnight – by Patricio Panuncio, 2014 Intern to Senator Luz Robles

When the gavel strikes at midnight on Thursday, March 13, the 2014 General Legislative Session comes to an end.  Some legislators will leave satisfied, others disappointed.  As for me, an intern for the Senate, I will leave with an unforgettable experience that has taught me discipline, procedural politics, professionalism, and most importantly, a profound respect for the work that goes on inside the Utah State Capitol.


For the last 45 days, I have had the unique opportunity to observe the work from the inside.  As an intern, I play a crucial role in ensuring that day-to-day operations run smoothly for my senator.  By no means is my job simple, but it looks like a walk in the park when compared to what legislators do daily.  They dedicate countless hours reviewing and discussing pieces of legislation.  It is their duty to enact sound policy, while satisfying thousands of constituents.  Failing to satisfy these constituents can result in social ridicule and a ruined reputation.  Even with all the constant pressure, many still decide to run for re-election year after year.

Many people are often critical of the Legislature.  I, myself, have been.  A public official’s accountability is crucial.  We often fail to understand and perceive the full story.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is to not be quick to judge.  It is important to be grateful for the responsibility these people hold and to remember that the best interest of the State of Utah is their overall objective.  For now, the legislature will continue to conduct regular business in an upbeat manner as the last-minute legislation is proposed.

On Friday, legislators will catch a break, and Utah will continue to function regularly.

2014 Lunch with the Utah Senate Democrats Contest was a huge success!

Utahns statewide entered the #UtahSenDems 2014 Lunch Contest via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  IMG_9361

We picked nine lucky residents to enjoy a free lunch on Feb. 28 with the fabulous five Utah Senate Democrats.

The winners:

  • Paul Hofman, West Valley City
  • Renate Hoffman Riggs, Midway
  • Ben Pales, West Haven
  • Ed Blake, Salt Lake City
  • Nikki Cunard, Salt Lake City
  • Pamela Portocarrero, Salt Lake City
  • Ben Eddington, Cottonwood Heights
  • Kirsten Park, Salt Lake City
  • Jandy Stelter, Midvale (She couldn’t attend.)

The luncheon started with a quick Utah Senate tour by Senator Jim Dabakis. The group then returned to eat lunch around a table with the senators in the Minority Caucus Room.

Two hot topics were: Getting more democrats elected into office and increasing the number of people voting. They also discussed the Count My Vote initiative and Medicaid expansion.

The winners, all democrats, were glad they got the chance to have an intimate, lively discussion with the senators. They later said via email:

  • “While I usually pay more attention to the national politics, I decided that I should be more involved in what’s going on in my state… I always knew there weren’t many democrats represented in the state legislature, but I wasn’t aware of how drastic it is.” – Ben Eddington
  • “I will always take advantage of the opportunity to spend some “alone time” with the Utah Democrat Senators, they are a great bunch of people who work very hard for us!” – Paul Hofman
  • “It was so nice to visit one-on-one with my senators without the time constraints of formal meetings.” – Kirsten Park

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.  We appreciate your continuous support.  – The #UtahSenDems


Senate Honors Terry Schow

The Utah State Senate paused briefly today to honor Terry Schow, who recently retired as Director of the Utah Division of Veterans Affairs.  Director Schow served with distinction on behalf of Utah’s veterans.  The Utah Legislature presented Mr. Schow with an Official Citation recognizing his 35 years of service to the State of Utah, to all branches of the United States military, and especially to the veterans of this State.


Tribute to Senator Jones from Utah Policy

Jones 2013Today Utah Policy’s Bob Bernick paid tribute to Senator Patricia Jones, who will be retiring from legislative service at the end of 2014.  Bob Bernick is a long-time Deseret News government reporter and political editor.  He writes fondly of working for decades with Senator Jones as a pollster and lawmaker and her husband Dan Jones as a pollster and University of Utah political science professor.  Together they built the highly respected polling firm of Dan Jones & Associates.

Mr. Bernick compliments Senator Jones on her outstanding professional career and public service.  Read Bob Bernick’s Notebook:  Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.

Congratulations, Senator Jones.


Senator Mayne and Colleagues Visit Utah High Schools

Mayne 2013At the invitation of Senator Karen Mayne, several legislators, Granite School District officials, and a UEA representative visited Granger and Kearns High Schools today.   The objective of today’s visit was to observe the learning environment in these schools, identify areas for improvement, and work on solutions.

Those in attendance today were Senator Mayne, Senator Gene Davis, Senator Howard Stephenson, Senator Aaron Osmond, Representative Greg Hughes, Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates, Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Fraser, and UEA representative Kory Holdaway.

Channel 13 and Channel 2 reported details.  Legislators, school officials, and students were interviewed.

Award of Excellence for Senator Mayne

Award of Excellence 2013Senator Karen Mayne received the 2013 Award of Excellence In Workplace Safety and Health, in recognition of her exceptional contribution to improving the safety and health of Utah workers.  The award was presented to her by the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Utah School of Medicine.

Congratulations Senator Mayne!


Senator Patricia Jones – Eleanor Roosevelt Award Recipient

Jones 2013

State Senator Patricia Jones has been chosen by the Utah State Democratic Party as this year’s recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award.  Senator Jones will be recognized at a luncheon October 8, 2013.

Senator Jones exemplifies the high standards and compassionate philosophy of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  As a legislator, Senator Jones is committed to quality public education, adequate and available healthcare, and a strong Utah business community.  She is a role model for all women in our state.

Congratulations, Senator Jones!

Senator Mayne Supports Workplace Safety Week

“It’s Utah’s first Workplace Safety Week, and it kicked off Monday at one of the largest active construction sites in Salt Lake City.  Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Utah Senator Karen Mayne, D-District 5, were at the University of Utah’s Ambulatory Care Project to promote safer workplaces.”

More information and photos at:



Karen-Workplace Safety WeekKaren and Lt. Gov. Bell

Workplace Safety Week, June 23-29, 2013

by Senator Karen Mayne
Senate Minority Whip

During the recently completed General Legislative Session of the Utah Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed SCR 9, Concurrent Resolution Designating a Week to Recognize Workplace SafetyToday, Governor Herbert hosted a ceremonial bill signing of SCR9 and also SCR2, Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Workers Compensation Fund for Workplace Safety.

The week of June 23-29, 2013, will be Workplace Safety Week in the State of Utah.

Working together to make a safe environment for all is our goal.  The cost of an accident, whether financial, emotional, and/or physical, is an injury to all citizens of Utah.  Workplace Safety Week is an added push to enhance safety in the workplace.  Our slogan and goal is to have No Workplace Accidents June 23-29.  A week with NO accidents–a dream come true!

Safety campaigns, media events, and outreach programs are being planned for Workplace Safety Week to inform the public and raise awareness of workplace safety.  We all need to embrace the Culture of Safety in the State of Utah.