|2012 General Legislative Session||Week 6: February 27 – March 3, 2012|
|Dear friends and neighbors,
There is only one more week left in the session! We are honored to serve you and all the citizens of Utah. Negotiations on the budget is consuming much of the time and energy up on Capitol Hill, but we are still working hard on a variety of bills to help improve the state.
Senate Bills On the Move:
|Senate Democrats Discuss Important Issues With Governor Gary HerbertEach week, Democratic leaders meet with Gov. Gary Herbert to discuss policy and legislationIn our meeting with Gov. Herbert this week, we expressed opposition to efforts to take land back from the Federal government. This legal battle would be incredibly costly and Utah would likely lose. Proponents argue that more land under Utah control would yield greater tax revenue. We prefer to use that money to aid our schools right now, rather than rely on a lengthy legal battle with uncertain results.
We also showed concern over the cuts in the Department of Air Quality budget cuts. Maintaining our environment is of great importance, and we requested that the funding be put back in. Gov. Herbert said that education is the funding priority, and any extra funds should be directed to our schools.
H.B. 363 is another problematic bill we discussed with the governor. We are pleased that he values parental choice in areas of sex education. This is why we oppose a state mandate that would strip schools and parents of their ability to decide what is best for their students and children.
Senate Democrats In the News
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Utah Senate Democrats
From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lee Davidson
The Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to a controversial health care compact bill that both sides say is strong medicine — but disagree whether it will cure or kill Medicare and Medicaid in Utah.
Senators voted 20-7 to advance SB208 by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to a final Senate vote.
The bill would have Utah join an interstate compact seeking to opt out of federal health care reform to let states control programs such as Medicaid and Medicare with federal block grants.
“I think we can manage our affairs better than the federal government,” Adams said. “I think there’s lots of money to be gained” through local innovation that he says is hindered by federal red tape.
But Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, said many questions are unanswered about whether block grants would keep pace with inflation, and what administrative costs would be locally. The Utah Health Policy Project estimated in committee that Utah could lose $132 million in Medicaid by 2014 if the bill passes.
Click here to read the whole story
Click here to see how your Senator voted.
From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Robert Gehrke
A bid to shrink class sizes for kindergarten through third grade was derailed Wednesday after a House committee killed the measure, arguing it would hurt school districts.
“It’s a good program, but it’s an unfunded mandate,” said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, “and in the future they’ll be back here asking us for money or there will be a multitude of problems.”
SB31 sought to cap class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, phasing the caps in over four years. Kindergarten classes would be capped at 20 students, first and second grade at 22 each, and third grade at 24.
Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, said the current class size in the early grades is 27 per classroom, although many have more than 30 pupils.
“It’s very difficult for a child to receive the individual attention they need in such circumstances,” she said. “With that many children, it often becomes a situation of crowd control versus learning.”
For the whole story, click here.
The Utah House passes a bill on Wednesday that requires parent consent for minors who want to use tanning beds.
Parents will be asked to sign a consent form each time a minor uses a tanning device. Facilities that provide tanning services also need to post warning signs on the risks of tanning.
To get the rest of the story, click here.
Know your breast density
by Senator Karen Mayne, D–West Valley City
Every 3 minutes a woman in theUnited Statesis diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 13 minutes a woman in the U.S.dies from breast cancer. 38% of breast cancers in the U.S. are diagnosed at a later stage where the cancer has spread beyond the breast. Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer in the early stages.
Dense breast tissue is comprised of less fat and more connective tissue which appears white on a mammogram. Cancer also appears white on a mammogram, thus tumors are often hidden behind the dense tissue. As a woman ages, her breasts usually become more fatty. Forty percent of women have dense breast tissue, and women with extremely dense breast tissue have a 6 times greater risk of developing cancer than women with fatty breasts. The good news is that a radiologist can determine from a mammogram if a woman has dense breast tissue. The disturbing news is that as few as one in 10 women learn about breast density from their physician.
This year, I was pleased to sponsor and pass Senate Bill 31, which recommends that women who have received a mammogram be notified as to whether or not they have dense breast tissue. The new policy encourages radiologists and physicians to give women more information about our health. Knowledge is power, and women are smart. Given the knowledge about our bodies, we will know what to do to take care of ourselves, by seeking out medical professionals who can properly advise us on the next steps to take regarding own health concerns. However, it is critical that we receive this important information.
The good news is that there are additional cancer screening tools available for women who have been diagnosed with dense breast tissue. Screening by ultrasound, for example increases detection of cancers at earlier stages in women with this condition.
Breast cancer is a scary diagnosis, but early detection almost always saves lives. I encourageUtah’s medical community to take the recommendations of Senate Bill 31 and give women all of the necessary information regarding their health. I also encourage all ofUtah’s women to become more aware of their breast density, to ask questions of your health care provider, and to receive regular mammograms. If you’re diagnosed with breast density, visit your doctor to discuss more screening options. It’s a matter of life!
For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
Bill establishing diversity training for new lawmakers goes to committee
Salt Lake City – A bill that establishes diversity and sensitivity training for newly elected lawmakers will be heard in a committee meeting today.
S.J.R. 24 Joint Rules on Legislator Orientation would require that training for new senators and representatives include instruction on demographics of Utah. The training would include statistical data on age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic standing. It would also discuss respect and sensitivity for diverse groups in our state.
“As Utah continues to grow and become more diverse it is important to know who we represent as a state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero (D-Salt Lake City). “Understanding our community’s potential, found in its diversity, will help us grow and prosper.”
The Senate Democratic Leader added that “it is important as we discuss our state’s diversity that we are inclusive and tolerant in our words and actions as representatives of our State.”
The bill will be heard by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee.
Who: Senator Ross Romero, presenting SJR 24
What: Senate Government Operations & Political Subdivisions Committee
When: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Where: 415 State Capitol, Utah State Capitol Complex
For more information or interview requests, please contact Emily Hollingshead at 435-590-9961.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schenker
Utahns might soon be able to give money to elementary schools when they file their income tax returns, if a bill that gained initial Senate approval Tuesday becomes law.
SB59 would allow Utahns the option, when filing their income tax returns, of designating elementary schools to receive contributions in the amounts of their choosing. The school principal would then, in consultation with the school community council or charter school board, decide how to spend the money.
Bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said the change would allow people to put more money in their local schools, or any elementary school.
A bill that would require minors using tanning beds to be accompanied by a parent moved a step closer to passage Tuesday despite threats from a Republican to change the measure when it has its final floor vote Wednesday.
Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, proposed SB41 as a way to more tightly regulate tanning salons by requiring parents with minors to read about the health risks that come with a tanning session at a salon.
“If we do it for tattoos and we do it for body piercings, why shouldn’t we be doing this for tanning, which is much more dangerous than possible infections from body piercings and tattoos,” Jones said.
Click here to read the rest of the story.