We’re three weeks in! I’m proud of how much meaningful legislation has already been passed and I look forward to working with my colleagues on much more.
In addition to presentations and testimony, this week gave me a chance to spend time with constituents. Marrin Smith accompanied me on the floor one day, and I also met with a homeschool group to speak about the importance of leadership. I never miss an opportunity to meet folks from my district. I view this as one of the most important investments of my time.
Here’s a look at some of the topics and issues we explored during week three — and remember, you can always follow along with the legislative process at le.utah.gov.
In celebration of Water Week, the legislature focused heavily on long-term solutions to meet the needs of Utahns. My colleagues and I are committed to passing policies that will increase water capacity, expand conservation efforts, prepare for future water needs, and enhance outreach efforts.
We are looking at investing heavily in water, which includes agricultural optimization efforts. The agricultural industry is our largest water user. They do tremendous work and know the value of wise water use better than anyone, but they need our help.
I also met with employees of the Utah County Public Works Department to survey the high water levels in the West Mountain, Lake Shore, and Benjamin areas. Water infrastructure is failing and it must be addressed as soon as possible.
One small but important piece of water conservation is addressing the public water use of our golf courses and municipal lands. In addition to significant funding, the following bills are also top priorities for the House and Senate:
- S.B. 53 Groundwater Use Amendments
- S.B. 76 Water Amendments
- S.B. 118 Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives
- S.B. 119 Per Capita Consumptive Use
- S.B. 144 Water Instream Flow Amendments
- H.B. 150 Emergency Water Shortages Amendments
- H.B. 207 Compact Commission Amendments
- H.B. 286 Great Salt Lake Funding Modifications
- H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways
Learn more about Utah’s new public-private partnership, Utah Water Ways, by listening to this week’s podcast episode. H.B. 307 creates a public-private partnership to coordinate water grants and programs, provide consistent messaging on the efficient use of water, and accept private donations to help statewide water conservation efforts. Listen here.
As tragic events across the country have made clear, we can’t afford to be complacent about the safety of our schools. Protecting children should be a top priority for all of us.
Considering this, we spent time discussing legislation aimed at increasing school safety. The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee heard five bills that address the hardening of bullying, truancy, juvenile justice, and threat protocol. These changes would raise the minimum standard for safety across the state.
These bills will help Utahns feel confident that their children are safe when they’re at school each day.
Addressing Domestic Violence
In a touching moment, the parents of Gabby Petito and Amanda “Mandy” Mayne came for the passing of S.B. 117.
This bill requires law enforcement officers to conduct a lethality assessment when responding to a report of domestic violence between intimate partners. Additionally, it requires the Department of Public Safety to create a grant program for domestic violence victim services.
It is my hope that impactful legislative changes will help us prevent tragedies like these from ever happening again.
Firefighter Retirement Revisions
I was humbled and proud to present H.B. 183 to the Political Subdivisions Committee.
This bill will allow our hardworking emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to participate in the firefighter retirement systems.
Thank you to our dedicated EMTs for the lifesaving work you do every day!
Camp Maple Dell Funding
I had the opportunity to present an RFA to fund a Boy Scouts of America camp in Payson.
Established in 1945, Camp Maple Dell is a fixture in our community and has served many generations of Utahns. It offers engaging programs to camp programs that teach self-sufficiency, resilience, and patriotism.
This request funds major renovations at the camp, including updates to Clyde Lodge.
Looking ahead, we’ll begin discussing and debating tax cuts in the coming week. All types of tax cuts are on the table, including income, social security, sales tax on food, and an earned income tax credit. Keeping money in the pockets of hard working Utahns is a critical topic for me.
Do you have questions or concerns regarding tax cuts? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Your participation in this process is vital and I value your opinion.
Representative Doug Welton