Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s hard to believe summer is winding down, but one of the highlights for me was a week-long course I took from the Constitutional Literacy Institute through UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies. Educators from across the state discussed the Constitutional Convention of 1787, separation of powers, federalism, the Bill of Rights, civil rights, and more.
As a social studies teacher, my greatest interest and love lies in the founding of America. I never get tired of re-learning about the colonists’ struggle for independence—and the ensuing debates regarding what this new country would look like. The Founders grappled with some very difficult decisions as they blazed a trail toward a new form of government.
One of the highlights for me was an impassioned presentation from Scott Paul, Director of UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies, in which he challenged us to carry the torch for future generations.
A few books from my reading list for the Constitutional Literacy Institute. For anyone looking for a good read, I would recommend The Bonds of Affection by Matthew Holland and Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman.
We recently convened for a special session to make temporary changes to Utah election laws in order to speed up the timeline to fill Rep. Chris Stewart’s impending vacancy.
The date of the municipal primary election was changed from August 15, 2023, to September 5, 2023, and the municipal general election from November 7, 2023, to November 21, 2023. Without this intervention, the soonest that seat could have been filled would have been next March.
It's important to note that these changes only apply to this election cycle.
I enjoyed meeting with Vernal Shepherd, Glen Tanner, Richard Nielson and others to discuss the flooding and drainage issues in Benjamin, West Mountain and Lake Shore, and Drew Johnson and Jon Carpenter regarding law enforcement and corrections concerns. I appreciate these good folks and the good work they do.
I’d like to congratulate Elk Ridge on another amazing Elk Ridge Days event. Although I was unable to attend this year, I heard great feedback. The way everyone is pulled together for this event is impressive and it serves as a great example of what it means to be a tight knit community.
Payson’s Scottish Festival was a huge success. We had several field, state and national records broken in the Highland Games, as well as record number of bagpipe bands and soloists. Special shoutout to Wes Barney and crew who always keep the park looking so good!
As you may or may not know, the bulk of Footloose was filmed in Payson. This coming year is the 40th anniversary of Footloose and the last year the current Payson High School building will be standing. Payson High School students are trying to convince Kevin Bacon to come to the last prom at the current building by using the hashtag #BaconToPayson. If you’re on social media, consider giving Mr. Bacon an invite using this hashtag!
Payson Mayor Bill Wright and Santaquin Mayor Dan Olson showing their Scottish pride.
Another neat event I want to recap is Santaquin’s Youth Entrepreneur event in which youth are able to bring products to the park and sell them. This teaches hard work, innovation, budgeting, and more.
I also want to give a shoutout to Mayor Olson, Norm Beagley, and the City Council and staff for working so hard to get Santaquin Canyon one step closer to being opened. It hasn’t been an easy task, but the contract to complete the road rebuild was just granted thanks to the dogged determination of Mayor Olson.
May and June were our first interim sessions. Interim is a great chance for us to take a deeper dive into issues in the state, and I appreciate these sessions for the time we get to consider what matters to Utah residents. You can read the highlights here.
August interim will be held on the 8th and 9th. You can participate in person or online at le.utah.gov.
Bills I’m Working On
A big part of interim time is spent researching and planning for bills I’d like to work on. I’m always committed to meeting with stakeholders to gain full understanding of the issues. Productive debate and discussion enable us to determine whether legislation is truly needed, and if so, what that bill should entail.
Here are a few topics I’m exploring during this time:
- Firefighter and law enforcement retirement
- Sensitive materials in schools
- DEQ funding
- Consumer insurance protection
- Property tax help
- Prevention of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)
- Forensic equipment funding for law enforcement
- School safety/violence reduction
Some ideas may be eliminated as they move through the process, while others held by several legislators will be combined into a single bill. Many ideas need more work beyond this upcoming session, and some will be presented next session. Above all, my goal is to craft meaningful legislation when it is needed. I also focus on thinking beyond catchy bill titles to ensure the text of each bill is well-crafted and impactful.
Utah recently celebrated Pioneer Day, which always reminds me of my grandpa. He lived a portion of his youth in the cave pictured below. I often reflect on how grateful I am for all who have gone before me. The sacrifices they made to give future generations a better life is noteworthy.
I wish you all health and happiness as the summer comes to an end and families start preparing for the new school year. Thank you for all you do to make our communities and state a better place.
As always, I would love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any ideas, concerns, or suggestions.