First off, I would like to say thank you to all of those that braved the snow and came out to my town hall meeting last Saturday. It was a great success and I had a wonderful time meeting and discussing various issues affecting our community. We were lucky to be joined by Deputy Chief Jon Fassett and a representative from Congressman Jim Matheson's office, who shared useful information as well as provided local outreach. I would like to give a special thank you to the staff at the Eddie P. Mayne Kearns Senior Center for their help in providing a comfortable place to meet.
On Monday I had the chance to sit down with Mike Washburn, a UFA firefighter that works in my district, at the Utah Fire Caucus lunch. During the lunch we had a beautiful ceremony for the fallen firefighters in our state and to honor the good work that they do in providing fire protection and paramedic services. We were able to discuss the needs of the fire departments across Utah and how to improve fire safety locally. Last year I was awarded “Legislator of the Year” by the Utah Fire Caucus and it was great to see my fellow colleagues that have also been very supportive of the caucus win this year. I want to give a special thank you to all of the brave firefighters across the state that risk their lives in providing emergency services and making our lives safer.
I introduced a new resolution on Thursday in the Senate Transportation and Public Utility and Technology Standing Committee. The resolution, S.J.R. 8, encourages the Utah Driver License Division to emphasize education and safe driving habits around railroad crossings. It was passed unanimously in committee and will be heard on the Senate floor next week. I hope to increase awareness of the safety concerns involving railroad crossings, especially as public transportation grows and becomes increasingly important in Salt Lake County and across the state. Safe and courteous driving is paramount in making our communities safer and more livable.
Friday was a busy day in the Senate. We debated on, once again, S.B. 100, a bill that deals with the Utah Regent’s Scholarship. Controversy arose because of the inclusion of the International Baccalaureate Program, a rigorous course of study option for high school students, as a reason for consideration for the scholarship. I supported this bill because it helps Utah students and recognizes those who push themselves academically by choosing these higher level courses, not only those in the IB program, but also students who take AP classes and concurrent enrollment classes.
I was able to see my bill, S.B. 44, be debated and voted on for the first time on the floor Friday. This is one of my larger pieces of legislation that closes loopholes for companies that misclassify workers as a “co-owner.” These loopholes allow certain companies to avoid providing certain benefits to their workers by not paying for their insurance or workers’ compensation, as well as not paying state taxes. The bill is important because it will protect workers who are misclassified as “co-owners” by making sure they receive the benefits that they deserve and are owed as employees.
I have been able to see my bills move through their committees and be debated on in the Senate as well as the House. My resolution, S.C.R. 2, which recognizes the role of the Workers’ Compensation Fund in workplace safety, was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday. I am glad to see that this piece of legislation go through and am excited to see my other bills make their way through the Senate and to the House.
Thank you for your support this past week and for your input, it is appreciated.