From the desk of Senator Karen Mayne, District #5
Busy, groundbreaking, and left unfinished, these are the victories and challenges we faced as legislators this past session. We were busy with the largest amount of legislation that we have ever had, hearing hundreds of bills. We tackled several groundbreaking issues that have brought Utah national attention. And unfortunately, we left unfinished several important issues, such as health care in Utah. We had a majority of Senators support Healthy Utah, passing it out of the Senate, but members of the House did not see eye-to-eye with us on this issue. So we are at a logjam, with a special session set to deal with the needs of our citizens who lack health insurance. I supported Healthy Utah. The conversations that I had with constituents in my district, the emails I received, and the phone calls I heard were overwhelmingly supportive for implementing this program. Is it perfect? No, but we need an added coverage to those who lack it and need it the most.
STATEWIDE NON-DISCRIMINATION LAW: We in West Valley, Kearns, and Taylorsville have had non-discrimination codes in place for employment and housing for several years. This legislation would extend similar non-discrimination laws statewide. I think this is great example of compromise and working together in the legislature to pass good legislation.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Senator Madsen drafted a bill to begin the discussion on medical marijuana use in Utah, following strict procedures and guidelines. It was a beginning to an important conversation. It barely missed passing out of the Senate by one vote. I wish the House had the opportunity to discuss this serious and needed issue, but it will be heard in interim study this year. We are a long way away before we travel this path, but a mature and serious medically based discussion is needed.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVISIONS: This past session I sponsored this landmark legislation, SB 199, which will affect townships in Salt Lake County. This is the third piece of township legislation that I have passed. Last year the legislature (though my legislation) mandated that Salt Lake County must fix the issue of townships. SB 199 does just that. It gives the townships the opportunity to vote for how they want to move forward and have ownership of their neighborhoods and communities. Check out SB 199 online to get all the details, the county has provided a terrific site here. Thank you to my partners in this government changing legislation, Mayor McAdams, Rep. Hutchings, and various city mayors, councilmen and township residents who stepped up to meet the challenge.
EDUCATION: Mixed Bag? Funding for education did increase and a new formula to infuse more tax dollars into our schools were passed, but we need to continue to step up and help our schools financially prosper. Many different computer programs were funded and new ideas on how to improve graduation rates and proficiency in math and science will be implemented in the upcoming years, which will benefit our education system.
TRANSPORTATION: Our needs are great and in November we will have an opportunity to vote on how you want your transportation dollars spent. A ballot vote will be offered to voters on local options for taxation, if the governing entity asks for a citizen vote for transportation needs. At the beginning of the year we will see a 4.9 cents increase on the statewide gas tax as well, to meet continuing funding needs for transportation. After that, an average price at the rack will be adjusted, but will not go under 4.9 cents at the pump.
PRISON AND JUSTICE REFORM: HB 348 helps reduce penalties for certain controlled substances offenses and establishes mental health and substance abuses treatment and programs to reduce recidivism in drug related sentences. In other words, it will help make the punishment fit the crime and prevent future offenses. This bill would make use of innovative sentencing procedures, such as veterans and drug courts, instead of just putting people in jail. Approaching the issues with the appropriate treatment rather than placing them in jail and making them hardened criminals is the answer and I am excited that this legislation passed.
SB199 – Protects our townships and gives Salt Lake County financial stability while allowing townships to decide fro themselves in how they want to be governed.
SB 272 – Guarantees that terminated workers get their wages in a timely manner and holds employers responsible for providing the payment.
SCR 8 – Coordinates federal money coming into our state for the transportation of those who are disabled in our communities.
SJR 14 – Provides the groundwork for Utah’s own “G.I. Bill,” benefitting Utah veterans and their families.
SJR 15 – Encourages the state to use Utah companies and Utah workers to do all the work on the new prison. The prison is being paid for by our state tax money, so it should only benefit our economy. Keep Utah dollars in Utah!
SB 27 – License Health Facility Administrators
SB 32 – Clarifying Award Restrictions For Legislators
SB 135 – Gives Workers Compensation to firefighters in the state for cancers related to their duties. This is my first piece of legislation protecting firefighters and I am very proud to be part of helping it pass.
SB 121 – In the bidding process for state construction jobs, general contractors and their subcontractors will have to meet a workplace safety component and standard.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE MOMENTS:
Railroad safety issues will be studied during Interim Study to have a deeper conversation in how to protect rail workers and our communities.
I participated in honoring fallen miners during a special ceremony during the session.
Worked to push in statute that motorcyclist can obtain a special Utah Veterans license plate.
Secured $120,000 ongoing money for school nurses throughout the state
For those in Taylorsville and the surrounding community, I secured money for fencing the residential areas surrounding the SLCC campus (with Senator Harpers help).
Secured funding for residents in Taylorsville having outdated title issues (thanks to Rep. Anderson for taking a leadership role on this issue).
I was the senate sponsor for several house bills, including HB 26–Hutchings, HB 93–Hall, HB 53–Anderson, HB 55–Redd, HB 28–Redd, HB 271–Lifferth, and HB 276–McKell.
KEARNS NEWS: Salt Lake County will begin infrastructure improvements for 5400 South. Hopefully we will have a wonderful walking park for the area and community. There was also an approval for the expansion of the oval, keeping this state of the art facility modern.
TAYLORSVILLE: Economic development has been a key concern for the city and they are doing a lot of work for it. The mayor and city council have been actively visiting schools and are preparing for the next Taylorsville Dayzz.
WEST VALLEY City: If you haven’t heard, professional soccer is coming to our West Side. West Valley City is in negotiations with the Real Monarchs (minor league affiliate of the MLS team, Real Salt Lake). The stadium would be completed in 2016, so let the fun begin!
As always, I am proud to serve my many neighbors and friends in our great community. The legislative session is quick with long days, but I appreciate your input and support during this productive time of year.