Month: November 2017

Point of the Mountain Development Commission Presents Scenarios

For Immediate Release

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications

Aimee Edwards
GOED Communications Director


SALT LAKE CITY (Nov. 28, 2017) — Public input is being sought for five development scenarios outlining possibilities for future growth of the Point of the Mountain region.

During a presentation to the Utah Legislature’s Point of the Mountain Development Commission at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, Envision Utah unveiled showed what the region could look like in 2050 according to specific development priorities.

Each of the five scenarios include varying levels of focus on residential and commercial development; transportation infrastructure; job growth and workforce development; and air quality, open space, recreation and water use.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission will host two workshops to gather public feedback on the five scenarios:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m. at the Ashton Gardens Visitor Center in Lehi
  • Thursday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m. at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper

Residents may also weigh in on the scenarios through a survey on until Dec. 31, 2017.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission was created during the 2016 Legislative Session by H.B. 318. The commission is a unique entity comprised of local officials, private sector representatives, and state officials from both the legislative and executive branches. It is tasked with providing recommendations on infrastructure planning and financing tools to develop the area joining Salt Lake and Utah Counties.

For more information, visit



Naturalization Ceremony to be held at the Utah State Capitol

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
November 27, 2017 

                             Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications

Naturalization Ceremony to be held at the Utah State Capitol

 Salt Lake City – Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will host a naturalization ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, November 28 at the Utah State Capitol.

The keynote speaker Silvana Effio, news anchor and director at Telemundo Utah, will share her experience of becoming a U.S. citizen. Rep. Norm Thurston will serve as master of ceremonies. Laura McNeer, field office director for USCIS, will administer the Oath of Allegiance.

Carla Swensen-Haslam will perform the U.S. National Anthem. A video welcome message from President Donald Trump.

Following the ceremony, on-site voter registration will be available for the new U.S. citizens.

Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64
Silvana Effio, News Anchor and Director for Telemundo Utah
Laura McNeer, USCIS Field Office Director

U.S. Naturalization Ceremony

Utah State Capitol ­– Rotunda
350 State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at 10 a.m.

New citizens will be available for interviews immediately following the ceremony. When photographing someone with their certificate, have the person cover up their number (top right) to protect their privacy.






Speaker Hughes statement on the nomination of Dr. Harris to serve as U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
House Majority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Hughes statement on the nomination of Dr. Matthew Harris to serve as U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY –  Speaker Greg Hughes issued the following statement following President Trump’s announcement to nominate Dr. Matthew D. Harris to serve as the United States Marshal for the District of Utah:

“Dr. Matthew Harris is an excellent choice to serve as U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah. He has advised me on various law enforcement issues as well as public policy recommendations related to waste fraud and abuse. He is highly qualified to serve in this role.

“I appreciate President Trump’s selection of a topnotch expert to serve in our great state and Senator Orrin Hatch for his influence and confidence in recommending Dr. Harris for this important position. I look forward to working closely with him in his new capacity.”

Dr. Harris, formerly of Utah, is currently an Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. Dr. Harris previously served as a Senior Special Agent and Assistant Director for criminal investigations at the United States Government Accountability Office. Dr. Harris served in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Salt Lake City from 2000 to 2006 and in the New York State Office of Inspector General from 1999 to 2000.

His federal law enforcement career began in 1997 with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Since 2003, he has been an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Salt Lake Community College.

Dr. Harris holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from Northcentral University, a Master of Public Administration from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration and Criminal Justice from Kutztown University.

The White House press release can be found here: President Donald J. Trump Announces Ninth Wave of United States Attorney Nominations and Third Wave of United States Marshal Nominations



Speaker Hughes Educating Counties about Options to Confront Big Pharma

Press Release
For Immediate Release
November 16, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
House Majority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Hughes Educating Counties about Options to Confront Big Pharma
Uniting to combat the opioid crisis

ST. GEORGE, UT– Speaker Greg Hughes and DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Utah Brian Besser are attending the Utah Association of Counties annual conference in St. George to discuss the opioid epidemic impacting every county in our state.

Speaker Hughes will be focused on informing county leaders and stakeholders about their options to pursue litigation against big drug manufacturers. He will encourage them to follow the lead of Salt Lake County and Utah County leaders who just this week announced they would be initiating litigation to hold accountable those responsible for this crisis.

The opioid crisis that is sweeping this country is affecting every community across our state. The facts are staggering, in Utah 4 out of 5 people addicted to heroin started through prescribed opioid pain medication.

“We must take this fight to those who have profited by making blatantly false claims that have adversely affected Utahns lives,” said Speaker Hughes. “Utah has an important and unique story that needs to be shared. Now is the time to act.”

Drug manufactures knowingly made deceptive claims while marketing their products to physicians and the public, such as, “Opioids are rarely addictive if taken long term.” Resulting in the United States consuming 99 percent of opioid products even though our country only makes up 5 percent of the world population.

Every county in this state needs to join together to fight this public health epidemic.



Fireworks Restrictions – 2018


During the 2017 fireworks season, questions were raised about the types of fireworks allowed, the number of days it is legal to use fireworks, fire prevention, and liability concerns. In order to address these issues in a balanced and appropriate manner, Rep. Dunnigan and Sen. Iwamoto worked together on legislation that balances these concerns with the desire many Utahns have to be able to celebrate our most patriotic holidays with traditional displays of fireworks. This legislation is the result of numerous meetings with law enforcement, firefighters, fireworks retailers and manufacturers, citizens, and local elected officials.

A balanced approach

This legislation takes a balanced, bipartisan, and reasonable approach to addressing the many viewpoints on how and when fireworks should be allowed.

40% reduction in dates fireworks are allowed in July

  • Fireworks would be allowed July 2-5 and July 22-25, instead of July 1-7 and July 21-27.
  • Fireworks would still be allowed on New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Stronger penalties for shooting fireworks outside of permitted dates and times

  • Penalty for discharging fireworks when not permitted would be up to a $1,000 fine, an increase from $750. Violations would remain an infraction.

New penalty for igniting fireworks in restricted areas

  • Up to a $1,000 penalty and an infraction for discharging fireworks in an area where fireworks have been prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.

More local control

  • Provides clarity and increased flexibility to local governments and the state forester to prohibit the discharge of fireworks due to historic or current hazardous environmental conditions.

Easier to understand restrictions and penalties

  • Requires local governments and the state forester to create and provide maps showing where fireworks are prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.
  • Requires retailers to display maps that counties provide showing these restricted areas and display signs that indicate legal dates and times as well as criminal penalties and fines for violations.

Increased liability for causing a fire with fireworks

  • Civil liability for negligently, recklessly, or intentionally causing a fire with fireworks potentially includes any damages caused by the fire and any costs of suppressing the fire.



Business and Labor Interim Committee voted unanimously to fast-track this legislation for consideration during 2018 General Session on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Legal Action Against Opioid Makers

We appreciate Salt Lake County and Utah County taking strides to help bring in an end to the drug manufactures not being held responsible for making blatantly false claims. Utah is moving in the right direction. Looking forward to others taking action.

This letter was read by Utah Commissioners read during the Utah County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

Watch the press conference where Speaker Greg Hughes, Mayor Ben McAdams District Attorney Sim Gill and families of those affected by the opioid crisis announce Salt Lake County’s intent topursue legal action against opioid drug manufacturers here.

Press Conference: Phase Three – Operation Rio Grande

Phase Three of Operation Rio Grande was announced on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The plan focuses on the dignity of work. Speaker Greg Hughes, Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox and Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment, outlined the plan that focuses on establishing work activities, workshops, devotionals and other employment preparation activities to the daily routine of individuals residing in the Rio Grande area.

Watch the press conference here.

In addition, the DREAM Team concept was announced for businesses that are wanting to get involved and become part of the solution. Learn more here.

Dignity of Work handout.

Representatives visit University of Utah Health

Representatives have the opportunity to hear and see presentations about the remarkable effort that is being completed by many notable organizations, non-profits and companies during committee meetings. Though, to gain an even better understanding, Representatives at the Utah House want to not only just hear about it but also observe it. One of the best ways to learn more about the excellent services Utahns are performing is to personally experience an organizations environment and operation that takes place on a day to day basis.

Speaker Greg Hughes, Rep. Steve Eliason and DEA supervisory special agent Brian Besser visited the University of Utah Health (UofU Health) facilities on Thursday, Nov. 2. The purpose of the visit was to get a firsthand look at the exceptional work accomplished by the dedicated staff who are striving to provide excellent care to individuals often during one of the most challenging moments of their lives.

We appreciate the dedicated doctors, nurses, scientists and staff who thanklessly aim to provide the best care and service to Utahns and those in and around the country.

During the visit, they visited the Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the AirMed team, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and Entertainment Arts and Engineering department.

The dean of the College of Pharmacy discussed the cutting-edge opioid addiction research with a zebrafish that is being conducted to understand the drug-seeking behavior better. The purpose is to  come up with solutions to help fight this epidemic. Learn more about the study here.


The NICU combines highly trained healthcare professionals and advanced technology to provide care for the tiniest patients in need of intensive medical attention. The medical team works tirelessly and is a vital component for the health and developmental well-being of premature or sick infants. Babies delivered at 24 weeks have a 90 percent survival rate at the UofU Health NICU.

Treating burn injuries can be a challenging and lengthy process. The Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit, which includes physicians, nurses, counselors and other caregivers, aims to provide access to the latest treatments as well as emotional and spiritual support to help patients and their families during the recovery process.

The Burn Center team cares for over 400 people a year and has about a 92.5 percent survival rate. Additionally, the Burn Center has gone more than four years without a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI). A reputable accomplishment. CLABSIs can result in thousands of deaths each year as well as add significant costs to the healthcare system.

The air medical transportation service, AirMed, is based out of the UofU Health’s Level 1 Trauma Center and is one of only three trauma level units in the state. AirMed has six helicopters and two airplanes located throughout Utah and Wyoming that are ready 24/7 to assist trauma, burns, pediatric, high-risk obstetrics and more.

Extensive training and experience are required even to be considered to join the top-notch AirMed team. Flight nurses have at least five years of experience in a Level 1 Facility. Flight medics have a minimum five years of experience. Flight respiratory therapists have a minimum of two years of experience in an ICU and ER at the UofU Health.  Additionally, AirMed is one of the only perinatal teams in the country staffed around the clock with a high-risk OB nurse, a neonatal nurse, and a perinatal respiratory therapist. The average crew member has 17 years of experience.

The goal of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy is to expand the knowledge about developmental biology. It is also a valuable teaching tool for medical and dental students during the preclinical years. The department continues to grow. In the last three years, seven additional faculty members have joined the team.

The Entertainment Arts and Engineering program brings game developers and medical researchers together to develop innovative therapeutic apps and medical games. Projects include assisting in physical therapy for amputee patients, creating the ability for individuals to personalize control of a wheelchair and patient empowerment games.

The Utah State Legislature matched a private donation and appropriated $50 million for the Medical Education & Discovery Building. The project is projected to cost about $185 million. It will serve as an education and training hub for the UofU Health. Faculty, students and industry partners. They will be able to come together to create, test and implement solutions to challenging health problems.

UofU Health has more than 20,000 faculty and staff, is Utah’s only academic health system and it generates $77 million of state tax revenue.

Utah continues to rank as one of the top places for healthcare at the most affordable rate in the nation. This is due in large part to the dedicated doctors, nurses, scientists and staff.

November 2017 Legislative Calendar

Stay in the know about what is happening at the Utah House of Representatives.  Here is a list of November’s meetings. Click the committee to see the agenda, meeting materials and listen to live and past audio* of meetings.

Wednesday, November 1
10:00 a.m. Education Interim Committee

Thursday, November 2
3:00 p.m.  Property Tax Working Group of the Utah Tax Review Commission

Tuesday, November 7
10: 00 a.m. Native American Legislative Liaison Committee

Wednesday, November 8
9:00 a.m. Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee

Thursday, November 9
10:00 a.m. Judicial Rules Review Committee
:00 p.m. Utah Tax Review Commission

Monday, November 13
9:00 a.m. Administrative Rules Review Committee
3:30 p.m. State Fair Park Committee

Tuesday, November 14
9:00 a.m. Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands
9:30 a.m. Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee
2:00 p.m. Executive Appropriations Committee
3:00 p.m. Legislative Water Development Commission
4:00 p.m. Legislative Audit Subcommittee 

Wednesday, November 15
8:00 a.m. Health and Human Services Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Business and Labor Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Education Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Government Operations Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Political Subdivisions Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Judiciary Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Transportation Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee
5:00 p.m. Commission on Federalism

Thursday, November 16
8:00 a.m. Legislative Policy Summit

 Monday, November  27
8:00 a.m. Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force
9:00 a.m. Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
1:00 p.m. Health Reform Task Force

 Tuesday, November  28
2:00 p.m. Point of the Mountain Development Commission

*Not all meetings are streamed online.


Press Release: Feds approve Utah’s Medicaid waiver

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Nov. 1, 2017

Feds approve Utah’s Medicaid waiver

SALT LAKE CITY (Nov. 1, 2017) – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced its approval of a 2016 request from the state of Utah to expand Medicaid services to 4,000 – 6,000 Utah adults without dependent children. The approval also includes authority to use federal funds to provide residential substance abuse treatment services to Medicaid recipients.

This limited expansion of Medicaid is a critical element of Operation Rio Grande, as many of the newly eligible recipients will be members of the homeless population. Phase two of the operation focuses on bringing additional treatment beds into the system to support individuals in recovery. The waiver approval will encourage treatment centers to begin offering services for Medicaid members. In anticipation of this waiver approval, multiple centers are planning to add roughly 180 beds within the next year.

“We are excited to announce approval of Utah’s waiver that will expand access to Substance Use Disorder treatment,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  “I applaud Gov. Herbert for taking this critical step to address the opioid crisis and look forward to continuing to support the Utah in their efforts.”

The program will begin enrolling newly eligible members immediately.

“I’ve always said that the federal government should give states the flexibility to innovate in how they operate their Medicaid programs,” explained Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “Nobody knows how to address the unique challenges we face as a state better than we do. Today’s announcement allows us to address the specific challenge of extending health care coverage — including substance abuse and mental health services — to the homeless population. I commend the Trump administration for approving our waiver request, and look forward to providing these critical services.”

“The approval of this waiver is significant for the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “It will empower more effective solutions to help those experiencing poverty and homelessness. I appreciate the current administration for recognizing the merits of our objectives.”

In order to be eligible, individuals may not earn more than five percent of the federal poverty level and must be “chronically” homeless or involved in the justice system through probation, parole, or court-ordered substance abuse or mental health treatment.

Historically, substance abuse treatment through Medicaid was limited to facilities with 16 beds or fewer. Under the waiver, the bed capacity limit will be lifted allowing more treatment centers the ability to provide care to Medicaid members with substance use disorders.

“We appreciate the Trump administration’s effort to approve these waivers based on our requested timeline,” said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes. “In all our conversations, they have recognized our needs and the importance of this critical step to help the neediest in our society. These waivers will help further our execution of Operation Rio Grande and the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. I’m proud of the unprecedented partnerships we have formed through our multi-jurisdictional effort and look forward to our continued collaboration and success in changing people’s lives by giving them a hand up.”

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) submitted the waiver for CMS consideration on July 1, 2016. Elements of the request were outlined in legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan and passed during the 2016 legislative session.

“After working on this issue for the past several years, I’m excited for CMS to have finally signed off on our plan,” said Rep. Dunnigan. “This was a bipartisan effort, and there was broad support for the legislation that lead us here today. I look forward to continuing to work with all the parties involved to now implement this important program.”

This waiver approval does not include the proposed amendments that were submitted to CMS in August 2017 which included a work requirement and limitation on eligible months of coverage. The Utah Department of Health will continue to work with CMS to obtain authorization for these additional flexibilities in order to ensure expansion efforts are sustainable.

# # #

Read the letter here.

Watch the press conference here.