Month: December 2016

Press Release: Lowering Blood Alcohol Content Levels From .08 to .05

Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 30, 2016

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Communications Coordinator
Utah House of Representatives

Lowering Blood Alcohol Content Levels From .08 to .05
Rep. Norm Thurston’s proposed DUI legislation for upcoming session

SALT LAKE CITY – As Utahns get ready to celebrate New Years Eve, Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64, is preparing to sponsor legislation for the 2017 General Session to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05 for the general population.

“It’s a needed change for the whole country. It is well known that impairment begins with the first drink, but many drivers don’t realize that even low levels of BAC can degrade skills and increase the risk of crashes,” explains Rep. Thurston. “Lowering the legal limit will help reduce deaths, injuries and losses related to alcohol-impaired driving. More drivers will become aware that there is a significant increase in risk that occurs well before reaching 0.08.”

Legal limits at or below 0.05 are common throughout the world. Most European nations have a 0.05 legal limit, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland according to European Transport Safety Council. Examples of other countries with limits at or below 0.05 include Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay. Countries, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, have 0.00 limits on BAC for general population drivers. Across the U.S., typically BAC for commercial drivers is 0.04.

“Utah can lead the way as the first state to lower the legal limit to 0.05 for the general population,” said Rep. Thurston. “This will make it more clear that drinking and driving is not acceptable. Furthermore, implementing this new standard can be done with minimal disruption to current law enforcement procedures, making this a win-win for the safety of Utahns on the road.”

In Utah, drunk driving is the third most common factor contributing to motor vehicle crash deaths over the past 10 years, with speed being first and unrestrained occupants being second.


Speaker Greg Hughes at the Bears Ears Press Conference in San Juan County

Press Conference in San Juan County

For far too long Washington DC has controlled the West – I’m here to tell you that I’ve had it! I’ve had enough of their mismanagement; I’ve had enough of them blocking our ability to responsibly manage OUR lands; and I’ve had enough at their attempt at population control. Over 65% of our state is controlled by the Federal government. 90% of Utah’s population lives on 1% of our ground. We are one of the fastest growing states in the nation yet we aren’t able to properly plan our infrastructure needs to support this growth, are limited in our efforts to expand commerce and restricted in our ability to fund our schools. Why is it that 38 states have been recognized as sovereign, yet 12 states in the West remain under federal control? It represents the worst gerrymandering in the history of this country as those in DC seek to limit our representation and influence. And what do we get as a consolation prize? It is called PILT which is the acronym for Payment in Lieu of Taxes – in my mind, a more appropriate term would be Pennies in Lieu of Trillions. And speaking of trillions, I’m done listening to a dysfunctional Federal Government that is $19 trillion in debt and telling us they can manage ANYTHING better than we can. I have a message for them – in Utah we get things done and we will always manage EVERYTHING better than they do. Representative Mike Noel Ken Ivory Utah House of Representatives United States Senator Mike Lee Ryan D. Wilcox Jason Chaffetz Orrin Hatch Congressman Chris Stewart Rep. Rob Bishop Rep. Mia B. Love

Posted by Speaker Greg Hughes on Thursday, December 29, 2016

Speaker Greg Hughes at the Bears Ears Press Conference in San Juan County on Dec. 29, 2016

Nearly 70 percent of the land in Utah and 50 percent in the western United States is controlled by the federal government. The compact between the state of Utah and the federal government at the time of the formation of the state, provided for the feds to take stewardship over the land until it could be sold. This compact allowed them to keep 95 percent of the revenue from the sale but required they give 5 percent back to the state for use in education.

This has never been done.

The responsibility of the federal government was to “dispose of” the land; it was never meant for them to hold it in reserve for no productive purpose and cut off the ability of states to utilize it for their own growth and funding.

Because the citizens of Utah have no access to nearly 70% of their land for their own management or development, the burden is on all of the states, through federal expenditures, to upkeep and maintain the land. The federal government hasn’t even been very successful at that, though the cost to taxpayers of maintaining western lands is significant at about $13 billion per year.

Taxpayers will also be further on the hook for the $15 billion in deferred maintenance in the nation’s western national parks, all while the locked-up mineral value of these very lands is assessed at $150 trillion. Add to this the fact that when states manage lands, they’re able to turn that responsibility into revenue of $6.29 per acre, while federally managed lands cost taxpayers $1.86 per acre.

It’s time for the federal government to honor the promises made to the current western states, just as it eventually did for the previously “western” states of Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. After Thomas Hart Benton, a Democrat U.S. senator from Missouri, pushed the federal government for many years to honor its commitments, they finally did and those states were freed from the constraints of federal land control policy.

Now is our time.

Media Statement: Chairs and Members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
December 28, 2016 ­­­

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Communications Coordinator
Utah House of Representatives

Chairs and Members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Salt Lake City – Today, the Obama Administration used the Antiquities Act to declare Bears Ears area a national monument. Chairs and members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, Rep. Keven Stratton – Chair, Sen. David Hinkins – Chair, Rep. Mel Brown, Rep. Ken Ivory and Rep. Mike Noel, issued the following statement regarding the monument designation:

“Like the unilateral tyranny exercised by the King of England against the American colonies two and a half centuries ago, our President has exercised an unconstitutional unilateral exercise of the Executive power to establish a monument greater in size than a number of the original thirteen states. Our children are the biggest losers and our Federal Executive Branch is well aware that this designation goes against the voice of the American Citizens living within the borders of the State of Utah and an overwhelming super majority of those elected to represent them. This Bears Ears designation will not survive a constitutional review by our Judicial Branch and we pledge to take and support every lawful action available under the rule of law to overturn this act of repulsive political cronyism.”


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Media Statement: Speaker Greg Hughes Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
December 28, 2016

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Communications Coordinator
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Greg Hughes Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Salt Lake City – Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration using the Antiquities Act to declare 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears area a national monument:

“We are truly disappointed that President Obama today chose to use the Antiquities Act to unilaterally declare a 1.35-million-acre Monument in Utah. The Antiquities Act, created by Teddy Roosevelt, was never intended to be used in this way and only the smallest area necessary for the purpose of protecting significant archaeological or historical sites is allowed. Not only is that clearly not the case here, but this administration has had no real conversations with those who will be affected by this designation, let alone any study of what “antiquities” they are attempting to protect.

Adding to a long list of executive actions that threaten the sovereignty of the states and the citizens of this nation to chart their own course, our president has chosen to once again subvert the will of the people. Earlier this month, nearly all elected officials who represent the area, from local to federal, assembled at the Utah State Capitol to plead with President Obama to resist the temptation to grant these types of political favors. This action betrays the interests of Utahns, stands in the way of better stewardship of the land we all love and cherish and ultimately amounts to a blatant federal land grab.

Our democratic republic is designed to be most effective and accountable when major decisions are made closest to the people but President Obama has chosen to circumvent all democratic processes and lock up nearly two million acres of land from use based solely on ideological principles.

Nearly 70 percent of Utah is under federal management and control and 90 percent of our population lives on just 1 percent of our ground. Nothing about this is even remotely reasonable, and that is why we in the Utah Legislature have been pushing back for decades. This designation makes that effort even more important and we will do everything within our power to seek to overturn this action once President Obama leaves office next month.”


Rep. Kelly Miles Sworn In

Today, Speaker Greg Hughes administered the Oath of Office to the Utah House of Representatives newest member, Rep. Kelly Miles, District 11.Rep. Miles is an attorney and business owner for 27 years. A former chair of McKay-Dee Hospital Board, a board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis and the Ogden-Weber ATC Foundation. Received his bachelor’s degree in Business from Weber State University and an MBA/Law Degree from the University of Utah.We look forward to working with Rep. Miles.

See more pictures here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays


Speaker Hughes Season Greetings

Christmas is a time to remember that we are not alone in this world, that our actions have repercussions beyond ourselves and that each of us has a role to play in blessing the lives of others. Most people in the United States generally feel pretty happy, but according to the Center for Disease Control, 40 percent of Americans don’t feel a deep sense of purpose.

According to one recent study, Some Key Differences between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life, while being happy and finding meaning in life overlap somewhat, there are significant differences. One that stands out is that “Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker.” The authors of the study point out that those with more meaningful lives experience higher levels of stress and worry, even while feeling a greater sense of purpose.

Through our work here in the legislature, we have seen the sacrifices of many of our fellow-citizens, from the teachers in our schools to the policemen on our streets, to the parents in their homes, raising children with love and patience.

This Christmastime, as we reflect on the past year, may we each ask ourselves what it is we’re doing to build not only a happy life but a more meaningful life – for ourselves as well as for those around us.

Utah Representatives share their favorite holiday traditions.


Utah Officials Hold Rally Opposing a National Monument Designation

Today, local leaders from San Juan County and Utah elected officials from across the state held a rally to demonstrate a strong, unified front in opposition to a potential declaration of the Bears Ears National Monument.Speaker Hughes said we have a system and elected officials that can protect the land the right way.

San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally said her constituents do not want another national monument in the County. This monument would only represent division.

It is time we do this the right way through the congressional approach said, Congressman Rob Bishop.

Congresswoman Mia Love said she trust Utahns more than she trusts bureaucrats in Washington to preserve the Bears Ears area.


This flys in the face of the constitution said, Sen. Orrin Hatch. We need the consent of the people most affected,

The best way to protect Bears Ears is through a legislative process said, Gov. Gary Herbert

The people of this state oppose a unilateral designation of a national monument. According to a Utah Policy poll, 60 percent of Utahns are opposed to 1.9 million acres being declared federal land in the Bears Ears area in southeastern Utah.

A monument declaration is absent of local support with every elected official chosen to represent the people of San Juan County and the State of Utah.

San Juan Commissioner Rebecca M. Benally explains why her people do not want this monument. Watch the video here.

“Brothers and sisters, I stand here before you as a Native American woman, the first elected woman in San Juan County. I am here today to tell you that my constituents do not want a national monument in San Juan County, because it’s just another federal overreach with empty promises.

As a Native American, we understand what broken treaties mean and broken promises; we’ve lived it for the last 200 years. So what makes you think, President Obama, that you think you’re doing the right thing? All you’re doing is breaking up families using divide and conquer among my brothers and sisters, San Juan County residents, the State of Utah.

Your legacy I hope we can soon forget because you’re not doing it for the local people. So I’m here today to tell you that Grandma Jones, Grandma Ada Benally, they shed tears because this is a place of reverent spirituality where they gather medicinal plants, wood to heat their home and cook, hunt; you’re taking that away. There is no such a thing as a special proclamation that can be done by the president. This is a Congressional authority that has to happen.

You’ve been lied to by environmental groups. Environmental groups, I’m here to tell you: stop romanticizing and stop pretending. And stop pretending that you are doing this for Native American people. I’ve seen it time and time again. It is wrong and I’m tired of you using my people, talking for them, it is wrong that you do this. Come to San Juan County where we still have over 700 miles of dirt road and high high school dropout rates, unemployment. Put your mind and money to better use instead of making people work against one another. That’s wrong.

I want to tell you about trust. There is no trust. We as Native Americans do not trust the federal government. And so President Obama, why should you be any different? I’m here to tell you to look in the eye of Grandma Ada Benally and to the eye of Grandma Betty Jones, and you tell them that you’re doing this in their best interest. You’re not. You’re limiting access and you’re lying to them.

So today I want to thank everyone for being here, stewards of San Juan County and the Jones family, the Morris family and San Juan County residents, the State of Utah, the governor, lieutenant governor, commissioners and Utah delegation, state and congressional level, titleholders, I want to let you know that at a personal level it’s disheartening, it makes you want to cry. It hurts. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, it has split families as I said. It has split San Juan County members. So this national monument, all it’s going to represent is a division. It’s not going to be a one mind, one voice, one heart movement. So today I’m going to tell you in this press conference, ‘no national monument.’ Thank you.”

Who attend the rally:

  • Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes
  • Utah State Representative Mike Noel
  • Senator Mike Lee
  • U.S. Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch
  • Governor Gary Herbert
  • San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams
  • Congressman Rob Bishop
  • Congressman Chris Stewart
  • Congresswoman Mia Love
  • Utah State Senator David Hinkins
  • San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman
  • Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney
  • Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
  • Lt. Governor Spencer Cox
  • San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally

View more photos here.

Rep. Eliason – Naloxone

Utah ranks fourth in the nation for drug overdose deaths, with an average of 33 per month. Fortunately, there are interventions that can save lives and give a second chance to those struggling with addiction.

During the 2016 legislative session, Republican Rep. Steve Eliason sponsored a bill that would allow for the dispensing of naloxone for anyone at increased risk of opioid overdose without a prescription. Naloxone can reverse heroin and prescription opioid overdoses by blocking the drugs’ effects on the brain. The bill passed and on Dec. 8, the Utah Department of Health signed a standing order allowing for pharmacists to dispense the drug in accordance with the law.

Pharmacies may choose whether to participate in the standing order, but those that do must report annually to the Utah Department of Health the number of doses dispensed. Naloxone generally has no side effects and has no potential for abuse.

As opioid abuse becomes a bigger problem throughout the nation and in Utah, we as lawmakers are concerned for those in our communities who have found themselves struggling with the problem of substance abuse. This bill may mean the difference between life and death for those individuals, and we hope that the second chance naloxone can provide will help them step out of this destructive cycle once and for all.

Jonathan Ball Honored with Steven D. Gold Award

Utah Budgeteer Honored with Steven D. Gold Award

Washington, D.C. – The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) presented Jonathan Ball, the chief budget staffer for the Utah Legislature, with the Steven D. Gold Award at NCSL’s Capitol Forum in Washington on Thursday.

The Gold Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of state and local finance, especially those that erase boundaries between academics and public policy.

“Jonathan exemplifies what the Gold Award is all about,” said NCSL Executive Director William Pound. “He strives to bridge the worlds of academia and government so that citizens enjoy thoughtful, informed and practical laws and programs.”

Ball is the director of Utah’s Legislative Fiscal Analyst and leads a team of 25 economists, accountants, financial analysts and support staff who help legislators craft the state budget each year. He has contributed to several academic publications, is a frequent guest lecturer at colleges and universities in Utah and regularly presents on budget issues for national organizations, including NCSL. He served as president of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices and the Western States Legislative Fiscal Officers Association. He is currently staff co-chair of NCSL’s Standing Committees and a member of the NCSL Executive Committee.

“Legislative staffers typically prefer to toil away in anonymity,” said Ball, “but this recognition is welcome and especially meaningful because it reflects what my team and I strive for on a daily basis – objective, accurate and relevant budget advice. I’m humbled and honored to receive it on behalf of my family, friends and colleagues without whom it would not have happened.”

The award was established in 1997 in the memory of Steven D. Gold, an accomplished economist, academic and public finance expert. Gold was an active member of NCSL, the National Tax Association and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. It is given each year by one of these organizations on a three-year rotation.

Since its inception, Ball is the second Utahn to receive the Gold Award. The National Tax Association presented it to Brigham Young University professor Gary Corina in 2006. It is the second national award Utah has been given for good fiscal management in recent months. Governing Magazine named Kristen Cox, budget director for Governor Gary Herbert, Public Servant of the Year in November.


75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that day, nearly 2,500 American sailors lost their lives, over 1,000 were injured and the U.S. was pulled into World War II. We remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice as they fought for our freedom. And we thank all of our current veterans and active military members for their dedication and sacrifice in defending this great nation.