Month: July 2017

Press Release: Utah research facility leading the way in groundbreaking technology

Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 31, 2017

Utah research facility leading the way in groundbreaking technology
Transportation Interim Committee hear from experts on autonomous control vehicles

SALT LAKE CITY – Members of the Transportation Interim Committee recently visited Utah State University and areas around Cache Valley to see technology being devolved and implemented in cars, trucks and other vehicles around the world.

Self-driving-autonomous vehicles are close to becoming a reality. Committee members saw demonstrations of the significant advancements made in autonomous technology. Leading experts and researchers from Utah State University informed legislators that the progress could lead to more efficient transportation, provide mobility to more Americans and potentially achieve substantial improvements in safety.

“This revolutionary technology is changing the world,” said Rep. Robert Spendlove. “Regulations for autonomous vehicles is being and will continue to be addressed by federal and local governments. I want to make certain Utah regulations enhance the development of this technology not hinder it.”

Autonomous features are already being integrated into vehicles to help drivers avoid or mitigate crashes. Such features include lane and brake assist, forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a safe following distance.

“Utah has experts leading this groundbreaking research,” said Rep. Mike Schultz, co-chair of the Transportation Interim Committee. “I appreciate Rep. Spendlove taking the time to lead this effort so committee members can see this technology first-hand and better prepare for the future.”

Additionally, USU has the only Electric Vehicle and Roadway facility in the country. Similar research facilities are in development or operation in Sweden, France and South Korea. During the visit, committee members witnessed USU’s fully electric 20-passenger bus – referred to as the ‘Aggie Bus’ – drive around the 1⁄4-mile test track at about 30 MPH.

The Aggie Bus is equipped with an autonomous control kit from Autonomous Solutions Inc., a spin-off of USU, and in-motion inductive wireless battery charging, developed at USU. This technology allows wireless power transfer from multiple concrete embedded primary pads/coils in the roadway to vehicle-mounted coils and battery systems to charge the vehicle while driving.

Researchers are aiming for fully electric vehicles, enabled with autonomous control and charged through electric roads. With these technologies vehicles can charge while in-motion and drive without human control. Drivers also have the ability to take over at any time and operate on standard roads. Autonomous control is a key enabler and is required to identify inductive power transfer coils embedded in the roadway and to align automatically under various road and weather conditions.

Further technological development at USU is aiming to advance energy storage in electric vehicles by increasing battery lifetime 30 to 45 percent. The improvements can reduce the cost and weight of vehicle battery systems and improve residual value for second life applications. The technologies are being evaluated by major automotive original equipment manufacturers for future electric vehicles.


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |


Op-ed: National Heatstroke Awareness Day

In the past month, two children with connections to Utah tragically died after being left alone in vehicles. A two-year-old from Idaho was left in a car in St. George for hours and in Las Vegas, a three-year-old from Fillmore was left for just an hour.

Unfortunately, this kind of tragedy happens far too often. In Utah, nine children have died from heatstroke after being left inside vehicles since 1998 to 2016. According to, so far, this year, 29 (updated July 31) children have died in the U.S. due to vehicular heatstroke. And since 1998, 726 children left in vehicles have died from heatstroke.

These numbers are far too high. We all say that we would never let this happen to our children, but sadly, so did many of the parents who have lost children. Many do not understand a child’s body temperature can rise as much as five times faster than an adult’s. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees and death can follow in a child when this temperature reaches 107 degrees.

In 2011, the Utah State Legislature passed S.B. 124, Leaving a Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle, which made it illegal to leave a child under the age of 9 unattended in a motor vehicle. The purpose of this law is to help raise awareness of how serious and dangerous it is to leave a young child alone in a vehicle.

As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s National Heatstroke Awareness Day approaches on July 31, this is a reminder that we all must remain vigilant in preventing these heartbreaking deaths. There are things each of us can to do prevent these tragic occurrences. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids and Cars, National Safety Council and Safe Kids Worldwide provide tips and resources to help prevent these tragedies.

Safety tips include:

  • Never leave your child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute, even if it is parked in the shade or has open, cracked or tinted windows.
  • Always lock the vehicle’s doors, and keep the keys out of reach of children.
  • Place a stuffed animal or another toy in the child’s car seat, and when the child is placed in the seat, move the toy in front with the driver.
  • Place an item, such as a cell phone or bag, in the back seat, as a reminder.
  • Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device for daycare drop offs.
  • Have a plan in place with your childcare provider to contact you if your child does not show up for school by a certain time.
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car – no matter the outside temperature.

There are also technological solutions that can ensure children are not forgotten in vehicles. Several car seat models will notify you if there is a child in the seat when the vehicle is turned off. Some vehicle manufacturers also have technology that will automatically notify you when the vehicle shuts off if the back door was opened or closed before it starts or while it’s running.

We need to stop saying “I would never do that” and start taking everyday precautions to end these preventable deaths.

Signed by:

Rep. Norm Thurston

Rep. Carl R. Albrecht

Rep. Patrice Arent

Rep. Walt Brooks

Rep. Kim Coleman

Rep Bruce Cutler

Rep. Brad Daw

Rep. Jim Dunnigan

Rep. Steve Eliason

Rep. Justin Fawson

Rep. Gage Froerer

Rep. Adam Gardiner

Rep. Craig Hall

Rep. Stephen Handy

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes

Rep. John Knotwell, Assistant Majority Whip

Rep. Cory Maloy

Rep. Kelly Miles

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss

Rep. Lee Perry

Rep. Susan Pulsipher

Rep. Tim Quinn

Rep. Paul Ray

Rep. Douglas Sagers

Rep. Scott Sandall

Rep. Lowry Snow

Rep. Robert Spendlove

Rep. Jon Stanard

Rep. Christine Watkins

Rep. John Westwood

Rep. Logan Wilde

Rep. Brad Wilson, Majority Leader

Rep. Mike Winder


This op-ed was originally posted by Deseret News on July 27, 2017


Press Release: Utah Legislative Committee Recommends John Cannon for Director of Legislative Research Office

July 26, 2017

Veteran legislative staffer, community leader, and public affairs director to return to OLRGC

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Utah House Minority Leader Brian King announced that the hiring subcommittee of the Utah Legislature unanimously recommends that John Q. Cannon assume leadership of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (OLRGC). 

John Cannon served the Utah State Legislature for over two decades, first as an analyst, then rising to the leadership position of Managing Policy Analyst for OLRGC. Cannon was recognized for his vast knowledge of the legislative process, leadership ability, willingness to innovate, and for encouraging greater citizen participation in government. Cannon left OLRGC in 2012 to work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he currently serves as the Director of Community and Government Affairs.

House Minority Leader, and co-chair of the hiring committee Brian King said, “I look forward to John’s leadership at OLRGC. He brings to the job excellent experience from prior service in that office as well as government relations work in the private sector.  His integrity and commitment to quality will allow the office to move forward on the foundation built by Mike Christensen.” 

Senate co-chair, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, “John is an innovator and a diplomat, with expert knowledge of legislative processes here in Utah and around the nation. He has the experience and leadership ability to get the work done. The choice was not easy.  We had a very strong group of applicants, but he rose to the top. If you were to craft an ideal skill set for this position, John Cannon has it.”

 As director, Cannon will succeed Michael Christensen, who has led the award-winning Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel since 2000.

 In 2012, John Cannon received a staff achievement award from the National Conference of State Legislators, which stated in part, “John possesses a unique array of superior technical skills combined with a first-rate political acumen and an unassuming and down-to-earth demeanor, great sense of humor, and compassion for others.”

 John Cannon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.

 The six-member Legislative Research Subcommittee is equally balanced between both political parties and both legislative chambers. Their recommendation will now go to the Legislative Management Committee for approval, then ratification by the full Utah State Legislature.

 # # #


 Greg Hartley
House Chief of Staff

Jen Jankowski
House Minority Legislative Staff Director

Jon Hennington
Senate Minority Assistant

Ric Cantrell
Senate Chief of Staff



Newest Citizens

On July 19, 125 people from 38 countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Mexico and Philippines, filled the Capitol Rotunda. Though these newly-minted Americans path towards citizenship vary, they united today as each of them took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

The naturalization ceremony was organized by Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes congratulated the new citizens and those who helped them, achieve their goal of becoming U.S. citizens. He encouraged the citizens as they live the American dream to give back and help people along the way because that is what makes America great and strong.

“The American dream isn’t a guarantee of success but a guarantee of opportunity,” said Attorney General Reyes.

He then led the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Viviane Quintela, anchor and producer for Noticias Univision 32, who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, shared her experience and dream of becoming an American.

“You are not only dreamers, you are also doers and that’s why you are standing here becoming citizens of a country where dreams can come true,” said Viviane.” There is freedom and opportunity in every corner. I’m here to congratulate you and to remind you the dream goes on.”

Three new citizens spoke at the ceremony.

“I would like to say congratulations to everyone,” said Ejlaa Ahmed Alhaj from Sudan. “I would like to say thank you to my teacher and all the staff of Women of the World and my family. I’m so happy to be here.”

“I can now proudly say ‘hello my fellow Americans,’” said Daniel Souza from Brazil. “We may have taken different paths, but we all get here, we all come with the same purpose – looking for a better life and for being so graciously welcomed by this great country. I’m grateful for the privilege that you and I now have now. May we all, current and new citizens, become one indivisible nation under God.”

“So grateful to be an Americancitizen,” said Eniko Mason from Hungary. “We can all live here in this beautiful country.”

The U.S. National Anthem was performed by Cytel Schults, who has been singing since she was a little girl and enjoys helping others incorporate music into their lives.

Jerold McPhee, immigration services officer for USCIS, presided over the call of countries and presentation of candidates for citizenship. Laura McNeer, field office director for USCIS, administered the Oath of Allegiance.

The new citizens also heard a welcome message from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

“This is a fabulous day and it such a privilege to be a part of this experience,” said Rep. Thurston. “We welcome our newest citizen

s and hope they enjoy their new found citizenship.”

Following the ceremony, on-site voter registration was available to encourage the new citizens to be actively engaged in local, state and national matters as well as voice their opinion in future elections.

See additional photos here.


Media Advisory: One hundred thirty people will soon take an oath to become American citizens

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
July 17, 2017


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |

One hundred thirty people will soon take an oath to become American citizens

Salt Lake City – Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will host a naturalization ceremony for approximately 130 people from more than 40 countries at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 19 at the Utah State Capitol.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Viviane Quintela, anchor and producer for Noticias Univision 32, will deliver remarks at the ceremony. Rep. Norm Thurston will serve as master of ceremonies. Laura McNeer, field office director for USCIS, will administer the Oath of Allegiance.

Cytel Schults will perform the U.S. National Anthem. A recorded new citizen welcome message from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

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

Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
Viviane Quintela, Anchor and Producer for Noticias Univision 32
Laura McNeer, USCIS Field Office Director

U.S. Naturalization Ceremony

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

Wednesday, July 19, 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.


Sunscreen & Public Schools

Did you know it was prohibited to bring sunscreen to school? Public schools didn’t allow students to possess and use sunscreen while at school though kids were outside during recess and certain field trips. During the 2017 General Session, Rep. Craig Hall sponsored legislation to correct this surprising wrong.

The Utah Legislature passed H.B. 288School Sunscreen Provision, that made it legal for kids to bring and use sunscreen at school. Read the bill here.

National Articles:

Huffington Post


Congratulations Rep. Gardiner

Congratulations to Rep. Adam Gardiner for being one of 50 state legislators selected from across the nation to participate in the State Legislative Leaders Foundation 2017 Emerging Leaders Program.

During his first session, Rep. Gardiner illustrated his passion, dedication and willingness to collaborate with his colleagues to find public policy that would benefit his constituents and citizens of this great state. He has been an effective voice for his constituents sending more than 50,000 emails to his constituents and posting regular video updates via social media during the general session.

The press release fromState Legislative Leaders Foundation:



Rio Grande

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Utah made local and national headlines after a minor-league baseball player was attacked by a homeless man in an attempted robbery, and a driver jumped a curb that killed one person and injured five near Pioneer Park.

The violence and lawlessness in the Rio Grande area are increasing. Businesses are considering hiring armed security guards to protect their employees and patrons. Citizens, elected officials, community leaders and stakeholders should not accept this as the new standard for Salt Lake City.

Though there are plans in place to help deal with this matter in the future, including new resource centers to assist those who are going through a trying time get back on their feet. However, we must look at what is happening on the streets right now to figure out a plan that will quickly change the trajectory we are on.

The State is in a position to take on a stronger role and make difficult decisions that will help bring immediate solutions. And Utahns must be committed to rallying together to be part of the solution to proactively and successfully resolve this issue.

News Articles:

KSL: Speaker Hughes wants state czar overseeing homelessness issues

Fox 13 News:  House Speaker suggests state takeover of Rio Grande neighborhood problems

ABC 4 Utah: Speaker Hughes angry over continued Rio Grande crime problem

Salt Lake Tribune: Escalating violence around homeless shelter has Utah House speaker asking: Is this a job for the National Guard?

FOX News U.S.: The Latest: Suspect arrested in deadly Utah hit-and-run

ABC News: Woman suspected of driving into Salt Lake City crowd found