Month: May 2018

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we are reminded of the great sacrifices made throughout the history of our nation that have allowed us to live in freedom. This blessing is granted through the sacrifices of those who have served with honor and devotion. Thank you to the brave men and women for their services defending our nation.

Utah Legislature Recognizes Contributions of Confucius Institutes

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2018

Aundrea Peterson
Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives

Bryan Smith
Deputy Chief of Staff
Utah State Senate

Utah Legislature Recognizes Contributions of Confucius Institutes
University of Utah, Southern Utah University and Davis County Public Schools Receive Commendations  

Salt Lake City – Confucius Institutes across the state were honored by the Utah legislature at the state capitol on May 17. The legislature presented a citation of honors to a delegation from the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing (Hanban) attending the Eleventh National Chinese Language Conference. Senator Curtis Bramble (R – District 16) said that this citation recognizes the efforts of the people of Utah to advance Chinese language programs with the support of Confucius Institutes.

At the conference opening ceremony, Utah Governor Gary Herbert affirmed his commitment to advancing Utah’s Chinese dual language immersion program, citing the value of Chinese language education for Utah’s economic development and workforce employability.

Since the establishment of the first Confucius Institute in Utah in 2007, more than 13,000 students have participated in Chinese language classes. Supported by Confucius Institutes, Utah’s dual language initiative has become a leading program in American immersion language instruction, preparing Utahns to thrive in a globalized society. In his meeting with Utah students and educators, Senator Orrin Hatch (R) called the Confucius Institutes’ programming “really critical and crucial” and said “learning [Chinese] … is in [the US’] best interest.”

Senator Howard Stephenson (R – District 11) said that “the success of Utah’s Chinese language program would not have happened without the Confucius Institutes and the caliber of teachers provided through these partnerships.” He added, “I have never seen more dedicated teachers than those from the Confucius Institute.” An advocate for dual language immersion in Utah, Sen. Stephenson claims “monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st Century.”

Memorandum of Understanding Signed

Following the recognition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Hanban and the Utah State Board of Education on May 18. The MOU recognized Utah’s dual language Chinese immersion education program and the role of the Confucius Institutes in promoting people-to-people exchanges between the US and China. Hanban pledged ongoing support of Confucius Institutes to meet Utah’s growing demand for Chinese language and culture classes.


The Confucius Institute U.S. Center is a nonprofit organization that supports the teaching of Chinese language and culture in the United States and fosters educational exchanges between China and the United States.


SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments

During the recent session, the Utah Legislature passed SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments. The purpose of the bill was to reform the governance of Utah Transit Authority (UTA), provide tools for local governments to support the rising demand for multimodal transportation, improve checks and balances, and increase transparency. It also included a rebranding component. Though no money was appropriated to rebrand, due to confusion and misinformation, bill sponsors requested that the agency not proceed with that aspect of the bill.

UTA has been recognized across the country as one of the best models to emulate; however, issues of transparency and trust have overshadowed much of the good work that they’ve done. Last year, the Legislature formed the Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force to investigate potential changes to the governance and funding of UTA. Since May of 2017, the task force has met and during the 2018 legislative session, put forward well-researched solutions for the future of the agency.

The passage of SB 136 will allow UTA to operate with better structure and greater accountability and efficiency, which will benefit everyone. Putting the name change aside ensures that the focus remain on the other, more important aspects of the legislation.

UTA should now work just as hard on promoting the successes of their agency as they have on creating a false narrative related to the costs of the name change.

The Legislature will work with the new UTA board once it is in place in November to decide the best path forward.

Read highlights of SB 136 here.



Speaker Hughes Attends WH State House Speakers Conference

Speaker Greg Hughes attended the White House State House Speakers Conference on May 21, 2018. The conference brings together state house speakers from across the country to receive an update on the President’s policy initiatives.

Several administration officials meet with the group including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, senior staff members and intergovernmental directors from more than 20 federal agencies. During the conference, they discussed an extensive range of topics including federalism, housing, opioids, homelessness, deregulation, workforce development, the farm bill, rural businesses, broadband, opportunity zones, veterans’ legislation, infrastructure, treatment, health care and foreign trade.

Rep. Schultz and Sen. Harper ask UTA to hold on rebranding UTA

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018

Aundrea Peterson
Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives

Bryan Smith
Deputy Chief of Staff
Utah State Senate

 Sen. Harper and Rep. Schultz ask UTA to hold on rebranding UTA

Salt Lake City – Due to confusion and misinformation surrounding SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments, bill sponsors Senator Wayne Harper and Representative Mike Schultz request Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to not proceed with the request for proposal (RFP) and rebranding. The Legislature will continue to study this issue and work with the new UTA board once it is in place, to decide the best path forward.

“We want all to focus on the new day of multimodal transportations, better utilization of resources, improved land use and planning and adequate funding,” said Sen. Wayne Harper. “A plan for the next 40 years.”

“The name change was a minimal aspect of the bill. No money was appropriated to rebrand UTA,” said Rep. Mike Schultz. “The purpose of this legislation is to revamp the transit agency by increasing transparency, improving checks and balances and providing local governments with the necessary tools to assist with the growing demand for multimodal transportation. It is now time for stakeholders to come together to further enhance Utah’s transportation system and set clear directives that will lead to better efficiencies and oversight and ultimately benefit all Utahns.”


Watch the press conference from May 16, 2018, here.

Read highlights of SB 136 here.




Transportation Reform

Utah’s population is expected to double within the next 50 years and we will need to continue to plan and prepare for this future growth. Utah is recognized nationwide for its innovative transportation systems and collaboration. SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments, restructures the governance of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), enhances the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), creates a new fund for transportation and transit and modifies some of the funding sources.

Highlights of SB 136, Transportation Governance Amendments

 UTA Governance

  • Creates a three-member full-time board of trustees that will oversee the agency.
  • Board members will be nominated by counties, appointed by the governor with consent from the Senate:
    • Salt Lake County – 1
    • Utah county with Tooele County – 1
    • Davis County and Weber County with Box Elder County – 1
  • Board members will serve three year, staggered terms that will be at-will, under the governor.
  • Creates a nine-member advisory board.
  • Must have approval from State Bonding Authority before issuance of any new bonds.
  • Requires the State Attorney General’s Office to provide legal counsel.

UDOT Governance

  • Restructures UDOT to accommodate an increased role in multimodal planning and capital development.
  • Creates a Planning and Investment Division.

Investment Fund

  • Creates a structure to form future Transit Transportation Investment Funds (TTIF), which will require at least 40 percent non-state funding.
  • Permits political subdivisions to create Transportation Reinvestment Zones to capture increases in property taxes around transportation infrastructure improvements.

Fair Share

  • As more people have switched from traditional vehicles to electric and hybrid, the gas tax has lagged behind.
  • SB 136 implements a three-year phase-in of fees for these vehicles. The purpose is to start working towards every driver paying a fair share for the use of the roads.

Provides Local Governments with Key Tools

  • Expands and clarifies counties’ authority to implement a local sales tax option of .20% for public transit after July 1, 2019.

Restructures State Transportation Planning

  • Directs UDOT to develop statewide strategic initiatives for planning and coordinating multimodal transportation.



Bills that pass the Utah Legislature go into effect 60 days following adjournment of the general session, unless another date is specified in the legislation. See a full list of bills that became law on May 8, 2018, here.




More than 2,000 high-school students, teachers and volunteers filled the Eccles Theater to participate in Hamilton Education Program (EduHam) on May 4, 2018. Students from across the state participated in the unique opportunity of performing Hamilton-inspired musical or spoken numbers on center stage.  Utah definitely has talent.

Every student who attended created their own performance. The top 15 performances from different schools were selected to present at the theater.  Each act (solo or group) presented a rap, song, poem or spoken for their  classmates.

Additionally, the cast of Hamilton answered student’s questions. Then the day concluded with a special matinee performance of the Tony-Award winning musical.

Check out the news coverage of the event here:

Northern Utah students join others at special ‘Hamilton’ show in Salt Lake City – Ogden Standard Examiner

Utah students rap and sing their way onto the ‘Hamilton’ stage – Salt Lake Tribune

‘It’s like going to Disneyland’: Utah high school students react to seeing ‘Hamilton’ – Deseret News

LISTEN: Utah Students Take The ‘Hamilton’ Stage – KUER

EduHam, ‘Hamilton’ education program, shows Utah students exciting side of history – KUTV

Utah High School Students To Enjoy Private Hamilton Performance – Utah Public Radio 

Northern Utah students join others at special ‘Hamilton’ show in Salt Lake City – Ogden Standard Examiner 

Provo students learn U.S. history through ‘Hamilton’ curriculum – Provo Daily Herald

Provo students have their eyes on history through ‘Hamilton’ – AP News


What is an interim?

During the 45-day general session, many items that do not make it through committee are put on a master study list. The committee chairs then prioritize what should be studied over the interim period based on this list and input from committee members.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate President and committee chairs meet to collectively determine the final list. The Legislative Management Committee then votes to adopt interim study items and the schedule for the year. Due to the limited number of meetings, committees focus on those issues that are a top priority to help ensure a proper vetting.

Interim committees then study the identified key issues facing the state. They listen to expert and public testimony to determine whether or not to recommend legislation, and they vote to prioritize particular bills for the upcoming general session and occasionally for future special sessions.

Unlike during the general session, when the Senate and House each have standing committees comprised of only their own members, interim committees are made up of both senators and representatives.

These meetings are held throughout the year, generally the third Wednesday of the month, and are open to the public, can be streamed live or listened to at a later date at

See the list of potential 2018 interim study items here. A list of committees and schedules can be found here.


Former Representative Carl Duckworth

Media Statement
For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2018

House Democrats Mourn the Passing of Former Representative Carl Duckworth

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Utah House Democrats offered their condolences to Representative Susan Duckworth and her family upon hearing news of the passing of her husband and former Democratic Representative Carl Duckworth.

Representative Carol Spackman Moss said, “Carl was always kind and friendly, and never appeared to be in a bad mood. He had a quiet demeanor, but as a legislator he was always engaged and followed everything closely.  If ever I had a question during a floor debate I could always ask Carl and he knew the answer.”

Representative Patrice Arent said, “Carl was truly someone who cared about his community.  He was a wonderful friend and he cared about his colleagues. I truly enjoyed serving with him.”

Representative Mark Wheatley said, “Besides being a nice guy, Carl was a strong advocate for unions. He worked to ensure people received equal pay for equal work. He wanted people to have a livable wage with health benefits. In that sense, he was true Democrat who fought for hardworking Utahns.”

Rhoda Struhs, who was Administrative Assistant for the House Democrats while Rep. Carl Duckworth served, said, “Carl was a quiet champion. He very seldom spoke up, but instead chose to work behind the scenes. He wasn’t one to pontificate.  But when he did, the whole floor would get quiet. Carl would stand and speak very articulately and calmly about a bill, and everyone would stop and listen. That almost never happens at the legislature, and I thought it was so powerful.  Everyone heard the words he was saying when he spoke.”

Former Representative Carl Duckworth served the state of Utah as a legislator for 10 years, from January 1, 1999 until December 31, 2008.

Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Minority Caucus