Month: November 2018

New U.S. Citizens

On November 26, 117 people from 41 countries, represented by different flags, cultures and systems of government, became U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony at the Utah State Capitol. Rep. Norm Thurston hosted the event in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Speaker Greg Hughes delivered the keynote remarks.

“The individuals who took the oath of allegiance, remind me what it means to be an American,” Speaker Hughes. “This country and people in it are here for the ideals. I encourage you to get civically engaged and share your story. It will remind people how special it is to be a U.S. citizen.”

Though their journeys to this day were unique, in unison these individuals took an oath and in a single moment became Americans.

“I applaud the individuals for completing the work to go through the process to officially become a member of our great nation,” said Rep. Thurston. “I encourage everyone to develop an attitude of sincere, genuine caring for one other. We don’t have to agree about everything to get involved and give back.”

Laura McNeer, field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Salt Lake City, administered the Oath of Allegiance.

The Rotunda echoed as Brittney Larsen sang the national anthem.

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

Congratulations to the new citizens of this great country.

Pictures of the event can be found here.

Utah House Democratic Leadership Team for 2019/20

For Immediate Release:
November 20, 2018

Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus

Utah House Democratic Leadership Team for 2019/20

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democratic Caucus elected its new leadership team for the upcoming legislative session Tuesday evening.

  • Rep. Brian King, D – District 28, was selected to continue serving as Minority Leader.
  • Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D – District 37, was selected to serve as Minority Whip.
  • Rep. Angela Romero, D – District 26, was selected to continue serving as Minority Assistant Whip.
  • Rep. Karen Kwan D – District 34, was selected to serve as Minority Caucus Manager.

“I am grateful and honored that our caucus continues to have confidence in my leadership,” said Rep. Brian King. “We have a very cohesive team, and we will continue speaking up for hardworking Utahns.  I look forward to working closely with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues on tackling the challenges facing Utah and ensuring that all Utahns have opportunities to succeed and thrive.”

Minority Leader, Representative Brian King was first elected to the Utah State House in 2008. He has practiced law in Salt Lake City for over 30 years. His district covers the east side of Salt Lake City along with parts of Summit County and Parley’s Canyon. Following the 2014 election he was first elected to serve as the House Minority Leader.

The Minority Whip-Elect, Representative Carol Spackman Moss was first elected to the State House in 2000.  Before serving in the legislature she taught English and student government at Olympus High School for 30 years. Her district covers neighborhoods in Holladay and Murray. She previously served as the Assistant Minority Whip in the Utah House from 2004 to 2010.

The Minority Assistant Whip, Representative Angela Romero was first elected to represent Salt Lake City in 2012.  Her district covers much of Salt Lake City’s westside. She is the Community Programs Manager for Salt Lake City’s Youth and Family Division. In 2016 she was selected by her colleagues to serve as House Democratic Assistant Whip.  She is also currently the First Vice President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

The Minority Caucus Manager-Elect, Representative Karen Kwan is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Salt Lake Community College. She was first elected to the Utah House in 2016. Her district represents neighborhoods in Taylorsville, Murray and West Valley City.

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Medical Cannabis Information

An agreement has been reached by the legislature, governor, stakeholders who endorsed and opposed Proposition 2. The draft Utah Medical Cannabis Act bill is a result of the leadership of Speaker Greg Hughes bringing members of the House and Senate, stakeholders and advocacy groups to the table to find common ground on a complex issue.

Just like with any other legislation that is considered or passed by the Utah Legislature, a proposition can be altered and enhanced. The goal of this draft legislation is to openly and with transparency, address concerns while still allowing medical cannabis to be safely distributed to patients with oversight from medical professionals at every step of the process while making sure public safety is not undermined.

Highlights of the proposed agreement that is likely to be considered during a Special Session on December 3 compared to Proposition 2 are below.

  • Medical users have been concerned about how an employer may react to someone legally using cannabis. Prop 2 did not address this concern. While Utah is a right to work state, which means an employer can fire an employee for nearly any reason at any time, the agreement puts protections in place for state and local government from firing, suspending or taking adverse employment actions against an individual who uses medical cannabis.
  • Owners of firearms have been concerned about the federal enforcement of laws by those who use a Schedule 1 substance. Again, Prop 2 did not address this concern. The language in the agreement prohibits state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing a law that restricts an individual’s right to acquire, own or possess a firearm based on the person’s use of medical cannabis. While the federal government can enforce their laws, Utah law enforcement officers would not be allowed to help.
  • Prop 2 had an oversight that only had the affirmative defense, which is a legal protection in place for medical cannabis users, until January 1, 2020. Leaving a seven-month period when patients went unprotected while the card system is not required to be operational until 2021. Under the agreement, the affirmative defense is extended until January 1, 2021.
  • Qualifying conditions under the agreement are expanded to include terminal illness with less than six months of life expectancy, which Prop 2 would have repealed, and conditions that result in a person receiving hospice care. Additionally, the stipulation that required chronic pain patients first try an opioid instead of medical cannabis that was in Prop 2 was removed in the agreement.
  • The agreement keeps the CBD law in place, which allows CBD products to be sold over the counter.
  • Prop 2 put protections for parents and their minor children from adverse actions taken by the Division of Child and Family Services. The agreement expands the protections also to include protections for parents or guardians of vulnerable adults, which is the legal definition of an adult-age individual with mental or physical impairment.
  • Prop 2 prohibits individuals who have committed a felony in the past seven years from being a caregiver, which includes purchasing or transporting cannabis to a patient. The agreement reduces it to two years and narrows the scope to crimes (felony and misdemeanor) pertaining to drug distribution.
  • While liability protections were given to physicians who recommend medical cannabis treatment under Prop 2, there was uncertainty if the protections would extend to the affirmative defense, prior to having a system in place, if recommendations would be legal. The agreement addresses concerns by clearly prolonging the liability protection to the affirmative defense phase. Now, doctors who recommend medical cannabis to patients will not be held civilly or criminally liable for recommendation merely because cannabis is a federally illegal Schedule I substance.
  • In Prop 2, there is a provision, though never intended to be utilized, in case dispensaries were not allowed to operate until January 2021 that would enable users to grow their medical cannabis. This agreement eliminates the ability for patients to grow their own cannabis and changes the provision to medical decriminalization. Prosecutors will not be able to file charges against patients who use medical cannabis after the date listed above. The new proposed change will be beneficial to many more patients.
  • Two lawsuits have already been filed against Prop 2. To help ensure patients have access to medical cannabis and the agreement is upheld, a severability clause has been included. So, if a court rules a provision of the bill is unconstitutional, the rest of the proposal will remain in effect without the nullified provision.

Medical Cannabis Pharmacy 

Medical cannabis is illegal on a federal level, which prohibits pharmacies licensed by the federal government to distribute it. Instead of following what other states have implemented that have dispensaries without professional medical oversight, this agreement takes a Utah approach to solve the pharmacy concern.

There will be a state central fill medical cannabis pharmacy that will distribute the medical cannabis to a local health department. Additionally, five specialized state-licensed medical cannabis pharmacies will be located throughout the state that could distribute cannabis in a medicinal dosage form.

The medical cannabis pharmacies would be required to follow laws similar to state licensed pharmacies including labeling, continuing education and counseling.

How it would work. Under this draft legislation, when a physician recommends medical cannabis to a patient, the medical cannabis pharmacies would be informed. The patient could then pick up the cannabis at a local health department or a medical cannabis pharmacy where the patient would be required to show their medical cannabis card to receive it. Pharmacists would be available to answer questions and educate patients on the cannabis and dosage, equivalent to a traditional pharmacy.

Medical cannabis would be available in medicinal dosage forms such as a tablet, topical preparation or concentrated oil. Smoking would be prohibited under this collaborative draft legislation. Additional measures will be put in place to protect against recreational marijuana use.

Overview of Meetings

In October, the governor and legislature announced they would meet during a special session to consider the draft medical cannabis bill whether Prop 2 passed or failed. During October interim, the Health and Human Services Interim Committee discussed the draft legislation.

On Monday, November 26 the Health and Human Services Interim Committee will be discussing the Utah Medical Cannabis Act againThe special session to vote on the proposed bill is planned for December 3. You can attend the meetings in person at the Capitol or listen live online at

Information about the draft legislation, articles, blogs, public hearings and town halls can be found here:

Additional information:

21 counties voted against Prop 2 – 8 counties voted for it.



Utah House Democrats’ Statement on the Passing of Congressman Jim Hansen

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Democrats issued the following statement on the passing of Congressman Jim Hansen:

“We are sad to hear of the passing of former Congressman Jim Hansen, Utah’s longest-serving U.S. congressman. While Democrats did not always agree with the congressman’s positions, he was fair and respectful. He recognized the importance of working across the aisle. He knew that achieving good legislation requires consensus and good relationships. Congressman Hansen admirably took on the challenging and sometimes thankless roles as chairman of the House Ethics and Natural Resources Committees. He also was a staunch supporter of the Hill Air Force Base community which has continued to benefit generations of Utahns.  We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss.”


Speaker Greg Hughes statement about the passing of Jim Hansen

Salt Lake City – Speaker Greg Hughes has issued the following statement about the passing of Jim Hansen, the former Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives and Utah’s longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives:

“As a former Speaker of the House and longtime member of Utah’s congressional delegation, Jim Hansen got involved in politics to make a positive impact in his community. He was very successful in that effort. He was a tireless advocate and champion for Hill Air Force Base, multiple use of public lands, improving our transportation and water infrastructure and many other issues. Utah and its citizens have greatly benefitted from his public service. He will be missed but certainly not forgotten. I extend my condolences to the Hansen family during this time.”


 Utah to take the lead on lowering prescription drug costs

For Immediate Release

November 13, 2018


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications

 Utah to take the lead on lowering prescription drug costs

Rep. Paul Ray to announce legislation that will aim to lower the inflated cost of prescriptions for Utahns.

Rep. Paul Ray, District 13

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.




Utah House Democrats Congratulate Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson

Utah House Democrats Congratulate Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson

SALT LAKE CITY – This evening the Utah House Democrats released the following statement following the Republican Caucus’s announcement of their new leadership team:

“Congratulations to Speaker-Elect Brad Wilson and the new members of the Republican Caucus leadership team. The House Democratic Caucus looks forward to working with Speaker-Elect Wilson, as we know he values inclusivity and listening to all perspectives.  Speaker-Elect Wilson has shown himself to be fair, astute, and respectful of collaboration.  He understands that many Democratic priorities align with the Republican Caucus’s own concerns, such as quality education for our children, public safety, high-quality jobs and protecting the well-being of all Utahns.  Going forward, we are eager to work in partnership with Speaker-Elect Wilson and all of our Republican colleagues for the people of Utah.”

# # #

House Majority Leadership Team for 2019/20

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House Majority Caucus elected their leadership team for the upcoming legislative session Thursday night. They are as follows:

  • Brad Wilson, R – District 15, was selected to serve as Speaker
  • Francis Gibson, R – District 65, was selected serve as Majority Leader
  • Mike Schultz, R – District 12, was selected to serve as Majority Whip
  • Val Peterson, R – District 59, was selected to serve as Majority Assistant Whip

“I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity to lead the Utah House,” said Speaker-elect Brad Wilson. “During this upcoming session, we will continue to tackle big issues and find solutions to pressing concerns. Our work in the Utah Legislature will reflect the values and needs of all Utahns. Together, we will work to keep Utah the leading state for quality of life, prosperity and opportunity.”

“It is an honor and privilege to be selected by my colleagues to lead the majority caucus,” said Majority Leader-elect Francis Gibson. “I’m grateful for the chance to lead the men and women of our caucus, reach across the aisle and work with the Senate to pass legislation that will better our state.”

Bios for the newly elected majority leadership team are below.

Representative Brad Wilson, Speaker-elect  

Brad Wilson, a Davis County native, represents Kaysville in District 15. He and his wife, Jeni, are the parents of three children.

Rep. Wilson is the CEO of Destination Homes, a residential homebuilder. In 2010, he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. He served as the assistant majority whip in 2014-16. Currently, he is the majority leader and a member of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

During his time in the Legislature, Rep. Wilson has passed legislation to reform alcohol policy, strengthen the ability for small businesses to grow within the state while generating numerous strategies to improve Utah’s air quality, put protections in place for property owners from frivolous lawsuits and helped ensure victims of crime receive fair and timely restitution and reparation. Additionally, his leadership in moving the state prison to a new location will result in numerous jobs created, which will help stimulate even more economic growth.

Rep. Wilson is a public servant who aims to inspire and rally people to work together to find the best solutions for challenging issues.

He is active in the community. Boards Rep. Wilson has served on include Davis Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Davis Economic Advisory Council,  Children’s Aid Society of Utah, National Advisory Council for Weber State University, World Trade Center of Utah, Walker Institute and Utah Capital Investment Corporation. He is also a member of the Utah Chapter of the Young President’s Organization. He was named as one of Utah’s Top 40 Under 40 Business Professionals.

Wilson has a business degree from Weber State University and is a graduate of the College of Financial Planning. In 2015, he was the Weber State University Alumnus of the Year.

Representative Francis Gibson, Majority Leader-elect

Rep. Francis Gibson has represented District 65 in the Utah House of Representatives since 2009. He has chaired the Education Standing Committee and served on the Education Appropriations Committee, been a member of the Health Care Task Force, House Special Investigative Committee and the Legislative Redistricting Committee. He has served in a leadership position as majority whip for the past four years.

He believes being actively involved in the community where you live, rather it be an elected or voluntary position, is an important part of giving back.

For four years, he was a councilman for Mapleton City. He has served in many volunteer positions from Executive Board for Boy Scouts of America National Parks Council, Children’s Justice Center of Utah County, Utah Sports Commission and coached youth sports in the community and at the high school level.

As Rep. Gibson represents his district, he strives to be humble, dependable and accessible. He believes in addressing difficult matters is vital to improve and maintain Utah’s way of life we all know and love. Some of the most significant issues that he has and continues to tackle include growth, transportation, affordable housing and homelessness.

Rep. Gibson is the CEO and Administrator of the Orem Community Hospital and Spanish Fork Hospital, which is part of the Intermountain Healthcare organization. He has a Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University, a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston and a Master of Business Administration from Utah State University.

In his spear time, he loves boogie boarding in the ocean, camping and golfing with his family and recently began riding dirt bikes with his sons. He looks forward to the day when he can retire and travel the country in a motorhome, visiting national parks.

Rep. Gibson and his wife, Shiela, have been married 25 years and have four children, three sons, and one daughter.

Representative Mike Schultz, Majority Whip-elect

A lifelong resident of Hooper, Roy and West Haven, Representative Mike Schultz grew up working on his grandfather’s cattle farm. From that experience, he learned one of life’s greatest lessons–the value of hard work.

With this in mind, and with the help of his parents, at the age of 10 Schultz began his career as an entrepreneur selling worms to fishermen. At 12, he took his first job milking cows at his neighbor’s dairy farm and by the age of 16 he had started a hay hauling business and was sub-contracting with a ward member to roof houses. He earned his general contractor’s license and started building homes when he was 20 years old.

Rep. Schultz owns and operates a number of small business and currently serves as president of Castle Creek Homes, headquartered in Roy, Utah. He also serves on the Board of Directors for First National Bank.

As an employer and small business owner, he believes that the role of government is simply to give its citizens the framework to build their own success and then get out of the way.

He was first elected to represent District 12 in the Utah House in 2014. Serving in the Utah Legislature has been most meaningful to him when it gives him the opportunity to make a positive impact in people’s lives, especially in those areas where government has overstepped its authority.

He and his wife, Melissa, are the proud parents of six children.

When not busy with work or family, he can be found in the great outdoors hunting, fishing, cattle ranching or snowmobiling.

Representative Val Peterson, Majority Assistant Whip-elect  

Representative Val Peterson was first elected to the Utah State Legislature in 2010. As a member of the Utah House of Representatives he has served as chair of House Education and Vice Chair of Rules, Government Operations, Economic Development, Work Force Service and Labor Appropriations.

Rep. Peterson is the Vice President for Finance and Administration at Utah Valley University (UVU). He serves on the UVU Events Center Board, is a board member of Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem and has served on the Provo Airport Board.

During his time in the legislature, Peterson has and continues to work a number of issues including education funding, air quality, transportation funding, public lands, prison relocation and public lands legislation.

Prior to running for office, Peterson served his country for 32 years. He served in the National Guard for 30 years and as the Land Component Commander for the State of Utah. He retired as a Brigadier General. Throughout his military career, his areas of responsibility consisted of the Army National Guard MACOMS, military intelligence, engineers, aviation, artillery, special forces, medical services and commanded at the Company, Battalion and Brigade level.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, a master degree in Mass Communications from Brigham Young University (BYU), a master degree in Strategic Studies from United States Army War College and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from BYU.

Peterson, originally from Idaho, lives in Orem with his wife, Ann. They are parents of three children. The Peterson family enjoys boating, water skiing, hiking, skiing and golfing together.


Utah House Majority to Announce 2019/20 Leadership Team 

For Immediate Release
November 7, 2018

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications

Utah House Majority to Announce 2019/20 Leadership Team

The Utah House Majority will hold its leadership elections on the evening of Thursday, November 8. A press conference to announce the newly elected 2019/20 majority leadership team will immediately follow.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018 following the adjournment of the majority caucus meeting (approximately 6:45 p.m.). Media can set-up equipment starting at about 6:30 p.m.

Members of the Utah House Majority Leadership