Category: Press

Legislative Leaders Issue Statement on Separation of Powers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2017

Legislative leaders issue statement on separation of powers 

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah legislative leaders expressed concern with executive branch overreach.  Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, House Minority Leader Brian King, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, and Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis issued the following statement: 

“We express our concern with Governor Herbert’s decision to call an election without allowing the legislature to exercise its clear constitutional responsibility. Establishing election procedures in law is clearly a role given to the legislature by the U.S. Constitution.  Separation of powers is one of the most fundamental principles of our government and a vigilant guard against abuse of power. Nowhere is the executive branch given the authority to establish election procedures.”

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Infographics

The infographics below compare timelines, the process of filling other vacant offices in Utah, and review how other states fill vacancies.

 

Joint Op-Ed: Separation of Powers

Utah House Representatives Speaker Greg Hughes, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Minority Leader Brian King and Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis joint op-ed in Utah Policy.

When a vacancy occurs in the U.S House of Representatives an election of the people must occur. The U.S. Constitution states that the times, places and manner of elections will be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof (Article 1, Section 4). Further, U.S. Code Title 2, Section 8(a) says, “ … the time for holding elections … to fill a vacancy…may be prescribed by the laws of the several States… ”

It is clearly the role of the Legislature to establish election procedures and “prescribe them by law.” Nowhere is the executive branch given the authority to establish these procedures; the governor’s legal role is to issue a formal writ declaring that an election will take place.

The separation of powers is one of the most fundamental principles of our government, and protects all of us from abuses inherent in concentrations of power.

It is without question the duty of the Legislature to put in place the parameters of an election. It is equally without question the governor’s job to call a special session to allow us to fulfill this responsibility. For the executive branch to fail to do so, and to then purport to establish “The Times, Places and Manner” outside of the legislative process is an inappropriate breach of his constitutionally defined power.

Utah is one of only three states that do not yet have statutory provisions for a U.S. House of Representatives special election to fill a vacancy. We now face a congressional vacancy and have no process established by law to provide a replacement. But we could, in just a few days, if the governor called us into special session.

The timeline matters. These are historic days in Washington. Major issues hang in the balance. Congress is grappling with issues of great consequence—tax reform, health care and public lands, among others. Every day in Congress in which Utahns are not represented disenfranchises the citizens of the Third District. For as long as the vacancy persists, twenty-five percent of Utahns are left without a voice.

The governor has a clear responsibility to call the Legislature into special session. The state constitution, ratified by the legislature and the people, says that only he can do that. We wouldn’t assert a non-constitutional authority to call ourselves into session, just as he should not assert a non-constitutional authority to commandeer the time, place, and manner of an election process. Again, elections are constitutionally and statutorily placed in the hands of the Legislature.

We need to hold an election of the people and it must be done expeditiously. Governor Herbert’s decision to call an election without allowing the Legislature to perform its legal and constitutional duty is disappointing and exposes the vacancy election process to unnecessary legal and political risks.

 

Statements

  • Read Utah House of Representatives Chief of Staff Greg Hartley’s statement on the Utah’s 3rd Congressional District Vacancy here.

 

  • Read House Minority Leader Brian King’s statement declaring his support for a special session to detail the laws guiding special elections in Utah here.

Joint Op-Ed: Separation of Powers Issue

Utah House Representatives Speaker Greg Hughes, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Minority Leader Brian King and Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis joint op-ed in Utah Policy on May 19, 2018.

When a vacancy occurs in the U.S House of Representatives an election of the people must occur. The U.S. Constitution states that the times, places and manner of elections will be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof (Article 1, Section 4). Further, U.S. Code Title 2, Section 8(a) says, “ … the time for holding elections … to fill a vacancy … may be prescribed by the laws of the several States … ”

It is clearly the role of the Legislature to establish election procedures and “prescribe them by law.” Nowhere is the executive branch given the authority to establish these procedures; the governor’s legal role is to issue a formal writ declaring that an election will take place.

The separation of powers is one of the most fundamental principles of our government, and protects all of us from abuses inherent in concentrations of power.

It is without question the duty of the Legislature to put in place the parameters of an election. It is equally without question the governor’s job to call a special session to allow us to fulfill this responsibility. For the executive branch to fail to do so, and to then purport to establish “The Times, Places and Manner” outside of the legislative process is an inappropriate breach of his constitutionally defined power.

Utah is one of only three states that do not yet have statutory provisions for a U.S. House of Representatives special election to fill a vacancy. We now face a congressional vacancy and have no process established by law to provide a replacement. But we could, in just a few days, if the governor called us into special session.

The timeline matters. These are historic days in Washington. Major issues hang in the balance. Congress is grappling with issues of great consequence—tax reform, health care and public lands, among others. Every day in Congress in which Utahns are not represented disenfranchises the citizens of the Third District. For as long as the vacancy persists, twenty-five percent of Utahns are left without a voice.

The governor has a clear responsibility to call the Legislature into special session. The state constitution, ratified by the legislature and the people, says that only he can do that. We wouldn’t assert a non-constitutional authority to call ourselves into session, just as he should not assert a non-constitutional authority to commandeer the time, place, and manner of an election process. Again, elections are constitutionally and statutorily placed in the hands of the Legislature.

We need to hold an election of the people and it must be done expeditiously. Governor Herbert’s decision to call an election without allowing the Legislature to perform its legal and constitutional duty is disappointing and exposes the vacancy election process to unnecessary legal and political risks.

Statement: Utah House of Representatives Chief of Staff Statement on Utah’s 3rd Congressional District Vacancy

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2017 

 

Utah House of Representatives Cheif of Staff Statement on Utah’s 3rd Congressional District Vacancy

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah House of Representatives Chief of Staff Greg Hartley issued the following statement on the resignation of Congressman Jason Chaffetz:

“Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Code Title 2 clearly state that the Legislature is responsible for prescribing the process for elections. This is a separation of powers issue. The House and Senate Majority caucuses are unanimous in their support for a special session.

“House Minority Leader Brian King has made it clear, as have the Chairs of the Republican and Democrat parties – the Legislature is responsible for defining how elections are run. Speaker Hughes remains committed to defending the legislative process and calls on Governor Herbert to convene a special session of the Legislature to vote a clearly defined process into law.”

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Media Statement: Democratic Leader Supports Special Session on Elections Guidelines

Media Statement
For Immediate Release: May 17, 2017

Contact:
Elizabeth Converse, Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives – Minority Caucus
801-835-7087 | econverse@le.utah.gov

Democratic Leader Supports Special Session on Elections Guidelines

Salt Lake City – House Democratic Leader Brian King released a statement today declaring his support for a special session to detail the laws guiding special elections in Utah.

He said, “We are talking about the fundamentals of our government – checks and balances. Defining how elections are run is a legislative power. We may have a lot in common with how the Governor would like a special election to run, but it is not his prerogative. The legislature is responsible for those decisions.

There is a need to provide clarity in our current law. There is an imminent special election. Why should Utah lose a seat at the table when critical decisions are being made about our lands and our water? There is urgency here and the legislature should address it. I support a special session.”

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Joint Statement: Utah House and Senate Applauds Executive Order to Review Antiquates Act

 

Joint Statement
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2017

Contact:
Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 | aundreapeterson@le.utah.gov

 Utah House and Senate Applauds Executive Order to Review Antiquates Act

SALT LAKE CITY – Last week President Donald Trump signed an executive order to review National Monument designations, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, Reps. Keven Stratton and Mike Noel and Sens. David Hinkins and Margaret Dayton are pleased to release the following joint statement:

We applaud President Trump’s executive order calling for a review of his predecessors’ use of the Antiquities Act, including the designations of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National monuments in flagrant violation of the will of the people in those areas. The order acknowledges and respects the resolutions passed by the Utah State Legislature during the 2017 General Session, urging action to correct this blatant executive overreach by rescinding or reducing the designations.

Utah has endured more than 20 years with the devastating consequences of these unilateral decisions that have restricted access, weakened local economies and corroded our rural communities. Such is the result when a president, far removed from the repercussions of his decisions, ignores input from those most impacted by local land management policies – the very people who know and love these lands the most. We are confident that as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visits our state and applies the criteria specified in the recent executive order, he will see that reducing or rescinding these monuments is both appropriate and necessary. We look forward to Secretary Zinke’s visit and further action by President Trump on Utah’s national monuments.

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Speaker Hughes statement in support of Salt Lake County press conference concerning jail beds

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2017

Speaker Hughes statement in support of Salt Lake County press conference concerning jail beds

SALT LAKE CITY –  Speaker Greg Hughes issued the following statement regarding the Salt Lake County press conference to announce funding for jail beds.

“As I stated in my opening remarks this past legislative session, homelessness is a statewide issue and every community has a role to play. We must protect the most vulnerable amongst us by arresting the wolves who prey upon them. Today’s announcement is another key step to address this issue. I’m encouraged and supportive of the plan to address the jail bed situation in Salt Lake County and remain a committed partner in solving this crisis.” – Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes.

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Press Release: President Trump Signs Executive Order to Review National Monuments

Press Release
For Immediate Release
April 26, 2017

Contact:
Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 | aundreapeterson@le.utah.gov

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Review National Monuments

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to have Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke review national monument designations and the history of the Antiquities Act, which was never intended to lock up large swathes of land as it has been used over the past two decades. The intent of the Antiquities Act was to set aside only the smallest area necessary to protect significant archaeological or historical sites.

“I’m thankful we have a President that is sensitive to the needs of those of the West, of our great land and great people,” said Speaker Greg Hughes. “This is the first step in the process of reviewing Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument designations to ensure that the antiquities are preserved, while keeping the lands accessible to the Native Americans and citizens.”

During the 2017 session, Speaker Hughes sponsored  H.C.R. 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation. This concurrent resolution urged the new administration to remove the 1.35-million-acre monument designation made by the previous president shortly before leaving office.

“I’m grateful to live in a nation where things are not forced upon us by politicians that do not care and do not listen to what a majority of Utahns want,” said Speaker Hughes. “We now have a president that is willing to listen to the input of Utahns and discuss viable alternatives.”

Utah has endured two of the most controversial national monument designations in recent history. Nearly 70 percent of Utah is under federal management and control, and 90 percent of Utah’s population lives on just 1 percent of its land.

“The days of a president decreeing whatever he pleases despite the adverse effects it has on the people in the community are over,” said Speaker Hughes. “I am grateful that this President wants to be a partner with us in figuring out how best to preserve our lands while still providing economic opportunities for those residing in the area.”

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Media Advisory: Commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
April 4, 2017 

Contact:
                                  Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 | aundreapeterson@le.utah.gov

Commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I

Salt Lake City – Representative Stephen Handy, sponsor of H.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the United States and Utah’s Participation in World War I, to speak at a ceremony to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I.

This resolution recognizes the United States’ and Utah’s participation in the Great War, which spanned from July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918. It also helps the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Utah Department of Heritage establish a Utah World War I Centennial Commission. The purpose of the future Commission is to develop a statewide awareness campaign to recognize the history of the war, the role of the U.S. military played, the impact of the war on America’s and Utah’s society and culture and to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

This event, co-sponsored by the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Utah Division of State History, is open to the public. The event will feature several speakers, music and artifacts from the period.

Who: 
Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs
The Utah Division of State History
Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton

What:
Remembering the Great War – Commemorating the Centennial Anniversary of the United States’ entry into the first world war

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

When:
Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 10 a.m.

Notes:
For more information and details about the commemorative period, please visit history.utah.gov.

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Media Advisory: One hundred twenty-seven people to take the Oath of Allegiance at the Utah State Capitol

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2017

 

Contact:
                                 Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
aundreapeterson@le.utah.gov

One hundred twenty-seven people to take the Oath of Allegiance 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 for approximately 127 people from 43 countries at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 22 at the Utah State Capitol.

Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and former Utah State Representative Sophia DiCaro 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.

Sharlee Hendricks, violinist, will play the national anthem. “America, My Home” will be sung as a surprise by an international lyric tenor-baritone who is a relative of a person naturalizing.

On-site voter registration will be available following the ceremony. 

Who: 
Speaker Greg Hughes, Utah House of Representatives
Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64
Sophia DiCaro, Former Utah State Representative for District 31
Laura McNeer, USCIS Field Office Director
Sharlee Hendricks, Violinist

What:
U.S. Naturalization Ceremony

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

When:
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at 10 a.m.

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

 

H.B. 199, High Needs Children Adoption Amendments

Adoption of High-Needs Children
Legislation Preventing Unregulated Custody Transfers

SALT LAKE CITY – H.B. 199, High Needs Children Adoption Amendments, sponsored by Representative Merrill Nelson, District 68, passed the House and the Senate. The intent of this legislation is to prevent parents who adopt high-needs children and later become overwhelmed with their care, from transferring custody of the adopted child to strangers through internet websites. Such informal transfers of custody often can result in the children being subjected to bondage, sex trafficking or other forms of abuse or neglect. This illegal practice, known as “rehoming,” is prohibited by the bill as an “unregulated custody transfer.”

This legislation requires full disclosure of the history of a high-needs child, available training about the challenging behavior and guidance about where parents can find additional assistance and resources. There will also be a penalty for those who engage in an unregulated custody transfer across state lines. Child Protective Services will have authority to investigate the safety of a child who has been subject to an unregulated custody transfer.

“Investigations of this practice reveal that 18,000 or more children, most of them adopted from foreign countries, have been given away to strangers by way of internet websites,” said Rep. Nelson. “Unfortunately, Utah families have been involved on one side or the other of this rehoming phenomenon.  We must act to protect these children from child predators and others who would harm them.”

The U.S. Department of State invited Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Human Services, Children’s Bureau and the Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children to participate on a committee to help stop to unregulated custody transfers. Attorney General Reyes requested Rep. Nelson to run this legislation.

Attorney General Sean Reyes said, “We applaud the efforts of Rep. Nelson efforts. This bill provides adoptive parents more resources facing challenges with finding another adoptive family through legal processes. H.B. 199 is absolutely necessary to protect children and assist adoptive families. It allows the state to better educate and inform adoptive parents, empowering them to be more informed and prepared. With its passage, this bill will now provide a model for other states, and for that, we are truly grateful to Rep. Nelson for his work to pass this bill.”

This legislation is supported by the Utah Adoption Council and the Division of Child and Family Services.

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