Category: House News

Speaker Hughes Announces Changes to House Majority Leadership

Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 7, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
House Majority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Hughes Announces Changes to House Majority Leadership

Salt Lake City – With the pending resignation of Rep. Dean Sanpei, Speaker Greg Hughes has appointed Rep. Brad Last, to serve as the House chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee and Rep. Mike Schultz to serve as House vice-chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee, effective immediately.

“While we will greatly miss Rep. Sanpei, Rep. Last is ready, willing and able to lead our executive appropriations committee, and I’m excited to work closely with him in this new position,” said Speaker Hughes. “Rep. Schultz has proven to be a natural leader with a strong understanding of the legislative process and will be a great addition to our leadership team. I’m confident that both representatives will serve the House well and I look forward to working with them in their new respective roles.”

The changes to the leadership team come after Rep. Dean Sanpei announced his resignation from the Utah House of Representatives after accepting a career position out of state.


Utah Public Lands

On Monday, December 4, President Donald Trump announced modifications to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, after Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted a review of national monument designations and the history of the Antiquities Act earlier this year. The result is five unique national monument units that total more than 1.2 million acres.

Bears Ears will now encompass two monument areas – Shash Jáa, approximately 129,980 acres and Indian Creek, approximately 71,896 acres. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service will continue to co-manage the land. Bears Ears remains larger than Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park combined.

The new proclamation also provides increased public access to the land and restores allowance for traditional use for activities including motorized recreation, cattle grazing and tribal collection of wood and herbs.

Boundaries that remain protected include Bears Ears Buttes, the Lime Ridge Clovis Site, Moon House Ruin, Doll House Ruin, Indian Creek Rock Art and Newspaper Rock.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) will now consist of three monument areas – the Grand Staircase (209,993 acres), Kaiparowits (551,034 acres) and Escalante Canyons (242,836 acres). The three areas total more than a million acres and will be managed by the BLM.

To determine the necessary size to adequately protect significant objects and artifacts within the original designations, a thorough examination was conducted. Regions protected in the GSENM include areas of the highest concentration of fossil resources; important landscape features such as the Grand Staircase, Upper Paria Canyon System, Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Natural Bridge, Upper Escalante Canyons, East Kaibab Monocline, Grosvenor Arch, Old Paria Townsite and Dance Hall Rock; and relict plant communities such as No Mans Mesa.

During the review, Secretary Zinke personally visited the monuments and met with local Tribal representatives, county commissioners, residents and ranchers, as well as organizations such as the Wilderness Society and Nature Conservancy. In addition, for the first time in history, Secretary Zinke opened a formal comment period of the review of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act to individuals, providing an opportunity for many voices to be heard.

The purpose of the Antiquities Act is to protect archaeological or historical sites in the smallest area necessary. It was not intended to lock up large swathes of land. Since 1996, Utah has endured two of the most significant incidents of federal overreach regarding national monument designations in recent history.

During the 2017 session, the Utah Legislature passed, HCR 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation and HCR 12, Concurrent Resolution Urging Federal Legislation to Reduce or Modify the Boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

President Trump and his administration demonstrated that they are listening to Utahns and the desires of those who live in the area by pulling back a small portion of the federal overreach and abuse of the Antiquities Act that our state has endured. Through this process, they have shown their willingness to give greater access to public land, while still continuing to protect significant artifacts.

This is not the first time a president has reduced a monument. Reductions have occurred at least 18 times, by both Republicans and Democrats. For instance, President John F. Kennedy altered Bandelier National Monument; Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge reduced Mount Olympus National Monument; and President Eisenhower reduced the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

The recent modifications by the Trump administration restore local input on federal lands, increase economic opportunity, especially in rural communities through grazing, commercial fishing, logging and in certain cases, mineral development, and protect objects without unnecessarily preventing public access.

We want to sincerely thank President Trump and Secretary Zinke for listening and allowing those closest to the lands to have some input on how to best manage and care for them.

Point of the Mountain Development Commission Presents Scenarios

For Immediate Release

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications

Aimee Edwards
GOED Communications Director


SALT LAKE CITY (Nov. 28, 2017) — Public input is being sought for five development scenarios outlining possibilities for future growth of the Point of the Mountain region.

During a presentation to the Utah Legislature’s Point of the Mountain Development Commission at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, Envision Utah unveiled showed what the region could look like in 2050 according to specific development priorities.

Each of the five scenarios include varying levels of focus on residential and commercial development; transportation infrastructure; job growth and workforce development; and air quality, open space, recreation and water use.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission will host two workshops to gather public feedback on the five scenarios:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m. at the Ashton Gardens Visitor Center in Lehi
  • Thursday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m. at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper

Residents may also weigh in on the scenarios through a survey on until Dec. 31, 2017.

The Point of the Mountain Development Commission was created during the 2016 Legislative Session by H.B. 318. The commission is a unique entity comprised of local officials, private sector representatives, and state officials from both the legislative and executive branches. It is tasked with providing recommendations on infrastructure planning and financing tools to develop the area joining Salt Lake and Utah Counties.

For more information, visit



Fireworks Restrictions – 2018


During the 2017 fireworks season, questions were raised about the types of fireworks allowed, the number of days it is legal to use fireworks, fire prevention, and liability concerns. In order to address these issues in a balanced and appropriate manner, Rep. Dunnigan and Sen. Iwamoto worked together on legislation that balances these concerns with the desire many Utahns have to be able to celebrate our most patriotic holidays with traditional displays of fireworks. This legislation is the result of numerous meetings with law enforcement, firefighters, fireworks retailers and manufacturers, citizens, and local elected officials.

A balanced approach

This legislation takes a balanced, bipartisan, and reasonable approach to addressing the many viewpoints on how and when fireworks should be allowed.

40% reduction in dates fireworks are allowed in July

  • Fireworks would be allowed July 2-5 and July 22-25, instead of July 1-7 and July 21-27.
  • Fireworks would still be allowed on New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Stronger penalties for shooting fireworks outside of permitted dates and times

  • Penalty for discharging fireworks when not permitted would be up to a $1,000 fine, an increase from $750. Violations would remain an infraction.

New penalty for igniting fireworks in restricted areas

  • Up to a $1,000 penalty and an infraction for discharging fireworks in an area where fireworks have been prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.

More local control

  • Provides clarity and increased flexibility to local governments and the state forester to prohibit the discharge of fireworks due to historic or current hazardous environmental conditions.

Easier to understand restrictions and penalties

  • Requires local governments and the state forester to create and provide maps showing where fireworks are prohibited due to hazardous environmental conditions.
  • Requires retailers to display maps that counties provide showing these restricted areas and display signs that indicate legal dates and times as well as criminal penalties and fines for violations.

Increased liability for causing a fire with fireworks

  • Civil liability for negligently, recklessly, or intentionally causing a fire with fireworks potentially includes any damages caused by the fire and any costs of suppressing the fire.



Business and Labor Interim Committee voted unanimously to fast-track this legislation for consideration during 2018 General Session on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Legal Action Against Opioid Makers

We appreciate Salt Lake County and Utah County taking strides to help bring in an end to the drug manufactures not being held responsible for making blatantly false claims. Utah is moving in the right direction. Looking forward to others taking action.

This letter was read by Utah Commissioners read during the Utah County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

Watch the press conference where Speaker Greg Hughes, Mayor Ben McAdams District Attorney Sim Gill and families of those affected by the opioid crisis announce Salt Lake County’s intent topursue legal action against opioid drug manufacturers here.

Representatives visit University of Utah Health

Representatives have the opportunity to hear and see presentations about the remarkable effort that is being completed by many notable organizations, non-profits and companies during committee meetings. Though, to gain an even better understanding, Representatives at the Utah House want to not only just hear about it but also observe it. One of the best ways to learn more about the excellent services Utahns are performing is to personally experience an organizations environment and operation that takes place on a day to day basis.

Speaker Greg Hughes, Rep. Steve Eliason and DEA supervisory special agent Brian Besser visited the University of Utah Health (UofU Health) facilities on Thursday, Nov. 2. The purpose of the visit was to get a firsthand look at the exceptional work accomplished by the dedicated staff who are striving to provide excellent care to individuals often during one of the most challenging moments of their lives.

We appreciate the dedicated doctors, nurses, scientists and staff who thanklessly aim to provide the best care and service to Utahns and those in and around the country.

During the visit, they visited the Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the AirMed team, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and Entertainment Arts and Engineering department.

The dean of the College of Pharmacy discussed the cutting-edge opioid addiction research with a zebrafish that is being conducted to understand the drug-seeking behavior better. The purpose is to  come up with solutions to help fight this epidemic. Learn more about the study here.


The NICU combines highly trained healthcare professionals and advanced technology to provide care for the tiniest patients in need of intensive medical attention. The medical team works tirelessly and is a vital component for the health and developmental well-being of premature or sick infants. Babies delivered at 24 weeks have a 90 percent survival rate at the UofU Health NICU.

Treating burn injuries can be a challenging and lengthy process. The Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit, which includes physicians, nurses, counselors and other caregivers, aims to provide access to the latest treatments as well as emotional and spiritual support to help patients and their families during the recovery process.

The Burn Center team cares for over 400 people a year and has about a 92.5 percent survival rate. Additionally, the Burn Center has gone more than four years without a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI). A reputable accomplishment. CLABSIs can result in thousands of deaths each year as well as add significant costs to the healthcare system.

The air medical transportation service, AirMed, is based out of the UofU Health’s Level 1 Trauma Center and is one of only three trauma level units in the state. AirMed has six helicopters and two airplanes located throughout Utah and Wyoming that are ready 24/7 to assist trauma, burns, pediatric, high-risk obstetrics and more.

Extensive training and experience are required even to be considered to join the top-notch AirMed team. Flight nurses have at least five years of experience in a Level 1 Facility. Flight medics have a minimum five years of experience. Flight respiratory therapists have a minimum of two years of experience in an ICU and ER at the UofU Health.  Additionally, AirMed is one of the only perinatal teams in the country staffed around the clock with a high-risk OB nurse, a neonatal nurse, and a perinatal respiratory therapist. The average crew member has 17 years of experience.

The goal of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy is to expand the knowledge about developmental biology. It is also a valuable teaching tool for medical and dental students during the preclinical years. The department continues to grow. In the last three years, seven additional faculty members have joined the team.

The Entertainment Arts and Engineering program brings game developers and medical researchers together to develop innovative therapeutic apps and medical games. Projects include assisting in physical therapy for amputee patients, creating the ability for individuals to personalize control of a wheelchair and patient empowerment games.

The Utah State Legislature matched a private donation and appropriated $50 million for the Medical Education & Discovery Building. The project is projected to cost about $185 million. It will serve as an education and training hub for the UofU Health. Faculty, students and industry partners. They will be able to come together to create, test and implement solutions to challenging health problems.

UofU Health has more than 20,000 faculty and staff, is Utah’s only academic health system and it generates $77 million of state tax revenue.

Utah continues to rank as one of the top places for healthcare at the most affordable rate in the nation. This is due in large part to the dedicated doctors, nurses, scientists and staff.

November 2017 Legislative Calendar

Stay in the know about what is happening at the Utah House of Representatives.  Here is a list of November’s meetings. Click the committee to see the agenda, meeting materials and listen to live and past audio* of meetings.

Wednesday, November 1
10:00 a.m. Education Interim Committee

Thursday, November 2
3:00 p.m.  Property Tax Working Group of the Utah Tax Review Commission

Tuesday, November 7
10: 00 a.m. Native American Legislative Liaison Committee

Wednesday, November 8
9:00 a.m. Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee

Thursday, November 9
10:00 a.m. Judicial Rules Review Committee
:00 p.m. Utah Tax Review Commission

Monday, November 13
9:00 a.m. Administrative Rules Review Committee
3:30 p.m. State Fair Park Committee

Tuesday, November 14
9:00 a.m. Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands
9:30 a.m. Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee
2:00 p.m. Executive Appropriations Committee
3:00 p.m. Legislative Water Development Commission
4:00 p.m. Legislative Audit Subcommittee 

Wednesday, November 15
8:00 a.m. Health and Human Services Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Business and Labor Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Education Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Government Operations Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Political Subdivisions Interim Committee
8:30 a.m. Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Judiciary Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Transportation Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee
5:00 p.m. Commission on Federalism

Thursday, November 16
8:00 a.m. Legislative Policy Summit

 Monday, November  27
8:00 a.m. Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force
9:00 a.m. Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
1:00 p.m. Health Reform Task Force

 Tuesday, November  28
2:00 p.m. Point of the Mountain Development Commission

*Not all meetings are streamed online.


Opioid Epidemic

 In the words of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing an opioid-induced “public health epidemic.”

In 2014, Utah ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose deaths – an average of 6 people a week die in Utah die as a result of overdosing on prescription opioids. Last week, Speaker Greg Hughes made it clear that he would like the State of Utah to attack the opioid epidemic by litigating directly against those involved with these often harmful products. Within the last year, more than 25 states, counties and cities have filed civil suits against manufacturers, distributors and large drugstore chains. The Speaker believes that Utah can better tell its own story without joining a multi-state effort. We have unique issues and damages and will have a more impactful outcome by addressing this on our own.

For example, in 2013, the State of Utah settled a lawsuit with a large manufacturer for $8.5 million based on allegations that the drug manufacturer defrauded the state’s Medicaid program through allegedly false and misleading marketing. A multi-state collective settled the claims of 37 states and the District of Columbia for a total of $90 million. The average settlement in that effort resulted in $2.37 million per state. By going at it on our own, Utah received of three and a half times the amount of an individual state in the collective.

In 2009, the State of Utah settled a lawsuit with another large manufacturer for $24 million based on allegations that the drug manufacturer concealed its knowledge of significant side effects associated with a particular drug. A multi-state collective settled the claims of 32 states and the District of Columbia for a total of $62 million. The average settlement in that effort resulted in $1.88 million per state. By going at it on our own, Utah received nearly 13 times the amount of an individual state in the collective.

Speaker Hughes and members of the Utah Legislature will continue working on solutions address tragic epidemic.

In the News:

Doug Wright Show – Speaker Hughes wants UT to file lawsuit against Big Pharma

KSL News – Top name on Capitol Hill wants to take legal action against Utah opioid epidemic

Salt Lake Tribune: Get those dirty needles off the street

Deseret News: Trump’s announcement decrying opioid ‘public health emergency’ welcomed in Utah

Fox 13 News: Utah best state for federal opioid money, House Speaker Hughes says

Good 4 Utah: As state tackles opioid crisis, some call for legal action

Deseret News: The untold story of how Utah doctors and Big Pharma helped drive the national opioid epidemic

Winter Olympics

It has been 15 years since Salt Lake City hosted the Olympics, arguably the most successful Olympic Winter Games ever. Utah’s legacy is still vibrant and is benefiting economically from hosting the Games. Since 2002, Utah has hosted numerous world championship events in winter sports in the Salt Lake Valley and Park City.

Utah presence in the worldwide sports community continues to expand. For instance, more than 40 percent of the U.S. Olympic Team’s athletes that competed in Vancouver in 2010 either live or spend a significant amount of time training in Utah.

The Olympic/Paralympic Exploratory Committee (OEC) announced it would explore the possibility of submitting a bid to host the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympic Games on October 19, 2017. Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser are key members of this committee.

Utah’s world-class facilities, venues and infrastructure would only need minimal updates. Additionally, our international airport, transportation system and lodging have expanded since the 2002 Games. Making Utah an ideal host for the Winter Olympics.

However, before proceeding the exploratory committee will thoroughly examine budgets, marketing, potential revenue streams and the overall impact on the state to factor whether it is of the state’s best interest to submit Salt Lake City’s name as a potential bidder.

Utah’s Economy

Utah’s economy is healthy and thriving. In FY 2017, individual income tax was up about 7.1 percent compared to the previous year; income tax revenue reached its all-time high for the fifth year in a row collecting $1.86 billion in sale tax; and the State’s Education Fund is on a healthy growth path increasing 4.1 percent in FY 2017.

The Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) received a revenue update during the October meeting. The State of Utah’s General and Education Fund collected $47 million more than projected for FY 2017, which ended June 30. After statutorily required reserve account deposits, aka the rainy-day fund, the General Fund balance is $8 million and available Education Fund balance is $18 million.

The Legislative Fiscal Analyst staff predicts the economy will continue to increase this upcoming year.