Category: House News

Bipartisan legislation calling on the federal government to honor its promise unanimously passes the House and Senate

Press Release
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2018

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives


Bipartisan legislation calling on the federal government to honor its promise unanimously passes the House and Senate

SALT LAKE CITY –  HCR 19, Regarding the Impact of Federal Lands on the State Education System, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory and Senator Jim Dabakis, and  HB 357, Evaluating Tax Revenue Foregone from Federally Controlled Lands unanimously passed the House and the Senate on February 22, 2018.

“There is not a lot that Senator Dabakis and I agree on, but we do agree that our kids and communities should not be disadvantaged by our federal partner not keeping its promise,” said Rep. Ivory, House sponsor of HCR 19 and HB 357. “Specifically, the federal government promised to compensate our schools and communities for the lost tax revenue from federal control of our lands.”

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 changed federal land policy from one of disposal to a policy of retention. This policy change deprives schools and communities of tax revenues from more than 66 percent of Utah’s land. Recognizing the substantial burden placed on local government to fund education and other essential government services; Congress established the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program as a substitute for lost tax revenue.

“This is an area where all Utahns can unite,” said Sen. Dabakis, Senate sponsor of HCR 19. “As Utah’s biggest landowner, the federal government must not be a deadbeat. The feds must pay their fair share to Utah cities, towns and school children.”

“In lieu” is defined as a substitute that is just as good as, or of equal value to, what was given up. However, by any objective measure, federal PILT payments are not “just as good as” the tax revenue the state and local communities would otherwise generate.

In actuality, PILT payments are little more than pennies in lieu of taxes. It amounts to a federal government tax break on the backs of Utah’s children and communities to the tune of hundreds of millions, and even billions, of dollars each year.

HCR 19, urges the federal government to pay the full amount of the denied tax revenue, as long as it withholds our lands.

School districts, municipalities and counties with only a small fraction of taxable land struggle to provide essential government services. The problem is compounded as young families have to leave tax-starved rural counties due to restricted education funding and reduced employment opportunities. This disparity will be largely alleviated when the federal government fully honors its PILT promise to Utah’s schools and communities.

HB 357 authorizes the Commission on Federalism to determine what the reasonable property tax would be but for federal control of our lands. The Commission will then coordinate with the state’s federal delegation to secure the full payment in lieu of taxes. The purpose of this bill is merely to make Utah’s counties, municipalities and school districts whole from lost tax revenue, as the federal government promised to do when it decided in 1976 to retain more than 66 percent of Utah’s lands.




Revised Revenue Numbers – February 2018

Utah’s consensus revenue numbers were released today in cooperation with leaders from the Utah Senate, House of Representatives, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and Utah State Tax Commission.

Utah economy continues to increase.

In December, consensus numbers estimated $382 million ongoing and $101 million one-time in available new revenue.

In January, the Legislature designed a portion of the new revenue to:

  • Repay $85 million to the rainy-day funds
  • Finance $67 million in buildings that were approved last year
  • Fix an $18 million matter with firefighter retirement
  • Pay $3 million for the statutory Tourism Marketing Performance Fund increment
  • Among other minor changes

Leaving $292 million ongoing and $12 million one-time available for tax cuts and further spending priorities, prior to base budget reductions. During the base budget process, the Legislature reduced spending by $35 million ongoing and $33 million one-time.

Our economists now predict that the  Legislature will have additional $126 million ongoing and $83 million one-time in new revenue compared to the December amounts.

The new ongoing revenue:

    • $65 million in General Fund
    • $61 million in Education Fund.

The new one-time revenue:

  • $28 million in General Fund
  • $55 million in Education Fund

The revised total available new revenue at this time, after base budget changes, is $453 million ongoing and $128 million one-time. At last year at this time, it was $361 million available ongoing and $6 million available one-time.

The above FY 2018 amounts do not include $25-$80 million in new ongoing revenue that can be expected from the federal tax reform.

Press conference to discuss a bill that aims to update mammogram quality assurance

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
February 15, 2018

Aundrea Peterson
Utah House of Representatives

Press conference to discuss a bill that aims to update mammogram quality assurance

Rep. LaVar Christensen to talk about H.B. 258, Women’s Cancer Screening Notification Amendments, which aims to require facilities that perform screenings or diagnostic mammograms to provide patients with a notification of that report and options for additional cancer screening examinations.

It affects as many as 50 percent of all women. Since 1991, Utah has maintained in statute the Mammography Quality Assurance Act (Utah Code Section 26-21a-203), but we have not updated those protections. Mammogram results reveal whether the patient has dense tissue and if so, the cancer detection results may be clouded and misleading. This legislation would require patient notification and disclosure of dense tissue findings in mammogram reports, including options to obtain additional professionally recognized forms of cancer screening examinations.

Capitol Building, Presentation Room
350 State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Friday, February 16, 2018, at 9:30 a.m.

Rep. LaVar Christensen, District 32
Individuals who have benefitted from being informed about getting additional screening


New House Member Sworn in

Press Release
For Immediate Release
February 14, 2018


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives

New House Member Sworn in

Salt Lake City – Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes administered the Oath of Office to the newest member of Utah House of Representatives, Rep. Travis Seegmiller on February 14, 2018.

“We’re excited to welcome Representative Seegmiller to the House,” said Speaker Hughes. “His experience in law, finance and public policy will serve him well as he jumps into his new legislative role.”

Rep. Seegmiller was selected in a special election to replace the vacant seat in House District 62. He will be assigned to House Business and Labor Committee, House Government Operations Committee and Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to represent the good people of District 62,” said Rep. Seegmiller.

Seegmiller is an associate professor of law, economics and management at Dixie State University. He has worked on presidential political campaigns and public policy issues since 1996, including service as a strategy staffer for Mitt Romney and as a Judiciary Committee staffer to Senator Orrin Hatch. He also worked as management strategy consultant and attorney in the areas of finance, investment, law and policy. After completing his undergraduate degree with departmental distinction at Yale University, Rep. Seegmiller received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, graduating cum laude from both universities.


Hamilton coming to Utah

The Utah Legislature and the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts have teamed up to give high school students an opportunity to see the Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical through the New Nation Letter Writing Competition. The purpose is to get young people engaged in the legislative process and in their local communities.

To participate in the competition, a high school student must write a letter to one of their elected officials about an issue of concern in the community and include a proposed solution.

Each student who submits a qualifying entry will be entered into a random drawing to see the musical here in Utah. The competition closes at 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 20. Learn more about it and apply here.

Reps. Schultz and Redd Receive AHRI Policy Leadership Award

News Release
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2018

Rep. Mike Schultz to Receive AHRI Policy Leadership Award
HVACR Trade Association Legislator’s Industry Support

On Monday, February 12, 2018, Utah State Representatives Mike Schultz and Edward Redd were presented with a Policy Leadership Award from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), the national trade association for manufacturers of heating, cooling, water heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment.  Rep. Schultz will be recognized for his efforts to protect the ability of Utah businesses to continue to install and natural gas-fired commercial water heaters in the state.  The HVACR and water heating industry employs some 6,700 Utahans in manufacturing, distribution, installation, and maintenance.

“I really appreciate the efforts of AHRI to work together to implement Low NOx water heaters,” said Rep. Schultz. “This change will have a significant impact on improving the air quality in the state of Utah.”

“I am honored to receive this award, said Rep. Redd. “We worked collaboratively with AHRI representatives and legislators to get ultra-low NOx water heaters as the standard for new installations and replacement water heaters in the state of Utah. Ultra low-NOx water heaters put out 70 percent fewer nitrogen oxides emissions than current standard natural gas-fueled water heaters in Utah. This intervention will gradually help improve air quality long-term as current water heaters are replaced with ultra low-NOx water heaters.”

“Rep. Schultz’s efforts effectively preserved the ability of Utah businesses to have a choice in their water heater use,” said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. “His common-sense amendment to HB 37 helped our industry and the Utah citizens we serve, while continuing to take the steps necessary to protect the environment and save energy.  We are very grateful for his work on this issue.”

AHRI Director of Government Relations Garrett McGuire presented Reps. Schultz and Redd their award at the Utah State Capitol at Monday, February 12 at 11 a.m.


About AHRI

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is the trade association representing manufacturers of air conditioning, heating, commercial refrigeration, and water heating equipment. An internationally recognized advocate for the industry, AHRI develops standards for and certifies the performance of many of these products. AHRI’s 300+ member companies manufacture quality, efficient, and innovative residential and commercial air conditioning, space heating, water heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment and components for sale in North America and around the world.

Aundrea Peterson, Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives


Prison Development Budget Timeline

Prison Development Budget Timeline

  • 2014
    • The decision was made to move the prison and the timing was right:
      • Existing prison determined to need at least $238 million in repairs
      • Estimates showed that state could realize billions in economic benefit by relocating the prison
    • Winter 2015
      • Cost estimates – $546 to $683 million, not including site-specific costs that would be determined upon site selection
        • Legislature appropriated $550 million ($470 bond, $80 million cash)
      • August 2015
        • Legislature approved Prison Relocation Commission’s recommendation to move the prison to Salt Lake City
          • Every site under consideration would require additional funding, and the SLC location was estimated to cost an additional $154 million
        • Spring 2016
          • Architect from DFCM worked with Department of Corrections to create prioritization program for the prison that met JRI goals, national standards and addressed potential future needs of a growing population, with a price tag of $860 million
            • This initial programming is common practice and usually exceeds anticipated budgets
          • Summer/Fall 2016
            • DFCM and Dept. of Corrections conducted a line-by-line review and reduced the cost estimate to $700 million
          • Spring 2017
            • As planned, Legislature authorized another $100 million in bonding for site-specific costs of the chosen location, bringing total allocation to $650 million
          • Summer/Fall 2017
            • In an effort to continue to reduce costs, project managers right-sized the space to meet the appropriation
            • This resulted in the current estimate of $692 million, a 19.5% reduction from highest estimate, and only $9 million more than the high end of the original 2015 estimates even when including site-specific costs that weren’t contained in those 2015 numbers
          • 2018 and Beyond
            • The current $692 million is an estimate and true costs won’t be known until it is placed for bidding
              • There remains a risk of cost escalation due to high labor demands and rising material costs
              • Over the last three years, the construction industry has realized an average 8.6% rate of inflation
            • Number will continue to be reviewed and challenged by DFCM, BDK (state’s consultant), the contractor team and the governor’s office

Speaker Hughes statement about Rep. Jon Stanard’s resignation

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
February 7, 2018

Aundrea Peterson, Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives

Speaker Hughes statement about Rep. Jon Stanard’s resignation

Salt Lake City – Speaker Greg Hughes issued this statement following Rep. Jon Stanard’s resignation:

Last night Rep. Stanard unexpectedly resigned due to personal and family concerns. We will honor his request for privacy, and ask that others do the same. We wish Jon and his family the best at this time.




The Daily Buzz – Jan. 29, 2018

Suicide Prevention

The House Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Brad Daw, heard arguments about the suicide prevention bills that are currently making their way through the legislative process.

Rep. Steve Eliason brought a suicidologist, someone who studies the scientific behavior behind suicide, to testify about the growing concern that suicide is nationally and locally. He cited a statistic revealing that men are proportionally more likely to commit suicide in Utah, compared to women being about 75 percent of total suicide cases.

Other advocates, including a University of Utah Professor, also testified about the growing concern, referencing the current bills as necessary solutions.


Tweets of the Day:

House Schedule for Jan. 30, 2018 :

7:59 AM Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee

2:00 PM House Judiciary Committee

2:00 PM House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee REVISED

2:00 PM House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee

2:00 PM House Transportation Committee

4:00 PM House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee

4:00 PM House Government Operations Committee

4:00 PM House Political Subdivisions Committee

6:00 PM Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee


Adam Robertson Sworn in

Utah House District 63 officially has a new representative. Adam Robertson, a businessman who has lived in Provo for over a decade, was sworn into office today at the Utah State Capitol. Rep. Robertson will be replacing former Representative Dean Sanpei, who resigned in December to accept a position in Colorado. The district held a special election to elect a new representative and finish Dean Sanpei’s term, which ends this year.

Speaker Greg Hughes officiated the ceremony that was attended by Rep. Robertson’s wife and seven kids, among other relatives.  After the short ceremony, Speaker Hughes congratulated the Representative as he steps into his legislative role.