Category: House News

Curriculum on Federalism

The basic concept of federalism has never been political; rather, it is a fundamental structural principle meant to protect our liberty.

The Utah Commission on Federalism, in connection with Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies, recently created a course on federalism to help provide citizens and state and local government officials with a better understanding of America’s unique constitutional system.

The one-hour course is taught in a series of six videos by constitutional professors and scholars from around the country. Watch the videos below or read the transcripts here.

Members of the Utah Bar: This course may be available for one free hour of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit through Utah Valley University. For additional information click here.


Module 1 Principles of Federalism


The Utah Commission on Federalism’s Course on the Principles of Federalism

To the Framers of the Constitution, the structure of our governing system was a matter of life or death, liberty or constraint, property or subjugation.

They knew that “as government expands, liberty contracts;” that government expands to the limit that it is checked; and, that left unchecked, government expands limitlessly.

To counteract this natural tendency, they grounded the Constitution on an indispensable structure of limits, divisions, and independent checks on governing power.

State legislators – as our first official act of office – swear an oath to defend the structural protections of liberty embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito recently warned (NFIB v. Sebelius, 2012, dissenting opinion) that preserving the structure of our governing system is still a matter of life, liberty and property:

“Structural protections–notably, the restraints imposed by federalism and separation of power … tend to be undervalued or even forgotten by our citizens. It should be the responsibility of the Court to teach otherwise, to remind our people that the Framers considered structural protections of freedom the most important ones, for which reason they alone were embodied in the original Constitution and not left to later amendment. The fragmentation of power produced by the structure of our Government is central to liberty, and when we destroy it, we place liberty at peril.

Rather than rely only on “the Court to … remind our people that the … structural protections of freedom [are] the most important ones,” the Utah Legislature’s Commission on Federalism, in cooperation with Utah Valley University (UVU), assembled the nation’s leading scholars to teach the principles of federalism in the schools, to the people, and to local, state and national leaders.

In 2014, the Utah State Legislature passed H.B. 120, which permits members of the Utah State Bar to receive up to two hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit for free from the UVU Center for Constitutional Studies. Click here for more information. Attorneys in other states may be eligible to apply to receive CLE credit. The initial one-hour course is taught in series of six videos.

As we undertake the critical work of restoring the structural protections of liberty at the very heart of our unprecedented governing system, Module 1 begins by clearly defining federalism.

Take the course. Share it with colleagues, friends and organizations. Send me your feedback. And, join us as we restore structural balance to the greatest governing system ever devised because as George Washington admonished in his Farewell Address “to preserve [these structural checks] must be as necessary as to institute them.”

Rep. Ken Ivory
House Chair
Utah Commission on Federalism


Module 2 Principles of Federalism


Module 3 Principles of Federalism

Module 4 Principles of Federalism

Module 5 Principles of Federalism

Module 6 Principles of Federalism


Utah Law Enforcement Memorial May 2017

Law enforcement officers from across the state solemnly gathered at the annual memorial service outside the Capitol to add the names of three fallen officers to the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial on Thursday, May 4.

The ceremony honored two officers killed in the line of duty in 2016, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Ellsworth and West Valley Police Officer Cody Brotherson, and Salt Lake Special Officer Rollin R. Tanner, who died in 1927.

The Utah Law Enforcement Memorial Wall has 142 names.

May 2017 Legislative Calendar


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

Monday, May 1, 2017
9:00 a.m. Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
1:00 p.m. Administrative Rules Review Committee

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
1:00 p.m. Point of the Mountain Development Commission

Monday, May 15, 2017
2:00 p.m. Utah International Relations and Trade Commission

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
2:00 p.m. Executive Appropriations Committee

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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. Judiciary Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
1:15 p.m. Transportation Interim Committee

*Not all meetings are streamed online.

Legislative Site Visit Recap

Legislative Site Visit Recap

Many members of the Utah Legislature recently returned from a two-day site visit to Southern Utah, with stops in Millard, Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Piute and Sevier Counties. In addition to various site visits, the bus ride consisted of presentations from officials in many of the areas through which the lawmakers were traveling. They visited the largest power plant in the state, Intermountain Power Plant (IPP), which, incidentally, produces power mainly for the Los Angeles area. Power seemed to be the theme of the day – from traditional coal-fired to fuel storage to windmills to solar. Southern Utah produces and provides energy for much of the state and beyond and the legislators visited a few of those sites, including Magnum fuel storage, First Wind and the Red Hills solar project.

Another major theme was education. Not only did lawmakers enjoy presentations by representatives of Southern Utah University and Snow College, but were able to hear about many of the challenges facing rural schools. Despite limited budgets and falling rates of enrollment, rural districts are facing their challenges head on in meeting the educational needs of their students.

It was clear that no matter where on the political spectrum one falls, one of the greatest issues facing those in rural Utah is the ever-encroaching power of the federal government as it relates to federal lands, and the need of local officials to have more control.

The opportunity to see other areas of the state and speak with residents, business and education leaders and local representatives in their own communities, had a significant impact on those from more urban areas whose constituents oftentimes face far different challenges. The experience will allow for greater understanding of the unique issues faced by rural Utahns and hopefully lead the state to new ways of solving old problems in our rural communities. 

100-year anniversary of the U.S. entering the War to End All Wars

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

The war to end all wars began July 28, 1914. Nearly two years later, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked United States Congress to declare war on the German Empire. On April 6, America entered the Great War.

A few months later, on May 18th the Selective Draft Act passed, which allowed compulsory enlistment in the military. According to the Utah departments of Veterans and Military Affairs and Heritage and Arts, over 21,000 Utahns went into the Armed Forces of the United States, 10,000 volunteered to serve, and 11,000 were drafted.

On November 11, 1918, the armistice to end the war was signed. During WWI, 655 Utahns lost their lives, and 864 were wounded.

H.C.R. 2 recognizes the United States’ and Utah’s participation in the Great War. It also helped establish a Utah World War I Centennial Commission. The purpose of the 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.


“I think it is important to remember the dedication and sacrifice of all those who served in World War I,” said Rep. Handy.  “Courageous men and women fought to preserve our freedom, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge what they fought so hard to achieve.”

This event was co-sponsored by the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Utah Division of State History. It featured the Utah National Guard Brass Quintet, a poetry reading by Robert Means, senior librarian for Brigham Young University, and artifacts from the period.


The Utah Division of State History created an interactive map to find locations of veterans’ memorials located throughout the state. MVI_0964There are approximately 180 memorials dedicated to over 20 wars, conflicts and terrorist attacks that occurred since 1775. Visit the website to see photos of the memorials, war descriptions and memorial dedications dates here.

Thank you to all those who served and are currently serving for your dedication and sacrifice.


See additional pictures from the event here.

New State Work of Art: The Spiral Jetty

The Spiral Jetty, a 15-foot-wide coil that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the Great Salt Lake, was designated as an official Utah state work of land art during the 2017 General Session.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts refers to the Spiral Jetty as “Undoubtedly the most famous large-scale earthwork of the period, it has come to epitomize Land art. Its exceptional art historical importance and its unique beauty have drawn visitors and media attention from throughout Utah and around the world.”

“It truly is a bucket list item for art lovers around the world,” said Rep. Rebecca Edwards, sponsor of H.B. 211 State Work of Art.

In 1970, the Spiral Jetty was created on the desolate Rozel Point shoreline in the Great Salt Lake by Robert Smithson. The Dia Art Foundation leases the lake bed where the Spiral Jetty is located from the State of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Dia collaborates with two organizations, the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College (GSLI) and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah (UMFA), to help preserve the artwork.

While studying for the 2015 AP Art History exam, an American Fork High School class was delightfully surprised to find that one of the 250 works of art was in Utah: The Spiral Jetty.

The AP Art History curriculum features the Spiral Jetty as one of the Top 250 art pieces. The curriculum is designed to focus on the layers of meaning of artworks from around the globe. The emphasis, to study art pieces from political, visual, cultural, historical, societal and economic angles with a focus on the broader cultural context of a smaller number of works of art intended to reflect world history. Some of the other art pieces include the Stonehenge, the Parthenon, Great Pyramids of Giza, Sistine Chapel, Machu Picchu, Westminster Palace, Versailles, Petra, Mesa Verde, Angkor Wat as well as works by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Cezanne, Picasso, Rembrandt and Rodin. See the full list here.

“I think the Spiral Jetty is an excellent example of work that connects cross-culturally and why it was included in the AP Art curriculum,” said, Rep. Edwards, District 20. “It symbolizes how Utahns collaborate and work together to find the best solutions for our communities.”

H.B. 211 State Work of Art passed the Utah Legislature and was signed by the Governor.

Check out some of the stories about the Spiral Jetty being named a state work of art:

New York Times: ‘Spiral Jetty’ Is Named an Official State Work of Art by Utah

Smithsonian Magazine: Utah Chooses New State Works of Art

Apollo-Magazine: Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’ named official Utah state artwork

Salt Lake Tribune: Spiral Jetty and ancient rock art honored by lawmakers

Artnet News: Iconic ‘Spiral Jetty’ Voted Utah’s Official State Work of Land Art

KSL: Utah’s Spiral Jetty to become state work of art

The Davis Clipper: Legislators will be working into the night to wrap things up on Capitol Hill 

April 2017 Legislative Calendar

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

3:00 p.m. Legislative Audit Subcommittee

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

3:00 p.m. Legislative Management Committee

Friday, April 14, 2017

9:00 a.m. Prison Development Commission

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1:30 p.m. Point of the Mountain Development Commission –CANCELED

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

1:00 p.m. Point of the Mountain Development Commission

*Not all meetings are streamed online.

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.




Daily Buzz: January 25, 2017

Overview of the Day:

Governor Gary Herbert gave his State of the State address tonight in the Utah House Chamber. He discussed the following specific issues: homelessness, education, alcohol regulations, air quality, and the economy. Governor Herbert declared “the state of our state is truly exceptional.” We look forward to continuing to work alongside the governor this session.

Annual Capitol Event: Maps on the Hill

Maps on the Hill takes place each year in the State Capitol Rotunda during our Utah Legislative Session. The Utah Geographic Information Council (UGIC) and AGRC put on the event. Students and professional topographers teach elected officials and the general public about maps and new mapping technologies. These presentations also demonstrate how mapping technologies can be used to support lawmakers in their decisions.

Tomorrow’s Legislative Schedule

8:00 AM: Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM: Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee

8:00 AM: Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee

11:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time

2:00 PM: House Judiciary Committee REVISED

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

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

2:00 PM: House Transportation Committee REVISED

4:00 PM: Legislative Audit Subcommittee

5:00 PM: Point of the Mountain Development Commission

5:30 PM: Executive Appropriations Committee REVISED


Daily Buzz: January 24, 2017

Overview of the Day:

The Utah House of Representatives met on the floor to debate eight bills this morning. House Bill 12, sponsored by Representative Steve Eliason, stirred the most discussion on the House Floor before being successfully passed.

This bill ensures the inclusion of a place for voters to write an email address and phone number on absentee ballot return envelopes. Poll workers will use this contact information if a returned ballot is rejected. A poll worker will then contact a voter via email or text, and the voter will be permitted to correct their rejected ballot.

Meet a New Representative: Susan Pulsipher

Representative Susan Pulsipher now represents District 50 in South Jordan. She received her B.S. degree in education and went on to get her Master’s in education leadership with an emphasis in policy from BYU. She has been both a member and the president of the Jordan School District Board. Rep. Pulsipher’s two heroes are Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female state legislator in the US and also Utah, and Abraham Lincoln. She’s a great addition to the House!

Legislative Schedule – Wed., January 25, 2017

8:00 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

11:00 AM: House Chamber, House Floor Time

2:00 PM: House Business and Labor Committee

2:00 PM: House Education Committee

2:00 PM: House Health and Human Services Committee REVISED

2:00 PM: Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee

2:00 PM: Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee

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

6:30 PM: Governor’s State of State Address (House Chambers)