Category: Press

Media Alert: Missing and Exploited Children’s Day in Utah

For Immediate Release
Media Alert
August 25, 2017


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |

Missing and Exploited Children’s Day in Utah

Salt Lake City –  During the 2017 General Session, Rep. Steve Handy and Sen. Stuart Adams sponsored HB 53, Missing and Exploited Children’s Day. It passed the Utah Legislature and signed into law. The purpose of the bill, and following the lead of many other states, including the National Missing Children’s Day on May 25, is to call attention to missing and exploited children in Utah.

Utah’s first official Rachael Runyan Missing and Exploited Children’s Day will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2017, at the Rachael Runyan Memorial Park in Sunset.

Utah’s AMBER Alert is tested twice yearly, on January 13, and August 26, a date chosen specifically calling attention to the abduction date of Rachael.

To call attention to the plight of missing and exploited children in Utah.

Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

Rachel Runyan Memorial Park, 200 W 975 N Sunset, Utah

Rep. Steve Handy, District 16, Layton
Sunset Chief of Police Ken Eborn
Member of Utah’s Amber Alert Team
Elaine Runyan, mother of Rachael Runyan




Press Release: Utah research facility leading the way in groundbreaking technology

Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 31, 2017

Utah research facility leading the way in groundbreaking technology
Transportation Interim Committee hear from experts on autonomous control vehicles

SALT LAKE CITY – Members of the Transportation Interim Committee recently visited Utah State University and areas around Cache Valley to see technology being devolved and implemented in cars, trucks and other vehicles around the world.

Self-driving-autonomous vehicles are close to becoming a reality. Committee members saw demonstrations of the significant advancements made in autonomous technology. Leading experts and researchers from Utah State University informed legislators that the progress could lead to more efficient transportation, provide mobility to more Americans and potentially achieve substantial improvements in safety.

“This revolutionary technology is changing the world,” said Rep. Robert Spendlove. “Regulations for autonomous vehicles is being and will continue to be addressed by federal and local governments. I want to make certain Utah regulations enhance the development of this technology not hinder it.”

Autonomous features are already being integrated into vehicles to help drivers avoid or mitigate crashes. Such features include lane and brake assist, forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a safe following distance.

“Utah has experts leading this groundbreaking research,” said Rep. Mike Schultz, co-chair of the Transportation Interim Committee. “I appreciate Rep. Spendlove taking the time to lead this effort so committee members can see this technology first-hand and better prepare for the future.”

Additionally, USU has the only Electric Vehicle and Roadway facility in the country. Similar research facilities are in development or operation in Sweden, France and South Korea. During the visit, committee members witnessed USU’s fully electric 20-passenger bus – referred to as the ‘Aggie Bus’ – drive around the 1⁄4-mile test track at about 30 MPH.

The Aggie Bus is equipped with an autonomous control kit from Autonomous Solutions Inc., a spin-off of USU, and in-motion inductive wireless battery charging, developed at USU. This technology allows wireless power transfer from multiple concrete embedded primary pads/coils in the roadway to vehicle-mounted coils and battery systems to charge the vehicle while driving.

Researchers are aiming for fully electric vehicles, enabled with autonomous control and charged through electric roads. With these technologies vehicles can charge while in-motion and drive without human control. Drivers also have the ability to take over at any time and operate on standard roads. Autonomous control is a key enabler and is required to identify inductive power transfer coils embedded in the roadway and to align automatically under various road and weather conditions.

Further technological development at USU is aiming to advance energy storage in electric vehicles by increasing battery lifetime 30 to 45 percent. The improvements can reduce the cost and weight of vehicle battery systems and improve residual value for second life applications. The technologies are being evaluated by major automotive original equipment manufacturers for future electric vehicles.


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |


Op-ed: National Heatstroke Awareness Day

In the past month, two children with connections to Utah tragically died after being left alone in vehicles. A two-year-old from Idaho was left in a car in St. George for hours and in Las Vegas, a three-year-old from Fillmore was left for just an hour.

Unfortunately, this kind of tragedy happens far too often. In Utah, nine children have died from heatstroke after being left inside vehicles since 1998 to 2016. According to, so far, this year, 29 (updated July 31) children have died in the U.S. due to vehicular heatstroke. And since 1998, 726 children left in vehicles have died from heatstroke.

These numbers are far too high. We all say that we would never let this happen to our children, but sadly, so did many of the parents who have lost children. Many do not understand a child’s body temperature can rise as much as five times faster than an adult’s. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees and death can follow in a child when this temperature reaches 107 degrees.

In 2011, the Utah State Legislature passed S.B. 124, Leaving a Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle, which made it illegal to leave a child under the age of 9 unattended in a motor vehicle. The purpose of this law is to help raise awareness of how serious and dangerous it is to leave a young child alone in a vehicle.

As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s National Heatstroke Awareness Day approaches on July 31, this is a reminder that we all must remain vigilant in preventing these heartbreaking deaths. There are things each of us can to do prevent these tragic occurrences. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids and Cars, National Safety Council and Safe Kids Worldwide provide tips and resources to help prevent these tragedies.

Safety tips include:

  • Never leave your child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute, even if it is parked in the shade or has open, cracked or tinted windows.
  • Always lock the vehicle’s doors, and keep the keys out of reach of children.
  • Place a stuffed animal or another toy in the child’s car seat, and when the child is placed in the seat, move the toy in front with the driver.
  • Place an item, such as a cell phone or bag, in the back seat, as a reminder.
  • Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device for daycare drop offs.
  • Have a plan in place with your childcare provider to contact you if your child does not show up for school by a certain time.
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car – no matter the outside temperature.

There are also technological solutions that can ensure children are not forgotten in vehicles. Several car seat models will notify you if there is a child in the seat when the vehicle is turned off. Some vehicle manufacturers also have technology that will automatically notify you when the vehicle shuts off if the back door was opened or closed before it starts or while it’s running.

We need to stop saying “I would never do that” and start taking everyday precautions to end these preventable deaths.

Signed by:

Rep. Norm Thurston

Rep. Carl R. Albrecht

Rep. Patrice Arent

Rep. Walt Brooks

Rep. Kim Coleman

Rep Bruce Cutler

Rep. Brad Daw

Rep. Jim Dunnigan

Rep. Steve Eliason

Rep. Justin Fawson

Rep. Gage Froerer

Rep. Adam Gardiner

Rep. Craig Hall

Rep. Stephen Handy

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes

Rep. John Knotwell, Assistant Majority Whip

Rep. Cory Maloy

Rep. Kelly Miles

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss

Rep. Lee Perry

Rep. Susan Pulsipher

Rep. Tim Quinn

Rep. Paul Ray

Rep. Douglas Sagers

Rep. Scott Sandall

Rep. Lowry Snow

Rep. Robert Spendlove

Rep. Jon Stanard

Rep. Christine Watkins

Rep. John Westwood

Rep. Logan Wilde

Rep. Brad Wilson, Majority Leader

Rep. Mike Winder


This op-ed was originally posted by Deseret News on July 27, 2017


Press Release: Utah Legislative Committee Recommends John Cannon for Director of Legislative Research Office

July 26, 2017

Veteran legislative staffer, community leader, and public affairs director to return to OLRGC

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Utah House Minority Leader Brian King announced that the hiring subcommittee of the Utah Legislature unanimously recommends that John Q. Cannon assume leadership of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (OLRGC). 

John Cannon served the Utah State Legislature for over two decades, first as an analyst, then rising to the leadership position of Managing Policy Analyst for OLRGC. Cannon was recognized for his vast knowledge of the legislative process, leadership ability, willingness to innovate, and for encouraging greater citizen participation in government. Cannon left OLRGC in 2012 to work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he currently serves as the Director of Community and Government Affairs.

House Minority Leader, and co-chair of the hiring committee Brian King said, “I look forward to John’s leadership at OLRGC. He brings to the job excellent experience from prior service in that office as well as government relations work in the private sector.  His integrity and commitment to quality will allow the office to move forward on the foundation built by Mike Christensen.” 

Senate co-chair, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, “John is an innovator and a diplomat, with expert knowledge of legislative processes here in Utah and around the nation. He has the experience and leadership ability to get the work done. The choice was not easy.  We had a very strong group of applicants, but he rose to the top. If you were to craft an ideal skill set for this position, John Cannon has it.”

 As director, Cannon will succeed Michael Christensen, who has led the award-winning Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel since 2000.

 In 2012, John Cannon received a staff achievement award from the National Conference of State Legislators, which stated in part, “John possesses a unique array of superior technical skills combined with a first-rate political acumen and an unassuming and down-to-earth demeanor, great sense of humor, and compassion for others.”

 John Cannon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.

 The six-member Legislative Research Subcommittee is equally balanced between both political parties and both legislative chambers. Their recommendation will now go to the Legislative Management Committee for approval, then ratification by the full Utah State Legislature.

 # # #


 Greg Hartley
House Chief of Staff

Jen Jankowski
House Minority Legislative Staff Director

Jon Hennington
Senate Minority Assistant

Ric Cantrell
Senate Chief of Staff



Media Advisory: One hundred thirty people will soon take an oath to become American citizens

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
July 17, 2017


Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |

One hundred thirty people will soon take an oath to become American citizens

Salt Lake City – Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will host a naturalization ceremony for approximately 130 people from more than 40 countries at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 19 at the Utah State Capitol.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Viviane Quintela, anchor and producer for Noticias Univision 32, 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.

Cytel Schults will perform the U.S. National Anthem. A recorded new citizen welcome message from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

Following the ceremony, on-site voter registration will be available for new the U.S. citizens.

Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
Viviane Quintela, Anchor and Producer for Noticias Univision 32
Laura McNeer, USCIS Field Office Director

U.S. Naturalization Ceremony

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at 10 a.m.

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


Media Advisory: House members to meet to discuss separation of powers concerns

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
House Majority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives

     Elizabeth Converse
House Minority Communications Director
Utah House of Representatives
801-835-7087 |

House members to meet to discuss separation of powers concerns

Majority and Minority House members will meet Tuesday, June 20 at noon to discuss concerns related to separation of powers.

Utah State Capitol – House Building, Room 30

Tuesday, June 20, 2017, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

Media availability immediately following in the House lobby (1st floor of the House Building) at approximately 1:20 p.m.

Members of the Utah House of Representatives
John Fellows, General Counsel, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel






June 12, 2017


SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah legislative leaders expressed support for U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s initial review and recommendations on the Bears Ears National Monument. Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and President of the Senate Wayne Niederhauser issued the following statement:

This year, in response to President Obama’s devastating unilateral overstep declaring the Bears Ears National Monument, the Utah Legislature encouraged the federal government to give the state more stewardship of our lands. We sponsored H.C.R. 11, which asked the new administration to rescind the 1.35-million-acre monument designated in December of 2016. While today’s announcement does not rescind the monument, it is a movement in the right direction.

The people of the American West are frustrated with heavy-handed land management decisions from Washington D.C. The priorities and local knowledge of Western people have too often been ignored. It is incredibly refreshing to interact with an administration that values collaboration with those closest to the land.

We also commend Secretary Zinke’s recognition of the limits of executive power. He asked Congress to authorize tribal co-management, review optimal land use designations for the Bears Ears area, and clarify intent where national monument and wilderness designations seem to conflict. In doing so, Secretary Zinke appropriately recognized that the executive branch is not a monarchy, and that the legislative branch has a vital role to play. We value our working relationship with Utah’s congressional delegation and appreciate their willingness to partner on land use solutions. We encourage them to follow up quickly on the secretary’s request, and stand ready to assist.

We also encourage Congress to narrow future presidents’ ability to misuse the Antiquities Act for purposes beyond its original intent. We hope congressional action will put an end to the abuse of executive power that has been used as a weapon against the people and economy of the American West.

We look forward to the ongoing partnership with the Department of the Interior to preserve our lands, protect traditional use, increase local management, and secure economic opportunity for all Utah citizens.

# # #


Greg Hartley
House Chief of Staff

Ric Cantrell
Senate Chief of Staff

See the Utah House Leaders statement here.

See the U.S. Department of the Interior press release here.

Press Release: Utah House Leaders Commend Secretary Zinke’s Interim Report on the Bears Ears National Monument

Press Release
For Immediate Release
June 12, 2017

Aundrea Peterson
Majority Director of Communications
Utah House of Representatives
801-791-3365 |

Utah House Leaders Commend Secretary Zinke’s Interim Report on the Bears Ears National Monument

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Trump Administration and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released their interim report on the Bears Ears National Monument.

Utah House leaders commend President Trump’s leadership, in tasking Secretary Zinke with a review of national monument designations under the Antiquities Act over the past two decades.

“It is refreshing to have an Administration that desires to collaborate with local officials, tribal leaders and citizens to generate optimum methods to manage our lands,” said Speaker Greg Hughes. “Western states have often been overlooked and ignored, but that has changed drastically since January.”

The new Administration welcomes the input of Utahns to discuss empirical alternatives to preserve our lands, while providing economic opportunities for those living in the area. This was demonstrated during Secretary Zinke’s recent four-day listening tour of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature led efforts to encourage the federal government to allow more state control in the management of our lands. Speaker Hughes sponsored H.C.R. 11Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation, which urged the new administration to rescind the 1.35 million acre monument created by the previous administration in December 2016. Rep. Mike Noel sponsored H.C.R. 12Concurrent Resolution Urging Federal Legislation to Reduce or Modify the Boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to allow greater use of the lands for locals and recreationists.

“Utah took a bold step in the fight to take back management control of our public lands,” said Rep. Noel. “As a result, Utahns were provided an opportunity to give their input, through public comment and meetings, on how to manage our lands in the future.”

The status of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is still under review. Public comment to the Department of the Interior is open until July 10.

The Utah State Legislature continues to work to preserve our lands through increased local management. Local control renders communities with the ability to enhance their economies in a sustainable way and adequately support residents and their families, provide a better education system, protect historic and culturally significant sites and reduce restrictions on recreational use of the land.

The Trump administration is taking steps to reduce federal overreach and bring some control back to state and local governments.

On June 8, 2017, Secretary Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3353, which aims to improve sage-grouse conservation and increase collaboration, cooperation and communication between federal and Western state governments. One-size-fits-all protection of sage grouse does not work because of the vastly different habitats in which the bird can be found. The review of the sage grouse plan provides states, and those closest to the issue, the opportunity to devise solutions that protect the ground-nesting bird without hindering local economic opportunities.

We were thrilled that Utah was able to add yet another strong official to this administration with the appointment of Greg Sheehan as the new Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sheehan has a proven record and more than 25 years of experience in wildlife and natural resource management. He has earned respect from conservation organizations for his leadership, advocacy and dedication to preserving wildlife, and will be an effective leader in Washington.

We are excited to continue to work with Secretary Zinke and the rest of President Trump’s administration in this effort to preserve our lands, increase local management and provide economic prosperity for all citizens of Utah.



Watch: Rep. McCay’s Discussing Education Funding on Fox 13 News

The Utah Legislature significantly increased education funding during the 2017 General Session without raising taxes. Including:

  • About 60% of new revenue this year went to public education, the largest share in recent memory
  • 4% increase in WPU ($115,452,200), putting money where it can allow for greater flexibility and local control
  • 6.7% funding increase over last year
Watch Rep. Dan McCay’s interview with Ben Winslow on Fox 13 News here.

“Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, said lawmakers have already pushed more money toward education. Even though Utah is last in per-pupil spending, Rep. McCay said they are seeing positive results.”


ICYMI: U.S. News recently ranked Utah 9th in the nation in overall education.  Read more here.


Watch: Speaker’s & Minority Leader’s Interview on Inside Utah Politics

Watch Speaker Greg Hughes and Minority Leader Brian King interview with Glen Mills on ABC 4 Good for Utah here.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – To debate some of the biggest stories of the week, Speaker Greg Hughes (R) District 51, and Rep. Brian King (D) Minority Leader, joined the Inside Utah Politics Panel.

Lead by Chief Political Correspondent Glen Mills, the panel discussed the validity of Utah’s special election to fill Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ soon-to-be-vacated 3rd Congressional District seat, and if there’s room to negotiate on Senate Bill 54.

“The Democrats and the house and the senate have been pretty strongly in favor of SB54 in the sense that we support an alternative method to the primary ballot and we’ve seen attempts at times in the house and the senate to undermine that process a little bit,” said King. “…There are some people that want to figure out a way to put more power in the caucus and convention system that exists right now, and there are other people that will die on the hill of making sure that there’s an alternative method to the primary ballot as SB54 puts in place.”

“I think we need to go back and see why was the county my vote issue even before us? I think people in the Republican party, and I’m not sure the Democrats had as strong of a voice in this, but they wanted to see more primaries and less of these candidates decided in convention. I think if that was the goal, if SB54 was to create an alternative route to the ballot so that we could see primaries, so that a broader swath of people can have a voice, I think that’s worth talking about. What I think the downside is to SB54, that I think all sides agreed, but we’ve never resolved years later is plurality,” added Hughes.