Category: Press

Press Release: Next steps for addressing Utah homeless crisis announced

Press Release
For Immediate Release
February 24, 2017

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

Next steps for addressing Utah homeless crisis announced

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Speaker of the House, state leadership and the mayors of Salt Lake County and City announced the next steps to address the homelessness crisis in Utah. The plan includes a new direction of the shelter model that breaks up the one-size-fits-all model into three resource centers— two in Salt Lake City and one located outside the city but in Salt Lake County.

“This proposal will allow us to move forward in our efforts to better serve those experiencing homelessness in Utah and relieves some of the pressure on Salt Lake City in providing those services. While the location and size of resource centers are changing slightly, what remains the same is the unprecedented level of cooperation and dedication among City, County, and State leaders in working with service providers to compassionately address this issue,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

“At the state’s request, we will provide options for locating a homeless resource center outside of Salt Lake City. We believe the framework of this plan as outlined today will make it possible to reach our Collective Impact goal of minimizing homelessness, enhancing public safety, meeting the needs of those in crisis and helping them return to stable and independent lives,” said Mayor Ben McAdams.

Next steps include:

  • Improvements in coordinating resources across the housing and homelessness delivery system.
  • Two facilities in Salt Lake City. Each facility will serve up to 200 individuals.
  • One facility to be located outside of Salt Lake City is scheduled to be selected by March 30, 2017.
  • The current downtown shelter is anticipated to close by June 30, 2019.

A new bill sponsored by Rep. Francis Gibson will be presented to finalize funding for the new centers, which will utilize the process created under H.B. 436 Housing and Homelessness Reform Initiative from 2016. Under the direction of the State Homeless Coordinating Committee, the Department of Workforce Services will continue to work closely with the County and City to ensure funds are used as directed by the legislation and the approved plan.

“As I mentioned in my opening day remarks at the start of this session I’m drawing a line in the sand.  Homelessness and the criminal element that is preying on the most vulnerable amongst us is a statewide issue. One city, one county and the state alone can’t take this on by itself. We’ve come together in a collaborative effort, we’ve listened to concerns, and we’ve come up with a unified plan to reform this issue and address this crisis. It hasn’t been easy, and we are just getting started, but together we are committed to make this right and reform the way we address this crisis,” said Speaker Greg Hughes.

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NOTES:

  1. The homelessness proposal can be found here: http://www.utahreps.net/press/homelessness-proposal

 

 

 

 

Homelessness Proposal – 2017 Utah State Legislative Session February 24, 2017

Homelessness Proposal
2017 Utah State Legislative Session February 24, 2017

Over the last two years, stakeholders from all sectors — public, private, and nonprofit — have been working to responsibly address the homelessness crisis we face in our state. Through this work, we have developed a plan to break up the ‘one-size-fits-all’ shelter model and reorient the system to minimize homelessness.

Plan Overview

This plan has four primary components:

  • A redesigned shelter model that breaks up the one-size-fits-all emergency shelter into four resource centers, tailoring services to population needs. There will be a family resource center in Midvale, two facilities in Salt Lake City capped at 200 beds each, and another resource center located in an area outside Salt Lake City. These resource centers will serve distinct populations of adult women, adult men and a gender-segregated facility serving both adult men and women. Population locations will be determined at a later date. No additional facility for families with children is anticipated at this time, as the intent is to divert and prevent these families from entering homelessness through the alternatives discussed below.
  • Alternatives to shelter will continue to be pursued to draw down demand for emergency shelter. Efforts include Salt Lake County’s Pay for Success initiative which targets persistently homeless individuals, more affordable housing, behavioral healthcare treatment facilities, increased diversion, additional e orts to reduce length of stay at a shelter and prevent repeat stays, motel vouchers and other alternatives to meet shelter demand.
  • System improvements that more efficiently coordinate resources across the housing and homelessness delivery system, including a coordinated entry and assessment system.
  • A public safety and treatment initiative, similar to Operation Diversion launched last fall, to ensure neighborhoods are safe and individuals have access to treatment.

Full funding for the above plan is anticipated to move forward this legislative session.

Next Steps 

Utilizing the process created by last year’s HB436 Housing and Homelessness Reform Initiative, funds will be distributed to achieve the above plan. At the request of the state, through a process facilitated by Salt Lake County, stakeholders will identify possible sites for a resource center located in an area outside Salt Lake City for consideration and approval by the State Homeless Coordinating Committee by March 30, 2017. If implemented, the state anticipates being able to responsibly close the downtown emergency shelter by June 30, 2019.

Speaker Hughes, state officials and Salt Lake County and City mayors to announce next steps on homeless plan

Media Alert
For Immediate Release
February 24, 2017

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

 Speaker Hughes, state officials and Salt Lake County and City mayors to announce next steps on homeless plan

What:
Press conference announcing progress on the collaborative effort among the State, Salt Lake County and City on the homeless resource centers and the legislation to move the plan forward.

 Where:
State Capitol – Presentation Room, First Floor
350 State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111

 When:
TODAY, February 24, 2017, at 11:00 AM

 Who:
Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, District 51
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, District 9
Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox
Jonathan Hardy, Department of Workforce Services

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Media Alert: Rep. Steve Eliason to Raise Awareness of Suicide with Shoe Display

Media Alert
For Immediate Release
February 21, 2017

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

Rep. Steve Eliason to Raise Awareness of Suicide with Shoe Display

What:
Rep. Steve Eliason to hold a press conference with the Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness about suicide. A display of combat boots from the National Guard and shoes from Deseret Industries to represent the more than 600 (74 servicemen and women) lives lost to suicide in Utah last year.

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

When:
Today, February 21, immediately following floor time at approximately 12:00 PM. The display of shoes and combat boots will begin at 9:00 AM

Who:
Representative Steve Eliason, District 45
Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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Media Advisory: Bill to Lower Blood Alcohol Content Levels to be Heard in Committee

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
February 9, 2017

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

Bill to Lower Blood Alcohol Content Levels to be Heard in Committee

Salt Lake City – Rep. Norm Thurston’s bill, H.B. 155, to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05 for the general population will be heard in House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice on Friday.

Dr. T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, will present data and answer questions about the bill.

“Utah can lead the way as the first state to lower the legal limit to 0.05 for the general population,” said Rep. Thurston. “It is well known that impairment begins with the first drink, but many drivers don’t realize that even low levels of BAC can degrade skills and increase the risk of vehicle crashes. Decreasing the legal limit will help reduce deaths, injuries and losses related to alcohol-impaired driving.”

 Who:
Representative Norm Thurston, District 64
Dr. T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Vice Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board

What:
Hearing on H.B. 155 – Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety Revisions 

Where:
House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee
House Building, Room 30
350 State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111

When:
Friday, February 10, 2017, beginning at 3:00 p.m.  

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Media Statement: Historic Milestone as Legislature Opens 2017 General Session

Media Statement
For Immediate Release:
January 23, 2017

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

Historic Milestone as Legislature Opens 2017 General Session

 Salt Lake City – For the first time in Utah legislative history, the two most senior members of the House of Representatives are both women and Democrats. Representatives Patrice Arent and Carol Spackman Moss hold the distinction of having served 16 sessions at the legislature. 

Representative Arent said, “This is a historic time for women in Utah for many reasons. We will see the largest march at the Utah Capitol today led by women and for women’s rights. Women are a vital part of our state’s economy. Women are vital to the very fabric that created our beautiful state. We are proud to serve as legislators and continue the work.” 

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Press Release: Lowering Blood Alcohol Content Levels From .08 to .05

Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 30, 2016

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

Lowering Blood Alcohol Content Levels From .08 to .05
Rep. Norm Thurston’s proposed DUI legislation for upcoming session

SALT LAKE CITY – As Utahns get ready to celebrate New Years Eve, Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64, is preparing to sponsor legislation for the 2017 General Session to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05 for the general population.

“It’s a needed change for the whole country. It is well known that impairment begins with the first drink, but many drivers don’t realize that even low levels of BAC can degrade skills and increase the risk of crashes,” explains Rep. Thurston. “Lowering the legal limit will help reduce deaths, injuries and losses related to alcohol-impaired driving. More drivers will become aware that there is a significant increase in risk that occurs well before reaching 0.08.”

Legal limits at or below 0.05 are common throughout the world. Most European nations have a 0.05 legal limit, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland according to European Transport Safety Council. Examples of other countries with limits at or below 0.05 include Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay. Countries, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, have 0.00 limits on BAC for general population drivers. Across the U.S., typically BAC for commercial drivers is 0.04.

“Utah can lead the way as the first state to lower the legal limit to 0.05 for the general population,” said Rep. Thurston. “This will make it more clear that drinking and driving is not acceptable. Furthermore, implementing this new standard can be done with minimal disruption to current law enforcement procedures, making this a win-win for the safety of Utahns on the road.”

In Utah, drunk driving is the third most common factor contributing to motor vehicle crash deaths over the past 10 years, with speed being first and unrestrained occupants being second.

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Speaker Greg Hughes at the Bears Ears Press Conference in San Juan County

Speaker Greg Hughes at the Bears Ears Press Conference in San Juan County on Dec. 29, 2016

Nearly 70 percent of the land in Utah and 50 percent in the western United States is controlled by the federal government. The compact between the state of Utah and the federal government at the time of the formation of the state, provided for the feds to take stewardship over the land until it could be sold. This compact allowed them to keep 95 percent of the revenue from the sale but required they give 5 percent back to the state for use in education.

This has never been done.

The responsibility of the federal government was to “dispose of” the land; it was never meant for them to hold it in reserve for no productive purpose and cut off the ability of states to utilize it for their own growth and funding.

Because the citizens of Utah have no access to nearly 70% of their land for their own management or development, the burden is on all of the states, through federal expenditures, to upkeep and maintain the land. The federal government hasn’t even been very successful at that, though the cost to taxpayers of maintaining western lands is significant at about $13 billion per year.

Taxpayers will also be further on the hook for the $15 billion in deferred maintenance in the nation’s western national parks, all while the locked-up mineral value of these very lands is assessed at $150 trillion. Add to this the fact that when states manage lands, they’re able to turn that responsibility into revenue of $6.29 per acre, while federally managed lands cost taxpayers $1.86 per acre.

It’s time for the federal government to honor the promises made to the current western states, just as it eventually did for the previously “western” states of Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. After Thomas Hart Benton, a Democrat U.S. senator from Missouri, pushed the federal government for many years to honor its commitments, they finally did and those states were freed from the constraints of federal land control policy.

Now is our time.

Media Statement: Chairs and Members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
December 28, 2016 ­­­

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

Chairs and Members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Salt Lake City – Today, the Obama Administration used the Antiquities Act to declare Bears Ears area a national monument. Chairs and members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, Rep. Keven Stratton – Chair, Sen. David Hinkins – Chair, Rep. Mel Brown, Rep. Ken Ivory and Rep. Mike Noel, issued the following statement regarding the monument designation:

“Like the unilateral tyranny exercised by the King of England against the American colonies two and a half centuries ago, our President has exercised an unconstitutional unilateral exercise of the Executive power to establish a monument greater in size than a number of the original thirteen states. Our children are the biggest losers and our Federal Executive Branch is well aware that this designation goes against the voice of the American Citizens living within the borders of the State of Utah and an overwhelming super majority of those elected to represent them. This Bears Ears designation will not survive a constitutional review by our Judicial Branch and we pledge to take and support every lawful action available under the rule of law to overturn this act of repulsive political cronyism.”

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Media Statement: Speaker Greg Hughes Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
December 28, 2016

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

Speaker Greg Hughes Statement about Bears Ears National Monument Designation

Salt Lake City – Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration using the Antiquities Act to declare 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears area a national monument:

“We are truly disappointed that President Obama today chose to use the Antiquities Act to unilaterally declare a 1.35-million-acre Monument in Utah. The Antiquities Act, created by Teddy Roosevelt, was never intended to be used in this way and only the smallest area necessary for the purpose of protecting significant archaeological or historical sites is allowed. Not only is that clearly not the case here, but this administration has had no real conversations with those who will be affected by this designation, let alone any study of what “antiquities” they are attempting to protect.

Adding to a long list of executive actions that threaten the sovereignty of the states and the citizens of this nation to chart their own course, our president has chosen to once again subvert the will of the people. Earlier this month, nearly all elected officials who represent the area, from local to federal, assembled at the Utah State Capitol to plead with President Obama to resist the temptation to grant these types of political favors. This action betrays the interests of Utahns, stands in the way of better stewardship of the land we all love and cherish and ultimately amounts to a blatant federal land grab.

Our democratic republic is designed to be most effective and accountable when major decisions are made closest to the people but President Obama has chosen to circumvent all democratic processes and lock up nearly two million acres of land from use based solely on ideological principles.

Nearly 70 percent of Utah is under federal management and control and 90 percent of our population lives on just 1 percent of our ground. Nothing about this is even remotely reasonable, and that is why we in the Utah Legislature have been pushing back for decades. This designation makes that effort even more important and we will do everything within our power to seek to overturn this action once President Obama leaves office next month.”

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