Day 44 — Never, Never, Never Give Up

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I’m writing this at 3:00 am on Day 44 of the 2015 Legislative Session.  Actually, I guess it is technically Day 45.  We are coming down to the wire and were on the House floor for over 12 hours today trying to work our way through a long list of both House and Senate bills.  At around 11:00 pm a motion to adjourn was made on the floor.  That motion is non debatable, but is still voted upon.  This evening I witnessed something I’ve never seen before — the motion to adjourn was unanimously voted down.  Speaker Hughes was a bit surprised with that vote, but we continued on.  At midnight, another motion was made to adjourn and this time it was successful.  We’ll be back at it in a few hours to bring the session to a close, with our Sine Die, the Latin phrase meaning adjournment, required at midnight of Day 45.

While we went through several dozen bills today, three exemplify the famous Winston Churchill admonition to “Never, never, never give up.”

1.  HB 226, Air Quality Revisions

This air quality bill didn’t make it out of the 2014 session, failed to receive support last summer by an interim committee, but finally passed today!  The cliche at the Capitol is when legislators describe a bill as “This is a really simple bill,” or “This is a good bill.”  Actually, it is true for HB 226.  It’s a good, straightforward bill that allows our Utah experts to create and adopt rules that are different from the EPA rules, but which add to the public health or environment of our state.  For more on what this bill does, check out the interview here (warning: it’s rather lengthy, but you get a great picture of this bill and other air quality issues for the session).

2.  SB 296 and SB 297.  These two bills go hand in hand in addressing Anti-Discrimination and Religious Liberties in the areas of housing and employment.  I am proud to be a Utahn tonight. The passage of these bills has been years in the making.  This is my 7th year at the Capitol. Every year since I’ve been elected we’ve discussed this issue and I’ve been waiting for a chance to vote yes.  As a mother, grandmother, neighbor, community member, elected official, and person with deep religious convictions, I strongly support this bill. It makes me proud to live in a Utah that ensures equality and fundamental rights for ALL!  Again, this is an issue that has grown in support through the years as understanding and awareness have increased.  Again, Churchill got it right.

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3.  SB 97, Property Tax Equalization Amendments, is an attempt to equalize the property tax revenue across the state in order to ensure equal access to revenue for educational opportunities statewide for our schools and students.  This inequity across the state leaves us vulnerable to an attack on equity and adequacy from the courts.  Because we have neglected to take care of this issue for the past many years, we are finding ourselves in a “must do it this year” situation.  This bill passed and I am hopeful it will be the beginning for more equitable funding and education across the state.

Amidst all of that, we also managed to pass numerous other bills.  Here is the complete list of the bills from today.

Thanks for reading and tune in tomorrow, the much anticipated Day 45!

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