Day 36 — Family, Isn’t it about Time…..for Paid Family Leave?

HB 278, Paid family and medical leave, is a bill whose time has come.  We’ve known for years that employees feel loyalty to an employer who supports their need to take care of family members facing emergent medical situations.  That loyalty leads to a stronger work force and prevents people from choosing between keeping their paycheck and supporting their family.  

Several news outlets have highlighted paid family leave and my HB 283 this week.  

SL Trib:  Hoping to attract workers — particularly women — to the workplace, House votes to give employers a tax credit if they offer paid leave

ABC4Utah:  Paid family leave bill survives close vote in Utah House

What does HB 283 do?  

It provides a tax credit, based on the qualifications of the federal tax plan implemented in Jan. 2018.  Up front I need to say it’s not a mandate.  It’s an opt in for businesses in Utah who want to support both job growth and working families in Utah.  Full-time workers making less than $72,000 a year could receive at least two weeks of paid leave and receive at least half of their wages for their time off to take care of a medical emergency for a spouse, child, or parent.  HB278 is a priority of the Salt Lake Chamber, one of the state’s largest business groups.  The group says at least tens of thousands of employees would be eligible for paid leave under the bill.

HB278 still must pass the Senate in the remaining four days of the session and would join a long list of bills seeking funding as lawmakers finish assembling the state’s annual budget. The original bill came in with a fiscal note of $4.1M.  We have a substitute bill that lowers the tax credit and is expected to cost the state about $800K.  The bill is a step in the right direction and really a signal that in Utah, we can be both pro-family and pro-business.  

 

One op-ed provided such good analysis, I’ve included it in it’s entirety below.

Thanks, Deseret News, and Christian Sagers, editorial assistant for the Deseret News opinion section.  

Op-ed:  In search of paid family leave in America

Deseret News

Buried in the middle of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week buzzed a little blurb that might have flown past the ears of the casual listener. Sandwiched between an expansive infrastructure proposal and the details of an immigration deal was a simple nod to the American family: “And let’s support working families by supporting paid family leave,” said Trump to a smattering of applause.

Democrats might have felt like rolling their eyes, while clapping Republicans might have nervously asked themselves, “Do we actually want this?”

 

The reality is that paid family leave is an idea whose time has come for the American family, and we need a program that’s uniquely tailored to America’s needs.

The nation’s shifting workplace dynamics mean making adjustments to keep the family at the forefront of public policy. As of 2016, 61 percent of families with children had both parents in the workforce. Whether out of necessity or choice, parents are more likely to be employed than before, leading to certain challenges when raising children.

It’s often difficult for a mother or father to take extended periods of leave from their work to care for a new child, with lower-income workers feeling the brunt of the problem. These parents are less likely to work for large corporations that offer generous benefits, and, without the guarantee of job-protected leave, many low-wage earners either feel the need to get back to work as soon as possible after welcoming a new child or quit their jobs entirely. Neither option is good for economic production in the long run, nor does either offer working families support to raise strong children.

Some form of widely available paid leave, then, seems attractive, and the country agrees. A 2016 poll found that 74 percent of registered voters support paid family leave for new parents.

With bipartisan agreement that working parents need a helping hand — ranging from Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D.-Ill., to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah — the debate should center on what a paid family leave program should look like, as well as what it will cost. But most proposals do little to look beyond tired norms to find a truly American solution.

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, for example, is clearly rooted in the desire to help the average family raise children, but its mechanics smack of another entitlement program estimated to cost taxpayers $85.9 billion per year. In the long run, such hefty programs only drag on the economy, and they run the risk of benefiting middle-income workers while leaving low-wage earners in a lurch. These universal proposals also crowd out free-market solutions, which have the potential to be more generous than government-funded programs.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is crafting a different approach. His working plan would allow parents to withdraw Social Security benefits when they have a new child, thus delaying benefits for the same duration at retirement. It’s an inventive concept, apparently appealing to Ivanka Trump — a longtime paid family leave supporter — but the finer details have yet to materialize. And in Rubio’s words, “We still have to work on members of my own party” before the idea stands a chance in Congress.

 

 

Still another option is to establish tax-preferred savings accounts into which parents deposit money in anticipation of welcoming a new child. The government would offer tax incentives to companies that match employee contributions or that offer company paid leave benefits, much like Sen. Deb Fischer’s, R-Neb., tax credit in the recent tax reform bill. Government assistance would be minimal and targeted only to low-wage earners, contingent upon their own deposits into an account.

Regardless of the approach, tackling such legislation will be a monumental effort. But it can be done by focusing on sound principles. Principles will always resonate with the American people more than partisan platforms. As such, any paid leave program should be deficit-neutral (better yet, reduce the deficit), should target working families who most need the help and shouldn’t compete with a company’s choice to treat its employees well with generous benefits.

The lemminglike justification that the U.S. needs a paid family leave program because it is the only civilized country in the world without one is rote and perhaps the worst motivation for crafting any sort of policy. What the country needs is meaningful debate with input from thought leaders on all sides. Open and honest deliberation will build the foundation for a paid family leave program that’s tailor-made for American families.

Christian Sagers is the editorial assistant for the Deseret News opinion section.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 35 — Hitting for the cycle

What do Evan Longoria and Cody Bellinger have to do with the 2018 Utah Legislative session? Both of them hit for the cycle during the MLB 2017 season.  

“Hitting for the cycle” in baseball means you’ve played a game where you have hit:

  • A single
  • A double
  • A triple
  • A homerun

In legislative parlance, that would means in one day you’ve:

  • A bill passed out of committee
  • A bill passed off the House floor
  • A bill passed out of a Senate committee
  • A bill passed off the Senate floor

That happened to me on Monday.  I hit for the legislative cycle.  I also had the auspicious honor of adding to that a strike out, which I don’t think wins you any points in either baseball or the legislature.  Meaning, one of my priority bills, HB 283, Workplace Protection Amendments, failed to advance out of committee, with a vote of 3-7.  

Not all issues and bills in the legislature are created equal.  Some are singles, some are doubles, some are home runs…..and some require more time in the rookie leagues before they’re ready to advance to a home run in the bigs.  HB 283 is such an issue.  I’m certain the issue of workplace discrimination is not going away.  We’ll continue to work on it, with all interested stakeholders, and one day the bill will pass.  

And that will be a home run.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 32 — Highlights of Week 5

Every Friday is Educator on the Hill day.  It was a treat to visit with Rachel Wright, left, 4th grade teacher at Odyssey Elementary in Woods Cross, and Chera Fernelius, English teacher at Farmington Jr. High.  They both assure me they have the best students in the state and it may be true based on the letters from the students they delivered to me today.   

I love having visitors on the floor and seeing their excitement as they witness this great legislative process.  This is Tula, visiting from California.  She was with me as we waited and waited and waited for my HCR 7 to come up on the House calendar for my presentation.  In the end we adjourned as the bill right in front of mine was voted on.  So, now we’re up first thing on Monday morning.  

Senator Orrin Hatch visited the House as we passed a resolution designating today as “Orrin Hatch Day.”  What a remarkable legacy of service he leaves to this state and country.

Presenting HB 278, Paid family and medical leave, to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.  The bill passed out unanimously! 

We had a heart wrenching recognition on the House Floor of Deserea Turner.  She is a shooting survivor who was left for dead by two classmates in Logan last year.  Her  head wound has left her physically impaired and has caused some mental impairment.  But she is improving.  She is a strong girl. 

Millcreek Jr. High Jazz Band, with Director Chad King, brought down the People’s House this week as they were highlighted as one of the musical groups throughout the state to play in the Rotunda during School District Day on the Hill.

Congresswoman Mia Love speaking to the House Majority Caucus.  She will always be a special person in our family because my youngest daughter, Jayne, was an intern in her office 18 months ago.  That experience fired up her interest in government and a real loyalty to the Congresswoman.  

The Bountiful City Youth Council took a field trip to the Capitol and I had a chance to visit for a few minutes before floor time began.  These experiences of youth leadership at a young age solidify for many of these students a desire to make contributions in their community and state and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these awesome students.

Robin and Matthew Chidester, neighbors and friends for over 20 years, serve as the cub scout leaders of this awesome group.  My intern had the opportunity to provide them with a tour as I was on my way to present HB 278 in Rev & Tax Committee.  Cub scouts are always so well prepared and interested in citizenship and I love seeing their passion and energy!

A selfie of folks waiting in the House gallery for HCR 7 to come up for a debate.  I hope they still have this much energy when we get up on Monday morning!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 31 — Issues to watch

Bills and issues moving their way through the legislature this week:

Resolution honoring Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Orrin Hatch has served the state of Utah for over 40 years as a U.S. Senator. Now that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate, our State Senate passed a resolution, SCR 13, to honor Senator Hatch for the good work he has done on behalf of our state. As part of the resolution, February 21, 2018 was designated as Orrin Hatch Day. This resolution gave many legislators a chance to acknowledge the personal and political stories they had with Senator Hatch. You can listen to the floor discussion and Senator Hatch’s remarks here.

In the News: Deseret News  

Talent Ready Utah Center

One year ago, during the State of the State address, Governor Herbert launched the Talent Ready Utah Initiative with the purpose of helping meet our workforce needs in the state. SB 131, Talent Ready Utah Amendments, furthers this effort by creating a Talent Ready Utah Center under the direction of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Senator Millner is the Senate sponsor on this bill and I am the House sponsor. This center would provide coordination between education leaders and industry leaders to make sure we’re aligning our efforts in meeting workforce needs. This would help industry leaders be more engaged in educational opportunities like internships and externships. There is an outcome component to this bill that would establish metrics to see if we are having success in our efforts. This bill passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House. Listen to the floor debate here.

Medical Marijuana

For the last four years, we have considered legislation that would allow for the use of marijuana products for medical purposes. With the exception of CBD oil use for epileptic children, no marijuana bills have passed successfully through the legislature. This year, the use of medical marijuana is divided into two main bills. HB 197 would permit the growth of marijuana in the State and charge the Department of Agriculture with overseeing the growing. HB 195 established “right to try” legislation that would permit patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if it is recommended by a doctor. These bills originated in the House and narrowly passed. They were recently debated in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and passed out. These bills will be considered on the Senate floor for second and third reading for passage.  You can listen to the committee presentation here.

In the News:  Deseret News

Cannabidiol Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown promise as a treatment for Epileptic conditions. Two years ago, HB58 by Representative Froerer allowed patients suffering from epilepsy to use medical CBD for treatment. The law was silent, however, about where people could get the CDB, though most patients in Utah obtained it from Colorado. Since then, CBD products have become more widely available here in the state but are almost completely unregulated. Some CBD products are laced with potentially harmful substances like THC and fentanyl, which has led to medical complications and even hospital visits–the causes of which are due to the additives, not the CBD. This bill creates a regulatory infrastructure for CBD sales in Utah. Under Utah law, only Epileptic patients can use CBD products, and this does not change under this bill. SB130, sponsored by Senator Vickers, has two major components. The first component authorizes the Department of Agriculture to regulate CBD the products that are currently being sold to Epileptic patients. The company selling the CBD must register their product with the state and pay a fee. The fee would be used to test the integrity of the products, determining if the product CBD, nothing less and nothing more. The second component submits Utah’s application for a waiver with the DEA to allow the state to develop a medical grade CBD product that doctors can prescribe. This bill has passed the Senate and will be heard in the House.

School Security Locks

Senator Weiler was approached by a constituent, who, concerned for the safety of his daughter, wanted to donate locks to his daughter’s elementary school to be used during a lockdown situation. Unfortunately, state building and fire codes prohibit the use of these locks on classroom doors in the state of Utah. Weiler’s bill, SB87 School Security Locks, allows school districts to decide for themselves to install bolt locks on classroom doors. The bill passed after the Senate concurred with a House amendment on Thursday the 15th, one day after the mass school shooting in Florida. Weiler told the Deseret News, “I’m hoping that by removing this legal barricade, more schools in Utah will be able to take whatever steps they deem appropriate to protect students.” Watch Senator Weiler presenting the bill on the Senate Floor here.

In the News:  Deseret News

Honoring Thomas S. Monson

Thomas S. Monson has been a prominent figure in Utah for the last 50 years, most recently serving as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, it seemed fitting to honor his memory on the Senate floor this week. HCR 5, Concurrent Resolution Honoring Thomas S. Monson, recognizes his many years of service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as his other accomplishments in life like serving in the U.S. Navy and graduating from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. His family was present on the Senate floor during the debate. The resolution passed both chambers unanimously.

In the News: Deseret News

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DAY 30 — What to do with $209 million?

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.  We will use this analysis as we determine where the added revenue should be allocated: rainy day fund to education to new programs to tax cuts to ????  At this point, everything is on the table and we’re paying particular attention to the fact that the last time revenue was this robust was 2008, right before the last recession.  

The revised total available new revenue at this time, after base budget changes, is $453 million ongoing and $128 million one-time, for a total of $581 million. At last year at this time, it was $361 million available ongoing and $6 million available one-time.

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

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.

Deseret News: Utah lawmakers now have $581 million in additional revenues

SL Trib: Utah legislators told they have an extra $209 million to spend 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Day 29 — Hear ye, hear ye

As a state Representative I have always felt one of my most important responsibilities is to hear from my constituents.  During the time of my service this has taken many forms:

  • Nightly blog
  • Weekly newsletter
  • Bagels & briefings each Saturday morning at my house during the legislative session 
  • Family Night at the Capitol
  • And one of my favorites….Town Halls.

Tonight was the annual mid-session Town Hall, held at the Bountiful City Hall, and hosted by Rep. Ray Ward, Sen. Todd Weiler and me.

We were able to present some of our bills we are currently working on and then take questions from the audience.  The topics discussed were driven by the constituents who were there.  They included:

  • Gender change
  • Toll roads
  • Fuel tax
  • Air quality
  • Hunting permits for cougars
  • Wild horses
  • Bicycle laws
  • Education funding
  • Hackers
  • Federal designation of wilderness
  • Voter registration
  • Watershed law
  • Davis County’s biggest challenges
  • Gun & violence

 

 

Thank you to all those who came and participated tonight as well as the thousands of others who have come to Town Halls and all the other constituent events throughout the past 10 years.  Your voices have been heard and have directed my service.  The final Town Hall of the legislative session will be held after our session ends.  Stay tuned for details.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week FOUR Highlights

Wow, what a whirlwind Week Four has been! So many good things happened, including HCR 7, Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship passing out of committee and SCR 1, Concurrent Resolution on Recommending Replacement of Phil Farnsworth Statue in United States Capitol passing off the House floor.

If I were to have a theme for Week Four it would have to be a shout out to the students, young girls, and girl scouts who have made their voices heard this week.  They made stuff happen and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  I hope this marks the beginning of a lifelong commitment to being actively engaged in community, state, and national issues.  We are going to be in good hands.

Pictures from this week, in no particular order 🙂 

Logan High School, West High School, and McGillis School students making a big impact on the passage of HCR 7. 

  

My great-great-Grandpa Moroni Price was a member of the 1897 Utah State House of Representatives.  He was a colleague of Martha Hughes Cannon, who made a little news this week.

 Sometimes you find truth in the most unusual places.

Presenting the Martha Hughes Cannon statue resolution, SCR 1, on the House floor.  Sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler is behind me wearing a t-shirt that says, “A woman’s place is in the House and in the Senate.”  Some people say we should add “and the Dome” to the shirt.

The 4-H State Ambassadors visited the Capitol on the day we voted on Martha Hughes Cannon.  What a great day to sit next to Cheyenne on the floor.

Meet Rep. Seegmiller, newest member of the House, representing St. George. He was sworn in on Day 25.  One of his first votes was on SCR 1.  Luckily, good things are ahead for him.  He was wise enough to vote yes 🙂

Pictures of Sen. Martha Hughes Cannon, left side of the front row, with other members of the Utah legislature, including two woman State Representatives to her left Sarah M. Anderson and Eurithe K. LaBarthe.

Martha Hughes Cannon, far left standing, with prominent women engaged in advocating for women’s suffrage, including Emmeline B. Wells and Susan B. Anthony, seated, to her left.

Utah’s Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus, established in 2015, includes current and former members of the Utah State Legislature.    

Memories….Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus Reception for current and former members of the legislature and legislative session interns.

Martha Hughes Cannon

A painting in the House Chamber of the first woman in the U.S. to vote, Seraph Young, a 23 year old daughter of Territorial Governor Brigham Young.  This occurred on Feb. 14, 1870, and she was the first woman to vote in the U.S., a full 50 years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave all women the right to vote.

    My niece, Sunny, was with me as we passed the Martha Hughes Cannon bill.  What a treat!

Some of the BetterDays 2020 team who were so critical to the passage of the bill.

More 4-H State Ambassadors!

Wonderful, insightful, and talented Natalie Tonks.  Check out her op-ed in the Deseret News about what Martha Hughes Cannon means to her.

                   

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 26 — A pretty great-great-Grandpa

Just getting a little family history done at work. This is my great-great-grandpa Moroni Price. I’m mighty proud to carry on his legacy. In 1897 he was a member of the Utah House, representing Cache Valley’s District 2. He fought for women’s suffrage, representing Utah on the national scene, and was a colleague of Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman in the U.S. elected to a state Senate. A true pioneer in so many important ways!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 25 — A change of climate

Last year I met a group of students from Logan. They had prepared a resolution on our changing climate to be heard in the Utah State legislature.  Through a series of events their resolution ended up in my hands.  With a late in the session roll out we felt fortunate to have a hearing on the last day committees could hear bills.  The resolution received a 5-5 vote.  While we were disappointed to not move on to the full House for a vote, there was a tremendous amount of energy for carrying the discussion forward.  To that end these students became an important part of a team working to normalize the discussion of our changing climate with a special emphasis on solutions that support environmental stewardship and the economic vitality of our state.  

Those discussions became the genesis for a bill I am running this session, HCR 7, Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship.


We had an initial hearing on this bill this week, but had to end committee right at public comment because our House floor time was starting.  Two days later we were back on the agenda and after a brief intro by me, we went straight to public comment.  Six students testified in front of the committee, and were backed by a large group of their peers from Logan High School, West High School, McGillis School, and Utah State University.  They were succinct, thoughtful, well prepared, and impressive.  In short, they wowed the committee members and won the day.  The bill passed out of the
House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and the Environment Committee with a vote of 8-3.  We now move to the House floor for a full vote.

Comments by the students can be found below.  They are worth a listen.   

My bill presentation follows:  

Three weeks ago, on Day 4 of the 2018 legislative session, many of us met in the auditorium of the State Office Building to listen to a Climate Solutions Panel, made up of scientists, local, state, and federal elected officials, industry, and business representatives.  This event was organized by Utah students, high school and college, and hosted by Rep. Ward, Rep. Briscoe, and myself. Videos of the event are in three parts and can be seen on youtube:  

 

 

The opening remarks came from our own Congresswoman Mia Love, an early member of the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, who recorded a message that was shown at the beginning of the event.  She stated that, “We all have a part in making sure we are good stewards of the land that we live in.  Unfortunately, our toxic political climate sometimes makes it difficult to effectively address our physical climate.”

HCR 7 is an attempt to prove that wrong.  It is a consensus resolution that has been examined and vetted by a variety of stakeholders, many of whom are represented here today.  Folks representing:

  • Industry, large and small
  • Scientists from our Utah research institutions of higher education
  • Government agencies, tasked by us to examine these issues
  • Stakeholders in the community

 

This resolution is an attempt to:

  • Build bridges instead of divides
  • Conduct constructive dialogue in place of the dissent of extremism, and to
  • Work for solutions instead of seeing problems as an immovable status quo

 

It repeatedly affirms that it is our opportunity and responsibility to work for solutions that enhance a future that is both economically viable, and also environmentally viable.

 

Let the language of the resolution do the talking, beginning on Line 54:

 

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the
Governor concurring therein, commits to working constructively, using our heritage of
technological ingenuity, innovation, and leadership to create and support economically viable and broadly supported private and public solutions, including in rural communities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED we should prioritize our understanding and use of sound science to address causes of a changing climate and support innovation and

environmental stewardship in order to realize positive solutions.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor encourage individuals, corporations, and state agencies to reduce emissions through incentives and support of the growth in technologies and services that will enlarge our economy in a way that is both energy efficient and cost effective.

 

Utah is a special place. We are fond of saying that we deal with our problems using the “Utah Way.”

In that spirit, we believe Utah can tackle the challenges of a changing climate through its own means. But we must first have open and honest discussions of the problem, which is what my resolution is meant to initiate. We can continue to grow our economy and be good stewards of our natural resources as we work together to seek solutions that create a bright future for our state. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 24 — #sendMartha

Today was a momentous day for Utah.  The Utah House passed SCR 1, Concurrent Resolution Recommending Replacement of Statue of Philo Farnsworth in United States Capitol, the resolution that moves a statue of Martha Hughes Cannon to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, to join Brigham Young, as the two statues representing the state of Utah.

Sen. Todd Weiler and Sen. Deidre Henderson are both sponsoring bills to recognize Utah’s role in the suffrage movement.  Sen. Henderson is sponsoring SB 119, Special Group License Plate, that creates a new recognition special group license, “First to Vote,” plate to recognize and commemorate women’s suffrage.  Sen. Todd Weiler was the Senate sponsor on this the Martha Hughes Cannon statue resolution, SCR 1, and I was pleased to be the floor sponsor in the House. 

There was a tremendous outpouring of community support for this effort.  Girl Scouts and young girls wrote their State Representatives, sharing how the example of Martha Hughes Cannon inspired them and because of her example the girls knew they could accomplish anything.  One girl shared her aspiration to be the 3rd female President of the United States.  She is 11 years old.  American women better get busy. 

Pictures of members of the public, including supporters from BetterDays 2020, Adam Gardiner, former State Representative who was the original sponsor of the resolution before being elected to serve as the SL County Recorder, girl scouts, students, members of the public, Utah Cultural Alliance, League of Women Voters, and representatives of the Women’s State Legislative Council who took a position of support for the resolution.  It was a great day all around.  We could not have achieved this vote without the support and advocacy from so many, only a few who are pictured here.  

     

But back to Martha.  Martha Hughes Cannon is a remarkable woman, with a strong influence that extends beyond our state.

Her resume speaks for itself:

  • First woman in the U.S. elected to a State Senate, in 1896, beating her husband Angus M. Cannon in the general election
  • Bachelors degree in Chemistry, University of Deseret
  • Received medical degrees from University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania
  • Bachelors degree in Elocution and Oratory, University of Pennsylvania

As a Senator, Dr. Cannon:

  • Founded the Utah State Board of Health, later became the Utah Department of Health
  • Founded what later became the School for the Deaf and Blind
  • Sponsored legislation on public health, sanitation, and workplace protection and safety
  • Supported vaccinations, early childhood education, nursing education
  • Advocate for the U.S. women’s suffrage movement

Martha Hughes Cannon is most famous for being the first woman in the U.S. elected as a State Senator.  In addition to that, what makes her story a bit more unique is that Martha actually ran and beat her opponent, who just happened to be her husband, Angus Cannon.  Mattie and Angus were married during the time polygamy was practiced openly by LDS members in Utah.  She was his 4th wife and he was 23 years her senior.  Mattie trained in Philadelphia as a physician, returned to Utah, married, had 3 children with Angus, lived for awhile in exile while the government was out to prosecute those living polygamy.  Eventually Mattie was able to return to her home in Utah and founded the Department of Health, worked extensively with deaf and hard of hearing students, nursing, and left a big market in the area of public health in Utah. 

This is one of my favorite paintings in the House Chamber at the Capitol.  It is artist David Koch’s depiction of 23 year old Seraph Young, grand niece of Brigham Young, casting her ballot as the first woman in the United States to vote, on Valentines Day, 1870.  Utah granted women the right to vote in late 1869, the second state to do so after Wyoming.  Utahs election was held prior to the election in Wyoming, however, and the first woman to cast her ballot in that 1870 election, held on Feb. 14, was a young woman named Seraph Young. She was 23 years old, single, and stopped to vote before she went on to her day job as a school teacher.

Women’s Suffrage–the right of women to vote–was actually won twice in Utah. After being granted in 1870 by the territorial legislature it was revoked by Congress in 1887 as part of the Edmunds-Tucker Anti-polygamy Act, which among other things, revoked women’s right to vote, along with the effort to rid the territory of polygamy. It was restored in 1895, when the right to vote and hold office was written into the constitution of the new state. 

Throughout this time many prominent Utah women were involved in the women’s rights movement as advocates and suffragists, working with national leaders.  On November 3, 1896, following the reinstatement of a womans right to vote in 1895, Utah distinguished itself again by electing Martha Hughes Cannon as the first female State Senator elected in the United States.  Cannon defeated her own husband, Angus Cannon, who was also on the ballot. 

Artist David Koch writes about his treatment of the subject matter in the Seraph Young painting.  His account:  

This mural is about two windows; Two windows of opportunity that were opened in Utah history. The first window was opened in the Salt Lake City Hall on Valentine’s Day in 1870. Twenty three year old Seraph Young was the first woman to cast her ballot in the Utah Territiories and quite possibly in boundaries more far reaching. This municipal vote took place without much fanfare or publicity and was short lived. This window was closed in 1887 when Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Antipolygamy Act.

The second window of women’s suffrage would be opened largely due to the efforts of three visionary women: Emmeline B. Wells, Sarah M. Kimball, and Emily Richards. These women championed this cause for women by climbing the staircase of adversity, prejudice, historical culture, opposition of top state leaders and national government and resistance to change. The challenge to open this second window was accomplished one hard fought step at a time. Today we must climb these same stairs in order to improve the quality of life now and to provide a better future for our children.

This article by provides background to the ways early Mormon Utah women were involved in the suffrage movement.  Utah History To Go also includes a thorough account of the ways Utah women contributed to the suffragette movement.

Additionally, this 1995 Deseret News article highlights the many women who paved the way by dedicating their life to equality and suffrage.  

This Valentines Day, as we think of the people and things we love and cherish, I cherish and am grateful for my right to vote and for all the people who made that a possibility.  Just one of the many things I love about Utah.  

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment