REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATURE
By Ralph Okerlund
Senator District 24
We have officially completed two weeks of the session and we have passed 30 bills. During week three, we will more than double the amount of time we spend on the Senate floor, which will mean the passage and failure of more bills.
This week we reviewed and passed nine base budget bills representing different appropriations subcommittees. These bills are based on each subcommittee’s budget from the previous year. Passing these bills during the second week of the session eliminates the possibility of a government shutdown. During the last week of the session, we will pass the “bill of bills,” which includes a complete budget for the year, including new funding for programs and other line items.
Here is a list of each of the base budget bills passed this week:
H.B. 1 Public Education Base Budget Amendments
H.B. 5 Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Base Budget
H.B. 6 Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget
H.B. 7 Social Services Base Budget Amendments
S.B. 1 Higher Education Base Budget
S.B. 4 Business, Economic Development and Labor Base Budget
S.B. 5 Retirement and Independent Entities Base Budget
S.B. 6 Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget
S.B. 7 National Guard, Veterans’ Affairs and Legislature Base Budget
For the last three years, we have seen red flag gun bills introduced in the Utah House of Representatives only to stall out early on in the process. Red flag gun laws allow family members and law enforcement officials to petition the courts to remove firearms from a person in crisis who has been determined to be a danger to himself/herself or others. This week the sponsor of this legislation for this year announced they would likely not run the bill due to lack of support.
I presented on my bill, S.B. 88 Environmental Quality Revisions, this week in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee. This bill clearly defines the authority of different environmental divisions in the state, such as the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, and the Division of Drinking Water. This is important to our water quality and public water systems, as it also addresses violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The bill passed unanimously in committee with a favorable recommendation.
Another bill I am sponsoring this year is S.B. 100 State Institutional Trust Lands Administration Amendments. This bill outlines circumstances under which a meeting of the board of the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration may be closed. This bill has also been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee and I will present to the committee sometime in the next week or two.
Thank you again for giving me this opportunity to serve in this position and represent you at our State’s Capitol. I appreciate your support and hope to hear from you throughout the session.