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As you all know, today was the first day of the annual general session of the Utah State Legislature. Normally, the first day consists mainly of procedures and ceremonies that get the legislative machinery up and running for the rest of the forty-five days.


Both Speaker of the House Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams started off today’s meetings with their respective chambers with speeches meant to convey the themes and priorities they are using to guide this year’s session. If you’ve been paying attention over the past week or two as reporters have been previewing lawmakers’ goals this year, you’d recognize many of the priorities shared by both leaders: water conservation, water infrastructure, tax cuts, housing affordability and homelessness, and investments geared toward smart growth. (More on what to expect this session from State Street at KUER 90.1)


Despite Wilson and Adams insisting they didn’t want to talk about COVID this session, the big topic of the day was…COVID! More specifically, Senator Dan McCay introduced a resolution (SJR 3) to overturn Salt Lake County’s recent 30-day indoor mask mandate which was ordered by Dr. Angela Dunn as Omicron has pummeled our hospitals, schools, and community health. Despite excellent pushback from the Legislature’s minority party members (if GOP lawmakers are so opposed to government mandates, can they please explain to me why they ran for a job that solely consists of them using coercive power to tell people what they can or can’t do?), the resolution was expanded to also include the mandates in Summit County and Salt Lake City, and passed the Senate by a vote of 22-5. (More from Deseret News)


For those who’ve been around the block before, you may be asking yourself -- “Wait, how did this pass already without a committee hearing?” or “Does this mean the Senate will debate and vote on the resolution again tomorrow before it goes to the House?” Although we normally see this happen during the flurry of legislation at the end of the session, Senators suspended the rules, making it possible for them to skip having a public hearing and pass it after only one round of debate and votes. 


If it’s any indication of how much the Senate dislikes wearing masks, almost every GOP senator was unmasked on the Senate floor throughout the day, including President Adams who tested positive for COVID last week, started his opening speech by announcing he tested positive TWICE today, then followed up his speech by correcting himself to say that he tested negative twice today, and then ended the day by telling the press that his texts were “mixed.” (More from The Salt Lake Tribune)


Confused? Concerned? Scared at the thought of Adams having such enormous power over our daily lives and public health? Me. Too.


Other Quick Updates

  • The House unanimously passed HB30 from Rep. Angela Romero, which would require local school districts to allow indigenous students to wear tribal regalia at high school graduation ceremonies. 

  • Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant gave his annual State of the Judiciary address during which he identified adequately compensation judicial assistants -- a position that is currently paid 20% below market value and experiences 25% turnover rates. (More from The Salt Lake Tribune)



Support Masking in Salt Lake County!

Senator Dan McCay’s bill, SJR 3, would terminate mask requirements in Salt Lake County, and in doing so, tie the hands of medical experts and local officials to protect residents. Even though each bill and resolution is supposed to receive a public hearing, GOP leadership accelerated the timeline of this bill so that it would be debated and voted on without a public hearing or opportunity to give public comment. Ask your senator to oppose SJR 3!


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