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Happy Holidays 2023

By Holiday UpdateNo Comments

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As the holiday season unfolds, I find myself reflecting on the countless blessings we share as members of this incredible community. It’s a time for gratitude, warmth, and coming together to celebrate the year’s end.

In the spirit of the season, I want to express my profound appreciation for each of you. We are truly blessed to be part of a community where helping one another isn’t just a duty, but a heartfelt commitment. Your acts of kindness, big and small, create ripples of hope and joy that touch lives in ways you may never fully realize.

This year, as I’ve met with many of you, listened to your stories, and witnessed your unwavering spirit of community service, I’ve been deeply inspired. From supporting local businesses to volunteering at food banks, from helping a neighbor in need to participating in community events, your dedication to our community is the foundation of our collective strength.

As your Senator, I am continually motivated by your example. Your concerns, dreams, and aspirations shape my work every day. Together, we’re making our community a place where everyone feels welcome, supported, and valued.

During this holiday season, let’s take a moment to cherish these bonds of community and to look forward to the opportunities and challenges of the coming year. May this time be filled with peace, joy, and love for you and your families.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Warm regards,

Senator Wayne Harper

November Legislative Update

By Legislative UpdateNo Comments

Friends and Neighbors,

With the annual and joyful holiday season her again, now is a great time for self-reflection and expressions of gratitude for those who make our lives better, both in small ways and large. I have always loved the quote, “Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward.

We are one of the most prosperous states in the nation and are fortunate to live in a state that has been consistently ranked first in the U.S. for volunteerism. None of this is by chance. A strong correlation exists between giving and receiving with gratitude and prosperity in a virtuous cycle that strengthens and lifts society. Where governance of our society is concerned, we should not be defined solely by our political ideology but rather by the good we do for those around us. Let us choose to be grateful, choose to be gracious and choose to treat others with kindness and respect, especially in our political discussions.

Speaking of prosperity, we strive to make our state a flourishing home for our constituents through our work at the Legislature. This month’s interim meetings were evidence of that as we thoughtfully and meticulously considered essential issues in drafted legislation. A recap of notable policy issues is included below, along with the events and news from around the state. I hope you will find this information useful, and I look forward to writing again in December.

May you and your family have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!


Senator Wayne A. Harper

November Interim Meetings

Our interim committees convened in November for their final meetings of the year to review proposed legislation in preparation for the 2024 General Legislative Session. Throughout the year, substantial strides have been made addressing numerous challenging issues with a commitment to understanding and enacting positive change.

Below are some notable highlights from the month, and for a more in-depth overview of the November interim meetings, you can refer to the linked document provided here.

Draft Legislation Combining Carson Smith Scholarship and Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program

Several constituents throughout the years have reached out to me for information on special needs scholarship opportunities provided through state funding. Two of these opportunities often inquired about are the Carson Smith Scholarship (CSS) and the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship programs, overseen by the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). I’m happy to inform you that the Education Interim Committee recommended a bill combining these two programs, ensuring consistent funding, better management and efficiency through the application and awarding process of these particular scholarships. 

After years of evaluation and administration of these and similar programs, state education leaders have advised this combination as an appropriate measure to provide flexibility to special needs students, prevent work duplication for parents and administrators and ensure consistent funding for students with disabilities who apply for these scholarships. The state has developed a better understanding of how to administer choice scholarship programs efficiently.  Additionally, this draft bill would help lead to more applicants and awardees receiving funding.  The bill will still need to go through the legislative process in the 2024 General Session. You can watch the Education Interim Committee’s discussion of the bill here.


The Intermountain Power Plant (IPP) was created in 1970 as a way for various cities in Utah to combine their power production and sell the excess to California. As power policy changes, the nature of the relationship between the Utah cities and California has also changed. The Legislature has been considering some alterations that would make this partnership more economical and advantageous for the state. Lawmakers discussed such alterations in the Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee interim meetings, where IPP provided a report with their recommendations. Similarly, legislators considered a bill that would transfer control of IPP from the cities to the state. This transfer would allow for a more impartial, reliable and fluid relationship between Utah cities, California and Utah’s energy production industry. You can learn more and watch the committee hearing here.


Behavioral Health Licensing Amendments 

There are approximately 200,000 adults in Utah who need expert care and treatment. Currently, all healthcare professionals must meet the same educational and experience requirements to receive licensing, even though varying levels of skill are required for certain positions. This leads to a shortage of caretakers in the mental and behavioral health industry. The Business and Labor Interim Committee discusses legislation to revamp behavioral health licensing. The proposed bill would create more licensing options and encourage more people to enter the field. As more professionals are able to receive a license, it will help reduce the strain on current healthcare workers and help ensure patients receive the care they need.

Advice and Consent 

This month, the Senate convened for Advice and Consent to confirm appointments made by the governor. We confirmed several appointments, including a new judge Ryan Peters, as a Fourth District Juvenile Court Judge. His qualifications and commitment to public service are clear, and I believe he will serve Utahns well. I appreciate all our nominees’ readiness to serve the state in their new roles. 

Other Events

Historic Election of Martha Hughes Cannon
This month, we celebrate the historic election of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon to the Utah Senate. Martha was a pioneer in the field of medicine and politics. Dr. Cannon received her medical degree at the age of 23, during a time when very few women even went to college. She went on to start a nurses’ training school in Utah and was the first woman to register to vote in Utah. After gaining statehood in 1896, Utah held an election for three state Senate seats. Martha was one of five candidates who ran for the open senate seats. Her husband was also a candidate. On November 3, 1896, Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon was elected to the state Senate. She was the first woman in the United States to be elected as a state senator. After her election, Dr. Cannon passed many influential pieces of legislation, including bills that provided education for children with disabilities and created the Utah Health Department. You can learn more about the rich history of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon here.


Utah’s First Lady of the Arts
This month, we recognized the incredible legacy of Alice Merrill Horne, which includes the establishment of the first state-sponsored art agency in the United States. Alice was the third female state representative elected to the Utah State Legislature and is remembered as “Utah’s First Lady of the Arts” due to her dedication to bettering the world around her through art. Several of Alice’s descendants have continued her legacy, opening an art gallery in downtown Salt Lake City focused on bringing the joy of art into homes and businesses across the state. After over 20 years of operation, Horne Fine Art closed at the end of October. I join the Senate in thanking the Horne family for helping inspire others to see art with the same admiration as Alice and for their passion that has continued to shape our community for over a century. You can read more of Alice’s history here.


Senate Art Contest Information 

I am always impressed by the creativity and skill of artists in our state. Starting in December, Utah’s young artists will have the opportunity to participate in this year’s Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show, run by the Springville Museum of Art. Qualifying students get to display their incredible work in the museum. The Senate has the privilege of selecting distinguished winners who receive scholarships. Winners are invited to spend a day at the Capitol during the legislative session, where the Senate recognizes them during floor time.

The contest is a fantastic platform to showcase Utah student’s artistic talents. I am looking forward to seeing what they create. Learn more about the art contest and apply here


School Report Cards

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) recently unveiled the latest School Report Card, a tool designed to shed light on the strengths of each school while pinpointing areas for potential growth. This comprehensive resource – encompassing state, district, charter and individual school report cards for the 2022-2023 academic year – is now accessible here.
The Utah School Report Card empowers parents by offering a detailed insight into key school performance indicators, including achievement and growth metrics. This tool provides parents an excellent opportunity to grasp a school’s accomplishments and the areas they’re working to improve. I encourage all parents of students to review this report card and see ways that they can help better the schools in their area.

Championing education is vitally important to Utahns because the excellence of our students impacts us for generations to come. These tools benefit us all by encouraging constant improvement. Learn more about the report card here. If you wish to access more information about Utah’s schools, please visit

October Legislative Update

By Legislative UpdateNo Comments

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I trust you are having a splendid fall season and enjoying the cooler weather. I, too, took time these past few weeks to appreciate the beautiful colors, including the prolonged green grass and foliage, thanks to a great water year. As we prepare for winter, I offer thanks to my district for their receptive response to our charge for wise water use and consideration over the summer. We can all make a difference through small, consistent actions every day!
This month, Utah was lucky to be in the direct path of a rare spectacle – an annular eclipse. This remarkable event, where the moon perfectly aligns with the sun, is a reminder of the beauty of our Earth, which is highlighted in our state’s uniquely diverse landscapes. Such occurrences are infrequent, making them truly awe-inspiring. The next partial solar eclipse visible in Utah won’t take place until August 12, 2026. I hope you and your family were able to witness this celestial display, perhaps with the best views in the central part of our state.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, I want to encourage you to reflect on the sacrifices our veterans and service members provide to secure our freedoms. Whether they are giving up time with loved ones, the comforts of home, or in some cases, sacrificing their lives, we will never fail to recognize and thank our veterans for their unwavering, astounding commitment to our country and freedoms. I am grateful for their example of selflessness.
Lastly, our October interim was full of committee hearings, legislation consideration and updates from various state departments and entities, giving us a clearer idea of what areas need focus and attention this upcoming session. I was happy to hear of the major progress we made over the interim, and with one month left of meetings, we will be in a good position to pass effective legislation come January. Please see below for the highlights from the interim and the month of October. I have also detailed interesting things happening around the state. 
Senator Wayne A. Harper

Get Registered to Vote!

As the election season begins, I urge each of you to take a moment to verify and, if necessary, update your voter registration status. To ensuring your participation in this fundamental democratic process, please click here.

This year, the General Election is scheduled for November 21. While it deviates from the usual early November tradition, this adjustment allows the necessary time for the selection of Congressman Chris Stewart’s successor following his retirement. For detailed insights into the candidates that will appear on this year’s ballot, please refer to your county’s official website.

We are privileged to reside in a nation that upholds the principles of democracy and grants its citizens the invaluable right to influence their government. Embracing our civic responsibility falls upon each of us to elect our representatives and offer our perspectives.


October Interim Highlights

New Senator
This past month, we had the pleasure of welcoming a new member to the Utah Senate! Heidi Balderree will now represent District 22, taking over for Senator Jake Anderegg. While we bid farewell to Sen. Anderegg after his commendable 11 years of public service to the people of Utah County, we extend our warmest regards to him and his family for their future endeavors.
Heidi Balderree brings with her a wealth of experience in public service, with a primary focus on advocating for the needs of communities and small businesses in Utah County. As a former educator, having taught both Spanish and Japanese to students ranging from grades 4 to 12, she possesses a deep understanding of the concerns of her constituents. These experiences undoubtedly qualify her for this new position. We wholeheartedly welcome her to the Utah Senate and extend our best wishes for her success!

Road Rage Update
In a continual effort to reduce the number and severity of road rage incidents on our highways and streets, our Transportation Committee met this October to follow up on their June 2023 meeting, where the issue of aggressive driving was determined to be an interim study item. The Utah Highway Patrol attended and presented data on reported road rage incidents, crashes and fatalities. Unfortunately, the number of cases has increased, exceeded or came close to exceeding the rates from previous years. Our committee heard potential strategies to address the growing concerns of road rage and aggressive driving, including recommendations of enhanced incident evaluation and possible administrative sanctions as suggested by the Division of Public Safety and the Roadway Safety Committee. Watch the presentation here or view the data and recommendations here.

School Safety Efforts
As the Legislature has been particularly focused on school safety and bolstering school infrastructure this year, two of our committees considered legislation to further secure our campuses and protect our students from hazards and in emergencies.

School Threat Penalty Amendments
The Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee held a presentation on the draft legislation, “School Threat Penalty Amendments,” which would require a student to be suspended or expelled from a public school if the student makes a false emergency report targeted at a school. The bill would enhance the penalties for threatening violence against a school, making it a second-degree felony for an actor who submits a false emergency report in certain circumstances.  

The Statewide Information and Analysis Center was invited to inform the committee on school hoax and threat incidents, providing data on the prevalence of school threats and lending insight into the severity and quantity of threats our schools and districts face. The committee approved “School Threat Penalty Amendments” as a committee bill file to be considered for passage in the upcoming 2024 General Legislative Session. This is another step in our continual effort to implement security measures and protocols to protect students in the event of an emergency. See the presentations here.

SafeUT and the School Safety Commission
The Education Interim Committee approved the draft legislation, “SafeUT and School Safety Commission Amendments,” as a committee bill file for the 2024 session. The bill would extend the sunset date for the commission by five years, allowing the commission to continue coordinating statewide efforts related to the School Safety and Crisis Line (SafeUT), promoting awareness and exploring solutions to both the mental health crisis and school safety threats. I see this as a crucial development for the state to address the safety concerns in our schools. Learn more here.


Golden Spike
In 2019, we celebrated the 150th anniversary celebration of the transcontinental railroad completion in Utah. The railroad was an incredible achievement for our country, and it established Utah as the crossroads of the West. To honor the legacy and impact of the transcontinental railroad, the Golden Spike Foundation has committed to highlighting the diverse people who worked together to build this great railroad. The foundation has commissioned a 43-foot-tall gold monument that will be placed at the Golden Spike Park at Reeder Ranch in Brigham City, Utah, in 2024.  

The Golden Spike Monument is a memorial to the men and women who built the system that connected our entire country and made Utah the crossroads of the West. Like those who built the railroad, the spike represents perseverance to take on today’s challenges to build a better tomorrow while honoring them for their work that changed the world. 

The spike monument started in Kentucky and took a cross-country road trip, making stops at historically significant sites. We celebrated its arrival at the Capitol with a program full of remembrance and gratitude for our history. The monument will honor the legacy of those who worked to complete the transcontinental railroad and the important chapter it represents in the state’s history, signifying hard work, industrialism and heritage.

The Golden Spike Monument is a memorial to the men and women who built the system that connected our entire country and made Utah the crossroads of the West. Like those who built the railroad, the spike represents perseverance to take on today’s challenges to build a better tomorrow while honoring them for their work that changed the world.

Learn more here

My529—Utah Educational Savings Plan
Higher education is an important step for many families and individuals. Through programs like my529, the financial burden of that education can be greatly reduced. Utah’s my529, also known as the Utah Educational Savings Plan, is a tax-advantaged college savings plan designed to help individuals and families save for educational expenses. Even small sums set aside regularly help make higher education more affordable and reduce the need to borrow.

This program is a valuable tool for saving for education expenses that can help individuals reach their savings goals. I encourage you to look into the program to see if it is a good fit for you and your family. Learn more about My529 here.


2024 Utah Teacher of the Year
This month, the Utah State Board of Education selected Carly Maloney of Viewmont High School in the Davis School District as the 2024 Utah Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Maloney is a concurrent enrollment English, advanced placement psychology, student government and English language development teacher. She was chosen for her example of hard work, diligence in effectively educating her students and kindness toward her fellow faculty members.

A committee with representatives from parent and teacher advocacy organizations, charter schools and the Utah State Board of Education selected Mrs. Maloney for this honor. Mrs. Maloney was presented with a check for $10,000 and will compete with fellow state teachers of the year in a national competition. I am grateful for the example of Mrs. Maloney and every teacher in the state for their dedication and effort to educate the next generation of Utahns.

2023 Legislative Session Recap

By 2023 Legislative SessionNo Comments

Friends and Neighbors,

During the 2023 General Session, we examined a variety of issues and passed many bills to address the most pressing issues confronting our state. During the session, we passed 575 bills, including 342 House bills and 233 Senate bills. Additionally, we balanced the largest budget in state history at $29 billion. I worked hard to support legislation that will help Senate District 16 and the future of our state.

Below is a detailed look at legislation we debated and passed during the 2023 General Session. The next step in the process is for the governor to sign the legislation we passed. Gov Cox has until March 23 to sign or veto our bills. For more important dates throughout the year, see here.

My Passed Legislation

S.B. 13 Motor Vehicle Registration Amendments addresses issues brought forward by the Utah Tax Commission, clarifying that the commission may impose a registration reinstatement fee and clarify what the License Plate Restricted Account entails. The bill repeals the honorary consulate special group license plate.

S.B. 21 Retirement and Independent Entities Amendments clarifies which entities are considered independent entities for purposes necessary to the Independent Entities Code. The bill adds the Public Service Commission to the list of independent entities and outlines how different matters for consideration are brought before the Independent Entities Committee. It also addresses how the unspent appropriations of a dissolved independent entity are returned to the state.

S.B. 23 Traffic Safety Amendments enacts provisions related to allocation of law and traffic enforcement responsibilities on state highways. With the creation of many new travel routes such as the West Davis Corridor, Mountain View Corridor, segments of Highway 89, portions of Bangerter Highway and stretches of highway in Washington County, local entities began to patrol these roads. This bill establishes a review process to determine what criteria will be used and what resources will be allocated to allow these new roads to be maintained by the Utah Division of Transportation and patrolled by the Utah Highway Patrol.

S.B. 24 Advanced Air Mobility Amendments
S.B. 24 Advanced Air Mobility Amendments was heard during our interim discussions and adopted by the Transportation Interim Committee. The Advanced Air Mobility task force created last year considered policies and procedures regarding delivery drones, aerial mobility drones and other unmanned aircraft. Under the evaluation of that task force, S.B. 24 organizes the provisions and implements a framework for advanced air mobility systems.

S.B. 25 Transportation Funding Revisions
S.B. 25 repeals the following antiquated, restricted accounts previously held by the state in the transportation code: the Impacted Communities Transportation Development Restricted Account and the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Support Restricted Account. The accounts are no longer needed and have a zero-balance.

S.B. 27 Transportation Revisions
After a significant study carried out by the Transportation Interim Committee this past summer, our committee identified adjustments needed in the transportation code. These adjustments in S.B. 27 address matters like stationary plans for public transit, and traffic laws pertaining to snowplows and towing service fees. The need to address snow plow operation and driver behavior around them was brought to me by a few constituents through what they had noticed happening out on the roads. The bill:

  • prohibits an individual from passing a snowplow on the side where the snowplow blade is deployed;
  • prohibits an individual from passing three or more snowplows operating in echelon formation.

S.B. 29 Road Jurisdiction Amendments
This annual road jurisdiction transfer bill amends descriptions of the roads SR-109 (Layton) and SR-131 (Bluffdale), transferring jurisdiction to the state under the management and maintenance of the Utah Division of Transportation (UDOT).

S.B. 48 Energy Producer States’ Agreement Amendments
Utah participated in the Energy Producer States’ Coalition for many years before its dissolution. This bill removes that inactive coalition from code and organizes the nonpartisan Energy Council. Members of the Legislature are directed to participate in the council to track matters of energy development pertaining to wind, solar, nuclear and fossil-fuel energy. The Energy Council will be made up of four members: two senators appointed by the Senate president and two House members appointed by the speaker. The council will report on its activities to the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee and the Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee.

S.B. 54 Child Welfare Parental Representation Amendments expands an existing pilot program to allow additional parental representatives in child welfare cases for low-income individuals. It also allows federal funds to be used under the Child Welfare Parental Representation Fund.

S.B. 56 Child Welfare Amendments
S.B. 56 addresses and amends the Utah Juvenile Coder as it relates to child welfare. It is an annual bill that updates the state code and enhances best practices for children, families and the agencies involved in ensuring their welfare. Most notably, the bill clarifies the citizen review panels under the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), allowing access to certain records and information to fulfill the panel’s duties. In order to improve this process, the bill establishes the Child Welfare Improvement Council, composed of volunteer members, including former consumers of services, who broadly represent the geographic community or topic area for which the panel is established. The Council will assist and advise DCFS as determined by the division.

S.B. 82 Sales Tax Amendments
This bill modifies provisions of the sale and use tax license requirements. It clarifies that the commission requires a seller to renew an exemption certificate when more than 12-months elapse between transactions between a seller or certified provider and a purchaser.

S.B. 84 Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone Amendments
In amending provisions related to housing and transit reinvestment zones, S.B. 84:

  • restricts how much land a proponent county may own within a housing and transit reinvestment zone;
  • requires a housing and transit reinvestment zone proposal to include certain maps of the proposed area;
  • requires the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to provide notice to certain relevant entities after receiving a housing and transit reinvestment zone proposal;
  • requires the State Tax Commission to provide feedback to a housing and transit reinvestment zone regarding the State Tax Commission’s ability to administer the tax implications of the proposal;
  • amends the membership of the housing and transit reinvestment zone committee;
  • amends provisions regarding circumstances in which certain counties are allowed to submit a proposal for a housing and transit reinvestment zone;
  • provides a property owner near a public transit hub in a county with a small public transit district with certain vested development rights if the county failed to submit

S.B. 89 Utah Retirement Amendments
This bill concerns retirement savings contribution options for employees of the state of Utah. After an interim review of our state retirement code, we considered how state employees are not automatically enrolled in a personal contribution plan. This bill changes the current opt-in 401(k) retirement program to an opt-out, allowing a qualifying employee who is hired on or after July 1, 2023, to be automatically enrolled to make a personal contribution to a defined contribution plan qualified under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code. Any employee may opt out of the automatic enrollment by choosing not to make any future personal contributions.

S.B. 106 Caregiver Compensation Amendments
S.B. 106 allows for parents and caregivers to decide what option will provide the best care and quality of life for their dependents, whether that be at home with a caregiver or in an institutional facility. Through state programs, we have been able to help provide funds for home caregivers. Currently, there are three sub-groups that are able to apply for the caregiver’s compensation funding. The first is the spousal group, by the passing of S.B. 63 during the 2021 General Session. This initial program had great success.  During the pandemic, ARPA funds were granted to the state, allowing two other groups, the dependents under 18 group and the dependents over 18 group to be funded. The funding for the additional groups showed that the in-home care resulted in higher quality of care and quality of life. This bill will extend this funding, allowing the spouse or family member who provides care, to receive partial compensation for the work lost.

S.B. 120 Property and Contraband Amendments pertains to the retention and disposal of evidence and contraband for class A, B, and C misdemeanors regarding documentation, disposal and the criteria for retention of evidence related to these offenses. The intent of this bill is to get property back to its rightful owners quickly and dispose of contraband and other items correctly in the proper time frame.

S.B. 123 Boards and Commissions Modifications makes it so boards and commissions will be consolidated, repealed or amended based on recommendations from state agencies and directors. Currently, there are about 435 boards and commissions in Utah. The governor appoints members to boards and commissions and the Senate approves these appointments. Under this bill, boards and commissions will be consolidated, repealed or amended based on how infrequently they meet, staffing limitations and requirements from various state agencies.

S.B. 127 Cybersecurity Amendments
Each year, threats to computers, data, systems, servers and information increase. Seminars on cybersecurity are held nationwide and task forces assemble to share best practices and provide recommendations on how to improve cyberspace. Recently, several states have created cyber centers, enforced two-factor authentication, connected state and local agencies to manage and notify of risks and breaches, and adopted standards for a secure government site.

In Utah, we have a robust team of state and local professionals working to improve government data systems’ security. S.B. 127 Cybersecurity Amendments updates cybersecurity code and best practices, enhances coordination and efforts, and updates the duties of Utah’s Cybersecurity Commission.

S.B. 133 Modifications to Postpartum Medicaid Coverage extends Medicaid coverage to women for a full year following the birth of a child. The transition from pregnancy to full recovery is when many women experience unmet health needs. Some of the most dangerous pregnancy-related complications–preeclampsia, blood clots and heart problems such as cardiomyopathy–may not surface until weeks, or months, after delivery. Extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women will help ensure new moms have continuous, uninterrupted access to healthcare to address their ongoing health needs.

S.B. 161 Advanced Air Mobility Revisions creates the advanced air mobility sandbox to test regulations that will facilitate the development of advanced air mobility systems. It also constructs a study to examine suitable locations for infrastructure and vertiports, best practices regarding advanced air mobility, and different testing approaches for the technologies involved.

S.B. 163 Child Welfare Modifications
Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of Utah, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children. A fundamentally fair process must be provided to parents if the state moves to challenge or interfere with parental rights, and though a parent may not always be a “model parent”, this fundamental liberty is recognized and protected, though a child may be in temporary custody of the state.

S.B. 163 Child Welfare Modifications addresses visitation and the welfare of children in out-of-home placement situations. This bill allows the following, unless it conflicts with the best interest of the child:
– Allows parents and siblings to visit with children who are placed outside of the home.
– Expands sibling visitation rights by requiring courts to order sibling visitation.
– Encourages the court to have better documentation practices to justify why visitations
are not allowed.

S.B. 185 Transportation Amendments
S.B. 185  clarifies the allocation of responsibilities between the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) directors and requires UDOT to report to the Transportation Commission on legislatively funded capacity projects.

S.B. 191 Condominium and Community Association Amendments encourages water conservation, clarifying that HOAs cannot mandate watered lawns during a drought, and requires HOAs to adopt water-efficient landscaping rules.

S.B. 212 Utah Communications Authority Amendments
The Retirement and Independent Entities interim committee has the duty yearly to select two independent entities for a study and review. The Utah Communications Authority was selected as one of these entities for study, and findings will be included in the annual committee report back to the Legislative Management Committee, as outlined in this bill. S.B. 212 also amends the Utah Communications Authority Act by clarifying some policies for statewide public safety service and support.  Further, the bill deletes unnecessary language, and clarifies some issues going on in rural Utah with staffing shortages.

S.B. 221 Public Retirement Withdrawal Amendments
This bill concerns state entities who wish to withdraw from our Utah Retirement System (URS). Normally it takes an annual act of legislation to confirm and approve a commission’s withdrawal. S.B. 221 sets up the criteria and mechanism for entities to withdraw from the URS and Insurance benefit, so that we no longer need to run a bill each year. These changes will also help to standardize the code, rather than enact a new section each time a situation arises.

S.B. 221 additionally establishes the guidelines and procedures for withdrawing entities to follow. This bill adds 501(c)(3) nonprofits to the definition of a “withdrawing entity” and requires withdrawing entities to pay the costs of election to withdraw.

S.C.R. 3 Listen and Explain, Cooperate and Communicate Campaign
In an effort to increase positive relationships and interaction between law enforcement and citizens, S.C.R. 3 creates the Listen and Explain, Cooperate and Communicate Campaign. The resolution encourages Utah’s law enforcement agencies to use the campaign to train officers how to actively listen to citizens’ concerns during all interactions and then reasonably and respectfully explain, when possible, what action will take place according to the law or agency policy.

Budget Overview
It is our constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget each year. Early in the session, we pass smaller, bare bones base budgets to ensure our state continues running even if there is a breakdown during negotiations. Near the end of the session, the Legislature passes what is referred to as the “Bill of Bills,” which allows us to supplement the base budgets with expanded appropriations based on the latest revenue estimates shared mid-way through the session. In this recent session, the “Bill of Bills” was more specifically known as S.B. 3 Appropriations Adjustments. Our total state budget this year was a remarkable $29 billion, the largest budget in Utah’s history.

Utah’s economy is in a strong position, ranking as the best state for economic outlook for 15 years in a row. However, the country is experiencing increased risks and volatility, with predictions of economic slowdowns. Utah is the best-prepared state in the nation for economic uncertainties. We are committed to ensuring Utah continues to be well-prepared for current and future needs by making strategic investments and wise budget decisions.

Other Legislation by Topic:
Tax Cuts
The 2023 General Session was a historic year for Utah, giving us the opportunity to provide the largest tax cut in state history. Over the past two years, the Utah Legislature has reduced taxes by nearly $300 million. To continue Utah’s commitment to reducing taxes and cultivating a family and business-friendly environment, the Legislature provided $850 million in tax relief for Utahns during the 2023 General Session. The tax cuts include reducing the income tax rate, expanding the social security tax credit, providing a double dependent exemption for those who have children under three and lowering the tax on motor fuel. You can learn more about additional tax cuts in the highlights below.

H.B. 54 Tax Revisions provides $607.9 million in tax cuts. The bill:

  • Reduces all Utahns’ income tax rate from 4.85% to 4.65%. A $380 million reduction in taxes
  • Expands social security tax credit eligibility to individuals earning up to $75,000 per year. A $22.7 million reduction in taxes.
  • Provides a tax benefit for pregnant women by allowing a double dependent exemption for children in the year of their birth. A $3.5 million reduction in taxes.
  • Increases the earned income tax credit (EITC) from 15% to 20%. A $1.2 million reduction in taxes.
  • Removes the state portion of sales tax on food contingent on voters’ approval to remove the constitutional earmark for income tax revenue during the 2024 general election.  A $211 million reduction in taxes.

H.B. 301 Transportation Tax Amendments lowers the state tax on gas by two cents per gallon. A $32.7 million reduction in 2024.

H.B. 293 Tax Rebalancing Revisions (2018) maintain the decreases of the basic property tax levy freeze, preventing a $146 million future property tax increase. In FY 2024, the basic property tax levy will decrease from .001661% to .001356%.

H.B. 364 Housing Affordability Amendments provides a low-income housing tax credit for Utahns. A $51 million reduction.

H.B. 170 Child Tax Credit Revisions expands on H.B. 54, allowing a double dependent exemption for children one to three years old. A $9.6 million reduction in taxes.

H.B. 130 Adoption Tax Credit enacts an income tax credit for expenses related to the adoption of a child. A $2.6 million tax credit.

H.B. 151 Veteran Property Tax Revisions increases the amount of taxable value that a disabled veteran may have exempted from property tax to a maximum of $479,504. This number was adjusted from the 2015 amount of $252,126, with inflation considered.

Water Conservation
Utah is the second driest state in the nation. Over the last few years, our state has experienced severe drought. Though we received incredible snow and moisture this year, it’s imperative that we continue to plan for dry years and conserve water. In the past two years, we have allocated nearly a billion dollars for water conservation efforts and development, further mitigating Utah’s ongoing water issues and planning for future growth. This year, we passed several bills and allocated more than $500 million to address the diverse statewide water needs. The passed legislation ranges from subsidizing water efficient landscaping to implementing energy and water reduction efforts in local schools. You can learn more about additional water bills passed below.

H.B. 307 Utah Water Ways creates a statewide public-private partnership program called the Utah Water Ways which will educate Utahns, coordinate efforts to optimize the use of water and focus policy discussions about Utah’s water supply.

S.B. 118 Water Efficient Landscaping Incentives expands on the popular “turf buyback” program and allocates more funding to the program.

H.B. 491 Amendments Related to the Great Salt Lake continues efforts to restore the lake by creating the office of the Great Salt Lake Commissioner, who will bring the current state, local and private entities that have authority and responsibility for the Great Salt Lake together to ensure they are working in tandem for the betterment of the lake.

S.B. 76 Water Amendments incentivizes merging land use and water planning by providing state resources to local agencies to address the disconnect between water districts and other water-related entities in the state, aiming to improve communication.

H.B. 450 Water Wise Landscaping Amendments allows property owners in HOAs to use waterwise landscaping on their property and no longer permits HOAs to enforce policies that require lawns to be over 50% water table.

H.B. 150 Emergency Water Shortages Amendments provides a framework and outlines the process for declaring a temporary water shortage emergency while addressing water use preferences during an emergency water shortage.

S.B. 34 Water Infrastructure Funding Study creates a study of water costs, and the use of property tax to fund water infrastructure, treatment and delivery.

S.B. 53 Groundwater Use Amendments changes state statute to allow critical management areas to recharge groundwater aquifers from alternative sources with excess water, allowing local districts to mitigate the decline of aquifers.

S.B. 119 Per Capita Consumptive Use implements a more accurate and efficient analysis of per capita water use in residential areas, assisting the progress of water conservation efforts with accurate reporting.

H.B. 217 School Energy and Water Reductions allows representatives from the State Board of Education, Governor’s Office of Energy Development, Department of Environment Quality, Division of Water Resources and private energy providers to help more local education agencies reduce energy and water consumption.

S.B. 112 Aquatic Invasive Species Amendments addresses the problematic spread of quagga mussels by placing a $20 per boat fee for in-state boats and $25 for out-of-state boats. The funds will go towards hiring staff and other resources that will directly help mitigate the spread of mussels to more of our water systems.

Read more about Utah’s water legislation and conservation here.

Affordable Housing & Homelessness
Utah’s thriving economy is something we are proud of, and it has created a booming real estate market. However, when paired with rapid growth rates and limited housing, it has resulted in a shortage of affordable options. Additionally, homelessness in our Capitol city and across the state has risen dramatically. We cannot sit back and watch this happen to our communities or citizens.

This year, we passed several pieces of legislation and appropriated more than $200 million to address homelessness and housing affordability. We hope that this funding, along with the efforts of many dedicated individuals around the state, will create real change.

  • $52.5 million went towards the Utah Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (H.B. 364), which minimizes the amount of tax burden placed on low-income homeowners.
  • $50 million went to the First-time Homebuyer Program (S.B. 240), which provides Utahns with a loan of up to $20,000 to help first-time homeowners buy down interest rates, pay for closing costs or apply funds to their down payment.
  • $50 million went to Deeply Affordable Housing, helping aid one of our most vulnerable populations.
  • $15 million went to create teen centers for students experiencing homelessness. At these centers, teens will be able to find safety, support and resources.
  • $10 million went to Utah Housing Preservation Fund, which seeks to ensure that the affordable housing that currently exists in Utah continues to be available for individuals in need.
  • $7 million went to Box Elder Crisis Shelter and Transitional Housing.
  • $5 million went to Attainable Housing Grants, which will make homeownership a more accessible goal for Utahns.
  • $5 million went to the Shared Equity Revolving Loan Fund and $2.75 million went to the Rural Single-Family Home Land Revolving Loan Program, both of which will make needed funds available for families in our state.
  • $1 million went to the Critical Home Repair Program, which will go towards repairing the homes of low-income individuals.
  • $500,000 went to the Veterans First-time Homebuyer Program, which will provide a grant to eligible veterans that can be used for the first-time purchase of a home.

S.B. 240 First-time Homebuyer Assistance Program allocates $50 million to the first time homebuyer assistance program. This program helps an estimated 2,500 families receive a zero interest loan of up to $20,000 to buy down interest rates, apply funds toward a down payment or pay closing costs.

H.B. 364 Housing Affordability Amendments provides a low-income housing tax credit for Utahns who need it most.

Funding education has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Utah Legislature. The Legislature passed significant funding for education during the 2023 General Session. This year, the Legislature appropriated $15 billion to public education and education programs, more than half of the state budget, and increased the WPU by 13% in ongoing funds and 18.5% in one-time funds. The funding included teacher salary raises, all-day kindergarten, educator preparation, school safety, teen centers and online education programs.

Here are a few of the budget highlights for public education:

  • $440.6 million went toward the Public Education Stabilization Account, which is used for the growth and stabilization of the public education system.
  • $239.4 million went toward increasing teacher salaries and students’ access to education opportunities.
  • $160.8 million went to the Permanent State School Fund. Investment earnings from this fund are distributed to every school in the state based on a per-pupil formula.
  • $50 million in one-time funding for critical small district capital infrastructure needs.
  • $30 million in flexible funding WPU distribution to 4th-6th Class County Schools
  • $26.4 million in ongoing funding and $586,500 in one-time funding to increase the At-Risk WPU for English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students.
  • $17.9 million to increase teacher salary supplement and educator salary adjustment raises to increase yearly with the WPU value instead of remaining stagnant.

The Legislature also increased funding for education programs in the state to continue to provide students with access to necessary resources to succeed academically.

Here are a few of the budget highlights for education programs:

  • $75 million in one-time funding to increase school safety, including increasing safety in school facilities and working with school safety specialists.
  • $64 million for educators to have additional contract hours for preparation, collaboration, grading and other professional activities.
  • $25 million in ongoing funding to increase access to optional all-day kindergarten.
  • $15 million in one-time funding for teen centers that assist students experiencing homelessness.
  • $7.2 million to assist paraprofessionals in becoming licensed teachers.
  • $6 million in one-time funding towards meeting transportation needs of students.
  • $1.69 million to increase students’ access to online education programs.

Below are additional details about some of the legislation we passed to support our education system during the 2023 General Session.

S.B. 183 Educator Salary Amendments appropriates funding and ties the teacher salary supplement and educator salary adjustment raises to increase yearly with the WPU value, instead of remaining stagnant. Additionally, it makes all teachers eligible for these benefits until they have received three unsatisfactory ratings instead of one.

H.B. 477 Full-day Kindergarten Amendments expands access to optional full-day kindergarten statewide and funds kindergarten students as a full-weighted pupil unit.

S.B. 83 Public Education Funding Equalization redistributes education revenues across the state to areas that are most in need.

S.B. 55 Public School Instructional Material Requirements allows parents the opportunity to share public comment when a school board considers approving curriculum for the entire school district.

S.B. 100 School District Gender Identity Policies requires each school and local governing board to ensure a parent’s right to access information regarding their child and prohibits a school from treating a student by a different gender identity without parental consent.

H.B. 209 Participation in Extracurricular Activities Amendments makes it possible for non-traditional students to join extracurricular activities outside the student’s public school boundaries. It also requires schools to collect and check students’ birth certificates before participating in high school sports.

H.B. 163 Protecting Student Religious and Moral Beliefs Regarding Athletic Uniform Requirements protects students’ choice to wear religious or moral headwear and clothing, such as hijab, yarmulke, turban or other articles consistent with the student athlete’s beliefs, during athletic activities.

H.B. 348 Participation Waiver Amendments gives parents greater ability to remove their children from school instruction or activities that they feel violates their right of conscience or religious beliefs.

H.B. 427 Individual Freedom in Public Education outlines that each LEA will assure the state board annually that instructional materials and classroom instruction are consistent with specific principles of individual freedom. These principles of freedom include that an individual is not inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because they are a member of a particular race, sex or sexual orientation or that character traits such as a hard work ethic is not considered racist.

S.B. 265 Education Data Privacy Amendments prohibits the sharing of certain student data except when required by federal law. It is a step forward in providing proper protection for students.

S.B. 257 State Board of Education Amendments requires Local Education Agencies to issue high school diplomas to any students who receive an associate’s degree with certain minimum credit hours earned and receive an industry certificate with certain minimum hours. The bill also seeks to help teachers and families by exempting schools from assessments under certain conditions with an opt-out rate exceeding 50%.

Infrastructure & Transportation
Utah is the fastest growing state in the nation. To keep up with our state’s rapid growth, it’s imperative that we expand and improve our transportation systems and infrastructure. This session, we allocated $2.1 billion toward these improvements. In addition to funding, we considered many bills relating to vehicles, roadways, railroads, broadband, energy, aviation and more.

Here are some of the funding items and bills we passed that will directly impact our growing transportation needs:

  • $800 million was allocated to the Utah Department of Transportation for various transportation projects and enhancements around the state.
  • $775 million for high-risk debt avoidance and reduction.
  • $200 million in one-time funds for commuter rail improvements, including making the FrontRunner more competitive with automobile transportation.
  • $108 million to the Point of the Mountain and its various construction projects.
  • $100 million for enhanced bus service, tolling, a mobility hub, and resort bus stops for Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
H.B. 26 License Plate Amendments modifies provisions related to standard issue license plates and creates the sponsored special group license plate program and changes the process to establish a new special group license plate.S.B. 125 Transportation Infrastructure Amendments begins the process of planning for an electrified, integrated, smart transportation system and designates the ASPIRE Center as the lead research center for strategic planning for electrification in our state.

H.B. 301 Transportation Tax Amendments lowers the state tax on gas by two cents per gallon. To maintain our roads, Utahns will pay an additional $7 for car registration fees and a five-cent tax for each kilowatt hour charge at electric charging stations, counteracting the reduction in gas tax. Overall, it results in a $32.7 million tax reduction in 2024.

H.B. 232 Railroad Crossing Maintenance Amendments establishes a process for the Utah Department of Transportation to oversee railroad crossings and allows them to assign maintenance, responsibilities and costs among highway authorities and railroads. The bill also requires new or improved highway-railroad grade crossings to be funded solely by non-federal funds.

S.B. 175 Rural Transportation Infrastructure Fund creates the Rural Transportation Infrastructure Fund for highway projects in certain rural cities, towns and counties.

Child Welfare

S.B. 154 Adoption Amendments makes the adoption process more affordable by prohibiting a child-placing agency from charging adoptive parents for services that have already been paid for with public funds, prohibiting charges for services not actually rendered, and protects adoption agencies from anti-discrimination lawsuits based on the beliefs of an individual or religious institution.

S.B. 93 Birth Certificate Modifications prevents a minor from changing their birth certificate until they are 16-years-old.  Requires a minor to get a court order to change their birth certificate and creates standards and processes for a court to consider when determining whether to grant an order to change a birth certificate.

Courts, Law Enforcement & Domestic Violence

S.B. 117 Domestic Violence Amendments requires police officers responding to a domestic violence call to conduct a Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP), a series of questions to assess the possible lethality of a domestic situation and creates a statewide LAP database.

S.B. 128 Public Safety Officer Scholarship Program creates a public safety officer scholarship program for high school students entering law enforcement careers.

H.B. 226 Sale of a Firearm Amendments creates a streamlined and efficient online process for private parties to voluntarily check if a purchaser holds a valid concealed carry permit, is a felon, and whether a firearm serial number is related to a report of a stolen firearm.

H.B. 107 Concealed Weapons Permit Fee Amendments waives the fee for a school employee, educator or staff member to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

H.B. 314 Remedies for Victims of Domestic Violence Amendments, which would add four additional types of protective orders victims of domestic violence can use when ending a rental lease in order to move to a safer location.

Disability Assistance & Treatment
S.B. 204 Autism Coverage Amendments aims to amend Medicaid coverage in Utah to include coverage for autism treatment services.


S.B. 133 Modifications to Postpartum Medicaid Coverage extends Medicaid coverage to women for a full year following the birth of a child, contingent on approval through the federal Medicaid program.

S.B. 35 Professional Licensing by Endorsement Amendments creates a compact for physician’s assistants in the state, allowing Utah professionals to cross state lines to practice and establishes a process for certain state agencies to issue some professional licenses and certificates by endorsement, upon the approval by the Utah Division of Professional Licensing.

S.B. 171 Health Care Practitioner Liability Amendments gives health care providers flexibility to deviate from medical norms when in the best interest of the patient.

H.B. 24 Prescription Discount Program Amendments allows the Public Employees’ Benefit and Insurance Program to add 13 additional prescriptions to the discount program, including insulin and epinephrine, to help alleviate financial stress and benefit many who have serious and ongoing conditions.

H.B. 228 Unprofessional Conduct Amendments codifies a ban on conversion therapy while expanding legal protections for legitimate therapies. It addresses the confusion created by an administrative rule the Department of Professional Licensing implemented in 2019. The bill has consensus from all sides.

S.B. 247 Medical Malpractice Amendments ensures that sexual abuse is not protected under the Medical Malpractice Act and will hold health care providers accountable for their actions.

Social Media
The CDC recently released data showing that nearly three in five (57%) of U.S. teen girls persistently felt sad or hopeless in 2021, doubling that of boys. Additionally, the data showed that nearly one in three girls seriously contemplated suicide. Since 2010, rates of depression and mental health crises in American teens have nearly doubled, where before, rates remained stagnant. Social media creation and use have been linked to these increased rates. During the 2023 General Session, lawmakers worked to regulate social media companies and give parents more control to better protect teens from its harms.

S.B. 152 Social Media Regulation Amendments adds strict age verification, time restrictions on when minors can use social media, prevents social media companies from collecting data on minors and restricts direct messages to minors without being “friends” on the platform. The bill allows a person to file a lawsuit against a social media company for violating the bill.

H.B. 311 Social Media Usage Amendments makes any contract a minor enters into on a social media app invalid unless a parent or guardian consents to the contract. It also prohibits social media companies from using design features that make social media platforms addictive for teens. The bill allows a person to file a lawsuit against a social media company for violating the bill.

Mental Health

H.C.R. 6 Concurrent Resolution Regarding Mental Health Support in Schools highlights the critical role of school nurses, psychologists, social workers, and counselors and supports the creation of school formulas for better staffing mental health professionals.

H.B. 300 Voluntary Firearm Restrictions Amendments is a voluntary step to promote gun safety and accountability. It creates a voluntary firearm restricted list that allows someone to request to be restricted from purchasing firearms indefinitely, encouraging those who may be struggling with mental health issues or feelings of instability to protect themselves. Individuals can request to remove their names from the restricted list after 90 days.

Clean Air

S.B. 48 Energy Producer States’ Agreement Amendments removes the now dissolved Energy Producer States’ Coalition from code and organizes the nonpartisan Energy Council, which will track matters of energy development pertaining to wind, solar, nuclear and fossil-fuel energy.

S.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Regarding the Environmental Impact of Vehicle Idling encourages Utahns to be idle-free.

Parks & Recreation

S.B. 185 –  Transportation Amendments provides $45 million funding for trail systems throughout the state.

H.B. 224 Outdoor Recreation Initiative creates the “Recreation Coordinated Investment Initiative” to manage, maintain, expand, restore and improve outdoor recreation infrastructure on public lands within the state.

H.B. 93 Outdoor Recreation Modifications increases the amount that may be used each fiscal year for the Recreation Restoration Infrastructure Grant Program

In 2022, the Legislature created the Blockchain and Digital Innovation Task Force to examine the government’s role in blockchain usage. As a result of the work from the task force, the Legislature passed legislation to responsibly regulate cryptocurrencies while still cultivating entrepreneurship in Utah’s growing tech sector and protecting users.

S.B. 160 Blockchain Liability Amendments creates a judicial cause of action and an agency action for the reversal of certain transactions occurring on a blockchain. This allows for transaction reversals in the event of fraud or online dispute resolutions.  Blockchains do not currently have the ability to reverse transactions, but S.B. 160 creates the legal framework that would allow cryptocurrency companies to develop reversal technology.

H.B. 289 Blockchain Provider Registration allows cryptocurrency companies to be certified by the Utah Office of Regulatory Relief to create a space for cryptocurrency companies to be recognized in Utah, encouraging future digital innovations. This certification process will create a space for cryptocurrency companies to be recognized in Utah, encouraging future digital innovations.

Utah has taken a strong stance against environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. ESG is an investment framework used by some organizations where factors such as corporate climate policies or workforce diversity are considered when investing in an organization. When investments are made based on ESG considerations rather than capitalizing on a return on investment, the investments have lower performance. The Legislature passed several pieces of legislation this session that will protect Utahns’ investments from being made based on subjective standards like ESG.

S.B. 96 Fiduciary Duty Modifications outlines what considerations an investor can and cannot take into account when making a government investment.

S.B. 97 Public Contract Requirements prevent a public entity from entering a contract with a company that engages in economic boycott actions based on ESG standards.

H.B. 281 Social Credit Score Amendments prohibits a government entity from behaving in a preferential way toward an individual based on a social credit score.

H.B. 449 Financial Services Requirements requires companies to disclose to customers if they use any subjective standards and, if so, receive permission from customers to use the subjective standards. Additionally, it clarifies that corporations cannot coordinate with each other regarding the denial of financial services for an individual.

S.C.R. 9 Concurrent Resolution Opposing Efforts to Weaken the Economy or Restrict Energy Supply encourages that state investments be void of ESG investments and calls on the state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general to take action against ESG.

Other Legislation Passed During the 2023 General Session
In addition to the topics highlighted earlier, we passed legislation on many other important subjects. Below you will find a description of some of the additional bills we passed during the 2023 General Session.

H.B. 284 Public Library Background Check Requirements calls for criminal background checks for public library employees. This bill aims to protect library patrons, especially children.

S.B. 138 Fraudulent Ticket Sales Modifications concerns the ticket resale market, and seeks to protect Utah consumers from invalid, fraudulent, or duplicated event tickets. The bill prohibits the knowing sale of more than one copy of the same ticket and adds requirements related to refunds for tickets sold on the secondary online market. This bill makes alterations to the Ticket Website Sales Act and the Ticket Transferability Act to further protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing invalid event tickets.

S.B. 121 Car-sharing Amendments removes a redundant tax that is currently charged when a car is rented peer-to-peer. Currently, an individual who participates in peer-to-peer car renting must pay sales tax when they purchase a car and every time they rent the car. The removal of the sales tax is conditional on a car owner showing that they paid sales tax when they purchased the vehicle.

H.B. 469 Wildlife Related Amendments makes adjustments to the regulations addressing wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing. H.B. 469 also adjusts trail camera usage on private property and cougar hunting regulations. The bill allows someone with a hunting license to hunt cougars without obtaining a tag to help manage the cougar population.

S.B. 201 Radon Notice Amendments allows for educational information about radon, an invisible and odorless heavy gas that naturally occurs in our environment, to be provided to residential property owners via a property tax notification. Utahns can purchase a radon testing kit here.

S.B. 108 Animal Shelter Revisions bans gas chambers as a euthanasia method, addresses euthanasia methods animal shelters can use and requires shelters to adopt a humane euthanasia policy and training program.

S.B. 46 State Holiday Modifications recognizes Diwali as an annual commemorative period in Utah and is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartik, which typically takes place between the end of October and the beginning of November.

S.B. 123 Boards and Commissions Modifications repeals nine boards and commissions and consolidates and streamlines several others.

H.B. 397 Urban Farming Assessment Amendments allows a piece of agricultural property to avoid rollback taxes and continue being taxed as agricultural land if it changes use to urban farmland.

S.B. 225 Commercial Email Act prohibits anyone from sending fraudulent or scam emails within Utah and creates a cause of action for when the email service provider, the recipient of the unsolicited email, and any person whose brand, trademark, email address, or domain name is used without permission.

H.B. 365 Voter Affiliation Amendments prohibits a voter from changing party affiliation between the candidate filing deadline and a primary election to prevent voters affiliated with a political party from switching parties and voting in the opposite party’s primary election.

S.B. 24 Advanced Air Mobility Amendments organizes the provisions and implements a framework for advanced air mobility systems, including delivery drones, aerial mobility drones and other unmanned aircraft.

2023 Legislative Session, Week 7

By 2023 Legislative SessionNo Comments

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

As we reach the end of our 2023 General Legislative Session, I want to express how productive and successful this session has been. We greeted countless students, citizens, dignitaries and activists, all seeking to make positive impacts in the communities and state in which we live. We discussed some very difficult but important topics throughout the weeks, and we continually sought to represent the different perspectives of our constituents in these conversations.

For me, the highlight of the session was the level of engagement I received from our district. I sincerely hope many of you learned something new about the Legislature and utilized the resources available to you as citizens of our great state. I attest that Utah is a truly wonderful place to live, and we will constantly strive to make it better for future generations.

Below I have included some final highlights from the session and week seven, with a robust recap of this session’s legislation to soon follow. Once more, it is my dear privilege and honor to represent our district in the Senate.

Overall Highlights

During the 2023 General Session, we worked to balance the state’s $29 billion budget, the largest budget in Utah’s history. This year’s extraordinary budget provided a generational opportunity for our state to invest in education, social services, water, housing, transportation, infrastructure, and cut taxes for the third consecutive year.

Utah has a history of coming together to tackle challenges and listening to input from constituents and stakeholders to identify and find the best policy to address the challenges facing our state. We spend long hours thoroughly reviewing and figuring out how to allocate funds to protect and assist Utahns, families and businesses.

The Beehive State is proof that, with responsible planning and fiscally conservative policies, states can provide economic stability and excel even through the most difficult circumstances.

Utah’s economy is in a strong position, ranking as the best state for economic outlook for 15 years in a row. However, the country is experiencing increased risks and volatility, with predictions of economic slowdowns. During the 2023 General Session, we were tasked with balancing and appropriating $29 billion.

Utah is the best-prepared state in the nation for economic uncertainties. We are committed to ensuring Utah continues to be well-prepared for current and future needs by making strategic investments and wise budget decisions.

Tax Cuts
Over the past two years, the Utah Legislature has reduced taxes by nearly $300 million. To continue Utah’s commitment to reducing taxes and cultivating a family and business-friendly environment, the Legislature provided $850 million in tax relief for Utahns during the 2023 General Session.

  • The Legislature provided $850 million in tax relief:
    • Reduced all Utahns’ income tax rate from 4.85% to 4.65%. A $380 million reduction in taxes. (H.B. 54)
    • Expanded social security tax credit eligibility to individuals earning up to $75,000 per year. A $22.7 million reduction in taxes. (H.B. 54)
    • Provided a tax benefit for pregnant women and for children one to three years old by allowing a double dependent exemption. A $13.1 million reduction in taxes. (H.B. 54 & H.B. 170)
    • Increased the earned income tax credit (EITC) from 15% to 20%. A $1.2 million reduction in taxes. (H.B. 54)
    • Removed the state portion of sales tax on food contingent on voters’ approval to remove the constitutional earmark for income tax revenue during the 2024 general election.  A $211 million reduction in taxes. (H.B. 54)
    • Lowered the state tax on gas by two cents per gallon. A $32.7 million reduction in 2024. (H.B. 301)
    • Maintained the decreases of the basic property tax levy freeze, preventing a $146 million future property tax increase. In FY 2024, the basic property tax levy will decrease from .001661% to .001356%. (H.B. 293)
    • Provided a low-income housing tax credit for Utahns. A $51 million reduction. (H.B. 364)
    • Enacted an income tax credit for expenses related to the adoption of a child. A $2.6 million tax credit. (H.B. 130)

Water Conservation
In Utah, it’s imperative that we conserve water. In the past two years, we have allocated nearly a billion dollars for water conservation efforts and development, further mitigating Utah’s ongoing water issues and planning for future growth. We passed several bills and allocated $500 million to address the diverse statewide water needs.

  • Budget Highlights for Water Conservation:
    • $200 million – Agricultural Water Optimization
    • $50 million – Water Reuse Reservoir and Desalination (S.B. 277)
    • $50 million – Wasatch Front Aqueduct Resilience
    • $30 million – Water Infrastructure Projects
    • $25 million – Agricultural Water Optimization Loans for Matching Requirements
    • $25 million – Dam Safety Upgrades
    • $15 million – Secondary Water Meters
    • $12.73 million – State Match for Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund
    • $10 million (one-time) and $2.5 million (ongoing) – Amendments Related to the Great Salt Lake (H.B. 491)
    • $5 million (ongoing) and $7 million (one-time) – Cloud Seeding Program
    • $8 million – Air and Water Innovation Grant
    • $449,000 (ongoing) and $5 million (one-time) – Water Distribution and Measurement Automation
    • $5 million – Utah Lake Improvements
    • $4.4 million – Dam Safety Upgrades
    • $2 million (one-time) $1 million (ongoing) – Utah Water Ways (H.B. 307)
    • $1.8 million – Digital Lakebed Topography of Great Salt Lake and Bear Lake

Funding education has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Utah Legislature. The Legislature passed significant funding for education during the 2023 General Session.

This year, the Legislature appropriated $15 billion to public education and education programs, more than half of the state budget, and increased the WPU by 13% in ongoing funds and 18.5% in one-time funds.

The funding included teacher salary raises, all-day kindergarten, educator preparation and collaboration, school safety, teen centers and online education programs.

  • Budget Highlights for Public Education
  • $440.6 million – Public Education Stabilization Account Available
  • $239 million – Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities (H.B. 215)
  • $236 million – 6% WPU increase (includes base budget increase of $132 million)
  • $92 million – Permanent State School Fund
  • $64 million – Educator Preparation and Collaboration Time
  • $50 million – Small School Critical Capital Needs Fund
  • $30 million – Flexible Funding WPU Distribution to 4th-6th Class County Schools
  • $25 million (ongoing) and $586,500 (one-time) – At-Risk Students WPU Weighting Increase
  • $17.9 million (ongoing) and $16.5 million (one-time) – Educator Salary Amendments (S.B. 183)


  • Budget Highlights for Education Programs
    • $75 million – Flexible School Safety, Physical Facility, & Capital Needs
    • $64 million – Educator Preparation and Collaboration Time
    • $25 million – Optional Full-day Kindergarten Expansion
    • $15 million – Teen Centers for Students Experiencing Homelessness
    • $7.1 million – Grow Your Own Teacher and Counselor Pipeline
    • $6 million – Pupil Transportation
    • $1.69 million  – Statewide Online Education Program Amendments – (S.B. 45)
    • $1.2 million – First Lady’s initiative to “Show Up for Teachers”