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Friends and Neighbors,

Foremost, I wish to thank each of you who have contacted me to express your positions on the various bills and budget items the legislature is addressing.  Likewise, thank you for attending the town hall meetings and visiting with me at the capitol.  And yes, the school groups touring the capitol are wonderful and the Chinese Dragon dancers from Bennion Middle School were excellent!

We have completed the fifth week of the legislative session. As bills progress through the legislative session, we spend more time on the Senate floor, voting on the final passage of both House and Senate bills. Constituents can listen to Senate floor discussions from the Senate gallery, ensuring transparency in the political process by having public access and public votes. I welcome you to join us in the Senate gallery to see how I vote on each bill. If you have the chance to come, please let me know! And please continue to share with me your perspective on legislation.

During the remaining two weeks of the 2024 General Session, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and considerations regarding our work at the Capitol. I will continue to represent the interests of Senate District 16 as we work to keep Utah the best state in the nation.


Senator Wayne A. Harper

My Sponsored Legislation

Personal Aircraft Tax Revisions

Aviation industry members have raised concerns regarding inconsistency in how fees are applied and assessed. Some individuals are charged remit registration fees on their respective aircraft, others are subject to personal property tax and some are required to pay both.
S.B. 148 Aircraft Property Tax Amendments requested by constituents and aviation stakeholders, clarifies individuals must only pay registration fees for personal aircraft and are exempt from property tax assessment, ensuring owners are not overcharged on taxes. Learn more about what the bill does here.

Combating Property Fraud

Constituents have brought forward concerns regarding rising incidents of property fraud, where thieves exploit loopholes to record fake deeds and then take out mortgages, causing financial harm to the rightful owners. S.B. 165 Title Recording Notice Requirement Amendments mandates counties to establish a system for property owners to receive electronic alerts when a county recorder records a deed or mortgage on their property. This bill empowers property owners to be aware of any changes and contest them if they are fraudulent.

Other Highlighted Legislation

Honoring Utah’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities

Utah has deep connections to the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Much of our culture and history is intertwined with theirs. In the 1880s, many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders migrated to Utah to assist the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in constructing the Salt Lake City Temple. Many of those migrants then found a permanent home in the Salt Lake Valley. Today, about 59,000 members of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community live in our state, making Utah home to the largest population of Pacific Islanders in the continental United States. Furthermore, Salt Lake City boasts the distinction of hosting the largest Tongan population in the nation, with one-fourth of all Tongans calling Utah home.

Their invaluable contributions to Utah’s rich tapestry of culture and history were celebrated this week on the Senate floor through S.J.R. 9 Joint Resolution Honoring Utah’s Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Cultures and Communities. Unanimously passed in the Senate, this resolution now awaits consideration in the House, a testament to the enduring respect and appreciation for the remarkable legacy of these communities in our state.

Water Week

This week, the Legislature celebrated Water Week, where we focused on legislation aimed at water conservation, agricultural water optimization and water security. Below are some water bill highlights.

Planning for Utah’s Water Security

S.B. 211 Generational Water Infrastructure Amendments addresses Utah’s long-term need for adequate and reliable water by creating the Water District Water Development Council and a Water Project Executive Agent to plan for and develop generational water infrastructure projects that look 50-75 years into the future. This bill enhances coordination for water projects throughout Utah in a significant step toward sustainable water resource management for generations to come.

Together, these entities will work with lawmakers to spearhead proactive measures to ensure a resilient and sustainable water future for all Utahns – integrating foresight, collaboration and strategic resource allocation into a comprehensive statewide water approach.

Water is the lifeline of Utah’s economy, agriculture and communities. The state’s growing population and economy rely on a steady and sustainable water supply. Just as early settlers had the foresight to ingeniously manage water resources to establish thriving communities in an arid climate, today, we are working with the same mindset to ensure Utah has long-term plans for sustainable water access for future generations.

Incentivizing Agricultural Water Optimization

S.B. 18 recognizes the critical role of agriculture in our state, understanding it as the backbone of our economy and livelihoods. It acknowledges the necessity of ensuring farmers have access to the water they require for successful cultivation while simultaneously encouraging them to use it in the most efficient manner possible.

By prioritizing both water availability and efficiency in agricultural practices, the bill aims to sustainably support our agricultural industry, safeguarding its vitality for future generations. Utah must improve its water distribution while also supporting the vital contributions of the state’s agricultural industry. This bill allows the agricultural community to save, monetize and sell their excess water while maintaining their water rights.

Water Efficient Landscaping

S.B. 118 creates a grant program to offset the cost difference between traditional and xeriscape landscaping in new home construction. It is a step toward promoting water conservation and sustainable development. This aims to address water scarcity concerns and reduce environmental impact by encouraging the adoption of drought-resistant plants and efficient irrigation systems.

Xeriscaping not only conserves water but also minimizes maintenance requirements and supports biodiversity, offering long-term cost savings for homeowners and developers. Through this program, individuals are empowered to make environmentally conscious choices while contributing to the resilience of ecosystems and communities in the face of water challenges.

Condemning Oppressive Communist Regimes

The Senate unanimously passed S.J.R. 5 Joint Resolution Condemning Communism and Socialism this past week, reaffirming our commitment to the fundamental principles of life and liberty enshrined in our U.S. Constitution. This bipartisan effort underscores the critical importance of maintaining a free market, which allows individuals in Utah the autonomy to shape their lives and engage in economic activities as they see fit.

During the debates on this bill, we heard many stories from survivors of oppressive communist and socialist regimes from across the world. These first-hand accounts of abuse, despotism and repression proved to my colleagues and me that we must condemn this form of government in the strongest of terms. In Utah, we cherish the freedoms that define our way of life, standing firm against any ideology that stifles individual liberties. As stewards of freedom, we remain steadfast in our commitment to preserving and defending the principles that make our state strong.

Learn more about the bill and watch the debate here.

Creating Spaces for AI Development

As generative AI becomes a part of our everyday lives, the Legislature has been deliberating how to protect consumers from deceptive AI tools while still promoting innovation over the last year.

Utah historically takes a free market approach to innovation, allowing technology and business to thrive in our state. S.B. 149 Artificial Intelligence Amendments proposes creating an AI laboratory for regulators and businesses to find best practices for using and regulating AI. By creating a laboratory with appropriate safeguards and space for technological advancement, Utah will be better prepared for AI in future years.

Protecting Children from Abuse

In Utah, 1 in 7 children experience sexual abuse before age 18. Children ages 7 to 13 are most vulnerable to abuse, with 91% of cases involving perpetrators known and trusted by the child. We are working to better educate our communities on recognizing the signs of abuse and implement more preventative measures to ensure the end of sexual abuse of children. S.B. 205 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Amendments, known as the “Safe Child Project,” seeks to address the issue.

This bill requests $1.5 million in ongoing funding for prevention education in Utah elementary classrooms. It creates a state contract with a primary prevention education provider responsible for state-wide outreach, tracking, reporting and education. S.B. 205 further ensures the prevention curriculum is age-appropriate and understandable for elementary school students while helping them recognize abusive behaviors and actions.

Other Events

Springville Art Contest

We hosted young artists participating in the Senate Art Contest, held in collaboration with the Springville Art Contest. This annual event showcases the exceptional talents of high school students statewide. The winners, selected by a panel of judges, receive scholarship money and are recognized on the Senate floor. This year, we commended ten students out of over 1,000 submissions with awards for their beautiful, original art pieces. This incredible program encourages young artists to showcase their skills and awards their outstanding creativity.

International Visitors

Utah frequently hosts groups from the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. This program brings leaders from other countries to the United States to learn about democracy and governance before taking what they learn back to their home country. This week, we hosted a group that came to Utah to understand how we promote cybersecurity, specifically regarding AI visitors from Argentina, Jordan, Sri Lanka and more. During the visit, we discussed Utah’s work to ensure online safety and security. Utah is an example to the world in many areas; We enjoyed discussing our best practices in AI and hope it will help other countries adjust to this new technology.

UVU Day on the Hill

Utah Valley University (UVU) Day on the Hill brought staff, faculty and students together to share the best parts of UVU with Capitol Hill. These bright and kind individuals represent Utah and UVU well. As Utah’s largest institution of higher education with a record of over 44,000 students enrolled last semester, UVU does an excellent job training and preparing the next generation of Utahns to enter the workforce. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that UVU provides, and it was a privilege to host them at the Capitol. Go Wolverines!

Chinese New Year 

We welcomed the Chinese New Year on Saturday, February 10th. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the lunar new year and is rich in cultural traditions and customs. Families gather to enjoy sumptuous feasts, exchange gifts and partake in colorful festivities that symbolize good fortune, prosperity and happiness for the year ahead. Each year is associated with one of the twelve zodiac animals, and 2024 heralds the Year of the Dragon, representing strength, courage and good luck. Let’s celebrate this joyous occasion and wish everyone a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year!

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