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Sandy Journal

Sandy’s state legislators preview what they’ll be working on this session

Jan 27, 2020 11:28AM ● By Justin Adams

Rep. Suzanne Harrison speaks about some of the bills she’ll be working on during the upcoming legislative session. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Harrison)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

On Saturday, Jan. 4, Sandy City hosted a legislative breakfast event where state representatives and senators who represent parts of Sandy were invited to come speak to residents directly about the issues they will be tackling during the upcoming legislative session.

Kathleen Riebe, Senate District 8 

As a teacher, Sen. Riebe said she’s mostly working on bills related to education. 

One such bill would aim to improve education efforts around healthy relationships, addressing issues like sexual violence and safe sexual practices. 

“We’ve had a 300% increase in sexually transmitted diseases. This is really problematic for our young people… I think we really need to address how these things are transmitted and how you can help yourself.”

She is also working on a bill that would distribute money and resources dedicated to search and rescue operations to more rural parts of the state. 

Kirk Cullimore, Senate District 9

Sen. Cullimore said he has attended many community meetings since the last legislative session about vaping, particularly how it is impacting young people. As a result, he’s working on some bills addressing that issue.

“The Department of Public Services is looking for some money to have a task force that addresses the bad actors in this. We’re not looking to go after the kids. We’re looking to go after the bad actors that are selling these to the kids on the black market,” he said.

Cullimore also said he’s working on a bill to put in some parameters around the ways that law enforcement can use facial recognition technology “to make sure that it’s being used appropriately.”

Dan McCay, Senate District 11

Sen. McCay said he’s working on a bill to ban abortions in cases where a heartbeat can be detected. 

“Also because I’m pro-life and think it’s consistent, I don’t know that the government should be killing people so I’m looking at the possibility of doing away with the death penalty,” he said.

Suzanne Harrison, House District 32

Rep. Harrison said she is working on bills that relate to health care affordability, clean air, childcare and education issues.

With her experience as a physician, Harrison is working on a bill to reduce wasteful spending in Utah’s health care system, as well as a bill that would allow all of the state’s various departments and agencies to negotiate prescription medicine prices collectively.

“If we pool our purchasing power with other state employee health plans, we can increase our negotiating power to demand lower prices from drug manufacturers.”

Another bill would implement a tax credit for employers who are willing to subsidize or provide on-site childcare to employees during work hours. 

Steve Eliason, House District 45

Rep. Eliason said he’s working on bills related to public health, particularly mental health. He also noted that the most recent numbers show Utah’s suicide rate declining. 

“We’re encouraged that some of the things we’ve been working on are working, but we still have a long way to go. Suicide is the leading cause of death for ages 10–24, and it gets far too little attention.”

He also said he’s working on a bill that would allow school districts to screen for mental health issues, with parents’ approval of course.

“We screen for hearing. We screen for vision. But we don’t screen for mental health issues, and the vast majority of mental health issues manifest themselves during the adolescent years. If they’re caught and treated early they are very treatable and they can have a normal and healthy life,” he said.

Robert Spendlove, House District 49

Rep. Spendlove said he’s working on an effort that would seek to expand the state’s electric charging network.

“One of the biggest struggles of developing the electric car network is what they call ‘range anxiety.’ There is no way to recharge an electric car in Wendover. That just doesn’t exist. So essentially you can’t drive west with your electric car.”

According to Spendlove, federal law currently prohibits gas stations from being placed at rest stops along interstate highways, but does allow for vending machines. So the Department of Transportation is looking at the possibility of classifying an electric vehicle charging station as a vending machine so they can be installed at rest stops.

Andrew Stoddard, House District 44

Rep. Stoddard said he has about 15–16 bills he’s working on, most of which deal with criminal justice reform. 

“As a prosecutor I can see where we have gaps in our criminal law. We’re trying to move away from a punitive criminal justice system to be more rehabilitative, so I’ve got some bills that are trying to make that push so we can actually help people get back into society.”

Stoddard said he’s also working on a few bills related to firearms, which would tackle things like civil liability for gun owners and introduce registration requirements for 3D-printed guns.

If you’d like to hear more details about these bills as well as a Q&A session between the legislators and the attendees, head to the Sandy Journal Facebook page and click on “Videos,” where you’ll find an archived live stream of the event.