Transgender bills pass out of committee, as does a resolution to change judicial rules retroactively and the bill for a new state flag
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The Utah Policy newsletter is your one-stop source for political and policy-minded news. We scour the news so you don't have to! Send news tips or feedback to Holly Richardson at


Situational Analysis | January 19, 2023

Good Thursday morning. The US hits its debt ceiling today. It's also National Popcorn Day - good munchies for watching political wrangling.

Congrats to Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch for being named "Clerk of the Year" and Weber County Assessor John Ulibarri for being named "Assessor of the Year" by the Utah Association of Counties. 

Don't miss the State of the State address by Governor Spencer Cox tonight at 6:30. You can watch on the Governor's YouTube channel as well as most news outlets. 

Be in the Know

  • The controversial education bill will be heard in the House Education committee today. HB215, Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities, would tie an $8400 teacher raise to passing an $8000 "scholarship" for parents to use for private or home schools. If the bill doesn't pass, teachers would get half that amount. Proponents say families need more educational choices. Opponents say public schools remain underfunded and call the scholarship another word for voucher. 

  • Bills focused on transgender youth pass committee along party lines and will now go to full chamber for discussion and voting. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, advocates, parents, physicians and Democratic Senators argued against the bill. “It is strange for the Legislature to be practicing medicine,” said Senate Minority Assistant Whip Jen Plumb, who is also a physician.

  • The Utah resolution aimed at the abortion trigger law passes committee despite public opposition. The resolution would prevent judges from halting laws that "present serious issues on the merits" and require instead a "substantial likelihood" of success in court. It would be effective retroactively. Representatives from Utah courts, the Salt Lake County D.A.’s office, the Utah Medical Association and the American Civil Liberties Union came to voice concerns about the joint resolution.

Legislative Priorities with Derek Miller

First: Do no harm. 

Screenshot 2023-01-19 at 7.01.52 AM


30 Women to Watch: Submit Your Nomination Now

Utah Business magazine is honoring women who are on their way to truly amazing things. These are our state’s next legislators, CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors and arrivistes — and they’re all congregating in Spring 2023. Nominations close February 10. Submit your nomination now.


2023 Legislative Session

2 days down, 43 days to go!


8:00 am sub-appropriations: Executive Offices and Criminal Justice, Higher Education, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality, Social Services

11:00 am-11:50: Senate Floor Time

11:00 am-12:00 pm: House Floor Time

2:00-5:00 pm: House committee meetings - Business and Labor, Education, Health and Human Services

2:00-5:00 pm: Senate Committee meetings - Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment, Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology

6:30-7:30 pm: Governor's State of the State address


8:00 am sub-appropriations: Business, Economic Development and Labor; Infrastructure and General Government AppropriationsPublic EducationSocial Services Appropriations

11:00 am-11:50: Senate Floor Time

11:00 am-12:00 pm: House Floor Time

2:00-5:00 pm: House committees: Public Utilities, Energy & Technology; Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice; Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment; Transportation

2:00-5:00 pm: Economic Development & Workforce Services; Government Operations & Political Subdivisions; Revenue & Taxation

Utah Headlines

General Legislative News

  • Speaker Brad Wilson on housing, teacher shortage, drought, renewable energy. Utah’s leaders plan to solve the big problems (Deseret News)
  • Editorial Board: Can a citizen Legislature solve Utah’s problems? (Deseret News)
  • Actor Katherine Heigl asks lawmakers to end gas chamber euthanasia of animals in Utah. State Sen. Mike McKell has proposed legislation to stop of the practice in Utah. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Could state senator’s bill prevent next domestic-violence tragedy? (KSL Newsradio)
  • Proposed Utah flag redesign clears 1st legislative hurdle in divided room. Opponents ask legislators to reject the "woke" design. (KSL)
  • Proposed Utah bill would establish new domestic violence task force (KUTV)
  • LGBTQ advocates blast new conversion therapy bill in Utah (KUTV)

General Utah News

  • Growing spotlight on domestic violence as we learn more about Haight family incident (KSL TV)
  • Salt Lake City donation warehouse for refugees in dire need of basic items (KSL TV)
  • What Sen. Mike Lee thinks about Utah’s new state flag proposal (Deseret News)
  • LDS Church applies to change Wasatch County dark sky rules (KPCW)
  • Documentary captures the life of a Utah ghost town’s lone resident
    ‘Cisco Kid,’ showing at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, was directed by a former Utahn. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Enoch City responds after abuse allegations against Michael Haight come to light (Fox13)
  • Macie Haight did everything expected of her, says victim advocate (Fox13)
  • FBI warns of sextortion targeting Utah teenagers (Herald Journal)


  • Deseret News announces new publisher and editorial leadership changes (Deseret News)
  • A 2030 Winter Olympics in Utah? Why it ‘makes a lot of sense’ to Nathan Chen (Deseret News)
  • Air travel expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer (Deseret News)
  • Intermountain Forensics is a DNA lab using new tech to solve old crimes (Utah Business)
  • Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce aiming to relaunch, rebuild trust (KSL)


  • Transgender issues in schools and states: New poll shows how Americans feel (Deseret News


  • Utah water policy ‘playing catch up when it should be leading the pack,’ according to new report. Score card calls on states to take climate change, growth and water shortages seriously. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • ‘Celebrating small wins;’ Great Salt Lake rises a foot since historic low (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • New bill would seize water from farmers and ranchers in an emergency (KSL Newsradio)
  • Utah is having its best winter in nearly 20 years. Great Salt Lake is up by a foot, and the state is certain to have a good runoff season in the spring. (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • New report: Child care issues result in $1.36B loss in Utah's annual economy (KSL)
  • These Americans are spending more than they earn. Low wages and high prices collided for a striking share of U.S. households across income groups (Deseret News)
  • New genealogy platform unveiling, and connecting, the untold stories of our lives (Deseret News)


  • Utah plastic surgeon sold COVID-19 vax cards but threw away the vaccine, feds say (KSL)
  • Perspective: It’s time to treat Big Tech like Big Tobacco. A mounting body of evidence suggests that social media contributes to the skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression among teens. Utah is poised to step in. (Deseret News)
  • New film ‘Downwind’ explores the long shadow of nuclear fallout in Utah and beyond. Documentary, debuting at Slamdance in Park City, criticizes U.S. government’s neglect of people suffering from radiation. (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • No one should ‘spend their golden years in a shelter’ — How Utah can stop the alarming spike of homeless seniors. Since at least 2017, the number of older Utahns experiencing homelessness has been on the rise. (Salt Lake Tribune)

National Headlines


  • Over 3.3 million people were displaced by natural disasters in the United States in 2022 (Deseret News
  • U.S. military veterans can now receive free emergency mental health care (Deseret News)
  • Actor Julian Sands missing in Southern California mountains (AP)
  • In some states, an unpaid foster care bill could mean parents lose their kids forever (NPR)
  • Nemat Shafik is the first woman to be named president at Columbia University. Shafik, who was born in Egypt and grew up in the United States, has extensive experience across global financial institutions and higher education. (NPR)


  • George Santos competed as a drag queen in Brazil pageants, say associates (Reuters)
  • Biden administration invites ordinary Americans to help settle refugees.
    The program to speed up refugee arrivals will allow private citizens to sponsor families in their communities after raising funds and undergoing training. (New York Times)
  • Greene knocks Gaetz in exchange over committee assignments (The Hill)
  • Trump trounces DeSantis in potential GOP primary match-up, new poll finds (The Hill)
  • She fixes cars. Can she fix Congress’ elitism problem? Marie Gluesenkamp Perez thinks Democrats have a big problem relating to the middle class. Because they’re not part of it. (Politico)

Ukraine 🇺🇦

  • UNESCO seeks to prevent trafficking of looted Ukrainian art (AP)
  • U.S. readies another massive military package for Ukraine (Washington Post)


  • Jacinda Ardern resigns as New Zealand’s prime minister, says she doesn’t have ‘enough in the tank’ to stand for reelection in October. (Politico)
  • New Zealand’s progressive prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, a former Latter-day Saint, is stepping down. She won praise as a peacemaker and policymaker from church President Russell M. Nelson during a 2019 visit. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Dinosaur fossil discovery made in India: A fossilized dinosaur hatchery with 92 nests and 256 eggs (KSL)
  • At Davos, Ukraine’s first lady urges support for her nation (AP)

News Releases

Sen. McKell introduces legislation to eliminate gas chamber euthanasia

Katherine Heigl shows support and encourages legislators to pass S.B. 108

Today, Sen. Mike McKell released S.B. 108 Animal Shelter Revisions, banning the use of gas chambers in animal shelters. The proposed legislation addresses euthanasia methods animal shelters can use and requires shelters to adopt a humane euthanasia policy and training program.

Katherine Heigl, a Utah resident and founder of the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, an organization dedicated to animal welfare, showed support for the bill by joining Sen. McKell at the Capitol for its release. (Read More)

Owens to serve on House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 118th Congress

Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) was selected by the House Republican Steering Committee to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 118th Congress. 

“It is an honor to be the first Utahn selected to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in over 20 years,” said Rep. Owens. “Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and we need a strong voice at the table to tackle water management, air quality improvement, the ongoing energy and supply chain crises, and more. I am proud to be a voice for our state on this pivotal committee and will work hard to ensure the strategic growth and responsible management of our Nation’s infrastructure.” (Read More)


Number of the Day

Number of the Day, Jan 19, 2023


Tweet of the Day

Screenshot 2023-01-19 at 7.22.25 AM



  • State of the State — Jan. 19, 6:30 pm
  • Utah Women Run Winter Training — Jan 21 at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, 9 am - 3 pm, Register here
  • State of the County with Mayor Jenny Wilson — Jan 23, 6-7 pm
  • Legislative session ends — Mar. 3,

On This Day In History

  • 1825 - Ezra Daggett and nephew Thomas Kensett patent food storage in tin cans - game changer
  • 1903 - A new bicycle race, the “Tour de France,” is announced.
  • 1905 - Oveta Culp Hobby is born. She later becomes the second woman in the U.S. Cabinet (20 years after Frances Perkins), first Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1953) and is awarded the Distinguished Medal of Service for her work as Director of the Women’s Army Corps (1945).
  • 1920 - The American Civil Liberties Union is founded.
  • 1922 - Geological survey says US oil supply would be depleted in 20 years
  • 1931 - Carl Brashear is born. The naval officer served 31 years in the U.S. Navy. He was the first African American Navy diver. In 1966 during a recovery mission, an injury resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Refusing to retire, Brashear pursued and qualified as a master diver, becoming the first African American to achieve the status in U.S. Navy history.
  • 1946 - Dolly Parton is born.
  • 1952 - PGA allows Black golfers to participate
  • 1955 - First presidential news conference is filmed for TV, with President Eisenhower.
  • 1966 - Indira Gandhi becomes India’s prime minister and the country’s first female head of government
  • 1979 - US President Jimmy Carter announces he is awarding Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to anthropologist Margaret Mead
  • 2004 - Howard Dean screams at the end of a rally and effectively ends his political career.
  • 2012 - Freestyle skier Sarah Burke dies after accident in Park City.
  • 2013 - Lance Armstrong admits to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories

Heard on the Hill

"Trying to come up with a flag for 3½ million people is not as easy as I think I originally first thought in the beginning."

—Senator Dan McCay

On the Punny Side

Where do rainbows go when they’re bad?


It’s a light sentence.


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