Transgender bills pass Senate 2nd reading; HB215 combining teacher pay w ESAs passes committee and heads to the floor, State of the State
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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 20, 2023

How is it Friday already? It's National Cheese Lover’s Day, a gouda holiday to celebrate. (I know, I know - these puns are un-brie-lievably dumb and more than I camembert.)

Lunar New Year is this weekend - we are going into the year of the rabbit. 

Finally, don't miss this Politico piece on Utahn Tami Pyfer: One women is holding politicians accountable for nasty speech. It's changing politics.

Be in the Know

  • After hours of discussion, HB215S1 passed out of committee on a 12-4 vote. This bill ties teacher salaries with an Educational Spending Account (ESA). Unlike vouchers that go to private schools, this money goes straight to parents whose children are not in the public school system, Rep. Pierucci explained. The ESA "scholarship" is $8000, while the weighted pupil unit (WPU) in Utah is just over $4000. The committee heard from 30 members of the public - 15 for, 15 against, before passing the bill. Opponents included not only teachers and other public school supporters who find the bill to be a slap in the face to teachers, but also from Gayle Ruzicka, Natalie Cline of the USBE and others who asserted that this bill is broad government overreach that strips families of even more rights. Other conservative organizations support the bill. There was no discussion at all that the bump in teacher's salaries will be cut in half if this bill does not pass. It now goes to the House floor where it appears to have broad support.

  • Less than 24 hours after passing out of committee, a trio of bills aimed at transgender youth was voted on by the Senate, passing the second reading calendar and on to the third. During debate on the bill prohibiting transgender-related surgeries, Sen. Dan Thatcher said "I think people will die if we pass this bill. The people pushing for this bill are not people with transgender children." According to The Hill, a new study shows more than 85% of transgender youth say that recent debates over state bills to restrict their rights have negatively impacted their mental health.

  • Governor Spencer Cox gave his State of the State address last night and directed his remarks to the young people of the state. He asked them to focus on the future and have faith in good things to come. He also outlined some of his administration's top priorities: teacher pay, preserving the Great Salt Lake, affordable housing, including single family starter homes, tax cuts and working to diminish the negative effects social media has on our youth. 

Rapid Roundup


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

3 days down, 42 days to go! Today on the Hill, the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee will hear bills on the prohibition of child sex dolls, online dating safety and more. 


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: Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice; Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment; Transportation

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


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

12:00 pm: Administrative Rules Review and General Oversight Committee

2:00-5:00 pm: House committees: Business and Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Economic Development and Workforce 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

5:15-6:30 pm: Executive Appropriations

Utah Headlines

General Legislative News

  • Utah lawmakers can’t let the misinformed sway their votes. Gov. Spencer Cox wants more mainstream people to attend legislative hearings. That isn’t likely to happen, so lawmakers need to stand up to the occasional conspiracy minded mobs that do show up (Deseret News)
  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says he won’t veto ban on transgender surgeries, puberty blockers for kids (Deseret News)
  • Sen. Thatcher: “I feel like I’m the only conservative on that floor” (KSL Newsradio)
  • Would this proposed Utah law make online dating apps safer? (Deseret News)
  • Should religious, modest clothing be allowed with sports uniforms? (Deseret News)
  • Advocates urge lawmakers to end state food tax, invest in more homeless resources (KSL)
  • State of the State coverage (Deseret News, KUTV, Salt Lake Tribune, ABC4, KUER, Fox13)
  • Utah Democrats respond to Gov. Cox’s State of the State Address (ABC4)

General Utah News

  • You can now win an Olympic gold medal for break dancing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris (Deseret News)
  • Chess playing bot Mittens the Cat has the snark, and the game, to leave you in shreds (Deseret News)
  • Salt Lake City library closed after sewer line suffers 'critical failure' (KSL)
  • Road rage crash on I-15 south blocks four lanes of traffic causing significant delays last night (KSL TV)
  • 6 people hit by cars in 1 weekend, days after Salt Lake City officials called for safer streets (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • Astrid Tuminez: Inside the tyranny of measuring success by one metric in education (Deseret News)
  • Parents’ top goal for K-12 isn’t path to college, high wages (Deseret News)
  • How Utah-based Hope Squad is helping teens improve mental health (Deseret News)


  • Expert says ‘Trees are the enemy’ when it comes to water production. Other scientists disagree (Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Greenland is the warmest it’s been in 1,000 years. What does this mean? (Deseret News)
  • Opinion: Want a green economy? Want electric vehicles? We need U.S. mines for materials (Deseret News)


  •  Rep. Chris Stewart discusses his bill to ban US teens under 16 from using social media (KSL Newsradio)


  •  Intermittent fasting may not be best for weight loss: study (Deseret News)
  • Proposed change to conversion therapy law concerns LGBTQ+ advocates (KSL Newsradio)
  • Bill providing improved mental healthcare for doctors reintroduced in Utah legislature (KUTV)

National Headlines


  • Alec Baldwin and crewmember will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for fatal shooting on ‘Rust’ set (Deseret News
  • Google axes 12,000 jobs, layoffs spread across tech sector (AP)
  • T-Mobile says data on 37 million customers stolen (AP)
  • Polar bear emerged unseen from snowstorm to kill mom and baby in front of a school (AP)
  • Consumer prices plateau as inflation slows to prepandemic levels. Forty-year inflation high in June turned into relatively normal price growth in second half of 2022 (Wall Street Journal)


  • Florida judge fines Trump, lawyer almost $1 million for ‘frivolous’ lawsuit against Hillary Clinton (AP)
  • Christian leaders start to break from Trump — with an eye on DeSantis (Washington Post)

Ukraine 🇺🇦

  • Germany signals it hasn't ruled out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine (NPR
  • Amid Ukraine tank dispute, Pentagon chief says ‘we need to dig even deeper’ (Washington Post)
  • Russia’s state nuclear company aids war effort, leading to calls for sanctions (Washington Post)
  • Zelenskyy secretly met with CIA Director Burns in Kyiv (The Hill)


  • Perspective: Jacinda Ardern and ‘what’s really most important’ (Deseret News)
  • Church of England apologizes for treatment of LGBTQ people (AP)

Guest Opinion: These principles and institutions should be a measuring stick for lawmakers and voters

by Derek Monson

The 2023 Utah legislative session is concluding its first week. New lawmakers have gotten their first taste of the legislative process. Veteran lawmakers have begun again to try and persuade their colleagues to reform Utah law and public policy. Scrutiny and criticism of Utah’s legislative priorities and actions have begun popping up on news media websites and publications.

The beginning of each year’s legislative session offers a chance to remember key principles and institutions that should be part of the measuring stick for good public policy reforms. As the legislative session clock ticks down and political pressure ramps up, we have the opportunity to recommit to principles over politics and building institutions over forwarding agendas.

These include families, education, civil rights, anti-polarization, and free enterprise. As the 2023 legislative session gathers steam, evaluating public policies through the lens of principles and institutions will become increasingly difficult. The temptation to set aside principle in the face of political pressure or ignore institution building in favor of advancing a preferred agenda by whatever means necessary only grow stronger as the 45 days of Utah’s legislative session move forward.

This annual political trend in lawmaking makes it all the more important that we reflect early and often upon and recommit to our principles. This is true for legislators who are making the laws as well as voters who are engaging with and selecting who gets the privilege of making the laws. If we can apply these principles and build our civic institutions through public policy, then despite criticism, Utah’s laws will continue to help Utah remain the flourishing state that we love and call home. (Read More)

News Releases

Utah Gov. Cox delivers his 2023 State of the State address

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox delivered his 2023 State of the State address to the people of Utah and the Utah State Legislature, directing his message to the next generation of Utahns. 

“To every young person today grappling with fear, I want to speak to you. Whether it be fear of finding a good career or a home you can afford to buy. Or fear of a planet in peril, or attacks on democracy — at home or abroad, or the effects of inflation. Or fear of any of the other crazy things in our society today. If there is one message that I could give to you, it is this: The future of our state is not written in the stars. It is for us, the free men and women of Utah, to dictate our destiny … To anyone who believes that the next generation in Utah will be worse off than their parents, my message is simple: not now, not on our watch.” (Read More)

Utah Senate President Adams responds to the State of the State address

President J. Stuart Adams issues the following statement following Gov. Spencer Cox’s 2023 State of the State address:

“Tonight, Gov. Cox empathized important areas of improvement in our state, including affordable housing, water use and infrastructure, social media regulations and tax cuts for working families. Though at times the task may seem daunting, we have the privilege and opportunity to tackle the biggest problems of our lifetime this session. I echo the governor’s words that there has never been a better time to be alive and that there has never been a better place to live than in Utah. This truly is the place, and we will work to ensure it stays that way for generations to come.”

Mark Erickson named Managing Partner of Tanner LLC

Tanner LLC, Utah’s premier public accounting firm, has named Mark V. Erickson as Managing Partner. He succeeds Jeffrey G. Bickel who will continue as a senior partner of the firm. 

In his new role, Erickson will oversee more than 200 employees and be responsible for the vision, strategic direction, and growth of the firm. Tanner LLC has consistently been named by IPA as one of the best 50 accounting firms in the United States and serves a large clientele of private and publicly held companies. Tanner has consistently been recognized nationally as a top firm because of its growth, quality, and culture. (Read More)


Number of the Day

Number of the Day, Jan 20, 2023


Tweet of the Day

Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 7.08.14 AM



  • 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

  • 1801 - John Marshall is appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1869 - Elizabeth Cady Stanton becomes the first woman to testify before Congress.
  • 1870 - Sisters Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Clafin open the first woman-owned brokerage firm in the United States.
  • 1872 - Julia Morgan is born. She becomes the first licensed female architect in California and the innovative architect of Hearst Castle and over 700 other buildings
  • 1942 - Nazi officials hold Wannsee Conference in Berlin to organize the “final solution” to Europe’s Jewish population.
  • 1943 - Lead, South Dakota, temperature is 52°F, while 1.5 miles away Deadwood records -16°F
  • 1945 - FDR inaugurated for his 4th term.
  • 1949 - The nation’s first televised inaugural parade for Harry Truman is watched by 10 million people.
  • 1953 - First live coast-to-coast inaugural address by Eisenhower.
  • 1981 - Ronald Reagan is sworn in as the 40th president of the United States.
  • 1981 - Within minutes of the inauguration, 52 U.S. captives are released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis.
  • 1998 - Researchers announce the successful cloning of calves.

Heard on the Hill

“It was a bad bill then, it’s a worse bill now. But this time the bill promoters are hiring local social media influencers paying for expensive billboards and ill-fitting T-shirts and teachers are being bribed with raises."

—Monica Wilbur, a parent testifying against HB215 

On the Punny Side

The type of cheese that defends a palace is known as Moat-zarella.


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