Happy birthday to First Lady Abby Cox; HB215 headed to easy passage; first Medicaid expansion bill being heard in committee
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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 editor@utahpolicy.com.


Situational Analysis | January 26, 2023

It's Thursday and National Spouses Day. 😘 It's also First Lady Abby Cox's birthday, so shout-out to her! Hope it's a good one. 🎉 🎂 🎈

What You Need to Know

  • Yesterday, HB215, the ESA/teacher salary bill, passed the Senate Second Reading calendar and is expected to pass the Senate today. It will be sent to the governor for his signature and he has signaled his support. The bill is also passing by a veto-proof, referendum-proof majority.
  • The US economy grew by 2.1% in 2022, a solid showing for a year filled with mixed economic signals. The final quarter of the year showed 2.9% growth.

Rapid Roundup


Together, We Can Better Support Women in Business

Whether you’re a woman starting a business or looking to elevate your career, Inspire In Utah is dedicated to providing you with the resources to help on your journey. Find funding, training, and even inspirational stories in our dedicated resource center.


2023 Legislative Session

9 days down, 36 days to go!  

The House Government Operations committee will be hearing several election-related bills, including a bill that decrease signature-gathering requirements and one that would increase them. In the Senate Health and Human Services committee, a bill that requires health care facilities to allow visitation will be heard, as well as the first bill to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage, this one sponsored by Senator Wayne Harper. 


8:00 am: Sub-appropriations: Business, Economic Development and Labor, Infrastructure and General Government, Public Education, 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 committees: Government Operations, Judiciary, Political Subdivisions

2:00-5:00 pm: Senate committees: Business and Labor, Education, Health and Human Services

5:15 pm: Senate Judiciary Confirmation Committee

Tomorrow. Last day to request bills or appropriations without floor approval. 

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

11:00 am-11:50: Senate Floor Time

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

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 Committees - Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment, Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology

Utah Headlines

General Legislative News

  • Utah lawmakers unveil two pieces of 'historic' legislation for the Great Salt Lake (Deseret News)
  • 2 Utah Dems want to funnel more water and money into the Great Salt Lake (KUER)
  • Utah Senate approves choice scholarship, teacher compensation bill on 2nd reading, ready for final passage (Deseret News)
  • Utah’s voucher bill will likely be impossible for voters to recall. This is why. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Opinion: This proposed law would make Utah the worst state for crime victims. Since 1994, Utah has protected victims in preliminary hearings. We shouldn’t change that now (Deseret News)
  • Utah bill would extend in-state tuition rates to refugees, asylum seekers (Deseret News)
  • Lawmakers advance bill to ban possession or sale of child sex dolls (KSL)
  • Senate committee approves resolution encouraging celebrating Halloween on Friday (KUTV)
  • House unanimously passes 'Scott's Bill' to provide mental health care for first responders (KUTV)
  • Utah Public Safety is looking for more resources to clear the clean slate law backlog (KUER)

Other political news

  • Women make history as top elected officials in Provo and Utah County. For the first time, the top leadership positions in all major governmental bodies are held by women. (Daily Herald)
  • Rep. Chris Stewart named to the House 'weaponization' committee (Deseret News)
  • The fate of the American conservative. The Republican Party of the early 21st century is barely recognizable. What is the GOP’s future? (Deseret News)

General Utah News

  • 30 years later, Salt Lake’s Ballpark neighborhood never hit a home run. Former Mayor Deedee Corradini promised a stadium that would lead to economic development. What the city got was a charming ballpark in the middle of a neighborhood that hasn’t changed much in 30 years (Deseret News)
  • Warrant issued for former youth treatment staff member in southern Utah (KSL)
  • Taylorsville Food Pantry remains open under new management (ABC4)
  • Why you should put driving Iceland’s Ring Road on your bucket list and some of the best stops (Deseret News)


  • 100 West High students stage sexual harassment protest (KSL)
  • Students stage walkout to protest voucher bill just before Utah Senate approves it (KUTV)
  • There’s not enough interest in Utah’s 2 existing vouchers to use up the money for them. The Carson Smith and Special Needs Opportunity scholarship funds are never depleted because not enough students apply. (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • Alta breaks a snowfall record after latest Utah storm. Little Cottonwood ski area had more snow between October and January than ever before. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Judge tosses Utah Lake dredger’s defamation suit against scientist, ruling it abused the legal system. Lake Restoration Solutions had no basis for suing Ben Abbott, leading critic of failed Utah Lake island-building proposal (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • Brain smog: New study shows traffic pollution’s negative effect on the brain (Deseret News)
  • Your attention span is shrinking, but you can grow it back (Deseret News)
  • Utah ranked second-healthiest state in the U.S. (ABC4)
  • Is an official end to the COVID-19 pandemic coming? What the World Health Organization is saying. Global health emergency declaration could be lifted soon (Deseret News)


  • Homeless advocates say Salt Lake City is 'not acting in good faith' ahead of count (KSL)
  • Survey finds Americans wildly misinformed on housing market (The Hill)

National Headlines


  • US economy likely slowed but still posted solid growth in Q4 (AP)
  • Key takeaways in a Secret Service report on mass attacks from 2016-2020 (NPR)
  • Meta allows Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram (NPR)
  • Va. school ignored warnings boy had gun before he shot teacher, attorney says (Washington Post)


  • Ron DeSantis becomes focus of attacks from 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls (Wall Street Journal)
  • Backlash grows against DeSantis decision to block AP African American studies class (Washington Post)
  • An RNC remade by Trump backs away from his 2024 campaign (New York Times)
  • Elaine Chao responds to Trump’s racist attacks on her Asian American heritage (Washington Post)
  • McCarthy might have a math problem in blocking Omar from panel (The Hill)

Ukraine 🇺🇦

  • Russia downplays West’s move on tanks, strikes Ukraine again (AP)
  • A Russian graveyard reveals Wagner’s prisoner army (Reuters)
  • Ukraine will now push for F-16 fighter jets, government adviser says (The Hill)


  • For reporter, trauma comes with exposing ugly truths of a brutal conflict.
    Mariam Ouédraogo is the first female African journalist to win the world’s top prize for war correspondents, but covering the sexual violence in Burkina Faso has given her PTSD. (New York Times)
  • Major Israeli raid on Palestinian city kills nine amid growing violence (Washington Post)
  • At the heart of Iran’s crackdown, a small group of judges sentences protesters to hang (Washington Post)

Guest Opinion: “Utah Fits All” intentionally mislabeled and misleading

by Deborah Gatrell

Make it make sense! After the proposed “Hope Scholarship” voucher crashed and burned in the 2022 Utah legislature, Rep Pierucci is back with an even worse proposal this year.  House Bill 215, a “Utah Fits All voucher” scheme, is intentionally mislabeled as “Funding For Teacher Salaries and Optional Educational Opportunities.” This proposal hands out piles of tax payer cash to an independent contractorr to administer a voucher program with no meaningful oversight by the Utah School Board of Education.

Where to start? First, there is no legitimate justification for further fragmenting the educational options available in Utah – this is wasteful! Parents have lots of choices. Open enrollment and special permits within and between districts are wonderful. Charter options abound. Parents can already homeschool. Many already utilize private school options as well....

The proposal also intentionally dodges requirements in the Utah Constitution. The bill’s requirement that USBE hire an independent contractor to manage the program only makes sense when you realize the state constitution specifically prohibits public money being spent on religious schools, which many private schools are. The voucher bill language also explicitly prohibits the State Board of Education from assessing any program or outcome associated with the voucher scheme – the program manager has free reign. This is puzzling since Article X of the Utah Constitution states “The general control and supervision of the public education system shall be vested in a State Board of Education....” 

Contact your Legislators and tell them to vote NO on House Bill 215. Ask them to put the money in the WPU instead so each district can put the money to best use meeting local needs, whether that’s teacher pay or Full-Day Kindergarten, bus driver benefits or part-time custodians, and so on. (Read More)

News Releases

Romney joins colleagues in effort to permanently ban taxpayer funding for abortions

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined his colleagues, led by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), in reintroducing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This legislation would establish a permanent prohibition on federal funding for abortion, replacing the current restrictions with a single, government-wide standard. (Read More)

Curtis appointed Vice Chair of Energy, Climate, and Grid Security subcommittee

Today, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) announced the subcommittee assignments for Congressman John Curtis (UT-03) for the 118th Congress. A critical role, he was appointed Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security as well as a membership on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

In addition to his role on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Curtis also sits on the House Natural Resources Committee under Chair Bruce Westerman. Details on those subcommittee assignments will be made public once available. (Read More)

Curtis, Cruz lead coalition to re-introduce consumer protection bill

Today, Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act in the Senate. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the companion legislation in the Senate.

“This common sense and bipartisan bill ensures consumers are aware of the recording capabilities of items they are putting in their homes, while also balancing flexibility for companies who are developing smart technologies,” said Representative Curtis. (Read More)

UIPA & Box Elder County announce framework for rural Inland Port Project Area

Box Elder County Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution today to begin the creation of an Inland Port Project Area in Box Elder County. This Project Area will consist of areas in the County with a focus on agricultural production and manufacturing. The new Project Area designation provides heightened coordination between Box Elder County and UIPA, as well as an anticipated loan for logistics infrastructure. (Read More)


Number of the Day

Number of the Day, Jan 26, 2023


Tweet of the Day

Screenshot 2023-01-26 at 7.41.30 AM



  • Special Election, HD 31 — Jan 27, 6 pm 
  • Legislative session ends — Mar. 3, le.utah.gov

On This Day In History

  • 1784 - In a letter dated January 26, 1784, Benjamin Franklin writes to his daughter Sarah (Sally) Bache expressing his dismay that the eagle is chosen as an American symbol. Were he to choose, the turkey would be a more appropriate bird.
  • 1788 - British settlement begins in Australia with 11 ships of convicts. It is now celebrated as Australia Day, although many Aboriginal Australians call it “Invasion Day.”
  • 1826 - Julia Boggs Dent is born. She later marries Ulysses S. Grant and becomes the 19th First Lady of the United States.
  • 1880 - Douglas Macarthur is born.
  • 1893 - Bessie Coleman is born. In pursuit of becoming a pilot, Coleman traveled to France after being denied the opportunity in the United States. In France, she learned to fly, returning to the United States as the first female African American pilot. She now has her own Barbie.
  • 1905 - Maria von Trapp is born.
  • 1918 - Ukraine declares its independence.
  • 1954 - Ground is broken for Disneyland. 
  • 1961 - JFK appoints first female presidential physician, Janet Travell.
  • 1962 - Bishop Burke of Buffalo Catholic dioceses declares Chubby Checker's "The Twist" to be impure and bans it from all Catholic schools.
  • 1980 - Mary Decker became the first woman to run a mile under 4 1/2 minutes, running it at 4:17.55
  • 1988 - “Phantom of the Opera” opens in NYC, goes on for 4000+ performances. 
  • 1998 - President Bill Clinton says "I want to say one thing to the American people; I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
  • 2005 - George W. Bush appoints Condoleeza Rice as secretary of state.
  • 2010 - The World Health Organization rejects claims that it overstated the severity of the swine flu pandemic.
  • 2020 - Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna die in a helicopter crash.

Heard on the Hill

"We're not so presumptuous to think that here in Utah, we're going to change the date of Halloween. What it (the resolution) does is it says that we would like to recognize the celebration of Halloween to be the last Friday of October."

—Senator Kirk Cullimore

On the Punny Side

Why did the EMTs travel in sets of two?

They wanted to be a pair-a-medics.


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