The Groundhog saw its shadow 🥶; bill prohibiting cell phones in classrooms fails; feds raise interest rates again, but by a smaller amt
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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 | February 2, 2023

Happy Groundhog Day! The film with Bill Murray is 30 years old but we still watch it every year. Also, the darn rodent saw its shadow this morning: six more weeks of winter. 🥶

What You Need to Know

  • Yesterday, HB283, Unemployment Insurance Amendments and HB244, which would create a Utah Victim Services Commission passed committee, and HB270, which would prohibit cell phones and smart watches in classrooms failed. On the Senate side, SB127, which would create a "Utah Cyber Center," and strengthen Utah's cybersecurity practices, and SB144, a bill that would make changes related to the delivery of water to reservoirs both passed out of committee. 
  • Today, Speaker Brad Wilson is presenting HJR10, a bill that would establish the office of county sheriff in the Utah Constitution. The Senate sponsor is President Adams. Assuming passage by 2/3, it would then be placed on the next general election ballot. Senator Dan McCay is presenting SB162, a bill changing who can perform a marriage in Utah and Rep. Trevor Lee is presenting HB289, Blockchain Provider Registration. 

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

16 days down, 29 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

2:00-3:30 pm: Senate floor time

2:00-3:30 pm: House floor time

3:40-6:00 pm: House Committees - Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice; Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment; Transportation

3:40-6:00 pm: Senate Committees - Economic Development & Workforce Services; Government Operations & Political Subdivisions; Revenue & Taxation

4:45 pm: House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology


8:00 am: Sub-appropriations: Business, Economic Development and LaborInfrastructure and General Government; Public EducationSocial Services

11:00 am-11:50: Senate Floor Time

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

2:00-3:30 pm: Senate floor time

2:00-3:30 pm: House floor time

3:40-6:00 pm: House committees: Judiciary; Government Operations; Political Subdivisions; Revenue and Taxation

3:40-6:00 pm: Senate committees: Education; Health and Human Services

Utah Headlines

General Legislative News

  • Forget big business, Utah lawmaker wants to deregulate ... lemonade stands (KSL)
  • Utah Legislature passes resolution honoring Sikh community (KUTV)
  • Utah House passes moratorium on personalized license plates for 2nd straight year (KSL)
  • Demand high for Utah driver's license tests in new languages; Legislature considers adding more (KSL)
  • New bill would add state auditor to oversee funding of school voucher program (KSL TV)
  • Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree (KSL Newsradio)
  • Bill banning cell phones in classrooms fails to advance in Utah Legislature (KUTV)
  • Senate bill proposal could help juveniles facing criminal charges stay out out of jail (KUTV)
  • Bill aims to cut emissions in northern Utah in half by 2030 (Fox13)
  • Utah lawmakers expected to debate full-day kindergarten funding (Standard Examiner)
  • SLC elementary class to save Utah’s brine shrimp with petition and bill (ABC4)

Other political news

  • Governor says Utah has the best economy in the nation and he’s ‘not bragging’, it’s a fact (St. George News)
  • Why Mitt Romney, Sean Reyes say ESG funds are bad for retirement accounts. Utah leads 25-state lawsuit challenging environmental, social and governance rule (Deseret News)
  • FTX execs spent thousands on Utah elections. Sens. Mitt Romney, Mike Lee, and the Utah Democratic Party refunded thousands of dollars in donations from FTX executives Samuel Bankman-Fried and Ryan Salame. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Solving homelessness, environmental issues top Salt Lake City mayor’s 2023 goals (KSL)
  • 'The Dignity Index' on Tuesday's Access Utah (UPR)

General Utah News

  • Dozens of elk force shutdown of I-80, I-215; 4 elk die from vehicle collisions (KSL)
  • Cold weather freezes up sprinkler pipes, causing water damage at a library and a record store. “It sounded like every shower in a hotel being turned on,” said owner of Graywhale record store. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Opposition to new law banning transgender surgeries for Utah youth continues (Fox13)



  • Black history class revised by national College Board amid criticism (AP)
  • College Board's revised AP African American studies course draws new criticism (NPR)
  • University of Utah outlines how students should utilize ChatGPT's AI technology (KSL)


  • $40M Great Salt Lake trust beginning work with newly formed council (KSL)
  • Will basin states’ plans save operations at Glen Canyon, Hoover dams? (Deseret News)


  • Ultraprocessed food could be linked to ovarian cancer, according to new study (Deseret News)
  • Technology, donors help Intermountain Health break organ transplant record again (KSL)
  • Drug overdose deaths are on the rise among teens (Deseret News)


  • Think the housing market is bad? It’s even worse for affordable housing builders (Deseret News)
  • ‘Tiny home’ village promises refuge for homeless. But the site has a toxic past. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • With no homeless shelter, Provo relies on hotel vouchers and policing when it’s cold (KUER)

National Headlines


  • The IRS is about 3 times more likely to audit Black taxpayers compared to other races, study finds (Deseret News)
  • What is an atheist doing at a religious freedom summit? (Deseret News)
  • ‘He should have been safe:’ Kamala Harris offers brief, emotional comments at Tyre Nichols’ funeral (Deseret News)
  • Parents pay at least one monthly bill for 40 percent of millennials (The Hill)


  • On my honor. Jack McCain on duty, helping Afghan refugees, and living up to his father’s legacy (Deseret News)
  • Is this the beginning of the end of DACA? ‘The court should declare it unlawful and unconstitutional, vacate it in its entirety, and permanently enjoin its implementation,’ the filing states said (Deseret News)
  • A Trump-appointed Texas judge could force a major abortion pill off the market (NPR)
  • McConnell pulls rival Rick Scott off powerful Commerce Committee  (The Hill)
  • Biden approval steady after document discovery: AP-NORC Poll (AP)

Ukraine 🇺🇦

  • Perspective: How to avert the coming train wreck in Ukraine. The deal proposed by Henry Kissinger requires compromise but it protects the interests of NATO members and sidesteps catastrophe (Deseret News)
  • Russia hits civilian targets anew, EU officials visit Kyiv (AP)
  • In unusual wartime summit, E.U. and Ukraine prepare path forward (Washington Post)


  • Opinion: Terrorist leader killed in Somalia. Where are we at with the war on terror? (Deseret News)
  • Militant who killed 101 at Pakistan mosque wore police uniform (AP)
  • Sex, lies and video cams: Andrew Tate turned women into slaves, prosecutors say (Reuters)
  • US to widen military presence in Philippines amid China fear (AP)
  • Canadian lawmakers back resettlement of 10,000 Uyghur Muslims (Reuters)

News Releases

Gov. Cox issues executive order to ensure data sharing between state agencies

Gov. Spencer Cox has issued an Executive Order creating a time-limited task force on state agency collaboration and data sharing.  

Under Executive Order 2023-01, this new task force will create an action plan of concrete steps to deliver to the governor by Aug. 30, 2023. Gov. Cox has assigned Tracy Gruber, executive director of the Department of Health and Human Services, to lead this effort. (Read More)

43 youth representing 37 states selected by STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s Million Girls Moonshot initiative to join the youth-led flight crew

STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s Million Girls Moonshot announced its second cohort of its Flight Crew – a youth ambassadors program that is advancing equity for girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The expanded 2023 Flight Crew was recently announced as a STEM Next commitment to the White House National Space Council’s priority to promote career awareness of space opportunities. The Flight Crew elevates youth voices to inspire more young people to become future STEM leaders. The group will support the mission of the Million Girls Moonshot, a STEM equity initiative that collaborates with a coalition of partners to engage one million more girls in afterschool and summer STEM learning opportunities by 2025. (Read More)

Western Governors University launches enrollment for 14-to-18-year old students

Western Governors University (WGU) has announced a new enrollment opportunity for 14-to-18-year old students into academic programs in WGU’s School of Education, Leavitt School of Health, College of Business, and College of Information Technology.

In this new academic pathway, 14-to-18-year olds may apply for and enroll in select WGU bachelor’s degree programs. This opportunity is ideal for students who have postsecondary aspirations, have completed a high school diploma or equivalent at an early age, have an openness to convenient and flexible online learning, and possess career ambitions that are aligned to WGU’s programmatic offerings. (Read More)

Romney joins colleagues in challenging President Biden’s rule that politicizes Americans’ 401(k)s

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined all 48 of his Republican colleagues, led by Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing a resolution of disapproval challenging President Biden’s ESG rule, which politicizes millions of Americans’ retirement investments to favor Biden’s ideological preferences rather than getting the best returns for Americans. The resolution of disapproval, which was introduced in the House by Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), is set to receive a vote on the Senate and House floors and requires a simple majority vote threshold to pass and be sent to the President. (Read More)

USBE: Utah students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announced that high school students Ms. Savannah Cali Harlan and Ms. Jena Marie Mahoney will join Senator Mike Lee and Senator Mitt Romney in representing Utah during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4 — 11, 2023. Savannah Harlan of Salt Lake City and Jena Mahoney of Heber City were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. Each delegate will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.  (Read More)

Record $77.2 million in lost money reported to state treasurer in 2022 is now available online for Utahns to claim

Utah Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks today announced that the Utah Unclaimed Property Division of the Office of State Treasurer received a record-breaking $77.2 million in lost property in 2022. This property comes from sources like dormant bank accounts, overpaid medical bills, uncashed checks, safe deposit box contents and unpaid insurance benefits. The announcement coincides with National Unclaimed Property Day. “We encourage Utahns to check every year to see if they have lost money to claim." (Read More)


Number of the Day

Number of the Day, Feb. 2, 2023


Tweet of the Day

Screenshot 2023-02-02 at 7.08.00 AM



  • State of the Union — Feb. 7, 7:00 pm MST
  • Great Salt Lake Strike Team with Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Newsmaker Breakfast — Feb. 8, 8:00a am - 9:30 am, RSVP to
  • Ditch Your Debt and Transform Your Net Worth with the Utah Women and Leadership Project — Feb. 28, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Virtual, Register Here
  • Legislative session ends — Mar. 3,
  • Teaching Your Child Consent with the Utah Women and Leadership Project — Mar. 16, 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm, Virtual, Register Here

On This Day In History

  • 1812 - Russians establish Fort Ross in California.
  • 1847 - The first member of the Donner Party dies.
  • 1862 - District of Columbia abolishes slavery. 
  • 1887 - Groundhog Day is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
  • 1905 - Ayn Rand is born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is the author of “Atlas Shrugged.” 
  • 1913 - Grand Central Terminal opens in New York City.
  • 1915 - Ernest E. Just receives the Spingarn medal for his pioneering work in cell division and fertilization. Despite having a PhD, he could not find work in the US as a Black scientist so he moved to Europe to continue his research. He was held as a prisoner--of-war by Nazis after their invasion of France. 
  • 1943 - The Battle of Stalingrad ends as the last German troops surrender to the Red Army.
  • 2009 - Eric Holder confirmed as the first Black US Attorney General
  • 2021 - Millie Hughes-Fulford died at age 75. She was the first American woman to launch into space that was not an astronaut, but a working scientist. She was a molecular biologist.

Heard on the Hill

“This requires teachers in the classrooms to enforce these policies. You want me to try and take a cellphone away from a 220-pound lineman? I don’t think so."

—Rita Heagren, speaking against HB270

On the Punny Side

Why did the husband get his wife a kitten for Valentine's Day?

He thought it was the purrfect present.


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