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Davis Journal

Millner takes role of Majority Whip in the Senate

Jan 14, 2021 02:03PM ● By Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—Sen. Ann Millner has a passion for education and has championed that since she took office in 2015. Millner was recently elected as Majority Whip in the Senate and plans to continue working in education and higher education in the upcoming legislative session.

“I’ve been with Weber State University for 39 years,” she said. “I’ve grown up professionally there. I became Associate Dean, the Assistant President, Vice President, then served 10 years as President.”

Millner stepped down from that position to teach. “The Senate seat opened up about a year after I stepped down,” she said. “I had people asking me to run so I ran in 2014 and in 2015 started serving. I became chair of the Education Committee and Economic Development.”

She was elected as Majority Assistant Whip two years ago. “Then Sen. (Dan) Hemmert left to become director of GOED,” said Millner. “He was the sitting Majority Whip. So I decided to run for that position.”

One of the duties of the leadership team is to keep things organized, she said. “We keep things moving and make it flow smoothly for all the senators in our caucus. We’re also a support system and we make assignments to committees. We monitor legislation and coordinate with the House so that we have a strong framework that facilitates the work of the Senate.”

Looking toward the 2021 session that starts Jan. 19, Millner said they’ll tackle the budget right away. “First and foremost it’s our constitutional responsibility to balance the budget. These are interesting times. We’ll try to be careful. There was revenue lost in the spring with the pandemic but we’re in a little bit better shape now. We’ll work in the first two weeks on the base budget.”

There are some required areas that need to be funded, she said. “We’ll watch what happens to revenue estimates and won’t pass a final budget until February.”

These are pretty uncertain times, Millner said. “Utah’s done pretty well. Our unemployment rate is low, we’re keeping the economy running and balancing the economy’s needs with the public’s needs.”

These are experiences people haven’t had in a very long time, she said. “We’ll work to update state code to accommodate long-term events. We’ve planned for shorter term emergency events like an earthquake, tornado or a wind storm, but not necessarily a long-term emergency.”

Education is an issue in Utah, said Millner. “That’s our top priority. We want to provide the right support to teachers so that kids can succeed and achieve their goals. A lot of learning was lost in the spring. We need to find a way to help schools help kids catch up.”

Air quality is always a concern, she said. “You’ll see some legislation that promotes working from home. That’s less office space so we don’t have to pay for that and the air quality improves because we get cars off the roads.”

Issues will run the full gamut, Millner said. “There will be policy made in committees. Our legislators have a wide range of expertise. You’ll see all of that over this next session.”

Millner is excited to serve in this new leadership position. “There will be some things I have to learn about the responsibilities of the Majority Whip. I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve my colleagues in the Senate.”