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Davis Journal

2023 Legislative Session begins

Jan 20, 2023 11:07AM ● By Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—There was an energy at the Capitol on Tuesday as lawmakers took their seats in the House and Senate to start the 2023 legislative session. In the next 45 days, bills will be considered and passed and decisions will be made that impact Utahns throughout the state. 

“It’s a little like the first day of school,” said Rep. Karen Peterson, R-Clinton. “You’re excited but also nervous.”

Peterson plans to run a bill dealing with school safety. “People have contacted us with concerns,” she said. “We’re not just thinking about the physical building, Davis School District has done a good job with that, but a specific pipeline to school counselors to learn how to get ahead of the incident and make sure kids are in a good place.”

The bill would provide funding to pay those who are already working as paraprofessionals, teachers or others and give them the opportunity to go to school and become a counselor, said Peterson. “I also want to get a parent portal so they can ask questions about how to handle a situation with their child at school.”

Maybe they’re the subject of bullying, she said. “What are the parent’s rights? They might not know they have the opportunity to change their child’s schedule to come later or leave earlier or move online if the kid is having a hard time. I want to make that easier to navigate. We all know that students have the most success when the parents and the school work together.”

To kick off the session both House and Senate leadership welcomed new members and talked about the responsibilities facing legislators.

“What we do in this session will not only impact us today but will impact all of our tomorrows,” said Senate President J. Stuart Adams. “More importantly, it will impact the tomorrows of our children, our grandchildren and even our great-grandchildren. Let us commit now to be a body of foresight.”

“Coming into this session, it has become crystal clear to me that as a state, and by extension, as elected representatives, we stand at one of those rare moments where our choices will ripple for generations,” said Speaker Brad Wilson. “I cannot say it more clearly – and I don’t think it is hyperbole…The decisions we will make this session will define Utah’s next decade and beyond.”

Utah has the distinction of being both one of the fastest-growing and driest states in the country, he said. “That leaves little room for error in how we manage our growth and our water.”

This has been a wet winter so far – and that is great, said Wilson. “But one winter alone won’t wash away two dry decades. The ongoing drought, our management of state water, increased resources for Southern Utah and preservation of the Great Lake Lake are top priorities for this House. Let’s build upon last year’s considerable policy success to encourage conservation and provide resources to help Utahns do their part to safeguard Utah’s water.”

Wilson also addressed housing affordability. “By any measure, Utah’s economy is strong – among the best in the nation,” he said. “But living here is becoming too expensive for far too many, thanks in part to federal money printing policies that are driving record inflation.”

It is impossible to ignore the sharp increase in Utah housing prices the past several years, said Wilson. “For many young adults and those starting families, the idea of a starter home has become something they’ve heard about but have never really seen – a lot like a fax machine or a landline.”

At the northern end of Davis County, Clearfield sits along the southwest side of Hill Air Force Base, he said. “Utah’s robust aerospace and defense industry makes up 12 percent of our economy and Clearfield faces all the housing challenges that come with it.”

Over the last three years, Clearfield has built over 1,700 attainably priced homes, the most in Davis County, said Wilson. “Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd is with us today. Mayor Shepherd, we applaud the work you have done and we thank you for serving as a strong example and an effective case study as we address this issue.”

Throughout the state’s history Utahns have embraced the spirit of taking the long view, he said. “Hard work is our hallmark and we’re not afraid of doing the hard thing today to make tomorrow a little better. It’s something I know we all take great pride in – and we should. The decisions we make this session will define our next decade and beyond…It will impact the lives of every Utahn. Let’s get to work.”

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